Mobile App Development

How Much Does it Cost to Develop an App in the UK (Everything You Need to Know)

Mobile app development costs in the UK can vary, but having a mobile app for a business is essential as we move into 2024.  The cost of creating an app fluctuates significantly, depending on the application size and complexity (the more app developers involved the more expensive).

While certain apps can be developed for as little as £3,000, others may surpass a million pounds. The statistics on mobile phone ownership interestingly show more people using mobile applications than ever. In 2009, 28% of people used mobile apps, which has risen to 86%.

What is the cost of app development?

How much does it cost to develop an app has no simple answer. For those thinking about creating an app with our custom mobile app development team, it’s a completely different product, experience, and journey than an off-the-shelf app alternative.

Do you want to build an app or have an app development project in mind?

Check out our custom software and mobile App cost calculator, which gives an App development cost estimate. After 30 years of building apps, Pulsion has the expertise to provide app cost estimates.

In this article, we provide an overview of the average cost associated with developing an app, from the beginning of the development process to the release of the app on either the App Store or the Web.

We also discuss the various factors contributing to the overall cost of app development and provide tips on how to manage costs while ensuring that your app meets your specific requirements.

Table of Contents

Exploring Application Development Costs Quick Examples

Building an app hinges on several factors, including the app’s complexity, compatible platforms, and requisite features. Let’s delve into our mobile app development cost breakdown and core aspects impacting app price:

Levels of App Development ComplexityCost (GBP/USD)FeaturesDevelopment Time
Entry Level£3000 – £18,000 ($3,720 to $22,320)
  • Minimalist user interface
  • Basic user navigation
  • Core functionality
  • Standard security protocols
  • Simple database connections
  • Fundamental push notifications
  • Support for either iOS or Android
1-2 months
Intermediate Level£18,000 – £71,348 ($22,320 to $90,000)
  • Refined user interface
  • Enhanced navigation system
  • Broader functionality
  • Upgraded security features
  • Connections with external APIs
  • Elementary offline capabilities
  • Compatibility across platforms
  • Integration with social networks
4-6 months
Advanced Level£71,348 – £118,912 ($90,000 to $150,000)
  • Sophisticated UI/UX design
  • Advanced navigation options
  • Extensive custom features
  • Comprehensive security measures
  • Smooth integration with third-party services
  • Sophisticated offline features
  • Immediate content updates
  • Detailed analytics and reporting tools
  • Support for multiple languages
  • Adaptability across various devices
6-9 months
Expert Level£118,912 – £148,635 ($150,000 to $187,500+)
  • Integration of AI and machine learning
  • Complex data visualization tools
  • Advanced security options including biometrics and encryption
  • Implementation of AR/VR technologies
  • Enhanced offline functionality and sync
  • Predictive analytics capabilities
  • Utilization of blockchain technology
  • IoT connectivity
  • Comprehensive multi-platform and cross-device integration
9-18 months

Looking to tap into the £16+ billion UK app industry, but concerned about the cost? Let us put your mind at ease with a custom quote

Factors Impacting Application Development Costs Full Overview

The cost of developing apps can be influenced by diverse factors, including the type of application, geographical region, developer hiring practices, and concealed development expenses.

Guide to App Development Timeframes and Costs in the UK

App TypeTime to Develop AppRough Estimated Cost (£)
Social Media6-12 months£39,500 – £395,000
E-commerce4-12 months£23,700 – £395,000
Gaming2-12 months or more£7,900 – £395,000 or more
Education3-6 months£19,750 – £197,500
Health and Fitness4-6 months£39,500 – £197,500
Travel and Hospitality3-8 months£19,750 – £237,000
Productivity3-6 months£19,750 – £197,500
On-demand4-8 months£39,500 – £237,000

App Type and Complexity

Different application categories, such as social media, e-commerce, gaming, education, healthcare, travel, productivity, and on-demand, exhibit varying time and cost requirements. Estimations based on an app development cost calculator illustrate the expected investment for each category.

App Complexity Examples

  • Basic-functionality apps, like calculators or flashlights, may cost between £3,000 and £18,000.
  • More intricate apps, like social media or e-commerce, may range from £30,000 to £400,000.
  • High-end apps with advanced features, like banking or healthcare apps, can soar beyond £500,000, even reaching millions.

Platform Selection Examples

  • Hybrid (Android + iOS): £10,000 to £15,000
  • Web app development: £8,000 to £14,000
  • Single-platform apps (Android or iOS): £5,000 to £12,000

The cost of app development also varies, depending on the type of app, such as native, hybrid, PWA, gaming, or AR/VR apps. At a recent event, “Mobile World Congress” in Barcelona, the average cost to develop an app is between £10,000 and £150,000 according to various app development companies.

App Features

The app’s features are directly proportional to the development costs. Basic applications with minimal functionality can be developed at a lower cost. However, introducing advanced features such as real-time order tracking or third-party API integration significantly elevates the price.

Adopting a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) strategy to focus on developing an app with core functionalities and enhancing it based on user feedback, is an efficient way to manage and reduce costs. The MVP approach allows for prioritising features based on user demand and scaling the app gradually, aligning development expenses with actual user needs and market validation.

App Development Approach or Framework

The chosen development approach will influence app development costs. Native apps, developed specifically for iOS or Android platforms, offer better performance but are more expensive.

Hybrid and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) provide a cost-effective alternative with broader compatibility but may have limitations in terms of functionality and performance.

Using off-the-shelf components versus custom development also impacts the cost and should be aligned with the app’s unique requirements and goals.

Design and User Experience

The design phase is crucial in app development and significantly impacts the overall cost. This phase includes wireframing, prototyping, and user testing to ensure the app is intuitive and meets user expectations. Investing in a thorough design process can be more cost-effective in the long run.

It helps to identify and address potential issues early, reducing the need for costly revisions during or after the development phase. A well-designed app can lead to higher retention rates, positive word-of-mouth, and enhanced user satisfaction, contributing to the app’s success.

Development Region

The app development team costs vary by region. The location of development significantly affects costs, with North America and Western Europe generally incurring higher hourly rates than Eastern Europe and Asia. Understanding regional variations leads to effective budgeting.

UK-based developers also possess advanced skill sets and industry experience, resulting in higher-quality deliverables. Their familiarity with local regulations, like GDPR, ensures compliance and reduces legal business risks.

Moreover, proximity facilitates better communication and collaboration, leading to more efficient project management and timely deliveries. UK developers also adhere to stringent quality standards, resulting in robust and reliable applications. Additionally, language and cultural barriers hinder communication.

Hiring App Developers Among Different Types

The mobile app development process is crucial. The choice between in-house developers and freelancers presents cost disparities. In-house teams, though more expensive, can ensure quality, while freelancers offer cost-effective solutions for specific projects.

Hiring mobile app development services in the UK is more expensive. Still, local experts know your business needs and customer base better than anyone from India or South America. Local businesses have local knowledge and nuances native to a region.

In-House vs. Outsourced Development Teams

The composition and location of the development team significantly affect the app development costs. An in-house team may offer better collaboration and control over the project but can be more expensive due to overhead costs such as salaries, benefits, and workspace.

On the other hand, outsourcing provides access to a global talent pool at competitive rates, potentially reducing costs. However, it’s crucial to consider factors such as time zone differences, language barriers, and the vendor’s reputation to ensure a smooth development process.

Developer Expertise in App Development

The expertise of developers significantly impacts app development costs. Developers in cheaper countries may offer cost advantages but may lack the skills, seniority, and experience required for complex projects. Also, senior developers will cost more than junior developers, even in the UK.

For example, a senior developer in the UK earns roughly £70,000 to £85,000 per year, whereas a junior developer may only earn around £27,000 to £42,000. You’re paying for their level of experience and skill sets. Senior developers have been mastering their work longer than juniors.

Technical Factors Influence Costs

Incorporating advanced technical features like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), blockchain, or machine learning into an app requires specialised expertise, increasing development costs. The technologies offer innovative ways to engage users but come with their own set of complexities.

High-end custom designs, rigorous security measures, and scalability to accommodate user growth add to the development expenses. You must evaluate the benefits these technologies bring to your app against their cost to ensure a positive return on investment.

Technological Innovation in Development

Technological innovation can significantly impact the cost of developing an app in the UK in these ways:

  1. Efficiency: Innovative technologies often streamline the development process, reducing the time and resources required to build an app. For instance, certain frameworks, libraries, and development tools can automate specific tasks and accelerate development.
  2. Functionality: New technologies enable advanced features and functionalities implementation within an app, which increases development costs if the app requires cutting-edge capabilities or integration with emerging technologies, such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), or artificial intelligence (AI).
  3. Scalability: Innovative solutions can enhance the scalability of an app, allowing it to handle increasing user loads and data volumes without significant performance degradation. The scalability is beneficial in the long run but may lead to higher development costs to implement robust infrastructure and architecture.
  4. User Experience: Technological innovations lead to improvements in user experience through intuitive interfaces, personalized content delivery, and responsive design. Investing in these aspects elevates the app quality but may involve additional design and development expenses.
  5. Maintenance and Updates: Innovative technologies may affect ongoing maintenance and updates. While some technologies facilitate easy maintenance and upgrades, others require specialized knowledge and resources, which may increase long-term support costs.

Technological innovation often provides opportunities to create more sophisticated, scalable, and user-friendly solutions but can increase and decrease app development costs.

Still, assess the benefits and trade-offs of adopting new technologies to ensure they align with the app’s goals, target audience, and budget.

Other Factors Impacting the Cost of App Development (UK)

Still wondering how much does app development cost? These additional factors give a broader view of the cost of app development in the UK, especially related to unexpected costs:

Hidden Costs in App Development

Several hidden costs can arise during app development, which may not initially be apparent, including expenses related to addressing technical complexities, ongoing development and updates, app store submission and maintenance fees, hosting services, and compliance with regulatory or legal standards.

Anticipating and budgeting for these costs can prevent unexpected financial overruns and ensure the project stays on track. Discuss any potentially hidden costs with your development team before developing an app, especially if you outsource development. We’re open to discussing these costs.

More Hidden App Development Costs (Technical)

Hidden app development expenses on the technical side are often overlooked, including backend infrastructure, integration with third-party services, security features, and app store fees. Keeping an eye on your app development budget is crucial for an accurate financial outlook.

Testing and Quality Assurance in App Development:

Testing and quality assurance are crucial phases in app development, ensuring the reliability and functionality of the final product. Rigorous testing practices encompass various stages in the UK, including unit testing, integration testing, and user acceptance testing (UAT).

These tests guarantee that the app meets performance standards, functions seamlessly across different devices, and satisfies user expectations. Effective testing mitigates the risk of bugs and errors, enhancing user satisfaction and minimising post-launch maintenance costs, which come next.

However, a lack of detail on testing could leave readers unaware of potential expenses associated with ensuring app quality. UK-based developers uphold industry standards and deliver high-quality apps that meet client expectations by prioritising thorough testing. The commitment to quality ultimately leads to better user experiences and long-term success for businesses.

Maintenance and Updates

Remember that app development costs extend beyond the initial expenditure. Ongoing maintenance, updates, and enhancements demand additional time and resources. Regular maintenance and updates are integral to continued seamless performance and relevance in today’s digital world.

Some maintenance activities include fixing bugs, updating content, improving features, and ensuring compatibility with new OS versions. Maintenance costs can account for 10-20% of the original development cost annually and should be factored into your long-term budget.

App Maintenance Costs Breakdown

Factors influencing maintenance costs include bug fixing, security upkeep, server and software updates, customer support, hosting, and app updates.

  • Ongoing bug fixes and issue resolution.
  • Regular updates to enhance features and security.
  • Monitoring and optimizing performance.

Publishing Costs

Publishing an app on platforms like the Apple App Store or Google Play Store involves specific fees, including developer account charges and potentially a commission on in-app purchases. These costs vary between platforms but impact the overall app budget.

Planning for these expenses helps to set the right pricing strategy for the app and forecast revenue for our clients. We discuss the publishing costs during interviews to help you budget for the entire project based on these additional costs.

GDPR Compliance in UK App Development Costs

GDPR compliance significantly affects app development costs in the UK, necessitating enhanced data protection measures, privacy considerations, and legal adherence. It mandates early integration of privacy features, increasing initial expenses.

Costs stem from implementing privacy by design principles, data management features, and robust consent mechanisms. Developers must engage legal counsel, conduct regular audits, and prioritise user data security to ensure compliance.

Despite upfront costs, GDPR adherence offers long-term benefits, including user trust, legal risk mitigation, and competitive advantage. In conclusion, GDPR compliance is a crucial aspect of UK app development, impacting costs and operational strategies.

5 Different App Development Stages That Influence App Development Costs

Questions like “How much does it cost to make an app” depend on how well-planned the different stages of app development are during development. Developing a successful app involves a structured process encompassing planning, design, development, testing, and deployment.

Each stage contributes to the app’s success and incurs specific and hidden app costs if not done properly. The distribution of costs across the stages is depicted in the accompanying lifecycle diagram.

1. The Planning Stage

This stage defines the app’s purpose, audience, features, and requirements. Costs can vary based on complexity, with simpler apps requiring less extensive research and planning. Approximately 12% of the total development cost is allocated to the planning phase. Here’s what the stage involves:

  • Ideation and defining the app’s purpose.
  • Market research and identifying the target audience.
  • Analyzing to define and refine requirements.
  • Creating a detailed project plan, including features and functionalities.

2. The Design Stage

The cost of designing an app depends on project complexity, screen count, design type, and the design team’s experience. Design typically constitutes 13% of the total development cost.

  • User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design.
  • Wireframing and prototyping.
  • Graphic design for app elements.

3. The App Development Stage

Building the app involves coding, debugging, and feature integration. The time and cost in this phase hinge on feature count, targeted platforms, and the development team’s experience. Approximately 60% of the total development cost is allocated to this stage.

  • Front-end development for the user interface.
  • Back-end development for server-side functionality.
  • Database design and integration.
  • API development for third-party integrations.

4. The App Testing Stage

Thorough testing to identify bugs incurs costs related to feature count, testing tools, and the testing team’s size. This phase constitutes roughly 12% of the total development cost.

  • Unit testing for individual components.
  • Integration testing to ensure seamless functionality.
  • User acceptance testing for overall user experience.

5. The App Deployment Stage

Launching the app to the public incurs costs related to hosting platforms and deployment strategies. Around 6% of the total development cost is allocated to the deployment phase.

  • Preparing the app for release on chosen platforms.
  • Submission to app stores (e.g., Apple App Store, Google Play).
  • Configuration of server infrastructure.

After Development Cost Considerations Summary

  1. Marketing and Promotion:
    • Creating promotional materials and assets.
    • Implementing a marketing strategy to attract users.
    • Utilizing social media and other channels for promotion.
  2. Analytics and Monitoring:
    • Implementing analytics tools for user data.
    • Monitoring app performance and user behavior.
    • Iterative improvements based on analytics insights.
  3. Legal Considerations:
    • Ensuring compliance with privacy and data protection regulations.
    • Securing necessary licenses and permissions.
    • Drafting and implementing user agreements and terms of service.
  4. Cost Management:
    • Budgeting for development, deployment, and ongoing maintenance.
    • Cost analysis for third-party services and integrations.
    • Monitoring expenses throughout the development lifecycle.
  5. User Support:
    • Establishing channels for user support (e.g., helpdesk, FAQs).
    • Responding to user feedback and addressing concerns.
    • Providing timely customer support for troubleshooting.
  6. Security Measures:
    • Implementing robust security features.
    • Regular security audits and vulnerability assessments.
    • Ensuring data encryption and secure transmission.
  7. Scaling and Future Development:
    • Planning for scalability as the user base grows.
    • Considering future features and updates.
    • Evaluating opportunities for expansion or additional platforms.

Estimating Your Mobile App Development Cost

Developing a mobile app demands meticulous planning, considering factors like app type, features, region, development team size, security, and interface. App development calculators and case studies offer valuable insights for estimating costs.

Additionally, factoring in maintenance costs, understanding development stages, and considering developer hiring costs are vital for effective budget planning. You can make informed decisions and ensure a successful app development journey by analysing these facets comprehensively.

Choose a Transparent Mobile Development Company in the UK

Contact us today to discuss your needs and ideas. Our team is ready to tackle any mobile app development project you have in mind while fitting the budget you have available, whether you need custom mobile app development or MVP development company services for a lower budget.

Some of our mobile app development services include:

Additionally, we can help you further reduce mobile app development costs by migrating you to the cloud. Our cloud migration services will cut costs as proud partners of Azure and AWS. Hire dedicated developers who understand your needs and budget.

Alternatively, contact our digital strategy consultants today to learn more about us and our services. Let us turn a seemingly complicated topic into something simple while being completely transparent about all costs involved in mobile app development. Otherwise, use one of our favorite calculators.

The Best App Development Cost Calculators

Various app development cost calculators exist to estimate app development expenses based on platform, design, security, and features. Notable calculators include:

  • App development cost: Provides a comprehensive breakdown of costs based on responses to a set of questions.
  • Inoxoft: Estimates development costs based on platform, design, security, and features.
  • Litslink: Calculates costs based on detailed questions about product design, features, etc.
  • Buildfire: Offers options to estimate costs related to platform, users, features, maintenance, hosting, and more.

Cloud-provided cost calculators like AWS, Azure, and GCP also offer estimates for hosting app infrastructure in the cloud.

Top 10 Strategies to Optimize Costs for App Development in the UK

Cost optimization is essential for businesses embarking on mobile app development in the UK. By strategically approaching various components of the development process, companies can save resources and ensure the creation of successful applications.

Here are some cost optimization strategies tailored for the UK market:

  1. Outsourcing development: Leveraging outsourcing can lead to lower labor costs, access to specialized expertise, and streamlined resource allocation. This approach accelerates time-to-market and allows businesses to focus on core competencies.
  2. Embracing open-source technologies: Open-source technologies eliminate licensing costs, offer customization options, and provide continuous updates. By leveraging community support, businesses can reduce the total cost of ownership while fostering innovation and interoperability.
  3. Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach: Prioritizing essential features and adopting an MVP approach can significantly reduce development costs. By avoiding unnecessary complexity and focusing on core functionalities, businesses can test the viability of their app concept with minimal investment.
  4. Cloud-based infrastructure adoption or migration: Cloud-based infrastructure offers a pay-as-you-go pricing model, reducing infrastructure costs and providing scalability and elasticity. This approach ensures high availability, accelerates time-to-market, and offers managed services and automation tools for cost optimization.
  5. Choose the right platform: Prioritize platforms based on your target audience and app nature. Cross-platform tools like React Native or Flutter can reduce costs.
  6. Keep the design simple: Focus on an attractive yet straightforward design. Pre-built templates or experienced designers specializing in simplicity can save time and money.
  7. Leverage third-party APIs: Consider third-party APIs for functionality rather than custom solutions. Ensure these solutions align with your needs, are well-documented, and have strong developer support.
  8. Optimize for scalability: Design your app for scalability using technologies like cloud-based solutions or microservices architecture to reduce the need for major rewrites.
  9. Work with an experienced team: Seasoned developers offer valuable insights to reduce costs without compromising quality. A comprehensive development partner can streamline the process from design to maintenance.
  10. Plan for updates and maintenance: Adopt a modular development approach, allowing individual features to be updated without affecting the entire app, reducing future update costs.

By implementing these strategies, businesses can navigate the complexities of mobile app development in the UK while optimizing costs and maximizing ROI. Developing an app need not break the bank. Consider the following our top 10 strategies to reduce app development costs instead.

FAQs on Mobile App Development Costs in the UK

What Determines the Cost of Developing a Mobile App?

Several key factors influence how much to create an app in the UK. App complexity is a major determinant; simple apps with basic functionalities are less expensive, while complex apps with advanced features like real-time tracking or AI demand more resources. The choice of platforms (iOS, Android, or cross-platform) also affects costs, as native development for each platform may require separate efforts. Additionally, the location of the development team plays a significant role; rates can vary widely across different regions, impacting overall costs. Considering these factors is crucial for businesses to estimate and manage their app development budget effectively.

How Has the Increase in Mobile App Usage Impacted Businesses?

The surge in mobile app usage since 2009 has revolutionized business landscapes, enabling direct customer engagement, personalized marketing, and enhanced service delivery, ultimately driving growth and competitive advantage.

Can You Estimate the Cost Range for Developing Different Types of Apps?

Developing simple apps may cost a few thousand pounds, while complex, feature-rich apps can run into hundreds of thousands, influenced by functionality, design, and technology requirements.

What Are the Ongoing Costs After Launching a Mobile App?

Maintenance, updates, and enhancements are crucial ongoing expenses post-launch, often comprising 10-20% of the initial development cost annually to ensure app relevance and performance.

How Do Platform Choices Affect Development Costs?

Hybrid and web app development can offer cost efficiencies through reusable code across platforms, whereas native apps for individual platforms might incur higher costs due to specific development requirements.

What Strategies Can Help Manage and Reduce App Development Costs?

Effective cost management strategies include prioritising core features, opting for cross-platform development, and leveraging open-source tools, ensuring cost-efficiency without sacrificing app quality.

Why Is Planning and Strategy Crucial in App Development?

Strategic planning ensures alignment with business objectives, helps manage resources efficiently, and mitigates risks, making it fundamental for controlling costs and achieving desired outcomes.

What Hidden Costs Should Businesses Anticipate in App Development?

Businesses should be prepared for hidden costs such as backend server expenses, third-party service integrations, compliance, and security measures, which can significantly affect the budget.

How Does the Development Team’s Composition Influence Costs?

The choice between in-house teams, freelancers, and outsourcing options affects costs, with in-house teams offering more control but potentially higher costs, while outsourcing can offer cost savings.

What Are the Stages of App Development and Their Associated Costs?

The app development process spans planning, design, development, testing, and deployment, with costs varying at each stage, heavily influenced by app complexity and quality requirements.

How does the size of an app impact its development cost?

The size of an app influences its development cost because larger apps tend to be more complex, requiring more features, functionality, and integration points, which in turn demands more development and testing time. This complexity necessitates a robust backend to manage data and user interactions efficiently. Additionally, larger apps often involve more extensive quality assurance processes to ensure functionality and performance, leading to higher costs for development, maintenance, and updates.

In Conclusion

The journey of developing a mobile app involves a careful balance of costs, planning, and strategic decision-making. It’s essential to recognise that the app development landscape is multifaceted, with each stage demanding attention to detail and financial consideration.

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