The Real Cost Of Creating An App

By 11th October 2018 No Comments

Over the past ten years, people have been spending more time on their phones. This also means they are spending more time immersed in mobile apps. Since 2009 the time users spend browsing their apps per month has more than doubled. In 2009 the global amount of mobile app downloads was 2.52 billion. Fast forward to 2018 and that has reached over 268 billion. A clear indication that if you have a fantastic idea and are debating creating an app, now is the right time to get involved, but what is the cost of building an app?

The 3 most popular apps as of 2018 are WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Facebook. As apps become more crucial to smartphone users’ experiences, businesses and entrepreneurs are becoming more focused on building apps to support new ideas. Lots of people are keen to get on board when it comes to creating apps, but it seems the sheer cost of the process sometimes seems to deter people.

Whatsapp is the most popular app worldwide in 2018

Why does the cost of building an app range so much?

There are numerous factors which influence the cost of an app. Around 80% of mobile apps take over 3 months to develop, and 40% of those take over 6 months. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly how much an app will cost due to the complexity and time required to build it. Generally, the cost of making a simple app can be anywhere between £10,000-£40,000. This can jump to way over £100,000 and into the millions for a more complex app. It all comes down to how complex your app is. How you develop it, functionality, design and platform, time and changes during the development process all affect the cost. The more complex your app is, the longer it will take to build, leading to increasing costs as developers and designers spend more time on your app.

What factors determine how complex an app is?

When deciding on how to build an app one of the decisions you will have to make will be whether to develop your app hybrid or native. You can read more about the differences between the two in our previous blog. Generally, if you choose a native app it will have to be built across two different platforms (iOS and Android), which will incur greater costs, not least because you will have to pay for both Android and iOS developers.

Gaming apps are generally quite expensive to build. Most mobile games nowadays have certain standards they want to meet to keep up with competition. For example, gaming apps usually comprise of 3D graphics, AR support and social media integration. All of these will ramp up the cost for the app development process.

As well as gaming apps, there are two other categories which determine app complexity.

  • Apps without web servers
  • Apps with web servers

Apps without data servers don’t store their data on remote data servers, unlike apps with servers. If developing an app without a data server, the user will often be able to choose their actions from ‘lists’ and ‘drop down’ menus to select what they want. This would be referred to as a table functionality app. Apps with data servers will store their data on remote servers. Rather than providing a drop-down list with options, these apps will allow users to perform searches and input data to produce results. Connecting apps to remote servers take a lot more work and intricate programming, therefore this will also ramp up the cost of your app.

Development and Design Costs

Despite every other aspect that makes building an app costly, have you thought about how much it costs for developers and designers to build your app? It’s a skilled job that takes a lot of time and good apps can’t be made overnight. The cost to hire developers varies. You can hire freelance developers to develop your app, which may end up cheaper. However, working with an agency to develop your app is probably the best bet. Working with an agency means that you will get a full team working on your app, as well as guidance, advice, and project managers assisting with the process.

It’s not just developers that are needed to build your app, designers are also required. Designers will plan out the visual design of your app, logos, icons, wireframes, and branding. Designers are required to make sure the app is user-friendly.


Once your app has been designed and developed, it’s almost ready to be unleashed into the world. However, you will need to market your app to ensure it reaches the largest amount of people possible. It’s no good having an amazing app with nobody using it. It’s important to invest in a well designed mobile marketing strategy, which could lead to thousands of downloads and great user metrics.

When it comes to marketing your app, it’s essential to know your audience. Reaching out to the wrong target market could waste time and produce little relevant results. Do market research and create a buzz around your product. Create an engaging website with relevant blogs and interesting content. If you know your keywords for SEO and ASO, and create a successful campaign for your launch, then your app should be a success!

Bear in mind, though, that this shouldn’t be the last thing on your mind after the app is launched, but it should be considered alongside. Market research will help identify features and functionality that you may not have thought of, but that your target audience crave.

Read more about App Marketing here.

Cost by Key Mobile Features

The cost to build an app is often dictated by the set of features it encompasses. Some features are more difficult to implement and are therefore costlier to add to your app. Let’s have a look at some specific features will add to the cost of your app.


Lots of apps you use regularly have a chat feature. Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are some of the most popular. It takes a lot of time to incorporate a chat feature into an app. It’s also essential to know what type of chat you want. The chat feature could be basic, like traditional SMS style. However, most chat features within apps now incorporate features such as group chats, file transfer, audio, emojis. Adding all of these can add up to at least 80 hours of work for developers.

Payment Integration

Payments aren’t a necessity for every app, however to be able to pay for something within an app a payment system of some sort should be installed. There are lots of options such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, Paypal and loads more. Developers can easily integrate these into the app through gateway API’s. It becomes costly when you must work out how payments are processed, and how they data will be securely stored within the app.

Ongoing Costs

Even after your app is completed, the costs don’t always end there. When your app has made it onto the Google Play and App Store, there is still maintenance that needs doing to keep your users happy. Users attitudes and demands change. That means that there will need to be revisions within your app to keep them engaged. For example, bug fixes, push notifications and even emergency maintenance are all. Users like to see fresh changes within the app, new designs, and updated content. The goal is to retain users and gain new ones, and to do this will incur costs.

Building and developing your app is a long process, and it is costly, but if done correctly, it’s definitely worthwhile!