It’s probably the number one reason clients get in touch with us but it’s often the hardest question to answer: How much does it cost to build an app? Unfortunately without exploring your requirements in detail, it’s often difficult to give even a rough pricing indication. But hopefully in this article we’ll be able to sweep away some of the mystery around how mobile applications are costed.

Average Cost to Develop an App

As a quick guide here is a breakdown of our average app project costs:

Basic app costs – £30,000+ which include things such as calculators, camera functions, weather information

Complex app costs – £60,000-£100,000+ which includes E-Commerce apps, on demand functions and social networking.

Enterprise app costs – £250,000+ which are multi-function platforms with many integrations with other technology stacks.

These are our ballpark figures but other sources do have show similar results when it comes to price:

The average price to build an app with an agency is around £125,000, according to a Clutch survey.

Many online app cost calculators name a price tag between £150,000 and £250,000 for an app with a complex set of features.

The typical range of costs stated by other app development companies is around £70,000 – £350,000. Smaller apps with few basic features could cost between £30,000 and £60,000, so there’s an opportunity for any type of business.

App Cost Calculator

A great way to work out roughly how much your application idea might cost is to use our app cost calculator below. This will allow you to see a rough estimate for building your mobile application across native and cross platform development solutions along with a list of many common features that typically go in many of the apps we make.

It’s worth bearing in mind that these costs are specifically around the build costs only. Often it’s worthwhile investing up front in user experience and testing in order to ensure you get the best bang-for-buck from your build. There are also a number of ongoing costs associated with running mobile applications from server hosting costs to app store optimisation and ongoing improvement work like multivariate testing.

The Costs Involved in App Development

The Mobile Ecosystem

Developing a Mobile Application is often more expensive than you might think, in part because developing the Mobile Application itself is often a smaller part of a much larger tech strategy.

To develop even a basic application requires:

  • An understanding of what you and your users want
  • Figuring out which functionality will work well on mobile
  • Designing the user experience (often with user testing, personas and validation of existing thinking)
  • Designing the backend systems and functionality
  • Hooking up the mobile application to the backend in ways that don’t hurt the all-important user experience
  • Integrating third party tools or APIs as required
  • Integrating with other functionality in your existing tech stack
  • Development of test scripts and QA testers to test against them
  • Development support for User Acceptance Testing, deployment and ongoing maintenance
  • Project and Account Management support

Any business that does mobile development well has the skills to design, build and maintain apps while integrating with various backend systems. It’s more than building an app; it’s building an ecosystem around mobile.

The Team

Even the most basic development team should include the following roles, which each add to the cost of building your application but are invaluable to the process:

  • Project Manager
  • Developer
  • UI/UX Designer
  • QA Engineer

Unless you are already developing technology and have a vast skill set at your disposal you are unlikely to be able to forfill the skills above in house. The task is not simply a developer building an app from a sepcification. There is so much more to navigate and this is why the team above is only for a simple app project. This can be overlooked when considering the price of building an app but without these skills the project will not be a success.

Timescales

Another reason app development can be expensive is that it often takes longer than other digital products to design and develop. In fact, 80% of apps take over 3 months to build and 40% of apps take over 6 months to develop. This is worth bearing in mind ahead of your build as the team effort required to deliver projects may be more than you’re used to if you’re coming from a more web-led background.

Native vs Cross Platform

Something else to bear in mind is that the cost of developing a mobile application can often double if you want to release on both Android and iOS — which, let’s be frank here, you do. This is because Android and iOS applications are written in completely different languages so require writing from scratch in each language in the majority of cases. One way to get around this is by deciding on a cross-platform development approach using a tool like Xamarin, React Native or Flutter. We’ve written about this in more detail here.

Once you have a great team for designing, building, integrating and testing your application across both core platforms, the main indicator of costs is your feature-set. To some extent this will also dictate whether cross-platform or native development represent the most cost-effective solution. As a rule of thumb, if your application will require frequent access to low level system functions like GPS, camera or accelerometers then cross-platform might not be the best approach.

Feature List

App development costs vary wildly depending on the feature set required. Simple apps can be built for as little as £30,000+ with a small number of simple features, whereas apps with complex functionality that span multiple platforms can cost in excess of £250,000.

Will you require user accounts and push notifications? How about access to GPS service or mobile networks? How many pages will your app require and will these be calling out to external APIs to populate? The answers to these questions will help you to get to a rough figure regarding cost. But often, without a full diagnostic and design process, it’ll be difficult to understand exactly what will be required and how much work each feature will entail.

Additional Costs

There are also additional costs when developing apps which should be set out clearly before embarking on a project. Apps are fickle and over time the code will deteriorate. This is due to the vast array of OS updates occurring annually and the multitude of different mobile devices coming to market. This means there is an ongoing cost to maintain the application you have built.

For any app project to be a success we believe that ongoing improvements are also required. With the best intentions and efforts made, the original solution will not perform to the best of its abilities because “no plan survives contact with the enemy.” Now we jest that your users are the enemy but they will have ideas on what your app’s function is. They will have feedback and spot things nobody else anticpated and they will give you valubale data to make improvements in user flows.

These ongoing costs can stack up depending on the number of users, whether the app is consumer-facing and the desire to react to make positive changes quickly. You should consider that when your project is launched or “finished,” that it’s only really the start.

The budgets for this can vary wildly depending on the complexity of the app and what routes to market the app is being pushed through. As a rough guide, ongoing testing and maintenance of a new app would cost somewhere around £1000 a month with more work required around OS updates and changes.

The cost of ongoing improvements is a difficult question to andswer. Our recommendation would be another £2000-£3000 a month initially to make sure you are acting on the data being collected quickly. Improvements need to be made from the start to help your app be a success and any lessons learned may be negatively impacting your current user base which you will want to fix ASAP.

Next Steps

So you’ve decided you potentially want to build your mobile application. Where do you go from here? At Indiespring we’ve helped a number of businesses work from a great idea to investment-ready by working through our Innovations Programme. We’ll start by validating your idea (so you don’t spend thousands on designing and building a product that may not be viable) then work with you to build your pitch-deck, business plan and MVP to help you get the investment you need to get to market.

If you’re already funded we can provide full design and build services in order to bring your idea to life or integrate into your existing business platforms.