We’re spending far more time surfing the internet on our mobile phones and other smart devices than we are on our desktops and laptops. In fact, in the 13 years since the launch of what was the first recognisable smart phone, we have become dependent on the increasing power of mobile technology to live our lives.
At the forefront of that engagement with and dependence on our smartphone are apps. Even the Government has launched a series of apps to better connect with the public.
But what are the average standard app development costs you would have to pay so that your company has an app available for download on either the Apple App Store or Google Play?
If you completely outsource the programming of your app and you managed the whole project yourself, the cost could run into a few thousands if you choose developers in Indonedia. If you were to employ a British agency, you’ll probably need to budget £37,500 even for exactly the same app.
You could do it if you have the programming knowledge and expertise yourself required to design, test, build, and deploy an app. However, most companies don’t so instead they employ specialists to do it. But which specialists should you employ? Should they be in the UK, overseas, or both?
In this article, we cover:
- The types of app you might want to build
- If you don’t want to do the coding yourself, who can you get to do it for you?
- How apps are actually developed – the five key stages
- Developing for iPhone versus developing for Android
- App development costs by region
- What affects the prices of app developing
- Why you shouldn’t forget to factor in maintenance costs
- Finding the right team to work on your app
What type of app do you want to build?
The type of app you want to build and its inherent complexity determines the overall cost in time and money of the project. The main categories of apps on both Google’s and Apple’s App Stores are music, books, education, health and fitness, kids, lifestyle, navigation, news, photo & video, social media, sports, and travel. Each of them will demand different levels of functionality, engagement with the user, access to user data, and more.
If you have all the skills required to build an app, you should set aside at least 500 hours to do so and you should use the planning process we describe later in this article to achieve the final result you want.
But what if you don’t do code and no-one on your team can do code?
If you don’t do code, who do you get in who does?
If you don’t do code yourself, you’ll need to bring in experts to do it. If you were to use a team of outside app developers paying an average of £35 an hour by employing a mixture of UK and overseas developers, you should expect to pay the following:
|Complexity of app (UK developers)||Minimum amount||Maximum amount||Dev time minimum||Dev time maximum|
|Complex & feature rich||£82,500||£165,000||1100||2200|
|Completely bespoke highest end app||£165,000||No limit||22,000||No limit|
Not factored into the table above is your own management time or the cost of employing someone to manage the project and report back to you.
What about an Indian development team? The costs you should expect to pay are:
|Complexity of app (Indian developers)||Minimum amount||Maximum amount||Dev time minimum||Dev time maximum|
|Complex & feature rich||£18,750||£37,500||1100||2200|
|Completely bespoke highest end app||£165,000||No limit||22,000||No limit|
There’s a big difference and that difference might tempt you to switch production fully to India (Indonesia is even cheaper, by the way). However, it’s probably a better idea to mix your team across different countries and we’ll explain why later in the article.
Who will you need on your team?
For your project, you’ll need a mixture of people with the following titles: business analyst, a programming architect, project manager (that could be you), developers (a mix of senior, mid-level, and junior), a graphic designer, and quality assurance analysts (a mix of senior, mid-level, and junior).
How many you actually need will depend upon the complexity of your product.
How apps are developed
There are four stages through which your app has to go before it’ll be downloadable by users on either the App Store or Google Play.
Discovery/initial research phase
The results of the discovery phase (sometimes called the pre-development phase or the initial research phase) determine:
- the desired functionality for the app and how (if at all) it fits in with the rest of the IT infrastructure of your company,
- the technology that needs to be used in the app to achieve the desired user outcomes,
- the journey your app development team and your in-house team need to take,
- the pre-planning needed for future development of the app following the deployment phase
The discovery phase also determines the reason for being for your app – what problem or issue will it really improve, change, or fix and is an app the correct platform to do this?
Expect there to be lots of questions about every aspect of your app – this is without doubt the most frustrating part of the project from a client’s point of view. However, it is worth it however because both you and the outsourced team will know much better where the landing zone for your app is and whether it’s actually worth going to be worth the effort.
Design and UX phase
The design and UX phases governs what your app will look like and how it will behave when your clients are using it. Before the design stage, a wireframe is created with a tree of screens showing how these screens interact with each other following users’ inputs.
As the design and UX phase goes on, the web of wireframes will usually continue to develop with more screens added as opportunities to improve or streamline the user experience appear.
Once the complete wireframe has been developed and agreed on, the screen outlines are then sent to the creative team who outline design and branding across each page. Each page is then checked by the wireframe development team for suitability before being signed off.
As soon as the final page has been signed off, the wireframe with overlaid designs are now considered to be a prototype. Team members will then test the prototype and the feedback is then used to amend both the wireframe structure and the design.
Testing continues until all parties are happy with both the design and the user experience.
With the wireframe and the design information, the development phases begins with the production of a detailed specification of the technical requirements need to complete the project.
Each screen within the app will be developed according to the resources it requires. If one screen requires external data to work, where does the data come from to populate that screen? Is it an external server or is it stored within the app?
Once the app itself is built, a build version is released to both you and the app development team’s quality assurance staff. They will thoroughly check every aspect of the app’s functionality to make sure that clients’ actions produce the desired outcome and that it provides the smooth user experience that you desire for your clients.
Testing takes place in phases. Feedback and suggestions are delivered to the programmers based upon the observations made by you and by the quality assessors during each phase.
Final testing phase
As the final version of the app gets nearer, some clients may decide to launch a test version for invited clients to use to not only put the app through its paces but to better understand which parts of the app will be the most popular.
During the final testing phase, you might decide that you want additional functionality added to those features most popular with testers or earmark that part of the app for further development on later releases of your app.
…and then deployment phase
As SEO is vital for all the effort you put in your website to produce a commercial return, so is marketing for your app.
Arguably, similar (if not greater) financial resources should be earmarked for the marketing of your app as you earmarked for development. From the point of launch, you and your in-house team should be fully focused on marketing your app so that it achieves as many downloads as possible.
Please remember though that the number of downloads, although important, is not necessarily a metric of success – the true metric is the additional revenue per user generated. Once a user has downloaded your app, a different type of marketing is needed to persuade the user to make your app and what it does part of their daily lives.
iPhone app development cost versus mobile app development cost
The two dominant mobile platforms are Google’s Android and the Apple iOS. Most developers tend to learn app programming and design first in Apple iOS because it’s a closed system operating on a limited number of devices compared to the much more flexible Android.
The two previous systems, Windows Phone and Blackberry, are no longer sold with new phones and the software is years old. You would be better to focus your financial resources on Apple and Android.
Although iOS and Android share much in common, a platform-specific app will need to be written for both. The outcome of this is, in effect, a doubling of the cost of entry if you want to achieve the maximum number of potential users as possible. In many parts of the world, Android apps will cost more to develop.
App development costs by region
You don’t have to use iOS or Android programmers in the UK – you can build and employ a team anywhere around the world. The difference between using, for example, Indonesian developers and North American developers is vast and there are significant cost savings that can be made.
If you were to choose UK talent only, you may put yourself at a disadvantage if a particular skill set needed for your app’s development is harder to find within the specialist contractor market. This will likely put up the price you pay per hour and it may mean you have to wait weeks or months for a specific contractor to become available. However, using a UK-based development team is better for communication (especially face to face meetings) and for deep two-way involvement in the project.
If you were to put out your project to the rest of the world, it’s much more difficult to control because of time zone difficulties and linguistic/cultural barriers. Did you know that, in India, there are 14 different standard versions of English all of which differ significantly from British English? On the other hand, your costs will be significantly lower and you’ll be able to access a worldwide pool of talent where local skill shortages are not a consideration.
Once you’ve figured out exactly who you’ll need on your project, interview thoroughly for the best candidate and choose that person whether they are based in the UK or overseas. The end result is more likely to be much closer to the app you want and you’ll save a lot of money by selecting the best talent from the global marketplace.
How do app development costs vary by region? Please see the table below.
|Australia||£80 per hour||£83 per hour|
|Eastern Europe||£26 per hour||£26 per hour|
|India||£23 per hour||£20 per hour|
|Indonesia||£8 per hour||£9 per hour|
|North America||£113 per hour||£127 per hour|
|South America||£33 per hour||£26 per hour|
What affects app development prices?
As we mentioned earlier, the complexity of your app and the functionality included affects the end price of your project greatly. Below we list approximate prices for a part project if developed remotely in Indonesia at any average hourly cost of £8.70 and in the UK at £75.
|App feature||What does this do?||Min dev time||Max dev
|Min likely cost (Indonesia)||Max likely cost (Indonesia)||Min likely cost (UK)||Max likely cost (UK)|
|Push notifications admin||Ability to send push notifications custom to users or groups of users||5||20||£50||£175||£375||£1,525|
|Search||Search within app||12||18||£100||£175||£900||£1,375|
|File uploading||Photo and video upload, photo view, playback video||18||35||£150||£325||£1,375||£2,650|
|Payment management admin||Refund payments, see payments||20||45||£175||£400||£1,500||£3,400|
|Profile completion||Set region (nationally, internationally), add profile photo, add profile info||22||32||£175||£300||£1,650||£2,425|
|Login||Email log in, social media log-in, ability to retrieve forgotten password, log out||25||45||£200||£400||£1,875||£3,400|
|Push notifications||Receive user push notifications||25||35||£225||£325||£1,875||£2,650|
|Profile editings||Profile editing, ability to change email and password, remove or add credit and debit card details||45||65||£400||£575||£3,400||£4,925|
|User management admin||inspect user list, edit/delete/block user, create new user||60||90||£525||£775||£4,525||£6,825|
|Basic messaging||Status online/offline, conversational records, typing status, see whether message read or sent, send documents and media files||150||170||£1,300||£1,475||£11,350||£12,875|
|Map||User location detection, map search, set map-based pickup location||75||115||£650||£1,000||£5,675||£8,700|
|Payments||Balance view, view transaction list, add credit or debit card, add PayPal||60||85||£525||£750||£4,525||£6,425|
|Streaming||Broadcast stop and start, broadcast view, broadcast switch||90||145||£775||£1,275||£6,800||£10,975|
|Calls||Make and receive video and audio calls, editable list of contacts||250||375||£2,175||£3,275||£18,900||£28,375|
How much does app development cost in India? Indian app developers tend to cost three times the level of Indonesian app developers and around 30% of the cost of UK developers.
App maintenance costs
Following deployment, you should set aside further funds for maintaining your app – part of this maintenance cost is technical and the other part is to look after the people who have downloaded your app.
You should expect to budget up to 20% of your app build costs per annum for maintenance including continuing smooth integration with any third-party services you use, new feature development and deployment, optimisation of code to support newer versions of mobile platforms (iOS and Android), bug fixing, and general improvements in performance and stability.
The people who use your platform will also expect you to support them when they’re having difficulties. Don’t forget though that your users will be your greatest source of inspiration on future versions of your app. They’re the people who use what you’ve produced everyday and they know what would make using your app a more enjoyable and stress-free experience.
Finding the right team to develop your mobile web app
To get 3-4 quotes on the app you want for your business, please leave your details at the top of the page. Once we’ve found out exactly what it is that you want for your business, we’ll select the business teams and consultants in the UK and around the world to develop your project.