In the digital age, consumers want information and products at their fingertips. A mobile app delivers just that, providing instant access to information and products in a way that a desktop or mobile site can't. The benefits of a well-designed app are undeniable, offering increased customer loyalty and brand engagement, plus many other benefits.
As mobile apps are projected to generate a staggering $526 billion in revenue by 2023, companies are eager to get in on the action. But with fierce competition and high user expectations, creating an exceptional app that stands out is no easy feat.
Everything has a price, and when it comes to creating mobile apps, the well-known saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is fully justified. There are a lot of factors that can impact the cost; from location and structure of the development team, app specification which details the features and functions, the chosen platform plus other factors which we’ll cover further down the article.
We'll delve into the factors involved in estimating the cost of app development, including what exactly affects the costs, and the typical process you need to follow to ensure the app's success. By fully understanding what goes into app development and the costs involved, this will help you make an informed decision about whether it's a worthwhile investment for your brand or business.
- How much does it cost to make an app?
- What affects mobile app development costs?
- The complexity of the app - Typical features and functionality
- iOS vs Android - Choosing the right platform
- How much does it cost to maintain an app?
- What is the cost of marketing an app?
How Much Does it Cost to Make an App?
Mobile app development costs ranges anywhere from £20,000 up to £50,000 for a simple app, from £50,000 up to £200,000 for medium complexity apps, and for the more sophisticated apps, anywhere from £250,000+. These ranges are provided by our own experience, industry standards and research of well-known B2B review site, Clutch.
The range of costs associated with app development varies drastically, that’s because a number of factors can affect the final cost. App development is no easy feat; continue reading to learn and understand what goes into costing an app and why it varies so much.
Typical App Development Team Set-up
Below is an example of a typical app development team set-up. These roles are essential in the success of a project and also impact the total costs. Ensuring you have an experienced team is vital to make sure the product is of high quality while also a cost effective solution for your brand or business.
Business AnalystThorough planning is essential to avoid costly changes to the specification and misunderstandings during the development phase. Typical responsibilities include:
- Identifies the technical and business requirements and current challenges
- Analyses competitors (if necessary)
- Defines project value
- Writes project specification
The design of your app will make or break the success of the product. Nicely designed apps are crucial to building a great product. Typical responsibilities include:
- Analysis of user preferences and pain points
- Design and creation of wireframes
- Design and creation of the final look and feel
Mobile App Developer(s)
Depending on what app platform you select to launch the app, you’ll need at least one developer specialising in either one or both platforms, or more depending on the scope and complexity of the app. Typical responsibilities include:
- Writes code to build the app, including the development of the features and functionality outlined in the app specification
- Bug fixes during the testing phase
Quality assurance tester, also known as QA Tester, thoroughly checks the stability and performance of the app, ensuring everything is working correctly and there are no issues. Typical responsibilities include:
- Quality assurance testing
- Testing of the user interface
- Compliance of all components, ensuring the final product matches the initial specification
Project Managers coordinate and manage the team and all the work involved to ensure the product will be built and ready in time and complies with all requirements agreed in the app specification. The Project Manager has a large role in the impact of development costs. Typical responsibilities include:
- Overall project management
- Creation and coordination of tickets
- Point of contact between the app development team and the client
Account Managers play a crucial role in app development projects by serving as the primary point of contact between the client and the development team. They act as liaisons, ensuring effective communication and coordination throughout the project lifecycle. Typical responsibilities include:
- Gather client requirements and translate them into actionable tasks for the development team, ensuring a clear understanding of project goals
- Manage client expectations by providing regular updates and addressing concerns
- Oversee project timelines, budgets, and resources, ensuring the successful delivery of the app within the agreed-upon parameters
What Affects Mobile App Development Costs?
Various reasons influence the cost of an app, the main factors to consider are:
App type - What kind of app are you looking to develop?
- E-commerce app
- Educational app
- Marketplace app
- Productivity app
- Social networking app
- Game app
- News / Entertainment app
Team structure and location
- Outsource, In-house, freelance
- Geographical location of the app development provider
- Native app - 1 platform - iOS or Android
- Native app - 2 platforms - iOS and Android
- Cross-platform or hybrid app (mobile and web apps)
- Discovery phase - Strategy, workshops, roadmap
- Design phases - User journeys, UX design, UI design
- Development phase - modules, features and functionality
- Backend infrastructure
- Compliance and security requirements
- Integrations and plug-ins (e.g. connecting the app to a CRM)
- Data processing and storage considerations
- Quality Assurance Testing (QA Testing)
App maintenance and additional costs
- Deliver phase - Ongoing app support and app updates
- App hosting
- App Store and Google Play store charges
- Any third-party integration fees (e.g. payment gateway provider)
- Admin and infrastructure costs
- Support costs for app updates, bug fixing and continual enhancements etc.
The final price will ultimately boil down to how much work needs to be done for the function, design, platform, development, ongoing support and amendments.
The Complexity of the App - Typical Features and Functionality
Understanding the main goal of your app is imperative to what features and functionality you will need to develop, this will also be a contributing factor to the total cost.
For example, suppose you're looking to build a gaming app. In that case, you will be spending a significant amount more than a basic app, as the coding will be much more sophisticated, and gamers have much higher expectations regarding user interface including the graphics and quality.
Here are some examples:
Here are some examples:
It's impossible to give a fixed price on how much each feature will cost as it differs between the scale of projects and objectives. One element that people often get confused about is they think they're paying for the features when they're paying for the time it takes the developers to develop, build and implement these features.
iOS vs Android - Choosing the Right Platform
Choosing the ideal platform for your app requires careful consideration of multiple factors, including your business needs, target audience, market strategy, and reach. By analysing these factors, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your overall goals.
Some of the essential factors to take into account when deciding on a platform include:
Understanding your target audience is crucial in determining the best platform to build on. After all, you want your app to be easily accessible to your users. If you already have a website and an existing user base, you're in luck. By using web analytics tools, you can gain valuable insights into your incoming traffic and determine which platforms your users are accessing your website from. Once you identify your audience's preferred platform, you can then take it a step further by breaking it down by region or country to ensure maximum visibility in your target market. With advanced analytical tools, you can even capture more data to turn into useful insights.
If you're targeting a global audience or the APAC region, Android may be a logical choice. But for Northern America and the EMEA region, iOS would offer a larger user base. Ultimately, choosing the platform with the highest visibility or revenue-generating potential will be key to your app's success.
According to Statista, Android maintained its position as the leading mobile operating system in quarter four of 2022 with 71.8% share, while iOS accounted for around 27.6% of the market. The remaining 0.6% consists of Windows, Samsung, KaiOS or other.
Majority of brands opt to build on both iOS and Android to ensure they are not missing out on either user base. Before choosing which platform to build on, ensure you factor in user demographics and behaviours before making a decision.
Revenues and Visibility
When it comes to choosing the right platform for your app, it all boils down to your end goal. Do you want to expand your audience or maximise your profits? While Android is known to offer the most visibility, it doesn't necessarily mean higher revenue. Surveys indicate that iOS users are more willing to spend on app purchases and in-app purchases, making it a more profitable option.
Another essential factor to consider is your app's monetization model. Apple's default business model is straightforward: users purchase the app for a fee, with 30% going to Apple and the rest to the developer. While this model generates higher revenue per download, some users may be hesitant to pay upfront without trying the app first.
On the other hand, the Android model allows users to download the app for free and explore it before deciding to upgrade or deal with ads. Although iOS apps may bring in more upfront revenue, Android apps can provide a similar outcome over time through in-app advertisements, purchases, upgrades, or freemium models.
The ideal strategy balances both visibility and revenue. The more visibility you have, the greater your chances of monetization. It's crucial to consider all these factors to make an informed decision and choose a platform that aligns with your business needs and goals.
A popular choice for companies that want to launch on both platforms is to build their application with React-Native. It is a platform for hybrid app development, and you can develop for both iOS and Android in a single code-base, which reduces the cost significantly.
How Much Does it Cost to Maintain an App?
Setting out a plan once your app has launched and is live is essential. You will need to continuously update your application to ensure it is a success and continues to meet goals and impress the user. One cost to consider is updates and maintenance. Your app must stay updated with your chosen mobile operating system, or it becomes outdated, clunky, and unusable for your users.
During the development stages, it's likely that you will think of ideas for future implementation. These ideas are the next step for your app, as it doesn't finish as soon as you've launched. Users' attitudes and needs will change over time as your app meets previous needs, meaning you will need to continue making the app fresh and working accordingly; this adds to your overall cost.
Allocating a certain percentage of the initial app development cost on maintenance each year is a standard practice. Typically, 10%-20% of the initial cost should be set aside for maintaining the app, which includes bug fixing, introducing new features, and keeping up with platform updates. The amount you allocate will depend on how many new features you plan to add each year and how complex they are.
App maintenance typically includes:
- Bug fixing
- Code optimisation
- Improving performance
- Support for the latest platform versions and updates
- Supporting the latest versions of third-party services and integrations
- Developing new features
It's essential to keep up with app maintenance even if you have no immediate plans to scale up or add new features. As your app grows in complexity over time, the maintenance costs will naturally increase. Ignoring app maintenance can result in lost revenue, decreased customer satisfaction, and ultimately, a decline in the success of your app.
What is the Cost of Marketing an App?
Marketing an app can be a significant cost, but it's an essential investment to ensure your app reaches its target audience. The cost of marketing an app can vary depending on the type of marketing channels you choose to use. It's common to spend around 5-15% of sales turnover on marketing.
Paid channels such as social media advertising, paid search, and influencer marketing can be effective but come at a cost. On the other hand, organic marketing channels such as content marketing and search engine optimization require a long-term investment and a more strategic approach. The cost of marketing an app can also depend on your app's industry, target audience, and competition.
Ultimately, the success of your app marketing strategy will depend on your ability to effectively reach and engage your target audience, which may require some trial and error to find the right approach. It's important to keep in mind that marketing is not a one-time cost, and ongoing efforts will be necessary to maintain visibility and continue to drive app downloads and user engagement.
Ready to bring your mobile vision to life?
Whether you have a clear app idea or need help writing a brief, our dedicated mobile team of experts will work closely with you and support you every step of the way. Don't let cost be a barrier to turning your app idea into a reality - contact us today and let's create something exceptional, together.