How much does it cost to make an app in the UK? The short answer is, there is no fixed price.
App development cost varies based on several key factors, including: the length of time it takes to develop the app, how much functionality the app requires, how much experience you need from a development team, the complexity of the project and the amount of maintenance your app will need once it’s built and deployed. Among others! So you can see how the price starts to mount.
As we outlined in our article on fixed vs flexible budgets, a single native platform mobile app could cost around £30,000 in development, while a native iOS and Android app could require a budget of £50,000, based on the development of an app with a multilingual interface, in-app purchases, a user account and custom UI design. Anything beyond that and you could be looking to spend anywhere between £75,000 and £500,000.
Like most things, you get what you pay for. That’s why you shouldn’t be put off by a sizeable price tag, as the more you put in, the more you’re likely to get back from your app. Sticking to a strict budget can restrict your flexibility in the development process, as well as produce an app that’s limited in its abilities. Though it’s also true that spending the earth won’t always translate to a strong return on investment. That’s why it’s essential to be clued in to reasonable costs - which we’ll explore below - and to get hold of a reliable quote. Want one upfront? Use our quote calculator to understand how much your project might cost.
In this article, we’ll take you through the different elements to consider when outlining a budget for your app development. So whether you’re starting out with a fledgling idea or you have an app concept ready to go to development, you’ll be armed with the knowledge you need to make the right call on how much to spend on making an app.
Time will be one of the biggest factors in determining your app development cost. And how much time you’ll need to dedicate to the project will be decided by how complex your app is, which we’ll take a look at below. At the beginning of the project though, these are two things to consider:
Discovery and design phases come first
Before you even get into the development phase, any development team worth their salt will want to sit down with you and understand the background and context to the project. This will usually come in the form of a discovery, in which you’ll look at target audience, functionality, business objectives, your product-market-fit, KPIs and more. Design is next up. You’ll want to agree on a vision for the way your app will look and feel before you begin. Not all developers are designers, so you’ll need to engage a dedicated designer for visual design, UX design and branding. Both of these phases require input from experienced professionals and should be factored into your budget.
Scope of work and code complexities
Following discovery and design, you’ll need an outline of the scope of work to be able to accurately determine not only budget, but timelines too. This is when code complexity will be considered too. Of course, if you can’t write code, you’ll need developers on board. They’ll look at the factors outlined below.
It might sound obvious, but the complexity of your app is the greatest determiner of price. The more complicated it is to conceptualise and build, the more time it will take and the more experience it will require from a development team. A social media app, gaming app or e-commerce app will be much more expensive to develop than a calculator app, for example.
As well as coding, you’ve got to consider:
Support & maintenance
While keeping it simple will keep costs down, if you’re looking for an app that has bells and whistles, you’ll want to get an accurate cost that will reflect the work and experience that will go into making it.
Here are the elements of complexity that will add to the cost of app development:
Number of screens
Ideally, for the best user experience, your app won’t have more than ten screens. Bear in mind each screen has its own costs depending on what it will display, how dynamic it will be and if it requires micro-interactions.
Connectivity to and integration with other apps and software
Does your app need to be integrated with third-party apps and tools? If so, compatibility will need to be investigated and, potentially, integrations built. If APIs are changed, your app will need to be updated too. Most common API tools have clear documentation, but if the tool is more obscure or new, it might take more time to integrate.
Native vs cross-platform
Is the app being developed purely for iOS (Swift) or Android (Kotlin)? Or will it need to be developed for a variety of device hardware and operating systems? The more it needs to support, the longer development can take. By choosing a cross platform frontend like React Native (we’re experts with this) it reduces the costs involved because you’ll only need to develop one frontend code for iOS and Android.
What you want your app to do is the other most pricy element when it comes to your app development cost. Generally, the more simple it is, the cheaper it will be. While more functionality equals a higher cost.
Beyond the basics like simple user navigation and personalisation, consider the features and functionality you want - from push notifications, social interaction and email integration to data storage, a feedback mechanism, user tracking to allow for data to be gathered and analysed to optimise performance, augmented reality and content delivery network integration. This information will help developers to estimate the cost of your app development project. Some functionality may be able to be in-built, while some will require a subscription to a third-party provider. All of this adds up.
If you are limited by budget, you can consider getting started on a minimum viable product (MVP) or proof of concept app that can go live quickly while still covering the core features. You can keep costs down for this route by choosing cross-platform app development and opting to use templates with built-in functionality rather than going for a custom build. During our feature prioritisation stage, we analyse all the possible features your app might have, and work out what features the app needs to launch, while achieving the solution to the problem you’re trying to solve for the user. We use a MuSCoW framework for this.
An experienced app development team comes at a cost. Ideally you want to find mobile app development companies that have plenty of experience in the type of app you’re looking to build, can offer a variety of skills and tech platform knowledge, whether that’s cross-platform or native, and is prepared to be proactive and challenge you on things they know more about.
Some factors that impact the cost:
Where your app developer is based will impact the fee they charge. You’re likely to find a cheaper rate if you outsource development overseas, but bear in mind that you may have to overcome a language barrier and that you may not be able to keep track of progress effectively across different time zones.
Choosing a freelancer versus an established team
Got around £10,000 to spend? A freelancer may be the way to go. While independent contractors can be a cheaper option, you’re likely to not be their only client so focus on your project is split with others. They also may not have the range of experience you’d get from a team, meaning your app’s design and functionality may not be up to scratch.
Small app development agencies are great for building niche apps as they tend to specialise in one area. Want to spend in the £15,000-£50,000 range on a team that understands your market and your small business goals? This could be the answer.
Of course, you’ll pay top dollar for a large-scale app development company, as they have the manpower and highly qualified devs on their teams to deliver your project efficiently and to a high standard. For this sort of team, you may be looking to pay upwards of £100,000.
Ultimately, it comes down to finding a team that suits you, your ways of working, your timeline and your budget.
Deploying your app isn’t the end of the process. App development costs should always include maintenance if you aren’t able to cover that in-house yourself. Generally, less maintenance is required after a successful launch while you build up your user base, but you will still want a team on hand to take care of issues and bugs and implement updates as time goes on.
As with development, the cost of app maintenance varies with app complexity, the number of developers needed and whether you’ll require 24/7 support. Servers, data storage, CDN and image data will all require some level of monitoring and maintenance.
Ensure your budget has resources for the following:
iOS and Android updates
Both of these platforms release updates consistently, which will require maintenance for your app.
Remember that almost every time you make a significant update to your app, you need to submit it to the app stores.
Changes to APIs
Apps usually interact with multiple third-party APIs. If they change, your app will need to be updated too.
It’s inevitable that a bug will pop up on your app at some point. You don’t want your users to struggle with them for months on end, so you’ll want to be able to address issues quickly.
App development at Fortnight follows this structure:
Discovery and feature definition
UX and UI design
App development and deployment
Maintenance, analysis, optimisation and support
At every stage, we take into consideration the elements laid out above when giving you an app development cost so you can be confident you’ll receive an accurate quote for the app you want to build.
Ultimately, how much does it cost to develop an app in the UK? Use our handy quote calculator to get started. Or if you have a project in mind and want to discuss the details, let’s chat.