How to Set a Realistic Project Budget for Your iOS App

If you are contemplating building an app for the first time, or maybe you’re looking to get an existing one ported to iOS or another mobile platform, it may be difficult to figure out how much it will cost and what a realistic project budget for it looks like. A quick look in the App Store might convince you that everyone has one and they are easy to make. However, creating a good-quality app is usually a lot of work.

That said, with a little knowledge about how an app is created, creating a budget doesn’t need to be daunting. I’ve got some tips to help you with what to consider in developing an app for your business.

I’ll be covering how to figure out both the time and cost of coding, designing and delivering an app to your customers and what kinds of things you should be talking to your developer about before work gets started.

What does your app need to do?

If you approach any good developer with a proposal to have an app built, the first thing they are going to ask is “What do you need the app to do?” An app, at its most basic level, is a set of functions that allow specific actions to be taken: for example, if you run a consultancy, you may want an app with a function that allows customers to book meetings with you. If you have a restaurant that delivers, you probably want a function that allows your customers to search your menu; another for them add items to their bill; another for them to pay.

All these elements are considered by a developer when they are putting together a quote for you, which will include how many functions and screens the app will need and how they will behave in different situations. As well, if you need the app to integrate with third-party services, such as Facebook or a credit payment system, or if the app relies on any special controls or sensors, these will also contribute to a higher quote.

Has somebody already done it?

I’m always surprised how many times people come with a great idea for an app, but haven’t checked the App Store to see if something like it already exists. Not only is this is easy to do, but it’s also a simple way to find out how well, or how difficult, an app idea could be to build and deliver. It can also reveal issues you may not have initially thought of, like how the app handles edge cases or exceptions. This comes up more often than you might imagine, turning something that might have seemed simple into a need for something complex.

As an example, we here at BrightDigit built a nurse training app that covered certification requirements for different States. This, while it might seem simple, turned out to be complex to create, because many users needed ways of tracking their certification training credits in two or more States and credits for each requirement needed to be tracked separately. It certainly wasn’t something the client thought was going to be needed, and while many of the app’s users didn’t need it, it ended up being a necessary feature.

How well do you need it done?

Another factor to consider is the level of quality you need for your app. Assuming you’ve hired a reputable developer, the more time and money you can provide them, the higher quality the app will be: things like a more attractive and easy-to-use user interface, fewer bugs and a way to handle them, or whether you can use the app offline.

Additionally, you need to consider what devices your app can run on. Do you only need it to run on the latest iPhone operating system? What about iPads? Android devices? Desktop computers? Generally speaking, it is worth spending time finding out what kinds of devices your customers use so you only spend resources coding for platforms that are necessary.

How an iOS App can be coded?

Levels of build quality are one of the biggest differentiators between developers. It is possible to get significantly different quotes for the same app depending on how well it’s made. While there are many factors that might have bearing on this, the main one is how the app is coded:


Generally speaking, if you want a better-quality app, you will want it coded in the native programming language of the device you want it to run on. Creating a native app allows the greatest level of control and customization, and are often the best-looking, as they can use all the tools and features of the operating system.


Some developers might save time and money on app development by using app templates. Effectively, these use premade designs that allow you to add and arrange common app functions. These often have little room for customization or being able to change things later, making them a poor choice if you’re looking for a good long-term investment in an app.

Cross-Platform Tools

Another option that some developers go with is using an application framework, which allows developers to build apps in a script or language other than the one natively used by an operating system. This also has some limits on what you can build into the app.

Web Page Wrappers

Another way is to use a web development wrappers. With this method, you create a web page and have it display as if it were an app. There are some considerable limitations to what you can do with this method though, and shouldn’t be used for anything but the simplest of needs.

How will your app be delivered to your customers?

A smaller consideration than the ones above, but can be surprising for those new to app development, is it can take significant time to get an app into the App Store or Google Play. All sorts of issues might need to be addressed before your app meets the requirements Apple or Google have for putting it in their stores. As well, you should have all your marketing and design assets ready, which are needed to get into the stores. By planning ahead and knowing the requirements of the store before work gets started, you can save yourself significant time and money later on.

Things to Keep in Mind

There are many factors to consider when building an app and creating a realistic project budget:

...and that’s only scratching the surface. There are also factors like testing to consider, which we’ll cover in a different post. However, the above is a good starting point for putting together a realistic project budget and having an effective discussion with a prospective developer.

Do you want a well-designed app that delights your customers?

When we work with clients to help them build apps, we want to make sure they can stay within their budget and don’t end up with unnecessary features. Often with new clients, we suggest building a proof of concept of their app idea, so they can quickly put it in front of their customers and discover what features they actually need. Then, when they’re ready, we help them build the full-fledged app.

If that sounds like the experience you want to have in developing a successful app, contact us here and tell us about your ideas!