This question is one of the hardest in web application development. And the reason for this is simple: applications are a solution to a unique challenge, which may require a particular methodology or a team of web app developers with specific expertise. It is easy to evaluate how much building the Twitter app costs, but building a new custom web app is a frontier that has not been explored yet. While web app development costs may vary, on average, a complete clone of a major social media app costs about $500K and takes nine months to assemble.
Building an app is akin to writing a book- you can write 10 chapters in a very short period of time and be stuck on one chapter for a couple of months. It is hard to estimate when we discuss custom web-based app development on the concept stage.
One should also take into consideration the Project Management Triangle: cost, scope (sometimes replaced with time) and quality. The common phrase is: “Pick two because you can’t have all three.” In other words, if you need the project to be cheap but maintain the features that you require, you’ll need to sacrifice the quality of the results. For the most part, this is true. It’s extraordinarily difficult to produce a great product if the scope is broad and the money is not there. This simple model doesn’t fully show the process that goes into the business analysis that is done while working together with а client. The triangle is a way to simplify it and show why all the factors are important.
If we talk rough numbers, it depends on things such as where the development center is situated and what functionality is required. The web application development process, like any project that spans for a long time, comes with risks such as delays, which can be caused by anything from a genuinely hard-to-crack task to something as simple as one of the developers catching the flu.
Basic web apps for small shops with the templated layout, a landing page with a small number or complete lack of interactive elements will take a month to develop, and the cost to create a web app like this will be around $5K-15K. A bigger app with a lot of pages, e-commerce websites with yearly revenue up to $1 million, a self-funded project or a prototype with a simple idea will span 2-3 months. The price for these kinds of apps is around $15K- 60K. The price to develop a web app for enterprise automation, websites with custom CMS or e-commerce website with the estimated revenue up to $10 million is around $60K-200K. It takes from three to six months to make a web app of this size. Enterprise projects for big companies or fast-growing mid-sized companies that are looking to create a foundation for a full-scale MVP will cost $200K-500K and span for more than six months.
On average a web developer in the US is getting paid $33.97 per hour. This does not include benefits, state and federal taxes. Outsourcing in Eastern Europe is cheaper at around $25 per hour. The prices vary from project to project and company to company. Evaluations are made when the idea of the project is transferred into technical tasks and rates.
The costs of web development are based on technologies and platforms used. Different platforms are used for projects of different scale. WordPress works for small-scale projects; Drupal for medium-size projects; and platforms such as SDL Tridion, SharePoint, Sitecore are best for bigger scale projects.
Let’s take a look at some of the variables in web application development that come into pricing, to understand where your money is going.
- The number of domains. The bigger the site- the bigger the app. More work and more resources should be used to make and support the app. It all goes into the pricing.
- Languages. If your web app is international, platforms charge additional fees to support more than one language.
- Integration (with CRM, e-commerce, social platform etc.). If other platforms are used than integration will lead to more costs along the way depending on compatibility. Also, a backup plan for potential downtime with offline systems should be considered.
- Website traffic. The number of visitors to your website should also be taken into consideration. The resources should be designated accordingly and the security testing must be done with this number in mind.
- Additional modules. Implementation modules, custom-built or not, also go into the pricing. It heavily depends on the infrastructure of the modules.
- Custom functionality. Custom, non-standard functionality is a point of the biggest mysteries that is evaluated on the first stage of development and may accumulate to bigger numbers if it affects other modules or functional parts of the software.
We can go bigger with a large-scale web application with large distribution and integration. These kinds of projects are considered unlimited in terms of time with prices starting from $500K. Unlimited projects require a different approach to team organization. In our company, SaM Solutions, we usually establish a so-called DDC (Dedicated Development Center). This system is a long-term management infrastructure created to act as a part of the client’s enterprise or as an extension of the client’s existing dev team.
For a project of a lower scale, we usually use Agile or SCRUM to build a web app. This gives the client the ability to closely participate in application development on all stages. It helps the client to control the cost of making a web application.
The SaM Vision
We successfully operate using those methodologies, and many times have used a hybrid approach that combines them. It is always good to start with the end-user in mind to determine the functional specifications for some of the backend features that aren’t necessarily visible to the user. Feel free to check out our website and contact our specialists for more information on how we can help you develop your web app.