If you’re looking for a UK app developer then you’ve definitely come to the right place. The UK has been referred to as a “powerhouse” of the global app development market and the data strongly backs that up.
In 2016, 91% of people in the 18-44 age bracket owned a smartphone – that’s a total of 21 million phones for that range alone. Statista estimates there are a total of 42.4 million smartphone users in the United Kingdom.
The app development market naturally follows, with plenty of app developers both in London and beyond, another hub being Manchester. This guide looks at the UK app development scene in detail, counting up the cost of having a mobile application developed in the country. It won’t go cover freelancers but it does go over what you should think about when choosing a UK-based app developer and then list some of the best companies who operate here.
This guide is divided into four sections:
- The app developer market in the UK
- UK app development costs and statistics
- How to choose app developers in the UK
- Selected UK app development companies
We begin with an overview of the app developer market in the UK.
The app developer market in the UK
It’s a strong one.
Revenues in the UK app developer market are forecast to be more than £31 billion by 2025, and according to a report by Vision Mobile, the economy will be worth more than £30 billion by 2030.
App developers can be found all over the United Kingdom, but the majority is clustered around London. Of its 8000 app-development-related companies (around a fifth of all European app development agencies), 31% are located in the capital, and about 25% of those in the south-east part of the city.
Location of app development companies in UK
Source: Vision Mobile
It’s estimated that these together employ 380,000 people (though not all of them are developers – this includes designers, admin and marketing people involved in the app industry.)
With all signs that the industry is growing, what kind of prices can you expect to develop a mobile application in the UK?
UK app development costs
How do UK app development costs measure up globally?
Globally, average prices for developing an iOS mobile app are approximate (in US Dollars) $27,000, $23,000 for Android and $18,000 for Windows phone.
The UK has some of the best app developers in the world, and thus costs can be close to the global average. According to Waracle, a Scottish developer, said in 2014 a single platform app could cost anywhere between £8000 and £13,000 and more, while a three-platform app can reach £50,000. Costs have only increased with demand since then.
The amount a developer charges per hour also comes close to global highs. Below you can find a graph for the estimated minimum and maximum you can expect to pay hourly for an app developer to work on your iOS or Android app.
Range of app development costs per hour in UK (US Dollars)
Data source: Nine Hertz
The reason for the high price is quality: not only are some of the best app developers in the world found here, but many US firms have offices here – while not technically from the UK, they operate on the territory and raise the average.
Having had a glimpse of the cost and skill of the developers in the UK, how do you go about choosing one?
How to choose app developers in the UK
There’s a few things you should know:
Two major sections: the research you can do on your own, and the interview phase with the app developer, where you’ll explore their skills and expertise while they try to understand your business and your app. The research you can do at home is as follows:
- Review their portfolio: not only to see how many apps they’ve made and how successful they’ve been, but also to see which industries they’ve worked for. A niche social network app has vastly different characteristics and challenges to a mobile enterprise app for industry. Experience in your specific field of business is just as important as development skills.
- Recommendations: ask others in your industry who have launched successful apps to recommend a developer, or find out who made the most successful apps if there’s an industry benchmark.
- Check out our Market Place: You’ll find a wealth of information and app developer profiles in Business of App’s Marketplace.
The more you know of your app developer, the better questions you can ask
What questions should you ask?
So what does this entail?
This is an exploration phase, and it goes both ways. You’ll be trying to find out what it’s like working with the app developer, what their approach is, where they excel and what their philosophy on design is. On the other hand, the app developer will want to know what it’s like working with you, your expectations, your business model for the app and how you plan to take it forward and expand it. It’s a conversation, and an enjoyable one at that – both parties are thinking about how to do business together, and both have a vested interest in the success of the app. So what should you look to ask?
1. What platforms do you develop for natively? Do you develop cross-platform apps?
You want to know this right from the start, especially if you have a specific platform in mind or if you want to be platform-agnostic. The difference between iOS, Android and cross-platform can be monumental, so it’s important you know which one you want to aim for. Coding natively for both iOS and Android can equal paying for two separate apps.
2. Do you cover every stage in the development cycle?
Some specialise in UX/UI, others in back-end, others still in integration. If your chosen company only does certain stages, then you’ll need to make sure whoever does the other parts can work well with them.
3. How can my app make money?
This is really something that you need to think of together, especially if your app is linked to your business. It is not uncommon for app development companies to also offer business plans and strategy advice as part of their services.
4. How do you communicate during the development process?
Are you the type to want constant updates, or would you rather sign off and only see the end product? Companies work in different ways and use different development processes, so you want to find one that suits your communication needs. There are app developers who communicate daily, while others only on major, significant updates.
5. What kind of testing will you do?
The polishing of an app is in the testing: from stress (basically overloading the app with activity to see how it behaves) to A/B, testing is key to making sure your app is successful and functional from the start.
6. Is submission to app stores included?
Submission to iTunes requires subscription and that the app adhere to strict guidelines. Android has fewer rules, but also requires a registration, and both ask for a publishing fee. There’s more to it than just submission as well: app store optimization can be the cherry on the cake of a well-thought out and slick marketing campaign.
7. What’s the latest tech you’re using?
This will get the conversation going, and perhaps there is some new technology your developers are using which could catapult your app to success.
8. What other app related services do you offer?
Many companies also offer strategic guidance, marketing campaigns, app store optimization, post-launch maintenance, branding advice and all the other activities that go behind a successful app. The world’s best app won’t go very far if no one knows it exists, or if it has an awful name.
Hopefully asking all these questions will give you a clearer idea whether the app developers in front of you are the right people to deliver your product, but also someone you’ll get along with. This is key, as your relationship with an app developer will rarely end upon publishing the app: there’s updating and maintenance to be done most of the time, and perhaps another app to be made if the first one is successful.
Having given you the rundown of what you can do, here are some of our reccomendations.
Selected UK app development companies
1. hedgehog lab
Not just a full-stack developer but also a tech consultancy, hedgehog lab cover everything in app development, from design and development to business plans and strategy. Offices are in London, Boston, Newcastle and India.
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows, Web, Blackberry OS – Sector Focus: IT and Healthcare
Offices: Newcastle, London
- 40 team members in 4 locations.
- 50+ high quality projects completed.
- Free online quotation available.
One of the outsourcing companies in this list, Octal have worked with companies ranging from start-up size to Fortune 500 corporations, and they pride themselves in their attention to the specifics of your business.
Platforms: iOS, Android, Web – Sector Focus: Business Services
- Key clients include Oricom, Aviva and FIAT.
- 150+ skilled professionals.
- Over 1200 clients since founding in 2004.
Award-winning web and mobile app development company delivering best-in-class solutions. App development is just one of Konstant‘s activities, understandable given 13 years of experience in and 170+ employees.
Platforms: iOS, Android, Mobile Web – Sector Focus: Arts, Transport, Media, Consumer Goods
- Delivered 3500+ projects.
- Key clients include Nestlé and Holiday Inn.
- Ranked among top 10 Mobile App Developers by Appfutura.com
Promatics Technologies is a certified mobile apps development company. Having their presence in India, USA and United Kingdom they have worked for several multinational clients across the globe.
Platforms: iOS, Android, HTML5 – Sector Focus: Business Services, Advertising and Marketing, Arts
- 3000+ projects delivered.
- Key clients include DHL, HP and Caltex.
- Also certified eCommerce developers.
Has covered a number of sectors in its portfolio, ranging from finance and travel to healthcare and music streaming. Miquido created the famous SkyScanner app, which has been downloaded more than 10 million times.
Platforms: iOS, Android – Sector Focus: Business Services, Finance
- 90+ delivered solutions for international clients and 5 M+ satisfied users.
- Grown from 3 to over 70 people in just 5 years.
- Key clients include TUI and Nestlé.
Mind Inventory covers both app and mobile web development, and does so with two different models: either with in-house development and design, or by allowing you to hire one of their devs to work with your team.
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows – Sector Focus: Gaming, IT, Utilities, Arts
- Founded in 2011.
- 90+ strong developer pool.
- More than 500 projects delivered.
Full-stack developers, taking apps from ideation to publishing via UX/UI design and development. Borne also looks beyond the “app ecosystem” by producing “digital products” instead of mere applications.
Platforms: iOS, Android – Sector Focus: Social, Health
- Digital product studio still founder owned.
- Passionate about affecting change through the power of digital and mobile.
- Clients include Shell, The British Army and Xendpay.
Based in London and Copenhagen, Nodes specialises in enterprise applications and has BMW, Adidas and Carlsberg as some of its top-line clients.
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows – Sector Focus: Advertising, Business, Automotive
- Multiplatform development – Android, iOS and Windows Phone.
- They’ve launched 1100 apps for more than 350 brands.
- Only in-house developers at the company’s offices.
One of the leading app development companies in the UK, since 2010 they’ve delivered apps, strategic guidance and consulting to the mobile sector. Chelsea Apps Factory has worked with companies from start-up size to major enterprises like Ladbrokes and Waitrose
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows – Sector Focus: Retail
- Full Service mobile app and software development
- Design team including Information Architects, End User Designers
- Quality Assurance
Apadmi is a 55-man team dedicated to creating brand-led mobile app and server solutions. Their mission is to strengthen brand identity and engagement via apps, having done so for clients such as the British Museum, the BBC, X Factor and the Guardian.
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows, HTML5, Blackberry – Sector Focus: Media, Health, Retail
Office: Manchester, London
- Long experience working for large corporate clients
- Named as one of Europe’s top developers 2014
- Works across all platforms, including Java and ASP.NET
Fueled, based in New York, is an award-winning app designer, having delivered Drop, Afterlight and Nimble, to name a few of their projects. Fueled were also chosen by HBO to make a Game of Thrones app, which says a lot about trust!
Location: UK, USA – Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows – Sector Focus: Consumer products
- Full-service mobile app development and strategy.
- Support from strategy and planning teams for app development.
- Focus on creating beautiful, engaging designs offering innovative user interfaces.
Highly business-focused app and software developer based in the US but with offices all over the world. Full spectrum development from Intellectsoft includes UX/UI, quality assurance, maintenance and product strategy. Counts Guinness and Harley Davidson in its portfolio.
Platforms: iOS, Android, Blackberry, HTML5 – Sector Focus: Consumer products
- All products delivered are ready to go live.
- Prices can start at 15k US Dollars for a high quality, medium-sized app.
- Breakdown of all costs at all stages for full transparency.
Based in the UK with offices in London and Bristol, they’ve worked in a huge variety of sectors, from logistics to healthcare, financial to consumer retail. Mubaloo‘s key clients include London’s Air Ambulance and Bang & Olufsen.
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows, HTML5, Blackberry – Sector Focus: Financial Services
Offices: London, Bristol
- Full-service, enterprise level development and strategy creation.
- Current solution audits including code review.
- User testing, conception and app prototyping.
Ready4S provide both consultancy and engineering services to top-of-the-line companies like Coca Cola, Roche and Credit Agricole. Founded in 2011, the 56-person team has since developed 65 apps and was named mobile app developer of the year in 2015 by Appfutura.
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows – Sector Focus: Education
- Passionate about creating mobile app solutions for your business.
- Native apps for Android and iOS platform.
- Team includes graphics, artists, end user designers and content writers.
The UK app development scene is bubbling with talent and expertise, and has produced some of the best apps in the world. You need look no further to find quality app developers for your business, but if you want to dig deeper, you can browse through Business of App’s Marketplace.