How much does it cost to develop an app?

April 6, 2016

How much does it cost to develop an app? Well, unfortunately there is no fixed price, the cost of an app depends on its complexity.

As experienced developers, one of the first questions we are often asked by new clients with an app idea is 'How much will my project cost?' This is always tricky because without much detail we are unable to provide an accurate quote. In order to provide an accurate quote, most app development companies will request a Mobile App Requirements Brief.  This is a document that clarifies all your app's features and functionalities.

The first thing to be aware of is that the more complex your app, the more expensive it will be to develop because it requires more hours to build. For example, the difference in time between developing a complex gaming app compared to a more simple content based app can vary dramatically, from £20k to well over £100k.

The platform you choose to launch on can also have a big impact on costs. Since iOS and Android use different languages, developing both doubles the cost. If you are looking to keep the cost down, you may want to consider launching your app on one platform only, for example iOS or Android. Another option is to develop a hybrid app using HTML5, which is cross-platform. To help you decide which is platform is most suitable for your app, we have written an article called 'The Pros and Cons of Native, HTML5 and hybrid apps'.

Once you have decided what platform to use, it is important to think about the smaller details. In terms of your app's functionality, think closely about the user journey. Does your app need a login feature or a screen that enables users to create a personal profile? Does it need a messaging service or a GPS location tracker? These features all take time and more importantly, money. 

Features such as third party integrations and backend admin panel are also additions that can be costly to develop. The backend is often the most underlooked part of the app, but it is key to it’s success. From the backend admin control panel, you can manage the app, content and it's users. Rather than using an open source CMS, Red C develop all backend systems bespoke to your requirements. We use a Symfony framework to ensure it is secure, scalable and robust. Depending on access levels, the amount of information the database needs to store, and it's complexity, the backend system can cost from £5k to £30k to build.

It is also important to bear in mind that taking payments within your app can also be expensive, especially if you are considering using external payment platforms such as Paypal or Stripe.

We recommend that the first version of any app should be stripped back to just the essential features, to ensure it is approved by the store during the submission process and to keep costs down. This is called the MVP (Minimum Viable Product), it is an app with the minimum functionality possible whilst still providing a solution for users. Once you have decided on your app's basic functionality it will be easier to provide a good idea of how much your project will cost.

Red C offer a Discovery and Design package which acts as a useful pre-investment. This involves carrying out detailed user research and using this to create a mockup of your app, including sketches, wireframes, and a UI and branding kit. We then put these together to create an interactive prototype that shows your apps basic functionality. This provides a valuable insight into what the app will look like and how it will work. More importantly, it is also a way to gauge an estimate of how much it will cost to build. 

Marketing your app is also essential, due to the competitive nature of the App Store. Therefore, you should set aside 30% of your total investment for marketing your app. Don't forget, that updates and maintenance will also be required beyond development, so remember these additional costs. (Take a look at Red C's App+ service here.

To summarize, the cost of developing an app will depend on a number of factors. Beyond this article, the Red C team have a wealth of experience and are more than happy to discuss the estimation process further with you. Get in touch with Red C today so we can work with you to finalise your requirements and provide you with an estimated cost.

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