Post Launch App Costs
Post-launch app costs tend to fly under the radar. Possibly because of the excitement of the build itself.
Nonetheless they can make a big difference, here’s why.
Post-launch app costs can vary quite significantly. The reason for this is that the ongoing time for maintenance and updates are dictated by what your app does and what type of resources it requires to run effectively.
To explain, we’ll start with the basics.
As always, we’ve included some tips on the side like this for extra insight.
Post-launch app costs in a nutshell
The costs come from two sources: maintenance and/or improvements. For the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on maintenance as improvements can vary significantly and follow a similar cost logic to our previous article on costing an app development.
Key factors affecting ongoing app maintenance costs
Maintenance is about keeping your app running for users. Similarly to your phone itself, an app needs updating from time to time to make sure it functions an accordance with legislation, app store guidelines and any other software updates from 3rd parties that are integrated into your app (social media, payment systems, etc.).
In addition, if your app is going to use information that needs to stay updated (news feeds, social media, etc.) then you’ll also require app hosting (very common). This is just like a website – you need a server to be running and well maintained so that the app can use it to send and receive updated information. Just like a website, this also means the more popular your app is (the more users using it), the higher the costs. This is a result of more people using the app, hence more load for the servers to handle.
Ideally, our recommendation is always to shop around and compare quotes for maintenance work. It’s always ideal if the agency that developed your app can also maintain it, however we understand this isn’t always possible or can leave you paying over the odds.
Key variable costs of app maintenance
As you may have noticed, a number of the elements within maintenance are variable. This is where the challenge is for yourself as well as the team maintaining the app.
Legislation | As it doesn’t follow a routine, predictable pattern, maintaining an app to be compliant with legislation can cost you nothing some years. When the app is required to change as a result of changing legislation, the cost depends on what needs changing. A relatively recent example of this was the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation – or GDPR. This changed the way apps (and more) are expected to collect, handle and store information on users as well as the users rights.
App Store Guidelines | You can check these out online but unless you’re in the business they can be hard to keep track of – so we don’t blame you! These are the rules each app store (e.g. Apple App Store, Google Play, etc.) have in order to approve and list your app. They change relatively regularly but rarely force major changes – meaning this tends to be a low cost/no cost to maintain. Most of these are to ensure the quality of experience for end users which means they are rarely a problem. That being said where we do sometimes see restrictions that impact your vision is with regards to design. App stores try to put in place rules on this to keep consistency and usability as a focus so things like menus and icons (etc.) can be limited to an extent. An example of guidelines being updates is the upcoming update to Apple’s app store which will require Apple apps with social sign in (Facebook, Google, etc.) to allow users the option of signing in with their Apple account.
3rd Party Integrations| Depending on the amount of integration within your app, this can be a fairly regular occurrence. While it is true that integrating 3rd party elements into your app can save you money during development, this is one area where that money you saved can start dripping back out of your businesses account. We recommend you use recognized, well established 3rd party software providers as they are more likely to have prepared and planned effectively for apps integrating their software – meaning this regular updates are not too expensive. With smaller, more obscure 3rd parties, they can leave you needing to scramble for fixes and adaptations to keep your app running as intended. Important to note this is a rule of thumb from experience as opposed to a hard-set rule.
User Count & Usage| The maintenance requirements for your app will also go us as more people use your app. This can be based on user count or user usage. User usage is to do with how people use your app. Do you let them upload/download large files (e.g. videos, pictures)? Are they regularly refreshing to check for updated information? How “heavy” are the pages – as in what volume of data has to load on the page? All of these can impact the ongoing running costs of your app. User count is obviously the number of people using the app. With this information in mind, you are able to track and manage these costs leading to more informed decision making as well as greater app success.
There will always be a few surprises. Knowing these factors, however, will lead to more informed decision making and give you better control over the success of your business and app.
Managing ongoing app maintenance
As you will now see, the time and costs of maintaining an app do depend on the app itself and how it has been developed. While this does stress the importance of getting the initial app development right, knowing these factors allows you to have greater control over how these costs evolve. Knowing these factors allows you to make more informed decisions when planning the future of your app as well as associated future changes. As you maintain your app, you will start to see trends and patterns based on the specific type of app and market(s) you operate in. This is invaluable.
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below or get in touch.
The aim of our blog is to share our experience and advice in the hope it saves you time, hassle and money. We’re keen to hear your ideas for future posts so if you have any questions or requests please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Thank you!
At Ngage, we’ve had the pleasure of developing apps for amazing organisations and entrepreneurs from around the world. From prototypes for aspiring start-ups seeking user validation to an enterprise app being gathering input for international projects spanning continents. So what have we learnt so far? More importantly, how can we use it to help you?