In today’s fast-paced world of technology, the timely development of mobile applications is a critical factor in being able to attain a competitive edge, and of course to achieving business success.  

The ability to understand the intricacies of app development timelines is not just about marking calendars; it’s about the potential to generate returns sooner and adapt to internal challenges and market dynamics effectively.  

Additionally, understanding the key factors that influence app development timelines is critical for planning and risk management.  

However, without guidance and planning businesses can end up grappling with challenges when dealing with app development timelines, which include common hurdles such as scope creep, compliance issues, sign-off from key stakeholders, and many more that we’ll cover in this article. 

Our goal with this article is to equip you with important insights to help set realistic expectations with app development timelines, mitigate risks, and drive your project to a successful launch.  

We will dissect the app development process, pinpointing the stages that significantly affect timelines.  

We’ll also delve into practical insights aimed at better understanding and optimising app development timelines, to help equip your business with the knowledge needed to navigate the app development landscape effectively.  

What are the Stages in the App Development Process?

The app development process is built up of several distinct phases, each of which contribute to the project’s timeline and success. 


This initial stage sets the trajectory for the project, focusing on aligning the app’s features with business goals and user expectations. Here, activities like user research, customer journeys, and identifying risk factors are explored.  

Our approach aims to validate ideas before you start to build to ensure that we’re not just building features, but creating value that resonates with end-users.


Transitioning from groundwork done in the discovery phase, to creating tangible design, this phase involves crafting the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI).

Design decisions are made to ensure both aesthetic appeal and great usability levels are met, ensuring a seamless user journey that minimises abandonment risks.


The development process marks the next stage of the process, where all the necessary features and functionalities are built.  

An emphasis should be placed on ensuring the development is robust, easy to maintain and can be developed onwards in line with future requirements. As highlighted during discovery features that deliver the highest value  should be focussed on first, akin to an MVP strategy.


Integral to delivering a seamless app experience, the testing phase addresses potential quality issues that could effect the end users experience.  

Our strategy involves a comprehensive QA process throughout the development cycle, ensuring any bugs are identified and fixed promptly to safeguard against user abandonment.  

Deployment & Support

The final hurdle before the app reaches users, where the focus shifts to a smooth launch and ongoing support.  

After the go live the support phase ensures the app’s longevity and relevance through regular updates and support, keeping it healthy and competitive and responding to how users interact with your app. 

Interdependence & Timeline Management

Each phase’s duration and success are interlinked, impacting the overall development timeline. 

For instance, a well-executed discovery phase can significantly reduce time spent in design and development through clear direction and scope definition. Similarly, thorough testing early in development can prevent long QA phases before go live. 

This underscores the importance of precision at each step, as revisiting earlier stages due to oversight can escalate costs and extend timelines. 

Visualising the Lifecycle

To help understand the app development timeline, we’ve put together an in-depth diagram of what the app development process looks like on our process page. It offers a graphical representation of each stage and their contribution to the project’s flow.

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What are the Factors that Affect the App Development Timeline?

Successfully being able to navigate the app development process involves having a deep understanding of the factors that can significantly impact its timeline.  

Each project is unique, yet several core elements consistently influence the pace and flow of development. By dissecting these factors, businesses can better plan, anticipate challenges, and streamline their processes for more efficient outcomes. 

Complexity & Set Features

The complexity of an app directly correlates with its development duration. A feature-rich application, demanding an intricate design, advanced functionalities, and extensive testing, will of course require more time to develop.  

This complexity extends beyond coding to include a longer period for user testing, ensuring the app is intuitive and user-friendly.  

As complexity increases, so does the need for careful planning and execution across all stages of development. 

Integrations with Existing Systems

Integrating an app with existing systems or third-party APIs introduces another layer of complexity. The time required for seamless integration can vary heavily depending on access to these systems and the comprehensiveness of their documentation.  

While well-documented APIs may facilitate quicker integration, legacy systems often demand careful planning and execution, potentially extending the timeline without necessarily introducing delays if managed correctly. 

Resource Levels

The size and composition of the development team will play a pivotal role in determining the project’s pace. More resources generally equate to faster progress, assuming effective coordination and management.  

Development for Multiple Platforms

Developing an app for iOS, Android, and web platforms also presents its own set of considerations. While the effort involved is broadly similar across platforms, real-world timelines can be influenced by the project’s scope and the allocation of teams for each platform.  

Delays may occur due to platform-specific approval processes, although these have diminished in recent years. 

Team Experience and Location

An experienced team, familiar with the business’s needs and the project’s challenges, is less likely to encounter delays due to rework or unexpected pitfalls.  

Experience will not only speed up development, but also ensures readiness from the outset, minimising the learning curve and the time needed to adapt to project specifics. 

Assessing Impact on Specific Projects

To gauge the impact of these factors on a specific project, businesses should engage their project teams in thorough risk assessment and planning. Identifying potential issues early and preparing strategies to mitigate them is crucial for maintaining project timelines and ensuring successful outcomes. 

Understanding all the factors that can impact app development timelines allows businesses to navigate the process more effectively. By acknowledging and addressing these elements proactively, companies can set realistic expectations, mitigate risks, and achieve their development goals efficiently.

How Can You Optimise the App Development Process?

Optimising the app development process is crucial for businesses looking to launch their applications efficiently without compromising on quality.  

Drawing from our comprehensive approach to app development, we’ll outline strategies that your business can implement to help harmonise the principles we discussed in the above sections.  

Strategies for Optimisation

  • Set Clear Objectives and Maintain Focus

Setting extremely clear objectives and implementing a robust planning phase is central to optimising the app development process.  

With scope-creep being something that commonly finds its way into app development projects, maintaining a ‘future to-do list’ ensures ideas are noted without derailing the current project focus.  

This approach allows for prioritisation while ensuring valuable ideas are not lost, whilst the willingness to say ‘no’ ensures the project remains focused and on track.

  • Embrace Agility

Adopting an agile methodology allows teams to track progress effectively, iterate based on feedback, and adapt to changes swiftly.  

This iterative approach encourages early stakeholder feedback, ensuring the project remains aligned with business goals and user expectations

  • Adopt an MVP Approach

Prioritising the development of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) enables businesses to launch core functionalities swiftly.  

This strategy not only facilitates early user feedback but also helps in refining the app based on real-world usage, enhancing overall quality. 

  • Risk Consideration in Planning

Identifying and planning for potential risks early in the development process is crucial. By anticipating challenges, teams can devise strategies to mitigate them, ensuring smoother progress throughout the project lifecycle. 

  • Implement Parallel Work Streams

Where feasible, running parallel work streams for different aspects of the project, such as simultaneous development for iOS and Android platforms, can significantly reduce time to market. This approach leverages the expertise of specialised teams working concurrently, optimising the development timeline. 

Development Timelines Across App Complexities

  • Simple Apps

A simple app would be characterised by having relatively basic features and minimal integrations; a project of this scope would typically unfold within a 3-4 month period.  

However, even with simpler apps, it’s beneficial to plan for early releases to a test group to gather feedback and make necessary adjustments. 

  • Medium Complexity Apps

With medium complexity apps, where advanced functionalities and multiple integrations become part of the equation, the development period extends to 4-8 months.  

The increased time frame accounts for the additional design, development, and testing required to ensure a seamless user experience. 

  • Complex Apps

The creation of complex apps, consisting of  intricate features and demanding extensive backend integrations, will involve a more prolonged development timeline, often surpassing 8 months.  

Such projects require a meticulous approach to planning and execution, where timelines are balanced against the ambition to innovate.  

Introducing early releases to a focused tester group becomes crucial, allowing for real-world feedback that helps steer continuous development and refinement. 

  • Future Selection and Its Impact

The selection of features and functionalities plays a crucial role in determining the app’s development timeline. Higher complexity not only extends the timeline but also necessitates a more thorough planning and testing phase to align with quality and performance goals.  

It’s a balancing act between meeting expectations and managing development efficiently for successful app delivery. 

We Can Help You

When it comes to trying to establish app development timelines, a delicate balance between quick execution and maintaining high quality standards needs to be considered. This involves understanding the development process, from discovery through deployment, and managing factors like app complexity, system integrations, and team dynamics.  

Effective optimization strategies include setting clear objectives, adopting agile methodologies, focusing on MVPs, and planning for risks. By addressing these considerations, businesses can streamline their development process, setting realistic expectations and ensuring the delivery of apps that meet market demands and user expectations, within a shorter, more concise framework. 

At Sonin, we are a leading UK mobile app development company, collaborating with ambitious organisations to design and build exceptional apps and digital products on iOS, Android, and web.  

Whether you want to work more efficiently, increase revenue or introduce a new service, we specialise in making sure your mobile app or digital product succeeds. We’re here to work with you to build the right product – the one aligns with your business objectives and your users’ needs. 

Contact us today to discuss your app development needs and receive a tailored solution that meets your requirements. 

With a collaborative approach that aligns closely with your goals and strategies, we’re not just app developers; we’re your strategic allies in the digital world. Choose Sonin for a partnership where innovation, quality, and value converge to transform your digital aspirations into reality.