How Much Does it Cost to Build an App in the UK in 2024?

December 1, 2023

Navigating the costs of app development can be a tricky path, both for those looking to enter the digital marketplace and for businesses that already have a market presence. 

A common question is “How much does it cost to build an app in the UK?” 

Understanding app development costs is crucial, as they vary based on several factors and can impact the budget of your project significantly. 

That’s why, we’ve prepared an in-depth guide that not only explores these costs of app development in the UK but also offers insights into making the most of your investment.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • How Much Does It Cost to Develop an App in the UK in 2023?
  • 7 Factors Affecting the App Development Price in the UK
  • 5 Factors Enhancing the Price of App Development
  • Is the Cost of Building an App Worth It?
  • How Do I Find Out If I Need an Application?
  • 5 Hidden App Development Costs

How Much Does It Cost to Develop an App in the UK in 2023?

Developing an app in the UK in 2023 has varying costs, primarily influenced by the project’s scope and complexity. 

For a simple app with basic functionality and minimal custom design, the cost is comparatively lower. As the app’s features and design complexity increase, so does the price. 

On average, an app with moderate complexity and features falls into a mid-range price bracket, while a complex app with advanced features, custom design elements, and possibly backend development will be the most expensive.

Here’s a general guideline: 

  • Simple App: A basic app with fundamental features, minimal custom design, and limited functionality may cost between £10,000 and £40,000.
  • Average App: An app with more features, including custom user interfaces and some integrations, may range from £40,000 to £80,000.
  • Complex App: For a high-end app with advanced functionalities like custom animations, complex back-end, multiple integrations, and high-level security features, the cost can exceed £80,000, potentially reaching up to £200,000 or more.

To give you a clearer idea of how these prices relate to the respective app’s general characteristics, we’ve created a table to guide you: 

Feature Simple App Average App Complex App
General Characteristics -Basic functionality
-Minimal design
-Moderate complexity
-Standard features
-Advanced features
-Custom design
-Backend development
Average Price £5,000-£20,000 £20,000-£50,000 £50,000-£150,000+

7 Factors Affecting the App Development Price in the UK

Various factors can significantly influence the cost of app development in the UK. 

Understanding these elements can help in better budgeting and planning for your app development project:

  1. Complexity and Features: The more complex the app, with features like AI, AR, or sophisticated data processing, the higher the cost. Complexity often requires more time and specialized skills.
  2. Design Requirements: Custom graphics, animations, and a user-friendly interface increase development time and costs. Unique design elements demand more resources and expertise.
  3. Platform Choice: Developing for multiple platforms (iOS, Android, Web) simultaneously can increase costs due to the need for different skill sets and additional coding.
  4. Backend Development: The need for a backend server to store and process data can significantly raise costs. This is especially true for apps requiring real-time updates, like social media or e-commerce apps.
  5. Maintenance and Updates: Post-launch services such as bug fixes, updates, and new features add to the overall cost. Ongoing maintenance is crucial for the app’s longevity and performance.
  6. Developer Expertise and Location: The cost varies based on the development team’s expertise and geographic location. UK-based developers may charge more due to higher living costs compared to those in other countries.
  7. Integration with Existing Systems: Integrating the app with existing databases or systems, especially in enterprise settings, can be complex and expensive. This often requires additional customization and security measures.

5 Factors Enhancing the Price of App Development

Certain factors can escalate the price of app development in the UK. Here are five key aspects that typically lead to higher development costs:

  • Advanced Technical Features: Incorporating cutting-edge technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), blockchain, or machine learning significantly increases costs. These technologies require specialized knowledge and more development time.
  • High-End Custom Design and User Experience (UX): Customized and sophisticated designs with advanced UX elements demand extensive design expertise and additional time, enhancing the overall cost.
  • Third-Party Integrations and APIs: Integrating external services or APIs, such as payment gateways, social media platforms, or other third-party services, adds complexity and cost due to additional coding and testing required.
  • Security Measures: Implementing advanced security features, especially for apps handling sensitive data, requires extra layers of security protocols. This is crucial for compliance with data protection laws and prevents breaches, but it also increases development costs.
  • Scalability and Cloud Services: Building an app with scalability in mind, particularly one that relies on cloud services for data storage and processing, can raise costs. This includes expenses for cloud services and the necessary architecture to support scaling up as user numbers grow.

Is the Cost of Building an App Worth It? 

Determining whether the cost of building an app is worth it depends on various factors, including the app’s purpose, target audience, and potential return on investment (ROI). 

In many cases, the answer is yes, particularly if the app meets a specific market need or offers a unique value proposition.

Here’s how to determine it. 

  • Market Reach and Revenue Potential: Apps offer an unparalleled platform to reach a global audience. For businesses, this means direct access to customers, increased brand visibility, and new revenue streams through in-app purchases, subscriptions, or advertising. For example, a well-designed e-commerce app can significantly boost sales by providing a convenient shopping experience for users.
  • Operational Efficiency: Apps can streamline business processes, improve customer service, and enhance overall operational efficiency. For instance, a custom app for internal business operations can automate tasks, reduce manual errors, and save time, ultimately leading to cost savings that outweigh the initial development expense.
  • Customer Engagement and Loyalty: Apps provide unique opportunities for engaging with users. Features like push notifications, personalized content, and loyalty programs can foster a loyal customer base. This engagement often translates into repeated business and positive word-of-mouth, contributing to long-term success.

However, it’s also important to consider the following:

  • Thorough Market Research: Before investing, conduct detailed market research to ensure there’s a demand for your app.
  • Clear Objectives and Planning: Have clear goals and a solid plan for your app, including how it will generate revenue or add value.
  • Quality vs. Cost: Opting for cheaper development options might save costs upfront but can lead to lower quality and poor user experience, affecting the app’s success in the long run.

In conclusion, while the initial cost of app development can be substantial, the potential benefits like increased reach, improved efficiency, and customer engagement often justify the investment. 

The key is in strategic planning, understanding the market, and ensuring the app delivers real value to its users. 

How Do I Find Out If I Need an Application?

Determining whether you need an application involves assessing various aspects of your business or project. Here are five ways to help you make this decision:

  1. Identify the Business Need or Problem: Analyze if there’s a specific problem or need within your business that an app could solve. For instance, if you’re spending too much time on manual tasks that could be automated or if there’s a customer service bottleneck that an app could streamline.
  2. Understand Your Audience’s Preferences: Consider your target audience’s habits and preferences. If they are tech-savvy and frequently use smartphones for services or shopping, an app could be a valuable platform for engagement.
  3. Analyze Competitors: Look at what your competitors are doing. If they have apps that are improving their business or if there’s a gap in what they offer, developing an app could give you a competitive edge.
  4. Evaluate the Return On Investment (ROI) Potential: Consider the potential return on investment. If an app can open new revenue streams, improve customer loyalty, or reduce operational costs, it might be a worthwhile investment.
  5. Consider Scalability and Future Growth: Think about your long-term business goals. If scaling your business is a priority, and an app can facilitate this by reaching more customers or offering new services, it could be an essential tool for growth.

These considerations can help guide your decision on whether developing an app is the right move for your business or project.

5 Hidden App Development Costs

While the upfront costs of app development are often discussed, several hidden costs can emerge during and after the development process. 

These unexpected expenses can impact the overall budget and should be considered when planning your app development project.

  1. Ongoing Maintenance and Updates: Regular maintenance is crucial for the smooth operation of an app. This includes bug fixes, updates to ensure compatibility with new operating system versions, and performance improvements, all of which require ongoing investment.
  2. Server and Hosting Fees: If your app requires a server for data storage and processing, there will be ongoing costs for hosting services. These fees can vary based on the amount of data and the number of users.
  3. Compliance and Security Costs: Ensuring your app complies with legal standards like GDPR or HIPAA, and implementing robust security measures to protect user data can incur additional costs, especially for apps handling sensitive information.
  4. Marketing and Promotion: Developing the app is just the first step; it also needs to be marketed effectively to reach its target audience. Marketing and promotional activities, including social media advertising and app store optimization, can be substantial but necessary for your app’s success.
  5. Customer Support and Service: Providing customer support, including staffing a help desk, creating help guides, or developing automated support tools, is essential but often overlooked. This ensures user satisfaction and aids in handling any issues users may encounter.

5 App Maintenance Costs

App maintenance is a critical aspect of the app lifecycle, ensuring its long-term functionality and relevance. 

Here are five key maintenance costs that are often encountered:

  1. Software Updates: Regular updates are needed to keep the app compatible with the latest operating systems and devices. This includes adapting to new software versions released by iOS, Android, or other platforms, which can require significant modifications.
  2. Bug Fixes and Performance Optimization: Over time, bugs and performance issues can emerge, necessitating ongoing fixes and optimizations. Addressing these issues promptly is essential for maintaining a smooth user experience and app functionality.
  3. Scaling Infrastructure: As your app gains more users, you may need to scale your infrastructure to handle increased traffic and data. This can involve upgrading servers, expanding data storage capacity, or implementing more efficient data processing solutions.
  4. Security Updates: Continuously monitoring and updating security measures is crucial to protect user data and prevent breaches. This includes regular security audits, implementing patches, and updating encryption protocols.
  5. Content and Feature Updates: Keeping the app content fresh and adding new features to meet user demands or market trends is important for retaining users. This involves both developing new content and features, as well as testing and deploying them in the app.

How Much Does it Cost to Maintain an App in the UK?

The cost of maintaining an app in the UK can vary widely based on the app’s complexity, user base, and the nature of its functionality. 

Generally, app maintenance costs can range from 15% to 20% of the original development costs annually. This means if your app initially costs £50,000 to develop, you can expect annual maintenance costs of around £7,500 to £10,000.

Here is a basic breakdown of app maintenance costs in the UK: 

  • Basic Maintenance Costs: For a relatively simple app with a moderate user base, the maintenance costs may be on the lower end. This includes basic updates, bug fixes, and ensuring compatibility with new mobile operating system versions. However, even for such apps, staying relevant in the ever-evolving app market requires consistent updates and optimizations.
  • Complex Apps and Scaling Needs: For more complex apps, especially those with a large user base or those requiring high-end security measures, maintenance costs can be significantly higher. These apps might need frequent updates, advanced security protocols, and scalable server infrastructure to handle increased traffic and data, which all contribute to higher maintenance costs.

To illustrate, consider a popular e-commerce app. Beyond basic upkeep, it needs to regularly update its product catalogue, manage user data securely, and ensure high-speed performance during peak shopping times. Such dynamic requirements can lead to considerable maintenance expenses.

In conclusion, while the initial development cost of an app is a substantial investment, the ongoing maintenance costs are equally important to consider. These costs ensure the app remains functional, secure, and appealing to its users, contributing to its long-term success and ROI.

Frequently Asked Questions 

#1. How Long Does It Take to Develop an App Yourself? 

Developing an app yourself can take anywhere from several months to over a year, depending on the app’s complexity, your coding skills, and the amount of time you can dedicate. 

Simple apps might take a few months, while more complex ones could take much longer.

#2. Can I Build My App for Free?

Yes, you can build an app for free using various online platforms that offer free app development tools. 

However, these might have limitations in terms of functionality and customization.

#3. How Do I Make Money From My App? 

You can make money from your app through in-app purchases, subscription models, advertisements, selling merchandise or services, or by offering a premium version of the app.

#4. How Much Does it Cost to Put an App on the App Store? 

Apple charges an annual developer fee of $99 to list an app on the App Store. This fee allows you to submit multiple apps but does not guarantee acceptance.

#5. Should I Develop an App for iOS or Android? 

The choice depends on your target audience and market goals. iOS apps can generate higher revenue per user, while Android has a larger user base. 

Consider starting with the platform most used by your target audience.

Laptop screen

Let’s Talk

If you are looking for a bespoke software development company, please get in touch by phone by calling +44 (0) 1905 700 050 or filling out the form below.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.