An app development cost estimate is the most basic and yet crucial component of a budget for any mobile app development project. A business will usually want to know – how much does it cost to create an app and what are the ongoing fees to keep it working and available?
As much as we would like to be able to give exact costs, we can only ever come up with estimates in the early stages, simply because each project involves many factors that collectively influence a final figure. Luckily there are several budget forming factors for app development that help us arrive at an indicative quote.
App functionality and purpose – what will the app actually be capable of doing for its users? What are its core features and functionality?
Mobile platforms – whether an app will be developed for iOS only for example or has an Android version as well. Apps developed covering multiple platforms are also known as ‘cross-platform’.
Application type – whether the app will be developed natively or using a hybrid or progressive web app approach. There are pros and cons to each but the nature of the app and what it’s intending to do will narrow down which type is best suited.
Content control – will an app be integrated with any third-party systems that will be the source of its content or will it be standalone with its own content management system?
Complex features – complexity of visual objects and rich media types inside an app can significantly influence the cost.
Use of a smartphone’s hardware features – whether an app will be using features such as GPS location, NFC technology, motion co-processor, augment reality tech, the devices camera and other technologies that are packed into smart devices.
Security – will the app handle payments or store debit/credit card information? Will it be part of a subscription model? Will it store personal information that is sensitive? Does it need to meet specific security guidelines? Is it territory specific i.e. just available in the UK or is its intended audience worldwide?
Ongoing maintenance – once the initial development project is over, it will require technical support to provide updates that patch bugs, keep the platforms up to date, ensure it meets the correct security guidelines, apply updates when new mobile OS’s rollout as well as introduce new features.
With all this in mind, there are however some typical or average benchmarks for app development project costs that we can apply. These benchmarks range quite widely but are based on industry standard data from multiple software development companies and agencies throughout the UK.
Basic app development: £5,000 – £15,000
Medium complexity app development: £15,000 – £40,000
Complex app development: £40,000+
Ongoing management fee’s to keep any developed app available and working are typically between 15-30% of the total development cost per annum, depending on complexity of the app and any dynamic features that need upholding such as push notifications or integrations with other systems.
And remember, an app isn’t developed or maintained by one individual. It takes a team of specialist software engineers, project managers and business process experts to ensure that the final product is built to a professional standard.
If you think otherwise, ask yourself; how can an app developer also have in-depth knowledge of consumer markets, expert knowledge of database development, experience with system integrations and end-user testing? Are they experts in user experience and interface design as well as all the programming knowledge required to actually develop the core app? It takes a team familiar with each others individual skillsets and unique abilities to truly develop a professional mobile application.