Developing mobile apps to support business growth is becoming an increasingly popular ambition amongst forward-thinking entrepreneurs, and for many good reasons too. The digital age has seen technologies play a major role in the evolution of consumer behaviour, with more and more shoppers across the globe embracing the added convenience and affordances of shopping online or through companion business apps.
Although business apps can be a major asset to many modern businesses, it’s well worth noting that app development can be quite a costly endeavour, and as such, it’s not an ambition that all modern business owners are likely to attain as soon as they may like to.
Understanding how much it costs to develop an app is imperative for business owners who are planning to budget for their own app development project, regardless of where or when this project is most likely to take place along the length of their business’ growth plan.
Here’s what modern business owners will need to consider when putting together a budget for their very own app development project.
Cost estimates of your app development project
Although all forms of app development are naturally costly, due to work being labor-intensive and demanding highly technical professional skills, some projects will likely cost a lot more than others. Taking the time to determine what type of app you’d ideally like to build for your business will help you generate a cost estimate of that project that you can then use to guide your budget development processes.
The size and complexity will likely influence the costs associated with your app development project in design of the app that you’re looking to build. For instance, whilst a small app that boasts one or two functions or features will likely only set you back about $30,000-$50,000, a larger app with a dynamic UI and multiple features to fulfil a selection of user needs, is likely to cost upwards of $200,000 in order to create a fully-featured app that’s moved through every phase of the development process.
An eCommerce app that’s designed to act as an alternative channel for online shoppers, is likely to require extensive prototyping and a fairly fleshed out minimum viable product (or MVP). For this reason, you can expect an eCommerce companion app to be classified as a larger scale app development project, and your app development budget should be reflective of this ambitious project briefing.
App maintenance costs
Moving from a proof of concept, to a prototype, an MVP, and then all the way through to a fully-featured mobile app is generally considered to be the life cycle of a mobile app development project. That being said, no app development project simply ends with the completion of a fully-featured app. Mobile apps maintain optimal usability through consistent application updates. This effectively means that if you want to ensure your app maintains peak performance, you’ll have to continue investing in the development of updates for your app.
App updates should ideally consist of both performance optimisation elements as well as security patches. Including security patches is truly non-negotiable, as mobile apps can be just as susceptible to security vulnerabilities as our company devices can be. Failing to bolster your app’s cybersecurity measures can lead to security breaches that may go on to harm your business’ reputation, limiting your consumer base.
As far as the frequency of your app updates go, many app development professionals assert that apps should generally be updated at least once a month with a spend of approximately $2000 annually on basic maintenance, just to make sure that all potential security issues are addressed as they become apparent. Updating at least 1-2 times monthly can also demonstrate to your user base that there is care and attention behind the app that they’re using. Continuous improvements to your business’ mobile app are likely to make your app seem like a more attractive alternative to your business’ other channels, whether this be your website, storefronts, or any other platforms where consumers can make purchases or take other desired actions.
Other ongoing maintenance costs
Whilst the costs of developing and uploading app updates don’t hold a candle to the costs associated with creating an app from scratch, there is more to consider with regards to your app’s ongoing costs than just updates and security patches alone. Other ongoing maintenance costs that you’ll have to foot the bill for include server fees to keep your app online, as well as platform and developer subscription fees paid to Google or Apple, depending on which app stores your app will be made available on.
And as for server fees, they can vary in pricing depending on the number of users or user profiles your app contains, as well as all other data that requires secure storage in order for your app to operate without concerns. Although smaller apps may be able to take advantage of free hosting tiers, larger, fully-featured apps may require more substantial storage that could see them paying upwards of $1,000 to even $10,000 monthly in server fees.
Marketing your app
Finally, once your app has been developed, tested, and is ready to be launched, you need to ensure that there is a large user base waiting to download your brand new business app as it hits the app store. Growing your potential user base to ensure that your app launch is as profitable as possible undoubtedly takes some strategic marketing. This could mean paying to run digital ads and managing social media, promotions, and email marketing campaigns.
Of course, when it comes to marketing, business owners can really spend whatever they feel will be most beneficial for their company’s promotional needs. You may choose to invest just $10,000 a month into your marketing campaigns, or opt to keep your marketing budget as modest as possible in order to allocate more funds towards your app development project.
Regardless of what you choose, your marketing costs should be included in the budget estimate for your app development project, as you don’t want to invest heavily in an app with little to no user base.
When it comes to business app development, there’s no denying that you have to spend money to make money. An app development project with a higher budget is increasingly likely to produce a better quality end product, naturally attracting more app users. This is why many business owners opt to build up a certain amount of capital before venturing into the app development world.
At the end of the day, however, it’s up to individual business owners to decide when their business is ready to acquire this digital asset, and how this asset will interact with (and perhaps even reshape) your business over the foreseeable future.