How much does a App cost?

I love talking about apps and I mean LOVE it! Hell, myself and Ben started this business so we could do it everyday. Our wish has come true and we get all sorts of weird and wonderful enquiries and ideas every day! We personally try to answer the phones and speak to new enquiries as often as we can, where we really get excited about what people and businesses want to make into a mobile application! It’s amazing to hear the perception that people have about apps, and how quick, easy and simple they are to build and the cost of an app! I often spend a lot of time talking about certain topics when it comes to app development, so we’ve put together this article to share with you some things you may find useful about app development.

Choosing the right app developer

This is critical. We get lots of calls from companies and people who ask us to ‘finish an app’ they have had started elsewhere. From a development point of view this is a REALLY tough ask. The simplest analogy I can think of is like this: put two top quality chefs in a room, and ask them to make a dish. They each start with the same ingredients and end up with the ‘same’ dish, but they will all do it differently along the way. Neither way is right or wrong, but just so different. So trying to unpick a half cooked meal to see what’s gone in so far, and guess the timings etc is a pretty impossible job! Each app takes a different level of control, and different skills are required, so check that the agency has done similar, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, you’ll soon know if they have all the answers. Apps and Games are very different, and make sure you check their credentials and get references. A good agency will tell you ‘no’ when they don’t think something is right, and will always look to enhance and add value to your idea. Don’t be the guys who ring us AFTER they have a half finished a product, be the guys who ring us in the beginning. One piece of advice that is crucial is that a good developer won’t do design, a decent designer won’t know how to write code, and a server/web service guy won’t do any of the others too! So make sure you know there is a solid team fully skilled to undertake all the parts of your app, professionally and perfectly.

The Cost

If you think apps are a few hundred quid to develop, design, test, deploy, and market, then perhaps app development isn’t a route you should explore, just being honest! For reasons you’ll see here, there is so much involved in making an app that it’s never a one man job, it’s a team effort. It takes different skills, different pieces of the jigsaw. Apps cost anything from £5k-£15k for entry level applications with basic functionality. £15k-£50k for medium to large applications and games (generally with web services, media uploads, and medium sized games with basic physics and level progression). £50k-£250k for the big boys, with huge web based dynamic content, Bluetooth control, and real-life 3D Physics and open world game play.

The Idea

Please please please check to see if your idea has already been done (this will save us both the embarrassment!). If no, then either you’re the genius who thought of it first (hopefully), or it can’t be done. There are some important things to think of when pursuing your idea, and here are a few points to think about :-

  • Ask more people than just your friends and family. Friends and family tend to be too biased when giving ‘honest’ opinions
  • Don’t try to copy another successful game – everyone wants to make the new Angry Birds, which is fine, but don’t try to make ‘Very Angry Birds’. These games are well polished, and there’s a reason there is only one game of this type always at the top of the charts.
  • Do try to copy an unsuccessful game – there are over 550,000 games on iTunes alone! Some of these are brilliant concepts, but very poorly executed. If your  idea is similar to one of these, then make sure it’s better in every way possible, and always take things to the next level.
  • Don’t try to copy Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If you want to make an application replicate these guys, be careful.  Everyone is already on these, so trying to get them all off and onto another social media platform at the same time is almost impossible! Instead, be creative with your idea, aim it at a niche group, or better still, bring these already established platforms INTO you application, getting the best of both worlds.
  • Respect the app developers’ opinion – here, we give honest answers and opinions every time. So although we don’t have the golden answer, we make it our business to know what’s hot and what’s not in the app world, and our opinion is honest!
  • The Platforms

Each different platform is a different programming language (so if you make it for Android, it doesn’t automatically mean it works on iOS!). So you have two options : either develop the app natively on each platform, or use a cross platform framework. Where you can develop the application, then spit out different versions for different app stores. There are some major pros and cons to this. A pro being that it keeps development costs down substantially, a con being you’re stuck with some restrictions over what you can do and how you can achieve certain things. So think about platforms –  currently approximately 75% of UK smartphones are Android & iOS (Apple), whereas across in mainland Europe it’s much more biased towards Android. So consider your markets, and exactly what you want the app to do.

The Requirements

Apps have several stages, and each stage has a different person or team! Expect to see these items split on the estimate, and ask for information on each!

  • Design – it’s not like the web!!! UI & UX is a science, and practisers of the dark art are highly knowledgeable about what people expect to see and where. They understand ‘intuition’ and where people need to navigate to. Then add that to the challenge of making the designs work across over 20 different screen sizes and resolutions! It’s a big task, and one that HAS to be right! People buy with their eyes, if it doesn’t blow them away on first glance, your audience has gone!
  • Development – which platform? Which framework? Development is the core of the project, and it’s essential to make sure it’s built in the correct way from the beginning. If you want to update something on the app, you don’t want to be re-writing modules, everything we build is future-proof from the first to the last line of code.
  • Web Services – what are these? Quite simply a web service is the mechanism in which your app either connects, communicates, or pulls/pushes information to a web server or website somewhere. This could be integration with social media, in-app-messaging systems, or dynamic content (you don’t want to be sending an update to Apple every time you want to change a single word, right?). What about when your app goes big and you have 5,000,000 users on it at one time? You need to make sure it won’t slow down, crash, fall over etc… web services are as important as every other element of building an app!
  • Testing – test your app. Retest your app. Make sure external people test your app, and make sure the testers are qualified! If you send an app or game out there and it’s bug-ridden, write your investment off… you get one real chance at a launch… make sure it’s right, and this means a cost.
  • Project Management – don’t be alarmed by project management costs. A good agency will charge a good rate for PM. It’s one of the most important elements of the application build. The updates, the project management software, the meetings, the design documentation, the technical specifications, the planning, wire framing, user journeys and time management, the client side updates, the time to discuss and run through the elements with you, the handover and app store deployment… all these things take time, but are as crucial as the development itself.

The Team

Get to know the team, don’t be afraid to speak to developers and designers, in fact you should be exposed to these people, have a way of communicating with them via the Project Management software. If you want a game made, make sure the people making it are gamers! We’re certainly gamers here, and we eat sleep, live and breathe apps & games, all day every day!

The Launch

I use a simple analogy here. Apps can and will build their own momentum, and the snowball effect can be true, however, someone needs to climb up the cold, snowy mountain, make that first snowball and chuck it off the edge! It’s not easy, and needs careful consideration, and quite simply – funding! We can help with advice on this for sure.

Be Careful

Cheap and cheerful is actually cheap and heart breaking in this world. There’s always someone who will do it cheaper, but you don’t want to compromise on quality with a ‘cheap’ solution. With 750,000 apps versus yours, do you really want anything other than the Rolls Royce of mobile applications? Do you deserve anything less? So think long and hard before you save a couple of grand now to get it cheap, as making money from an app is about the long run, not the quick win. A cheap solution will just be another statistic in the app store. We don’t want any part of a ‘cheap app’ – we have too much respect for you, and us! I hope this sheds some light on the real top-level application development conversations. Yes we have LOADS of enquiries, and yes we genuinely still hear amazing app ideas EVERY SINGLE DAY!!! Wow … That’s a big blog article! Give me a shout to discuss anything about this!

If you’re looking to develop a mobile app for your business, here’s a good place to start.

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