It is near-enough impossible to give a definitive figure for building a mobile app as there are many different options to consider. This article will guide you through the required processes, give you some important questions to ask your developers and, in turn, hopefully help you come up with a good estimate of how much it will cost to bring your idea to life! These will include; the most expensive features and functionality, choosing the correct technology and platforms, and a few ways you can reduce the cost of your app.
As much as we would love to be able to give an accurate all-inclusive figure for app development, we can only provide a ballpark until some key factors and questions have been answered. It is a ‘How long is a piece of string?’ sort of question, as it is determined by many factors that collectively influence the final figure.
What it comes down to:
- App purpose and complexity – what an app will actually be capable of doing and the logic behind it
- Features and functionality – will the app be using location services, push notifications, in-app purchases etc
- Operating system and supported devices – whether an app will be developed for iOS only or has an Android version as well. What specific devices will it support?
- Maintenance plan and continuous improvements – once an app development project is over, it will still require technical support and software updates
- Payment milestones – a payment structure based on either a defined stage of progress or periodically, e.g., monthly, quarterly etc
TIP: These must ALL be discussed before your app development company is able to give you a true cost range.
The complexity of your app idea
What is the purpose? What are the key features? How will you manage the success of your app development project? These are the main questions that will likely impact the final cost. Here are some rough ballpark figures based on the app type:
- Calculator – a few user inputs and a simple calculation engine – <£25,000
- Brochure app – to showcase a range of products – £25,000 – £40,000
- News app – view articles and receive push notifications – £25,000 – £50,000
- Event app – including agenda, speaker lists, social feed, venue information etc – £25,000 – £50,000
- Coupon app – ability to earn points and claim rewards – £50,000 – £80,000
- Social app – a feed of user-generated content and the ability to interact with it – £50,000 – £100,000
- e-commerce – browse products, order and pay directly from the app – £100,000 – £150,000
What features have the biggest impact on cost?
There is no exact figure for how much each feature will cost, it will depend on the individual developer you are using due to the time it takes to build and implement each feature. Here are a few of the features that we find the most expensive to build:
- E-commerce: do you need to process payments?
- Social media: will you need social sharing options?
- CMS (Content Management System): do you need to manage the app content in-house?
- Databases: will you need to access/store user or third-party data?
- GPS software: do you require mapping software that uses your phone’s location services?
- Support & security: will you need ongoing support?
TIP: Make sure you are quoted on what you actually require first, rather than on what you think you might need.
Android vs iOS
There are a few things to consider when looking at this, such as the physical cost of submitting an app to the app store, as well as the difference in development costs between iOS and Android software.
Why not build for both?
You may have heard of cross-platform apps that can be used to build one app that works across both platforms. We often use React-Native which is a mobile application framework that allows you to develop an app for Android and iOS using only one code-base. This does mean that you may be more limited with what your app can do, but it does usually reduce the overall development costs.
Make sure you have a set plan in place for the costs post-launch as, once it is live in the store, it will need updating regularly.
Even if you do not change or update any functionality, your app will still require tweaks to ensure it is compatible with the new iOS and Android software updates (these usually occur yearly). Without these, your app may become outdated or unusable for users who have already updated their phone’s operating systems.
TIP: You want to keep your users as engaged as possible; we would suggest having a plan for future improvements and updates to keep the users active and satisfied.
How will you be charged throughout the process?
Will you be charged monthly, yearly, or based on certain milestones? I.e., upon exchanging of contracts, after the first prototype is built, on completion of the app, and so on. There is no right or wrong answer, it is up to you and your developer to come up with a schedule that suits both of you.
As you can see from this guide, building an app isn’t cheap! But if you’ve got £20,000 to spend, you can definitely get started and build something that’s functional. Throwing more money at a project can definitely make your life easier, however, spending £200,000+ on an app does not guarantee success.
Now that you know what types of apps can get for the price, come and chat to us about starting your development process!