What is the cost of developing a mobile app is one of the most common questions we get from prospects and clients before they even tell us what they want the app to do.
The answer is somewhere between a few thousand pounds to well over £100,000. The low cost option comes from using online app tools and the £100 K + figure could relate to a more complex business app.
Typically the apps we have built range between £3,000 for a very basic ipad app that synchs with internal systems to more than £60,000 for a business app that works cross-platform, iOS, Android and Windows
For the purpose of answering the question right now, we will focus on custom business apps of moderate complexity. For example an ordering app. This will highlight the increasing challenges of mobile app development in a competitive market with demanding customers. The companies which invest in customer experience are the winners.
These are the 7 phases of mobile app development. Our goal is to keep the end-to-end delivery within 5-6 months for the initial release.
1. Discovery and Research
The first part of any project or business should be to understand the problem (or problems) that you want to solve.
This typically involves emerging yourself in the problem through qualitative and quantitative research, interviews and experiencing the problem yourself.
2. Service Concept Design
Once you’ve understood the problem you want to solve you can start working on the solution. E.g. if the problem is finding out if a product is available in inventory then the solution may be to enable customers to scan and search for the product available themselves through mobile.
For most problems the solution is not as obvious. Therefore, the methodology is normally to test lots of different concepts with rapid prototyping until you’ve zoned in on the solution.
3. Prototyping and Designing the App
The modern approach we and other mobile app design firms use is working with prototyping using a combination of flows and mock-ups. This requires more collaboration within the team but the final results are much better.
In parallel with Prototyping and Design of the app the technical team works on translating the concept and use cases into a technical solution. It also includes estimating the effort of developing the solution to define a budget cost.
5. Development of the App, Integration, Back End Development and Setup
Designs, solution architecture and use cases are all clear and development work can begin. In reality development could start much earlier with a very agile approach but this may well increase cost as the scope will change drastically from the problem description to design and architecture.
Based on the estimated effort to deliver the solution and the time available, a team is assigned. This can consist of anything from one developer for a month for a very simple app to 3-4 developers for a number of months a more complex app. For bigger projects the team is also comprised of a project manager, designer and testers.
6. Testing and Launching the App
Testing should start from the first sprint delivered and continue to the very end of the project. The role of the testers is to ensure that the final quality of the app lives up to the expectations of the project. This includes giving continuous input to the developers about bugs, reliability issues, performance, functionality, design, device specific issues and more.
The amount of testing depends on the final quality requirements. Our general rule is about 20% of the app development time.
7. Launch and Post Launch Roadmap
The app is ready to launch, uploaded and submitted for approval to Apple, Google and Microsoft. However, this is just the end of the beginning. As soon as the app is launched the post launch work begins including monitoring feedback, fixing bugs and optimizing the app.
If no new functionality or improvements are added, then the typical maintenance/support cost is about 12-15% of the original build cost on an annual basis.
So What Is the Cost of Developing a Mobile App?
According to a Forrester report from December 2015 the rate for development alone can range from as little as £10 per hour to £200 depending on who you work with and their skill level.
However, bear in mind the development of an app can be as little as 40% of the overall effort and therefore rates for marketing/business development, design, solution architecture and analytics make up a large share of the cost.
Learn more about developing a business mobile app with Objective.
Other blogs you might enjoy...
Impress customers and staff by using your database with mobiles and tablets
How to make a Digital Impact