How Long Does It Take to Create an App

The article was updated on May 06, 2024.

When you plan to launch an application for your business or as a startup idea, you can face many unknowns about the timeline and process. As an entrepreneur, you want your app development project to move at the speed of your ambition.

And it undoubtedly makes sense: app development timelines directly impact your costs, resource allocation, and time to market. That’s why one of the most common inquiries we get is, “How long does it take to create an app from scratch?”

At the same moment, navigating all the functionalities, integrating APIs, designing user flows, and so much more can make app development feel like a maze without a map. Hence, understanding realistic timeframes helps ensure proper planning and budgeting for your desktop or mobile development project.

In this article, we have outlined several key points that will affect the project duration to help you get a better understanding of how long your mobile development project could take.

5 aspects that can affect your app development timeframe

Of course, there is no easy way to determine exactly how much time it takes to create an app. The short answer would probably be 3-6 months for a mid-size project, from 1 to 3 months for a small simple application, and up to 1 year or even more for a large-scale project.

To facilitate a better understanding of the size of your project, let’s define how these 3 essentially differ.

Simple applications

Building an app from this category is usually the fastest, as basic apps are typically template-based with insignificant custom-made coding requirements. They have a lightweight backend and dataset. They employ a limited design with little customization and are characterized by basic features and narrow-in-scope functionality to solve a singular need or purpose.

As these applications do not incorporate APIs, they don’t transmit or obtain data from external systems. Data storage is local without cloud synchronization capabilities.

Illustration: Developing an application that helps users create, update, remove, and mark tasks as complete (various checklists, schedules, etc).

Mid-level complexity applications

The time required to develop an app of this tier is greater, as applications of moderate complexity boast richer capabilities than the former through a customized UX/UI design, a robust backend, and additional features built on top of an MVP.

Such apps can integrate external APIs, providing options such as social media login integration, instant messaging, etc. Additionally, they may leverage device sensors like GPS or cameras. Data synchronization with cloud services and databases is supported, too.

Illustration: Сreating an app that utilizes device sensors to monitor physical activity metrics, integrate external devices and applications, offer training programs, and track progress (various fitness trackers).

Complex, large-scale applications

Custom designs, advanced features, strict performance/security standards, and intricate workflows increase the sophistication and intricacy of building an application at the enterprise level compared to simple and mid-level solutions. This category requires the highest level of security to protect sensitive data and proprietary business logic.

Large-scale applications integrate with complex backend systems and databases, necessitating robust APIs and stringent testing. They incorporate multiple systems and synchronize with cloud services. They support complex interactions requiring features like checkout process and instant data sharing capabilities. That’s why the app development duration here is the highest.

Illustration: Mobile app development for a finance company that provides strongly secured authentication, diverse payment options, latest data insights, funds transfers, financial planning tools, and customer service functionality.

Yet, there are many aspects that can affect the app development timeframe. In order to estimate the possible duration of your project, you need to take into account the following.

  • Project complexity
  • Quality and testing
  • Target platform
  • Budget
  • Your team


1. Project scope and complexity

App development time depends mostly on the project complexity and size. Obviously, large, feature-rich projects require more time and effort to be built. It’s impossible to recreate an Uber-like application within a week, but you can easily put together a simple note taking app within the given timeframe.

Read also: How to Create an App for Your Business


Thus, the type of application and its functionality will directly influence the duration of your project development.

However, you can easily manage the timeframe by prioritizing the features and limiting the project scope to build a minimum viable product (MVP) first.


This doesn’t mean cutting your app functionality to the bare minimum in order to launch the product within a week or two. You need to identify the most important, must-have features in your project, like photo sharing capabilities for Instagram or the ability to order a ride using Uber, and focus on them first instead of wasting time on unnecessary add-ons. Filters and real-time geolocation tracking features are nice to have, but they won’t solve the user’s problems, which are to share their photos and get from point A to point B.

If you fail to prioritize, you might end up with an uncontrolled scope and months wasted on overcrowding your app with functionality.

2. Quality assurance and testing

It takes time to build a high-quality application. From a flawless UI and a polished user experience to fast and efficient operations, every small detail in your app should be thoroughly tested before it goes live.

It is a common mistake not to include enough time for quality assurance into the project timeline. Depending on the type of manual testing and automation scope, the QA vs development ratio might range from 1:8 to 4:1.

Every issue detected by the QA team should be resolved and re-tested in order to make sure the app performs as expected and doesn’t crash unexpectedly. So, aside from development and testing, you will need to plan for bug fixing as well. Depending on the number and complexity of bugs, it might significantly influence the project timeframe.

3. The choice of target platform

Depending on the mobile platform you decide to target first, your app development timeframe might change as well.

Read also: Android vs iOS development: Which platform should I develop for first?


iOS is typically a preferred platform to launch the app first, with a small number of target devices and OS versions. It is much easier to make sure your app runs flawlessly on each of them.

With over 12,000 Android devices out there, it is practically impossible to optimize for each of them. Thus, an Android app development and testing tends to take more time, unless you limit the number of supported devices and screen resolutions.

If you want to build apps for both iOS and Android, the duration and budget of your project will double.

4. The budget

In business, time equals money. So when talking about software development timeframes, you need to consider the available budget for the project.

As stated above, building an MVP allows for a faster release. At the same time, it helps you allocate your resources wisely, so you don’t need to put your project on hold or release an unfinished product if you suddenly run out of funds. With an MVP at hand, you can seek more funding and attract investors to further project development.

Another consideration you need to make in terms of budgeting for your app development project is the cooperation model. Fixed price project might seem tempting, but in real life, time and material or a dedicated team model might turn out to be much more cost-efficient, allowing you to achieve more within the given timeframe and at a lower cost.

Read also: Fixed price, time and materials or dedicated team – which cooperation model to choose?


5. The team size and skills

Last but not least, your app’s release timeframe will depend greatly on the development team you decide to hire for the project. By choosing an experienced development team with strong domain knowledge and wide skillsets, you will maximally reduce the development time, while inexperienced developers might spend weeks on even simple tasks.

The size of your team matters as well. A freelancer will not be able to finish the project as fast as a dedicated development team.

If you hire several remote contractors, their efficiency will still be lower due to the lack of coordination, competent project management and possible gaps in communication.

In case you want to build an app by yourself, your project might be at an even bigger risk, unless you are an all in one expert developer/designer/tester. If you lack some of the required skills, it might take months only to get a proper training. Otherwise, your app might turn out to be a huge waste of time due to its poor quality.

If you hire a dedicated development team with an average of 5 years of experience in the field, professional project management, streamlined workflow, working full time on your project from a modern R&D center, your project development timeframes will naturally be minimalized.

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Typical app development duration by project type

Based on their scale and complexity, most projects can be divided into three groups.

  • Small projects – such as a pet tracking app
  • Midsize projects – such as a mathematics strategy game
  • Large-scale projects – such as an on-demand services app

Each project, regardless of the scope and complexity, includes requirements specification, UI/UX design, coding and testing. If you already have documented requirements or created app designs, your project duration might be slightly reduced.

However, it all depends on the quality of the provided assets. In most cases, we will still need to create functional and technical specs to jumpstart the project and make sure your requirements and needs are addressed properly.

Let’s break down the duration of every project development stage, according to a project type. (The provided time frames are approximate and can differ based on the specifics of each particular project.)

How long does it take to create a specification for an app?

  • Small project – 40 – 60 hours
  • Midsize project – 80 – 120 hours
  • Large-scale project – 350 – 450 hours

How long does it take to create a design for an app?

  • Small project – 80 – 100 hours
  • Midsize project – 120-160 hours
  • Large-scale project – 350 – 450 hours

How long does it take to create a frontend for an app?

  • Small project – 150 – 200 hours
  • Midsize project – 400 – 500 hours
  • Large-scale project – 1000 – 2000 hours

How long does it take to create a backend for an app?

  • Small project – 0 – 160 hours
  • Midsize project – 160 – 400 hours
  • Large-scale project – 500 – 1500 hours

How long does it take to test an app?

  • Small project – 30 – 80 hours
  • Midsize project – 90 – 180 hours
  • Large-scale project – 300 – 700 hours

Based on the provided estimates, we can assume that the full app development cycle might take:

  • 1.5 – 2 months for small projects
  • 3 -5 months for midsize projects
  • 6 – 12 months for large-scale projects

This is an app development overall timeline which implies that some processes will run simultaneously.


The above-mentioned timeframes do not take into account the time needed for project updates and technical maintenance.

Factors that can impact app development time and tips to prevent them

If not adequately managed, application development can often take longer than anticipated. Lack of precise requirements, technical challenges, and communication issues are common pitfalls that can slow down the process.

Conversely, solid communication, agile practices, and proven solutions can light the way, transforming your trudge into a brisk walk as you take strides toward launching your solution.

So, here are the most common impediments that can hinder the application development process and recommendations that will speed up your pace and help you reach the end of your trail.

Define clear app requirements upfront

As we joke here, “Build us an awesome app” is far from a specification, alas ;). If you want to accelerate your app development process, consider starting with a solid foundation: well-defined requirements. Unclear or constantly changing ones are the surest way to slow things down and frustrate your team.

Our tip on how to speed up the time of application development: Conduct thorough research into your users and solutions. Understand exactly what problem you’re solving and how your app will solve it better than the competition. Map out all the app’s functionality, features, and user flows.


Plan thoroughly and manage the project well

The key to fast and efficient development is meticulous planning and laser-focused project management. Without establishing clear goals, priorities, and deadlines upfront, your app development team can find themselves working without direction or constraints, leading to wasted time and resources.

To mitigate this risk, spend ample time in the planning phases defining key features and functionality, target milestones, and deadlines. These should be documented in a project roadmap to which all stakeholders agree and can refer throughout the development process.

Our tip on how to reduce the timeline for app development: Break the project into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Use agile methodologies like Scrum. Slice your app into small but valuable user stories and features, then prioritize them based on impact.

Your mobile app developers can work through them iteratively in short sprints, building a working version of the app piece by piece. This flexible approach means you can pivot quickly based on user feedback and new insights.


Don’t reinvent the wheels – rely on proven solutions

Timelines for app development can be greatly impacted by technical difficulties and complexity. Working with frontier technologies, integrating complex features, or external services provide technical challenges that require investigation and debugging, which slows down the development process.

Our tip on speeding up the app development process: Creating an application is challenging enough without reinventing basic functionality. You don’t have to code everything from scratch.

Instead, leverage proven third-party solutions and open-source libraries whenever possible. Focus your efforts on the features that make your product unique. Keep development fast and lean by relying on stable building blocks for authentication, security, data storage and management, UI, etc.


Communicate early and often

Poor communication is another enemy of efficient app development. Decision-making delays, rework, and misunderstandings can result from inefficient communication between all team members and partners. Without a clear communication strategy and schedule in place, different groups may operate under mismatched assumptions and expectations, requiring additional time to develop an app and resources to invest.

Our tip on optimizing the timeframe for app development: To keep everyone informed and in sync during the development process, it is vital to set up efficient lines of communication and to often share updates.

Schedule regular check-ins with your team to keep everyone singing from the same song sheet regarding objectives, timelines, challenges, and next steps. Use a team collaboration platform to facilitate seamless cooperation, file sharing, and task management.



What is the timeline of developing an app? Conclusion

Software development is not an exact science. There is practically no way to predict exactly how long your project will take. Its duration and success depends greatly on your development team, thoughtful planning and efficient internal processes.

All of the numbers that we have listed in the article are based on our expertise in building successful products of different scales. If you want to know how long it will take to build your app, contact us now. We will analyze your requirements and come up with an approximate estimate for every development stage.

Prior to starting the development, we create a detailed technical specification and define the strategy in close collaboration with a client. This helps us precisely tailor processes to your needs and determine the project roadmap that meets your expectations and deadlines.

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