All you need to know to estimate the web application development cost

The question about the web app development costs is popular but also the tough one. This is because the answer is not simple (as it depends on many factors), nor is it clear-cut. There may be many answers to this question, and they will all be good. The better approach to web application cost is to understand the query complexity and to be aware of what impacts the cost estimation.

Article’s content:
Why the popularity of web applications is growing
What does affect the web application price
How to build the best development team for your web application project
How much my application will cost?
Schedule a call to find out how complex your web application will be
The Software Things approach to web app estimation
Get the right estimation. Step by step preparation tips.


Where does the popularity of web app come from?

The most important thing for users of digital products is convenience, i.e. effortless use of a digital solution. Effortless means no additional clicks and decisions to make. You want to use the product and do this fast. In terms of time-saving, the advantage of web applications over mobile apps is quite noticeable. Therefore, the web applications market is growing in strength, and all research indicates that this trend will not reverse.

The popularity of web apps comes from their accessibility. Nowadays, the pace of our lives, the constant movement we are in, require us to use digital products everywhere. Web apps allow it. Besides, the web app doesn’t demand downloading an app on your mobile, which saves our time and us from all the clicks through settings, permits, and account personalizations. As we all know, very often we need to do things fast, and web apps enable this. And that is what makes web apps so attractive, and it causes why people, in so many situations, prefer a web app over a mobile app. 

Of course, there is another factor that impacts the constant need of building good web applications. Some of the tasks, especially within B2B, can’t be simply completed on mobiles. Imagine writing an informative article or industry guide on your mobile. Designing catchy photos for social media on mobile doesn’t support the best user experience either.

Staying on the topic of the need for the effective and easy performance of business tasks, the comparison of web and desktop applications is also worth mentioning. Desktop apps are gradually being replaced by web apps, even in the performance of tasks in work environments. Why? Again, the convenience. Web applications are accessible anywhere and we need products we can use everywhere because it makes them more adjustable to our way of life.

As you can see, there are many reasons why web apps are attractive digital products that can help you to succeed with your idea. Thus, the question about web application development cost is definitely worth diving into.


What elements affect web application cost?

The topic is undoubtedly worth exploring because it allows to understand the development companies way of thinking about web app costs. Strictly speaking, there is now way to answer the cost question directly and shortly. Too many indicators influence the web app development cost. Let’s take a closer look at them.



Complexity and the scope

What do you want to build? A simple application such as an online catalog, landing page, or more complex web app demanding third party integrations, outstanding design with interactive elements, or dedicated CMS. The more complex web application you want to create, the more expensive it will be. Therefore, it is crucial to define exactly what you need.

What are your primary features? And what functions are only nice-to-have elements. What goal do you want to achieve with your web app and what is the business value you want to deliver? Being aware of your needs and goals will surely help to get the most possibly accurate price. 

UI UX design

Simplicity or the complex and custom-made design? Again the more work designer puts into it, the higher price you will have to pay. UX experience tends to be usability-oriented, and UI design is about eye-catching user interface and aesthetics. You as a business owner, have to know who the audience of your web application is, and what do they need. Sophisticated design or maybe the intuitive navigation – what’s more important? When thinking about UI UX design, you have to do some work first. The knowledge about your audience’s needs is significant in deciding on design and usability.

The complexity of the design affects how much work the designer has to put into the process and this results in higher costs. The second aspect is that complex design is more difficult to implement and the developer also spends more time and work to implement it. As you can see, complicated design has a huge impact on costs, but also on development time.

Prototyping the UI design of web application
Prototyping the UI design


The business niche

Here the few aspects play a role. If your niche is narrow or complicated (many dependencies and functions that are e.g. legally required), and it demands quality experts with vast experience, then it will be more difficult or time-consuming to build a web application fitted for such demanding requirements. The team must be competent which often translates into a large team, as many various skills are needed. The bigger companies with highly qualified developers are more expensive.

Another factor is again the design. However, the situation can be entirely different than described above, and the more popular your niche is, the more unique design you need. It could be difficult for a newbie company in a very competitive niche to stand out with a regular design.

When the web app should be ready

Time is money, and this is also the case with web application development cost. It is known that the scope of work, the number of features, the size of the developers’ team – all affect development cost. A separate topic (but obviously related to the rest of the cost drivers) is urgency – the time in which a software development company has to build a web app.

The development process takes time and contains a few phases. If you, as a client would like to have a ready-to-launch web application in shorter time than estimated by specialists as necessary, then you will have to pay more. Short deadlines mean more web app developers working on your project, or more hours daily spent to make a web app. As a result, the price for the project will increase.

Development team

Building a web app is not a one-man task. Of course, the number of roles may be limited, but it is likely to affect the project quality. There is no possible way that developers will be able to do everything by themself. The user-friendly and eye-catching design is not their game. The same with the project and development process coordination.

Roles in the development team are also determined by project management and development methodologies.

At Software Things we deliver successful products with the support of Agile methodology. The whole process is super hands-on because it allows for delivering value with the product. Software development is not only about building digital products, it’s rather about bringing business value that always covers users’ needs. – Igor Podlawski, CEO

To get your project done efficiently, you need in your team people who take care of whether all delivered features bring real value. In Agile, that person is a Product Owner. Successful projects need also roles responsible for helping developers to work seamlessly, which has a big impact on effectiveness. And here the Scrum Master comes into play.

As you can see, the team responsible for web application development contains various roles. They are all needed for delivering a successful digital product. However, the size of the development team depends mainly on the project complexity. Therefore, you need to know what kind of web app you want to build. 

Team location

The cost to build a web application depends on the team’s geographical location. Developers from countries where the cost of living is higher are paid more than web developers from lower-income countries. The average hourly rates can vary from €25 – €60 in Eastern Europe to €80 – €250 in USA or Canada.

In web app development, the price is not always synonymous with quality. Web developers from Eastern Europe are known for the quality of their work and the demanding competencies they hold.

Moreover, as far as the fulfillment of the contract is concerned, there is no reason to be worried about the legal regulations. In countries like Poland, the coherent work and legal system are ensured through European Union regulations.


Software Things developers


How to complete a web app development team?

There are a few ways to build your web development team. Keep in mind, that the way you complete the team affects costs. Nevertheless, it’s not the money that should have a final impact on your decision, the choice is more complicated.

There are three the most common ways to complete a team:

  • hire freelancers
  • hire a software development company
  • build in-house team

Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of these options.


Freelancers

Pros

  • Lower price
  • Good for small and simple projects

Cons

  • Lack of competencies: project management, testing, business analysis
  • Big responsibility on the client’s side to explain the scope well because the freelancer will not necessarily ask many supplementary questions or examine the value behind the requirements
  • More difficult to evaluate – no rules regarding meetings, communication, reports, etc.
  • The time development estimation may not be accurate – too many dependencies or lack of experience in business analysis
  • When cooperating with freelancers, there is little or no room for changes in the requirements, as there are no regular meetings, which results in a lack of conversations about values and requirements, therefore changes in scope are difficult to handle.



In-house team

Pros

  • Good for multiple projects
  • Easier evaluation of progress
  • Easier to make changes in demands
  • Enable to take part in the development process fully

Cons

  • Complete the hiring process which costs and takes time
  • Extra expenses related to having employees (computers, office, sick leave)
  • You have no proof such as a portfolio of completed projects by the team
  • As a project owner you should have a technological knowledge to be able to hire developers and make a critical decisions in case of problems and risks. The other option is to hire as an additional expert as CTO.



Software development company

Pros

  • Good for any size of projects
  • Having all competencies and roles on a board (including different programming language)
  • Portfolio of previous web app projects delivered
  • Web app delivered to standards (all development phases completed)
  • Project management methodology adjusted to the project type
  • There are no HR and recruitment costs
  • The team has a variety of experience gathered in many projects
  • Quality guarantee, you can confirm it with independent opinions from Clutch
  • You don’t think of issues you have to in case of building an in-house team: buy computers, tools subscriptions, salary for paid leave and sick leave
  • Technical and business development is provided by a software company. Of course you will be invited to participate in it, however, it will not be your responsibility

Cons

  • Web application development cost is higher compared to freelancers


Web app development cost

As we already mentioned, cost of web app delivery depends on project’s complexity. What does it mean in practice? Price for building a web application depending on how complex your web app will be – simple, mid, complex, enterprise.


Simple web app


Our hourly rate: €60

Hourly budget: to 150h

Basic web app is a simple project with minimum features. The design is usually plain, and there is no interactive elements.

Sometimes the simple web app are the MVP (minimum viable product) because it allows for idea validation and further improvement of the web app.

Examples of simple web apps: simple online stores, catalogs, web application with template layouts

Example of simple web app delivered by Software Things – Aureus



Medium web app


Our hourly rate: €60

Hourly budget: to 500h

Medium web application is more demanding to build, as it contains more content and some interactive elements. The design can be less generic, although still can be based on predefined elements. Medium complex web application is more engaging from the user’s perspective as it often has elements like: pop-ups, video, forms to fill.

Medium web apps require more skills: web developers have to use JavaScript, its frameworks and libraries, but also CSS and HTML.

Examples of medium web apps: e-commerce websites, gaming webs, some web apps dedicated to small companies.

Example of medium web app delivered by Software Things – PharmaWebinars


Complex web apps


Our hourly rate: €60

Hourly budget: over 500h

The complex web app is often (or always) custom-made in order to meet the project’s unique requirements. A complex web app is intended to be used by multiple groups of users, so its design must respond to users’ needs which must be examined. Very often, these applications have a dedicated custom CMS or CRM.

The complex web apps have to manage large database, support high traffic and be properly secured. All functions must perform efficiently and this often required writing a thousand lines of code to deliver specific features.

Examples of complex web apps: corporate-level web apps for employees, or the popular Netflix or Uber web apps.

Example of complex web app – JOBICON | read the case study



Enterprise web apps


Our hourly rate: €60

Hourly budget: over 1000h

These types of web applications are mostly built by large companies and start-ups, or corporations. Enterprise web applications are often critical for keeping the business continuity, as they can manage the employee’s everyday business tasks.

They are always custom-made and cut-tailored, very often with complex architecture. The UI UX design is adapted to the audience’s needs, as it can have a significant impact, on the level of web app adoption by end-users.

Enterprise web applications have to provide uninterrupted performance, and in addition, they are used by large groups of users.

The examples of common enterprise size web applications:

  • CRMs
  • Tracking and billing systems
  • EAI (Enterprise application integration) and ERP (Enterprise resource planning) systems

And what are the commonly known enterprise web apps? Microsoft Office 365, Slack, Jira.

Slack is popular enterprise web application



How complex my web application is?

First, you have to know what you want to build. You need a careful examination of the market and users’ needs, so you will be able to provide a unique value with your product. Helpful will be a definition of what your project will be, and what users’ problems it will solve. All of this will help you to decide what features your app will need to have to provide business value.

The features and their characteristics like: how many and complex they will be, how difficult they will be to design and develop etc. In other words, the complexity of a web app is mainly based on the product scope.

We know, that defining a project scope will be the most challenging task you will have to perform to develop a web app. Therefore, we are here to help you. If you struggle with defining how complex your web app will be, we offer you a free consultation to help you to get through with it. 


Before free consultation, please try to prepare the answers to these questions:

  • The clearly defined main goal of the project (from the business perspective),
  • If you have, prepare any project documentation to share,
  • Estimated budget for the project,
  • Assumed timeframe for product delivery.

Grab a link to schedule a call and let’s evaluate your idea.

Our approach to web application development costs

Based on your experience, we have developed rules for the most effective cooperation with clients, which also includes a defined process of delivering the project’s estimation.

The project estimation process:

  • Introductory call, video meeting, or meeting in person to talk about the scope – we examined and evaluate the business value behind the project and discuss requirements if are already defined.
  • Based on data gathered during the meeting, the client receives the first overall cost estimation with a clear explanation of the further process and when the estimation will be updated to more exact pricing.
  • If the client is willing to enter the partnership, the contract is signed and the journey begins.Together with the client, we carry out the preparatory workshops.

    During workshops, we discuss the overarching goal of the project and bring it to specific business values for all personas of the application. The second most important goal of the workshop is to create a backlog with the requirements presented as needs and users’ problems.
  • The workshops are ended with constructing the accurate cost estimation for the project to implement.
    IMPORTANT: If, after the end of the workshop, the customer is not interested in cooperation, he may terminate the contract and will not be charged with the costs of the workshop.
  • Start of the project.
  • With each iteration of the project, the cost estimation is updated to an even more exact price.


Prepare yourself well to web app development estimation 

Let’s summarize. As you already know, the average web app cost depends on various components. Most of them define the software company that builds your app, but they do it based on your requirements and needs.Therefore, deep and thought through analysis of what you want to create is crucial as a first step to start the project. Try to answer basic questions that should become your foundation when you turn to a software company to get web app cost estimation. 

Get the right estimation. Step by step preparation tips.

  • Put your vision and idea in words. Do market research and define the users of the product.
  • Think of your audience’s needs and problems they have. What is the unique user value you want to create with your product? How it will help the users?
  • Determine the scope and complexity of your project. What features will be most important, and what nice to have. Always think of your audience’s needs and the business value you want to deliver.
  • Based on the project complexity, try to think about how many roles you will need to bring your idea to life. Then you can decide what is better, hire a few freelancers or a dedicated software development company. 
  • Think about the timeline. How urgent is your app? When do you want it to be launched? Remember that the technology partner you enter the collaboration with has the last word on this topic. He will know best how long it takes to deliver your web app.
  • We know that the journey from idea to even the start of your web app building is a long way to go. But we assure you, it’s worth doing the homework first. Having defined the most important requirements of what, to whom, and when you need to deliver your web app, will make it easier to ask the big question: how much does it cost.
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