Budgeting for building an application has become extremely tricky. Multiple potential hidden costs can arise throughout the development process. Before we begin, here are some common hidden app development costs to be aware of:
- Scope Creep: Be prepared to encounter additional features or functionalities not initially included in the project scope. These changes can occur from feedback, testing, or changes in requirements and can result in additional development time and cost.
- Do You Require Backend Development and Integration?: Your app may require a backend infrastructure, server setup, or integration with external systems or APIs. Such complex configurations can add extra costs.
- Testing and Quality Assurance: Testing is a crucial phase of app development to identify and fix bugs, ensure proper functionality, and enhance the user experience. Because this process is important to ensure you do not run into problems with your app post launch, you should definitely not be cutting costs here.
- Ongoing Maintenance and Updates: Once the app is launched, you may need to allocate a budget for ongoing maintenance, bug fixes, updates, and compatibility with new operating system versions. This crucial cost is typically incurred over the lifetime of the app.
- App Store Fees: If you plan to distribute your app through app stores such as Apple App Store or Google Play Store, consider the associated fees for publishing, app updates, and potential revenue sharing.
- Security and Data Privacy: Building robust security measures and ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations may require additional resources and specialised expertise, which can increase development costs.
- User Acquisition and Marketing: Launching an app successfully often involves marketing efforts, user acquisition strategies, and promotional campaigns. Allocating a marketing and user acquisition budget should be considered an additional cost.
Determining Your App Type
The first step to figuring out the price for developing your business app is determining your app type. Broadly, there are three categories your app may fall into:
B2C or business-to-consumer Apps
These apps are ideal if you want to use your app as a platform to interact and engage with individual customers. They offer convenient shopping experiences to users by providing quick and easy access to products, services, and payments directly from businesses. These apps can range from simple to complex, depending on the purpose they serve. Some popular B2C apps include:
- E-commerce Apps: Amazon, eBay, and Shopify.
- Grocery and Food Delivery Apps: Uber Eats, Tesco Groceries, Deliveroo, and Grubhub.
- Ride-Sharing Apps: Uber, Bolt, and Ola.
- Social Media Apps: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.
- Entertainment Streaming Apps: Netflix, Spotify, Apple Music, and Disney+.
- Messaging Apps: WhatsApp, Messenger, and WeChat.
- Dating Apps: Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, and Match.com.
- Gaming Apps: Candy Crush Saga, Fortnite, and Call of Duty.
Apps Meant for Internal Use
These apps are meant to streamline internal business processes by automating repetitive tasks, making real-time communication easier, managing inventory, or increasing overall productivity. They can range in complexity depending on their features. Some popular examples include:
- Project Management Apps: Trello, Asana, and Basecamp.
- Communication and Collaboration Apps: Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Workspace.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Apps: Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho CRM.
- Human Resources Management (HRM) Apps: BambooHR, Workday, and Zenefits.
- Accounting and Finance Apps: QuickBooks, Xero, and FreshBooks.
- Workflow Automation Apps: Zapier, IFTTT, and Microsoft Power Automate.
- Document Management Apps: SharePoint, Google Drive, and Dropbox.
B2B or business-to-business Apps
If you are looking for improved collaborations, interactions, and transactions with other businesses, these apps could be your ideal choice. Again, these apps' complexity varies according to their features and the requirements they serve. Common examples of B2B apps include:
- Salesforce: A popular B2B app that provides customer relationship management (CRM) functionalities.
- Shopify: An e-commerce platform that enables businesses to set up and manage their online stores.
- Slack: A collaboration and communication platform used by businesses to facilitate team communication and collaboration.
- HubSpot: An all-in-one B2B marketing and sales platform.
- Zoom: A video conferencing app widely used by businesses for virtual meetings, webinars, and remote collaboration.
- Microsoft Azure: Microsoft Azure is a well-known cloud computing platform that offers a host of services for businesses, including infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS) services.
- Trello: Trello is a project management app that allows businesses to organise and track their projects and tasks.
So How Much Does it Cost to Develop an App in The UK?
So what is the price of developing an app in the UK? Generally, several factors play a role in determining the cost of developing an app:
- App complexity- including features and functionality
- The platform(s) it will be developed for- iOS, Android, or web
- Design requirements- UI/UX, visuals, and branding
- The development approach- hiring a development agency, freelancers, or an in-house team
In general, the cost of app development in the UK can range from £10,000 to £500,000 or more. Remember that these figures are just estimates; the actual cost varies depending on your specific project requirements.
The following is a breakdown of some key cost components to consider:
|Cost Component||Estimated Cost Range|
|App Design||£2,000 - £50,000 or more, depending on complexity and customisation|
|Development||Small to medium-sized apps: £10,000 - £150,000; Larger and more complex apps: £500,000 or more|
|Backend Development||£10,000 - £100,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the required infrastructure|
|Testing and Quality Assurance||15% - 35% of total development cost|
|Maintenance and Updates||15% - 20% of initial development cost per year|
Some Important Factors that Affect App Development Price
1. App Features and Complexity
Think about a simple to-do app or a notes app. Needless to say, these apps are the simplest to develop, with minimum cost and development time involved. Moderately complex apps such as Amazon or Uber are a little trickier to develop, with more features and requirements to fulfil. Artificial Intelligence or algorithm-based apps are more advanced, meaning they take more time and money to be built correctly.
|App Type||App Features||Timeline||Cost Range|
|Simple App||Basic features, straightforward functionality, content display, simple forms, basic user interactions, basic integration with external services, minimalistic and intuitive UI/UX design||1 to 3 months||£10,000 to £50,000|
|Moderate Complexity App||A wider range of features and functionalities, user authentication and registration, social media integration, data storage and retrieval, basic backend functionality, polished UI/UX design, integration with external APIs and services||3 to 6 months||£30,000 to £100,000|
|Complex App||Advanced features, intricate functionality, high level of customisation, real-time messaging, push notifications, complex algorithms, augmented reality, machine learning, advanced data management and synchronisation, extensive backend development, integration with multiple systems, meticulous UI/UX design, interactions with a large volume of data||6 months to 1 year or more||£80,000 to £500,000 or more|
2. App Design and Animation
Design has a key role in ensuring that your customers keep revisiting your app, and getting a skilled design team together is crucial at this point. Your design team can then start with the preliminary conceptualisation, followed by wireframe and then visual design. This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, again depending on the kind of app you are going for. Let us check out a few example apps.
- Notes app on iOS: Minimalistic design, simple text-based animations
Moderate Complexity App
- Airbnb app: Visually rich interface, custom icons, subtle animations to enhance user experience
- Spotify app: Dynamic interface, custom animations, rich visual experience with album artwork animations and smooth transitions
|App Type||App Features||UI/UX Design Timeline||Total Development Timeline||Total Estimated Cost for Design and Animation (Approximate Figures)|
|Simple App||Basic design elements, minimal animations||Few weeks||2-4 months||£3,000 - £15,000|
|Moderate Complexity App||Intricate design elements, moderate animations||1-2 months||4-7 months||£8,000 - £45,000|
|Complex App||Advanced design elements, complex animations||2-4 months||6-12 months or more||£25,000 - £80,000 or more|
3. App Development Platform
Regardless of the operating system for which you are building your app, you must choose a development platform that best suits your app's needs. There are quite a few different platforms to choose from, such as native, web, hybrid, or cross-platform development.
- Native app development: This approach works if you want to build an app specifically for a particular platform using the platform's native programming languages and development tools (e.g., Swift or Objective-C for iOS, Java or Kotlin for Android). The downside? Native app development tends to have higher costs due to the need for separate development teams, codebases, and testing for each platform.
- Cross-platform app development: This will allow you to build an app that will be able to run on multiple operating systems, such as iOS and Android, using a single codebase. You can build your app faster while saving up on development costs by sharing the same codebase across platforms. Some popular cross-platform development frameworks you may have heard of are React Native and Flutter.
|Development Type||Timeline||Estimated Cost Range|
|Native App Development (iOS or Android)||4 to 9 months||£40,000 to £200,000 or more|
|Cross-Platform App Development||3 to 7 months||£30,000 to £150,000 or more|
|Hybrid App Development||3 to 7 months||£30,000 to £150,000 or more|
|Web App Development||2 to 6 months||£20,000 to £100,000 or more|
4. Hiring an In-House Team vs. Onshoring vs. Outsourcing Your App Development Project— Which One to Choose?
Whether you plan to hire an in-house development team or outsource your project to an app development company is crucial in determining the overall cost of app development. The estimated costs and timelines vary significantly for these approaches. While hiring an in-house team requires onboarding and managing an internal team, outsourcing to a suitable company ensures more efficiency and flexibility. Outsourcing involves hiring an app development company that is either located in the UK (onshore development) or outside of the UK (offshore development). While each approach has pros and cons, offshore app development generally provides some cost advantages, especially if the development team is located in countries with lower labor costs, such as India, the Philippines, or Argentina.
The table below provides an approximate estimate of the cost of hiring app developers in the UK.
|Development Type||Description||Estimated Cost Range|
|In-house Development Team||Hiring and managing developers, designers, testers, project managers, and other necessary staff. Cost includes salaries, benefits, office space, equipment, and other overhead expenses. The estimated cost can vary significantly based on team size and the duration of the project.||£40,000 to £70,000 per year for a skilled app developer.|
|Onshore Development Team||Working with a team located within the UK but not directly employed by the company. This could be a software development agency or a group of freelancers. Cost depends on the agency's rates or freelancers' hourly rates. Onshore development generally tends to be more expensive than offshore options.||£60 to £150 per hour, depending on the expertise and experience of the team members.|
|Offshore Development Team||Collaborating with a team located outside the UK, typically in countries like India, Ukraine, or Poland, where labor costs are generally lower. Offshore development can offer cost savings while maintaining quality and efficiency. Communication issues and project management difficulties need to be resolved beforehand.||£20 to £50 per hour, depending on the location and skill level of the team.|
5. Consider the App Marketing Costs Involved
App marketing costs in the UK can vary depending on various factors, such as the marketing channels used, the target audience, the app category, and the marketing objectives.
- App Store Optimization (ASO): ASO optimizes app visibility in app stores to increase downloads. Costs include keyword research, app title and description optimization, icon and screenshot design, and monitoring and adjusting ASO strategy.
- Paid User Acquisition: Paid user acquisition involves running ads on various platforms to drive app installs. The cost depends on the advertising channels used, such as social media, search engines, display ads, or in-app networks. Costs can include ad creation, ad spend, design, and optimization. The budget can vary significantly based on goals, competition, and target audience.
- Influencer Marketing: Influencer marketing involves partnering with social media influencers to promote your app. Costs can vary depending on factors such as their reach, engagement, and niche. Some influencers charge per post, while others negotiate a percentage of app installs.
- Public Relations (PR): PR activities generate media coverage and awareness for your app. Costs include hiring an agency or specialist, crafting press releases, media outreach, launch events, and monitoring coverage. Prices vary by agency reputation, experience, and scope.
- Social Media Marketing: Social media marketing promotes your app and engages your target audience on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Costs can vary, including content creation, social media tools, ads, and influencer partnerships.
- App Analytics and Measurement: App analytics tools are necessary for monitoring user behaviour, engagement, and marketing campaign effectiveness. Costs include subscription fees for analytics platforms and resources needed to interpret the data.
|Marketing Component||Estimated Cost Range|
|App Store Optimization (ASO)|
|Keyword research||£200 - £500|
|App title and description optimization||£300 - £800|
|Icon and screenshot design||£500 - £1,500|
|ASO tools or services||£500 - £2,000 (annual subscription)|
|Paid User Acquisition|
|Ad campaign creation||£500 - £2,000 (one-time cost)|
|Ad spend||£500 - £5,000+ per month (varies based on budget and goals)|
|Creative design||£500 - £2,000 (one-time cost)|
|Optimization and management||£500 - £1,500 per month (varies based on complexity)|
|Influencer fees||£500 - £5,000+ per influencer campaign (varies based on influencer reach and engagement)|
|Creative assets for influencers||£300 - £1,000 (one-time cost)|
|Public Relations (PR)|
|PR agency or specialist||£2,000 - £10,000+ per month (varies based on agency reputation and services)|
|Press release distribution||£200 - £500 per release|
|Launch event organization||£1,000 - £5,000+ (varies based on scale and venue)|
|Social Media Marketing|
|Content creation||£300 - £1,000 per month (varies based on frequency and complexity)|
|Social media management tools||£100 - £300 per month (varies based on platform and features)|
|Advertising spend||£500 - £5,000+ per month (varies based on budget and goals)|
|Influencer collaborations||£500 - £5,000+ per influencer campaign (varies based on influencer reach and engagement)|
|App Analytics and Measurement|
|Analytics platform subscription||£300 - £1,000+ per year (varies based on features and usage)|
6. Post-launch Maintenance and Ongoing Costs
Post-launch maintenance and ongoing costs for an app can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the app, the desired level of support, and the frequency of updates. Here's an estimate of the potential post-launch maintenance and ongoing costs:
- Hosting and Infrastructure:
- App hosting: The cost of hosting your app on servers or cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure can range from £50 to £500+ per month, depending on factors like server capacity, storage, and data transfer.
- Bug Fixes and Issue Resolution:
- Bug fixes: Addressing and resolving software bugs and issues that arise after the app's launch. The cost can vary depending on the complexity and severity of the bugs but can range from £500 to £2,000+ per fix, depending on the development team's hourly rates.
- Maintenance and Updates:
- Feature updates and improvements: Adding new features, improving existing functionality, and enhancing the user experience. The cost can vary based on the scope of the updates but typically ranges from a few hundred pounds to several thousand pounds per update.
- Compatibility updates: Ensuring the app remains compatible with new OS versions, devices, and hardware updates. The cost can vary based on the level of compatibility required but generally ranges from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand pounds per update.
- Security updates: Implementing security patches and measures to protect the app and its data from potential vulnerabilities. The cost can vary based on the complexity and extent of the security measures required but typically ranges from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand pounds per update.
- Technical Support:
- Customer support: Providing technical support and assistance to app users. The cost can vary depending on factors such as the level of support required, the number of support agents, and the communication channels used (e.g., email, live chat, phone). The cost for customer support can range from a few hundred pounds to several thousand pounds per month.
How to Find Your Perfect App Development Partner in The UK?
Building and maintaining an app that proves to be an asset for your business is nothing less than a task of epic proportions. It requires some serious investment of time, money, and effort. It is also essential to understand that due to its dynamic nature, it is difficult to finalise the cost and timeline of app development during the initial stages. While a good app development company can help you with an approximate estimate and scope, the perfect company can go a step further and add tremendous value to your product in more ways than one. So how do you pick an app development company that can match your unique requirements? Here is a quick checklist you can follow:
- Define Your App Development Goals and Requirements: Be clear about your app idea, goals, and requirements before you start looking for an app development company. What unique user problems does your app intend to solve? What platforms are you developing for? What are your expectations from the app post launch? What development aspects do you need help with? These are some of the questions you should be able to explain to your potential app development partner.
- Find an App Development Partner that Understands Your Vision: An ideal app development partner should be interested in and aligned with your vision and ideas rather than just the development process.
- A Strong Portfolio Helps: Check your potential partner’s portfolio to find out if they have prior experience building the kind of app you have in mind. References, reviews, and testimonials are available on platforms like Clutch or GoodFirms.
- Do Your Research: It is essential to research different app development pricing models (fixed cost, time and material, and dedicated team are some of the most popular models), the legal aspects involved, intellectual property rights, whether your app needs third-party licenses or APIs,
- Consider Communication and Collaboration: Evaluate how well the development team communicates and collaborates with you. Smooth communication and a good working relationship can help streamline the development process and ensure project success. Settle time zone differences in advance. A good app development company should have proper communication channels and be able to identify overlapping working hours between your team and theirs.
- Experience Matters: Your app development partner should have significant industry experience and a thorough understanding of the software development lifecycle apart from coding, including design, usability, testing, and maintenance. They should have sufficient expertise in the programming languages and tech stacks you may want to use for your app.
- Do Not Let Price Be the Deciding Factor: Remember that when it comes to getting a finished product that works the way you expect it to, you get what you pay for. While many companies may offer low-price options, you do not want to wind up with an app that you might require rebuilding from scratch with another developer in the long run.
- What About Maintenance?: Post-launch support is as crucial in app development as the actual development process. Make sure that your potential app development partner is willing to provide ongoing maintenance and support to keep your app updated and bug-free.
GeekyAnts- an App Development Partner that Goes One Step Beyond
At GeekyAnts, we make our clients an integral part of their app development project.
- Extensive Industry Experience: With over 17 years of building impressive apps across various industry sectors globally, we bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. We are located in the UK, USA, and India.
- Cross-Platform Excellence: We excel in developing cross-platform apps using cutting-edge technologies like React Native and Flutter. In fact, many of our skilled developers are core contributors to these frameworks, ensuring top-notch quality and performance for your app.
- Trusted Thought Leaders: Our business leaders are experienced professionals and trusted thought leaders in their respective fields. They have the vision and insights to transform your ideas into a resounding success story.
- Innovative Problem Solving: We have a proven track record of finding innovative solutions to the challenges we encounter along our journey. Our successful products, such as Gluestack-ui, NativeBase, and Topgeek are a testament to our ability to overcome obstacles and deliver outstanding results.
- Cutting-Edge Advancements in AI: Known for our love of experimentation and embracing the latest technologies, we are currently focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning. We can infuse your app with intelligent features and elevate its capabilities by leveraging these cutting-edge advancements.
Together, we can turn your app ideas into reality and drive your business toward unprecedented success.
1. How Much Does it Cost to Maintain an App?
The cost of maintaining an app depends on its complexity, desired maintenance level, user base size, and update frequency. The main cost factors include bug fixes (ranging from hundreds to thousands of pounds per fix), updates and enhancements (ranging from hundreds to thousands of pounds per update), compatibility updates (ranging from hundreds to thousands of pounds per update), server and infrastructure costs (ranging from £50 to £500+ per month), technical support (ranging from hundreds to thousands of pounds per month), and analytics tools (ranging from hundreds to thousands of pounds per year). Actual costs vary based on app requirements and market conditions.
2. Why is Mobile App Development Expensive in the UK?
Mobile app development in the UK can be relatively expensive due to several factors:
- Skilled Workforce: The UK has a highly skilled and competitive workforce, including app developers, designers, and testers. The demand for their expertise drives up their salaries, which contributes to higher development costs.
- Higher Cost of Living: The cost of living in the UK, including office rent, utilities, and employee salaries, tends to be higher compared to some other countries. This directly impacts the overall cost of app development.
- Communication and Collaboration: Working with a local development team in the UK can offer advantages in terms of easier communication, better collaboration, and the ability to meet face-to-face. However, these benefits often come at a higher cost compared to offshore development teams due to higher salaries and operational expenses.
- Market Competition: The UK app development market is highly competitive. App development companies and freelancers often need to invest in staying up to date with the latest technologies and trends to remain competitive. These ongoing investments in skill development and resources can increase the overall cost of app development.
3. Why Does the Cost of Building Apps Vary So Much?
There are a variety of crucial factors that affect the cost of app development:
- Complexity and Scope: Simple apps cost less than complex ones with more advanced features and custom-designed components.
- Design and User Experience: Intuitive and visually appealing designs require skilled designers and extensive user testing, which can increase development cost.
- Platform and Device Compatibility: Building an app for multiple platforms or ensuring compatibility across various devices adds complexity and development time.
- Integration and Backend Development: Connecting with external systems requires additional development efforts and can contribute to higher costs.
- Development Approach and Team Structure: The choice of development approach can impact costs.
- Geographic Location: The cost of app development varies based on the geographic location of the development team.
- Additional Services and Requirements: App testing, app store submission, ongoing maintenance, updates, and post-launch marketing also contribute to the overall cost.
4. How to Compare Prices for App Development?
When comparing prices for app development, follow these steps:
- Define Your App Requirements: Clearly outline your app's features, functionality, target audience, and desired platforms (iOS, Android, web, etc.).
- Research Multiple Development Companies: Look for reputable app development companies or freelancers with a track record of delivering quality apps.
- Request Detailed Proposals: Reach out to the selected development companies and provide them with your project requirements. Request detailed proposals that outline the estimated timelines, development approach, team structure, deliverables, and cost breakdowns.
- Evaluate the Development Team's Expertise: Assess the technical expertise and skillset of the development team. Consider their experience in building similar apps, their knowledge of the required technologies, and their ability to handle complex features or integrations.
- Compare Pricing Structures: Examine the pricing structures provided by different development companies. Some companies may charge fixed prices for the entire project, while others may follow an hourly rate model.
- Assess Value for Money: Consider the value you will receive for the quoted price. Evaluate factors such as the company's reputation, the quality of their past work, their understanding of your industry, their communication abilities, and their post-launch support.
- Seek Clarity on Additional Costs: Inquire about any potential additional costs not included in the initial proposal, such as app store submission fees, third-party service integrations, ongoing maintenance, or future updates.
- Negotiate and Finalize Contracts: Once you have compared the price estimates and evaluated other factors, you can negotiate the terms, discuss any adjustments to the proposal, and finalize the contract with the chosen development company.