How much does it cost to develop an app? A complete guide to estimating how much it will cost to bring your app idea to life. Including the most expensive features and functionality, platforms and users, ways you can reduce the cost of your app and the most important questions to ask your developers.
App development projects can cost anywhere between £50,000 and £250,000 for an initial mobile app, assuming that you need an Android and iOS version, medium-sized development team and a couple of more complicated features.
When it comes to estimating the cost of apps, we need to first consider that it’s the developers time you’ll be paying for, not the final software itself. So by defining what you need your app to do, which platform it will be on and who will be using it, you can get an accurate estimation of the cost different development companies will need to bring your app idea to life.
Factors that affect the cost of your app development project:
There are, quite obviously, a number of different factors that should be considered when costing an app development project:
The complexity of your app
Features and functionality
The size of your app development company
Operating system: Android or iOS
Ongoing costs and continuous improvement
The important part:
Make sure your app development company at least mentions all of the above. Better still, they sit down with you to discuss the different options available, before giving you a cost range or figure for your project.
Functionality and features. These tend to be the aspects that will add the larger costs to your project. For example, you may need a CMS (Content Management System) to use in-house after the project is completed. If so, this should be factored into costs at the beginning of the project.
2. Which app features cost the most?
There are no exact figures for how much different features will cost as they will differ between projects and development companies.
One common mistake is thinking that you’re paying for the features themselves, as it’s actually the development time it takes to build the features that have the biggest influence on the cost. This in mind, here are a few features that tend to be at the higher-end of the cost scale:
E-commerce: do you need to process payments securely?
Social Media: will you need sharing/profile options?
Databases: will you need to access/store user or third-party data?
User profiles: do your users need to log-in, have accounts or profiles?
Servers: will you need to use your developer’s servers/team going forward?
24/7 Support: will you need continuous support in case of emergencies?
Developers: will you need to hire developers for your in-house team?
Make sure your app development company:
Looks for alternative ways of achieving your goals without just quoting you for the features you think you need; as there will often be far more cost-effective ways of doing so.
The Discover and Define process is designed for people who don't know exactly what they need, so they can discover which app features add the most value
Puff, Chief-Changemaker, 3 SIDED CUBE
3. Comparing app development companies
There are so many app development companies out there that it can be hard to find one that’s right for you. It’s important that they can meet your requirements, develop an app within your time-scale, and complete the project within your budget.
The size of the development company is a great place to start:
Small app development companies: £50 – £100 per hour
Medium companies (like us): £100 – £150 perhour
Large companies: anything upward of £150 per hour.
You MUST consider:
The company’s hourly-rate, how long it takes them to develop apps, their minimum project size, which apps they have developed for your sector, and how much of their services focus on app development.
Only then will you be able to find an app development company that’s right for you and your project.
4. Android vs iOS apps: which is more expensive?
There are a few things to mention here, like the cost of submitting to the two stores, as well as the difference in development costs and hybrid (React-Native) apps.
Google Play vs The App Store.
Both stores share revenue distribution conditions, with the stores taking 30% of revenue and the other 70% going to the developers. The difference is that the Google Play Store charges a one-off payment of $25 while Apple’s App Store charges an annual fee of $99.
Why not build your app for both?
What is React-Native? A platform for hybrid app development. React-Native means that although you may be more limited with what your app can do, you can develop for Android and iOS in a single code-base, which can reduce costs dramatically.
5. Ongoing costs and continuous improvement
Make sure you understand and plan for post-launch costs. After your app is live in the store(s), you’ll need to continue updating regularly to make sure your project is successful and your app meets its goals/objectives.
One such cost involves updates and maintenance – if you don’t keep your app up-to-date with the latest software that mobile operating systems (Android/iOS) use, your app will become outdated and often unusable for your end users.
A common mistake:
Just putting your app out there and expecting users to stay engaged and active.
During the development process, you’ll create a backlog of ideas for future implementation; a CI (Continuous Improvement) plan which will create additional costs months, if not years after your app launches.
These kinds of questions are vital to ask your app development company, and there’s no right or wrong answer either.
If you only do one thing:
Make sure that you and your developers set out payment milestones together, to make sure that they suit you, your developers and the project as a whole.
Puff suggests using a minimum of two milestones, and a maximum of four or five. By processing payments in this way you can reduce your risks, provide incentives, map out your project plan and avoid any issues with cash flow.
A minimum of two milestones and a maximum of four or five... On completion of the first build, final build, submission or release on the App Store... These are the questions you should be asking your app developers.
Questions to ask app developers and the answers you should look out for:
When it comes to the cost of apps and working with development companies, there are a number of questions you should be asking and an equal number of things to look out for in their answers:
Q) How complex is the app idea to build?
A) Make sure they discuss features and functionality. The important part here is how to achieve your goals in the most cost-effective way.
Q) Should I get an Android or iOS app?
A) If they just say both, ditch ’em. Make sure they discuss the users and devices for each platform, and hybrid/React-Native app development.
Q) Will there be any costs post-launch?
A) Look out for continuous improvement plans and the cost of updating/maintaining your app after it’s been released in the stores.
Q) Do you have a project payment plan?
A) They MUST talk about payment milestones. How many and when is less important, as long as they take the time to find a plan that works for both of you.