Web Application Development Cost: Factors and Average Prices
Keeping it short: there's no exact number on the ‘initial idea’ stage. That’s due to lots of factors affecting custom web application development cost – time, devs’ country of residence, features, and engineering approach. But moving along and not knowing the cost doesn’t work either.
In this article, we’re taking a look at web app cost estimating complexities, its main stages and approaches and getting as close as possible to figuring out the price. Plus a few hints of how to cut the cost when the app turns out to be too expensive.
What Factors Affect Web App Pricing?
So why web development companies – even large and well-experienced ones – can’t tell the sum just by hearing out the idea? Time to check what actually influences web app development cost, and why a plain idea is rarely enough.
1. Scope of Work
The very first thing influencing the cost is the app’s functionality. It matters whether you’re building a simple online store, an online brochure, or a unique and complex system like hotel management software. Is it a standalone solution or third-party integrations (payment systems, GPS navigation, etc.) are the must-haves?
Various APIs, databases, hosting, mobile compatibility – the more sophisticated the web app is, the more time it’ll take to develop and thus the more it’ll cost.
And don’t forget about the code quality. If the team of developers works with very strict deadlines, they might not have enough time for writing clear and high-quality code. In this case, each bug and imperfection will come out soon enough.
Finally, mind that project requirements are rarely carved in stone. They may change over time bringing new features and design elements as your audience grows. And it, again, affects the overall web application price.
2. Сomplexity of UI/UX Design
Same here: if you choose to go for custom UI/UX design services, be ready to pay more. And how much more depends on its complexity, number of elements, animations, etc. Besides, app interfaces should not only be unique but eye-pleasant, intuitive, and convenient to use too. Both designers and web app developers need time to bring all that to life, ensuring the seamless performance of each part of the app.
Glovo's web app shows a great design example
Sure, there are lots of ready-made design templates that cost two bucks. But uniqueness is highly desirable when it comes to custom products. What’s more, if you use one of the well-worn designs, you're putting at risk your brand's reputation and recognition. Not standing out here means not to be noticed.
3. Business Niche
It matters which project you choose and how complex it turns out to be. For instance, if you're building another online store or web journal, you may expect lower web app development pricing.
Projects like those don’t require special knowledge and skills, so they are comparatively cheap. But unique and complex suites are entirely different. These can't be built without experienced and highly qualified developers plus thorough management expertise. And these two resources are of most value in the world of web development.
4. Developers’ Location
Offshore development is often cheaper than local. In the USA, Canada, and Australia an hour of software development costs from $80 to $250 – the highest rate in the world.
For example, according to Clutch, in the UK there are plenty of firms that provide web development services for $50-99/per hour. And Eastern Europe offers rates twice as low – an hour of web development costs $20-50 in Ukraine or Belarus.
How much does it cost to develop a web application in different regions? Find out in our ‘European IT Services Market: Software Development Cost by Region’ guide.
Yes, it may seem that the bigger's the price, the better's the job. But it's not that simple. Most solid agencies, both local and offshore, value their reputation and keep an eye on the quality of products they develop. Besides, if they happen to lack the necessary expertise, they will swiftly look for someone who doesn't.
Main factors that affect web app development cost
Ways to Approach Your Idea
Describing the peculiarities of your product is complex enough, especially if you're not sure what tools or technologies to choose. Luckily, there's a couple of working approaches that simplify the process and make presenting the idea to a development team much easier.
Approach 1: Think of the End Result
It's the most popular way of estimating a web app development cost. Start with imagining the end result and trace the steps backward, up to the current stage. You can ask questions like: 'What should we do to get to this point?'. But mind that it doesn't work for completely new products – there's too much uncertainty about the final result.
Still, 'How to get there?' is not the only question you should ask. Developers will certainly want to get more understanding of the concept they're going to work on. That's why requests like 'I want an app like Uber' aren't applicable here.
Here's a simplified version of how Uber works, and it already includes quite a few details.
Uber workflow diagram
Think what makes your product unique, which customers’ problems it resolves, and so on. Remember that you need to be more specific so that web app builders can define what technologies to use. Besides, marketers need to be familiar with the target audience, UI/UX designers – with your concept and vision.
Properly selected technologies mean a lot. Check our tips on choosing the right tech stack web apps and make the right choice!
Let's check the following example: you're building a social network app that connects music lovers. You may start with the usual 'login+email+password' sign-in system, and then change it to Facebook or Twitter logins. This helps to detect real users and reduce the number of fake accounts.
What I'm saying is that you should be ready to change the original idea when needed. It's inevitable, and sticking to the old plan will only slow you down. Same with cost: you can't predict all the changes, thus, you can't figure out the exact number right away.
Approach 2: Take Someone’s Idea, Replicate
This is a much less desirable option.
For example, you may come with an idea of an existing app but with minor changes in functionality. And it may seem that you already know what technologies to use, how much time it's going to take and, what's more important, how much does it cost to make a web app.
Again, not that simple. Even a slight change in makes the app nothing like the original when it comes to code and functionality.
Finally, the app turns out to be more complex and time-consuming. And you won't be able to say what parts it consists of and thus it's still unclear what technologies to use.
Average Web App Development Cost
As you see, there’s no magic wand for uncovering the price right from the start regardless of the approach you choose. But to give you an idea of how web app development costs are calculated, we’ve roughly estimated three categories of applications by their complexity.
Simple web apps
These are websites with a basic set of functions, landing pages, and simple online stores. Minimum content and interactive elements – minimum development time (up to a month).
Web application cost: $3,000-15,000.
Pro-level web apps are more challenging to build, and they often contain interactive pages and lots of content. That's why their development takes up to 3-4 months. These are:
- e-commerce websites
- prototypes of Internet portals
- web apps for small companies
Custom web apps come with exclusive CMS, well-thought-out design, and thus a high level of complexity. They're often aimed at profit-making or help with automating regular business processes. The development of complex web applications takes up to 6 months of work.
A short summary plus features:
Web application cost estimation according to its complexity level
Cutting Web Application Development Cost
Let’s imagine that project requirements are set and the estimations are behind. But what to do if the web application cost is too high?
Of course, you can start looking for other development teams that charge less. Still, it doesn't mean that the quality of the end product will be high. More importantly, too low web application cost estimation is also a bad sign.
So if you're interested in working with the current team or no one can do the task better (and with same quality), it's time to review the options you have.
Currently, there are two options:
- Change the scope. Leave only the core parts of the web app that are required to deliver a minimum viable product (MVP). This way, you can try out the idea with real customers, collect their feedback and then move to costly implementations.
- Look for alternative solutions. Ask if there are cheaper substitutes to estimated items and if these changes influence the final product.
At Cleveroad, we offer fixed price model when it comes to short-term products (3-5 month) and when the scope of work is specified in advance. Still, it works only for projects that don't require thorough research & development, with defined features and a clear vision of the end product.
Offshore development works great when it comes to budget savings! Just take a look at our 'In-House vs. Outsourcing' comparison.
Again, if the price is too low, it’s a good sign to double-check everything. Don't get confused by attractive web app pricing – clarify how many engineers are involved, their qualification, and whether both parties understand the scope correctly. Or you risk paying more time and money for further bug-fixing and improvements.
Cost Estimation at Cleveroad
Cleveroad provides full-cycle web development services. Which means, the process goes through these stages:
A project manager's always there to coordinate the workflow, and the number of developers and designers is flexible, from project to project.
Stages of a project's estimation at Cleveroad
We start cooperation with a rough estimate of your future project based on your requirements and the idea presented. And we define the approximate number of hours required to deliver the product. After getting your approval, we move to a detailed estimate, working on web app logic, wireframes and creating detailed project documentation.
Eager to find out your project's cost? Drop us a line, and we'll estimate your app – absolutely for free.