App Maintenance: What it is and how much it costs
What is app maintenance?
We’ve seen it time and time again: When people set out to build an app, they often expect that when their app launches in the app store, they’re finished – tada! In our experience, many don’t know to budget for the ongoing maintenance of their product. However, just like a website, an app is a living and breathing entity that requires constant love and attention.
In short: this ongoing love and attention is called “app maintenance,” and it’s essential to your app’s success. App maintenance can be the difference between an app that collects dust and becomes irrelevant, and an app that thrives and adapts.
So what is app maintenance anyway? Creating a user-friendly and well-designed app is a necessary foundation, of course, but in order for an app to have long-term success, it must constantly grow and evolve.
Why is app maintenance necessary?
There are a number of reasons why you need to invest in app maintenance regularly. Whether it’s optimizations to your app based on user feedback and analytics, bug fixes, or system updates, you’re sure to engage with it on an ongoing basis. Performance management company Orchestrate defines app maintenance categories as adaptive, perfective, corrective, and preventive. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these maintenance categories means for you:
Adaptive maintenance refers to changes that must be made to adjust to external software and business changes, such as operating system updates (more on that topic below).
Perfective maintenance changes are aimed to improve the performance of the app, and are not driven by errors. Instead, they’re relevant when a business wants a competitive edge in the market and wants to optimize the app’s performance.
Corrective maintenance applies to fixing bugs and errors. Although many people think that fixing defects is most of software maintenance, it actually only accounts for 20% of maintenance activities, but is still a crucial part of the software maintenance process.
Preventive maintenance focuses on preventing future problems through code optimization and efficient storage usage.
What are the most common forms of app maintenance?
Now that you’re familiar with why maintenance is important to the ongoing success of your app, let’s dive a little deeper into some of the tactical forms of maintenance you’ll likely encounter as an app owner:
Regular system maintenance: Just like any other software, engineers perform system maintenance work every 2-3 months for apps. It’s best practice to communicate with your users if this maintenance work will temporarily interfere with the performance of the app.
Operating system updates: As iOS and Android regularly release updates, your developer will likely update your app so that it is still compatible with these changes and will remain functional on all devices. For example, in 2017, Apple released iOS 11, which required a migration from 32-bit to 64-bit apps in order to remain compatible compatible with the iPhone operating system.
Design/UX Updates: The best apps grow as their market does and as they learn from their users. One study found that 52% of apps lose half of their peak users after three months. Therefore, design/UX updates are necessary to give your users the sense that your app is constantly improving and they have something new to explore. These updates will be based on feedback that you receive — they can include anything from updating your app’s design to align with newer design trends to adding new buttons or capabilities to comply with your users’ requests.
Server Maintenance: Servers need to be regularly updated in order to ensure that the network is performing optimally. This process includes reviewing the server’s performance and checking for security threats on a regular basis.
Be transparent when explaining your software updates
When great companies update an app, they are as transparent as possible with their users about why the change occurred and how the change will impact their experience. This article details the best and worst examples of apps explaining their software updates. Although most people may never read the fine print on these updates, this transparency builds valuable trust with users.
How much does app maintenance cost?
There are some external factors that will contribute to how much it costs to maintain your app, including what code base your app is built on, and whether you have a native or hybrid app. For example, if your app is built on native code packages for iOS (Objective-C and Swift), Android (Java), and web (PHP) then any updates will require writing different sets of code for different operating systems, so your maintenance costs may be slightly higher if you choose that route.
Here at Hatch Apps, we conducted an in-depth pricing study of 49 software development agencies to find out how much it actually costs to build an app. In the study, we emailed request for proposals (RFP) to 100 firms, and received estimated costs and timelines from 49 of the firms.
Through our research, we discovered that the mean cost of app maintenance — an often overlooked or forgotten expense — averaged $2,495 per month, as you can see by the graph below:
Thus, it’s crucial to budget funds for app maintenance from day one. In fact, the industry norm is that app maintenance usually accounts for 15-20% of the contract cost in just the first year.
If the prospect of app maintenance feels daunting to you, don’t fear! Here at Hatch Apps, we want to make this process as easy as possible. Through our no-code, web-based platform, we give you the control to make updates and changes to your app, and all of those edits go live in the app store immediately. In addition, our development team takes care of all software updates for you and ensures that your app remains up-to-date.
Say hello if you’re interested in learning more about building an app with us!