What kind of app can you get on a budget?

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

App development is a lucrative industry, with development costs often reflecting that in price. As such, the average cost to develop an app can vary from £10,000 - £50,000, or, depending on the app’s capabilities, might even reach £100,000, sometimes more.

However, there are ways that you can develop an app on a budget.

The budget

While the lower price range may not aid you in developing an app like Instagram or Candy Crush, that doesn’t mean that you can’t build a fully functioning and useful app on a lower budget.

The cheapest kind of app there is tend to be ones that are similar to those preinstalled on your smartphone – think your calculator, notes, or clock. Part of the reason why these apps are cheap to build is down to the no-frills aspect to them.

Simply, the app has no other capabilities other than its main function.

When building the app, you may want to consider creating a hybrid app. As compared to native applications, hybrid apps tend to be cheaper to develop. This is because there is only one codebase needed to run them, therefore, less need for multiple developers.

Our expert opinion is that if you want to keep the costs down, then work on an app that has an easy and direct feature. Sometimes the simple things are also the most successful.

Here’s what you can build depending on your budget:

Under £5000: While apps in this range may be quite simple, they are still beneficial. Ideal apps for this range are those that do not have a backend, and instead, rely on fewer screens. A few examples may be a preinstalled calculator, or a very basic diet tracker.

£5,000 or over: If you have a budget of under £20,000 but a little over £5,000, then you can move onto something a little more complex. Some of the things that you can expect are basic user analytics, backend functionalities, data exchange, result screens, and some camera and GPS capabilities. In layman’s terms, these would be your news apps, city guides, or corporate apps.

£20,000 or over: This stage allows for increased functions, such as detailed GPS, in-app purchases, a wide selection of camera capabilities, and some video streaming. In this price range, you would be able to create location-based apps, and some social media platforms.

£50,000 or over: If you had a budget of £50,000 or more, then you could expect to be able to develop high-quality games, and complete social media systems. For example, games such as Cut the Rope or The Walking Dead were built with a similar budget.

The mechanics

If you’re a multi-talented person, then you may be in luck. Because typically, a lot of the extra cost when developing an app come from surprising extras such as design and marketing. If there is a way that you can do this yourself, then we recommend it to reduce the costs substantially.

If not, then there are other options.

While it is not a long-term solution, you may be able to find someone who needs the experience and is willing to work on a volunteer basis. However, we only encourage this route, if the experience you’re giving them is truly next to none.

Another possible route may be outsourcing the work to people in a country such as India. This is quite a popular route, just make sure you go through the proper channels. There are, however, a couple of downsides with outsourcing. For example, if you like to keep a close eye on a project, then outsourcing may not work for you, likewise, if you want regular updates then you may struggle with ongoing the issue of time zones. However, for some, these things may only be a small price to pay.

Similar to outsourcing, you also have the option of hiring a freelancer to do the work. Typically, independent contractors are cheaper than going through an agency, and websites like The Work Crowd are great for browsing a range of freelancers at once; if your budget is incredibly tight then UpWork or Fivver are also options, however, make sure you pay any freelancer fairly.

How to save money

Often, a way to keep the costs low is to create a simple app that doesn’t need constantly upgrading. In some cases, an app can cost £20,000 a year to maintain and add additional content.

Another way to save money is to limit the number of platforms that you distribute it on. Currently, the cheapest platform to upload an app onto is the Windows store which costs individual users a one-off £15 fee; however, this increases to £80 if you’re using a company account.

While Android will charge a £20 one-off fee, and Apple will vary between £80 and £240. Keep in mind that any sales you make from the app, each platform will take around a 30% commission from you.

At the end of the day, you get what you pay for. But developing and distributing an app on a budget is definitely doable, while it may boast of more basic features, sometimes that’s okay. At the end of the day, it's not always how much money you put into a project, sometimes it's the passion and drive you put into it that counts the most.

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