In many respects, creating an app is similar to building a house. There is extensive planning that goes on before any work can begin, there is an extensive design process, and a lot of testing done along the way to make sure everything was done correctly. Therefore, even though a lot of processes go into developing a product, exactly how much time would it take to actually make an app? While each project is unique in its own way, we provide you an approximate timeline of software development, specifying the duration of main stages that companies usually stick to when creating an app from scratch.
1. Requirements and UI/UX Design: 2-4 Weeks
This phase is relatively short and simply involves the decision-maker, usually the CTO or team lead, to meet with the stakeholders to:
- Agree on all needed requirements and write them down
- Work out all of the ideas and features that will be included in the app and all of them will operate together in the final product.
- Specify your target audience and how they would like the app to look and feel
- Review the outline of the future product and discuss any last–minute changes you would like to see implemented
- Set the priorities for the features you would like to build at the outset and which ones can wait for subsequent releases
Even though we usually get this part of creating an app done in 2-4 weeks, a lot will depend on the client’s availability and his general responsiveness. During this process, there are a lot of critical decisions that need to be made and many things need to get approved by the client which could extend the timeline of software development.
2. Planning, Architecture & Development: 3-6 Months
Planning involves listing all of the tasks in the order of their importance. This will allow you to see which assignments you will be able to complete right away and which ones will have to wait. If we return to the construction analogy mentioned in the beginning, you need to get all of the framing done before you can start hanging the drywall. The same principles apply to software development and an experienced software provider will be able to plan everything out correctly to avoid costly delays down the road.
Once you finish the planning, you can start thinking about the framework. Consider which technologies you want to use and how all of them will work together. If your project will involve complex system integration this part will take longer than if you were creating a standalone product. Depending on the size of the system, this alone could take up to a couple of weeks to get done. The lion’s share of the software development timeline will actually be spent on writing all of the code for the application. However, if you have all of the designing and technical documentation nailed down, the entire phase will take somewhere between 3-6 months.
It is important to note that if you need to accelerate the app development time for whatever reason, this is the best stage to do this at. If you decide to do this, it will come at a cost since you will need to spend money on extending the software development timeline or hire more developers. However, since you are adding new people and resources, this could also slow down the project because a lot of coordination is needed to make sure everybody is on the same page. If the development company is not experienced in such complex project management, this could potentially become a big problem.
3. Testing: 3-6 Weeks
Many different types of tests will need to be done as part of the QA process, depending on the size and nature of your project. For example, there is end–to–end testing where the QA specialists utilize all of the features the same way a user normally would. While testing is usually implemented as part of the app development pipeline, they are all tested individually instead of as a whole. End–to–end QAis comprehensive and will allow the tester to compare the end product with what was originally planned.
There is also user acceptance testing where the client will examine the product and make it was done correctly. Think of it as a final walkthrough of a house that has just been built. Try to be as detail–oriented as possible to find things that the testers might have missed. Keep in mind, if you would like specific types of QA to be done, the service provider will definitely be able to accommodate this request. This includes things like cross–browser or cross–mobile–device testing, load testing, performance testing, and integration testing. Depending on the complexity and types of quality assurance, this process should be done in 3–6 weeks.
Developing the requirements and creating the UI/UX design
Developing the architecture and coding the frontend and backend
What Aspects Impact on the Timeline of Software Development
While we provided you with an approximate duration for each stage of the software development timeline, a lot will depend on the size and complexity of your project. If your project requires multi-platform support, data migration, or warehousing, this will be a more complex and larger project and could add to the development time as can be seen below:
- Data migration – Up to 2 weeks
- Multi-platform support – Can take between 3-6 months
- Data warehousing – Can take 6-8 weeks
The project manager that you will be provided with will help you manage all of the various stages of the project and mitigate some of the risks that usually appear when working on large projects. This is one of the biggest benefits of choosing a service provider to create your product.
Find out also what architecture type you should choose for your project in our Monolith vs Microservices vs Serverless article.