How Much Does It Cost To Build a Web Application From Scratch

How to make a web app without spending a fortune? In this article, we talk about various approaches in web app development, strategies to save money, etc. In the end, you get an insight into how to calculate the approximate cost of your web application.

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If you came for an accurate figure, you won’t find it in this article, sorry. Moreover, if someone is ready to tell you the exact cost of your future web application development immediately … run away.

The software development business doesn’t work like this. We don’t have a price list with calculated costs for each type of app. We create customized solutions, which means we approach each case differently and it’s impossible to predict how to make a web app for each particular client.

This article gives you detailed insight into how web application development works and which factors affect the costs. After reading it, you will be able to calculate the estimated budget to allocate in order to build a web application of your dreams.

Why build a web app?

If you’ve decided to create an application for your business, you have three options to choose from:

  • Native app development
    If you strive for exclusive app performance, native is your approach. In native app development you build a separate application for each platform you want it to operate on (iOS, Android, Windows, watchOS, AndroidTV or anything else). But the total costs will be much higher when compared to other options.
  • Hybrid app development
    A hybrid app is created once and then adapted to every platform. The expenses are not as big but the product is also far from top performance. Hybrid is perfect for MVP development since it enables you to release the app fast and test the concept without significant expenses.
  • Web application development
    Web apps are what we call a silver bullet. They can run on any device that has a built-in browser, be it a smartphone or a smart fridge. With the development of wearables and other internet of things (IoT) devices, the power of web apps will keep growing. And the best thing is the web app development price, which is much lower when compared to the native or hybrid development approach.

cost

We at Clockwise Software see huge potential for web applications. Moreover, 80% of our current projects (including complex e-commerce apps, ERPs, online marketplaces, order management, and logistics management systems) are web apps. The possibilities of this technology are endless.

Choosing web development? Choose Javascript

We are big fans of JavaScript and this is always our top recommendation when choosing the technology stack for your web app. There are multiple reasons for that, but first we'll tell you about the most crucial one:

The price.

It’s true!

  • It is much easier to hire the web app development team since JavaScript is the most widespread programming language in the world.
  • A full-stack engineer can take over both frontend and backend development, so there’s no need to hire two separate teams.
  • JavaScript code can be reused later if you decide to develop a separate mobile app.

JavaScript is basically a one-for-all solution. Whether you strive to build an online marketplace or an IoT application, you can do both with JS frameworks.

When it comes to frontend development, there are basically no alternatives: browsers work with JavaScript only. So, you’ll have to choose between dozens of JS frameworks, but we encourage you to take a closer look at three top performing ones: Angular, React and Vue.js. Follow the link to find out more about each of them.

The backend world has more variety to offer.

If you share our passion for JavaScript, choose Node.js or Express.js.

If you want a cheap but stable solution, consider PHP frameworks like Laravel, Symfony or Zend.

Does your web application rely on heavy calculations? Spring on Java will meet your needs.

There are other options, including Rails (Ruby), Django, Flask (Python), and many more. But keep in mind that you’ll have to hire a team with special knowledge in the chosen backend framework.

After all, the salary of a JavaScript developer in the U.S. is lower when compared to his colleagues that use Java, Python, etc.

Salaries of software developers

In-house team, freelancers or outsource?

Okay, let’s say you know how to build a web app, you’ve chosen web app development, and JavaScript is your core technology. What comes next? Where do you find the developers?

Your choice at this stage will affect the web app development cost the most … so choose wisely.

There are three approaches to choose from:

Hiring an in-house web development team. The most expensive option

Hiring a web developer is probably the first idea that came to your mind. But then you took a look at the picture at the end of the previous section. Yes, having an in-house developer is expensive. And we haven’t even mentioned the expenses of hiring and onboarding, as well as the costs of running an office, etc.

And one more thing: Since you employ the developer, you’ll have to pay him regularly, no matter how much work is to be done right now.

In-house teams work great for big companies and enterprises, where internal communication between departments is essential. But if you're just starting your web application business, this is likely not the best choice for you.

In-house vs. freelancers vs. outsourcing

Working with a freelancer. The cheapest option

There are dozens of websites that help you hire a freelancer to build a web application. This is the easiest and cheapest way to find a contractor. But, unfortunately, it's not the most reliable one.

A freelancer usually has several clients. The cooperation with you isn’t his only source of income, so he might not devote all his resources to your project. Also, freelancers tend to disappear from time to time in the middle of the project.

And if you work with several freelancers, prepare to be their project manager.

Cooperating with a freelancer is profitable in case of urgent fixes or simple programming tasks. But it's better not to trust a complex web app to a freelance developer.

Outsourcing web application development. Best outcome for a reasonable price

Outsourcing is the lifehack of the decade! If web app development services are expensive in your region, you have the chance to find a contractor in another country, where website development rates are lower. Moreover, outsourcing means partnering with the whole team, which takes over the work on the app from A to Z.

You save greatly on all the hiring processes. And you pay only for the actual work done according to the company’s hourly rates.

Still choosing between freelancers and outsource team?

We consult you about all the nuances of software development outsourcing

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There are certain risks as well, but you’ll know how to avoid them after reading our article about offshore software development.

Costs of web application development depends on the country you decide to outsource to. Average website development rates differ greatly even within the same region, and outsourcing overseas may save you a big piece of your budget.

Compare the following hourly rates:

Hourly rates worldwide

Fixed price vs. time and materials

Another decision that affects how much a web app costs is the billing model. Usually you have to choose between fixed price vs. time and resources. Even though the fixed price model may look attractive to you, don’t be lured in without taking the time to look at all the options. There is something you have to consider first.

App development isn’t a standard process. You can discuss the desired outcome with your tech team, but it’s impossible to predict all the bottlenecks that arise in the development process.

Fixed price – attractive but neglects many issues

When planning app development, you’d probably like to know the exact price for your end product. You negotiate it with your tech team and the work begins. Suddenly, there is an issue. You expect that your developers will solve it properly, but the solution can take a few days. Your contractors understand that you won’t pay them more for that solution, so they gloss over the problem and move on. Several issues might arise, but there’s no time to work with them.

A predefined fixed price for the project has tied the hands of your development team.

You might have guessed that this results in poor web app quality, unsatisfied customers, and lost opportunities.

Fixed price is an option for small projects with predefined requirements that are not likely to change. In this case, you’ll have to plan the development process in advance and strictly adhere to this plan.

Time and materials

If the quality of the end product is your highest priority, then you have to pay for the amount of time and resources spent to create it. Sometimes, the price tag turns out to be higher than previously expected, but you can be sure that you have built a first-class application.

Moreover, you’ll experience a certain flexibility. In the case of large applications, it is hard to define all the requirements in advance. Such projects are usually built according to agile methodology in short sprints.

Agile approach enables you to react to any market changes in a timely manner.

Got an idea for a killer new feature? Your team can start implementing it right in the middle of the development process. How much you pay depends solely on the amount of time and materials required to develop your product properly.

Time and resources vs. fixed price

Want to spend less on development? Third-party services help

When making a web application from scratch, every single feature matters. You aim for perfection, spending much time on each piece of functionality. But this precision costs you additional weeks of development and a few thousand dollars on top of it.

Want to save on costs? Go for third-party services. These are ready pieces of functionality you can add to your app straightaway or slightly customize them to match the design and initial idea.

Let’s say your web application requires a map. You don’t think twice and grab a Google API. There’s no need to reinvent something that is already perfectly done, right?

This approach works with dozens of other features that are possibly on your list. Integrate a ready content management system or a slightly customized chat. Your web app development costs will greatly reduce.

Here we have reviewed the aspects that affect the cost of your web app and some strategies to reduce the price tag. Now, let’s take a look at the actual digits.

Web application development cost: How to calculate it by yourself

The only way to find out the exact costs of your future app is to request an estimate from an app development company. However, we believe that you are able to roughly calculate the price by yourself. Here’s how.

Define who is your team.

First, think carefully about how many professionals should be involved. If you build a web application from scratch, you likely need the following guys:

  • Business analyst
    This professional will help you analyze the market, define your target audience, decide on the core functionality, etc. Don’t neglect the possibility of working with an experienced business analyst, as he will likely prevent you from making strategic mistakes.
  • Designer
    There’s no need to explain the importance of the app’s look and feel. Hiring a powerful UX/UI designer is your guaranteed path to conversions.
  • Software developers
    It's usually enough to have one designer, one business analyst and one QA engineer. But this math doesn’t work with programming pros. If you choose JavaScript as your core technology for both frontend and backend, then one strong professional can come with everything. The more various technologies are involved, the more developers you need.
  • Quality assurance engineer
    The task of this professional is to test the product and discover the bugs before these spoil everything for the users.
  • Marketing manager
    Attracting customers to a new project is a difficult task. You can try to find your own way or cooperate with a marketing manager who already knows the lifehacks in the industry.
  • Copywriter
    This position is optional and depends on the type of app you're creating. If it is content-critical, it's best to outsource the creation of text to a wordsmith with a relevant background.
  • Project manager (PM)
    Here he comes, the professional that has to bring all these people together. His main aim is to manage the work of the other team members, moderate the communication between the stakeholder (you) and your team, ensure meeting deadlines, etc. A PM eliminates your headache.


The work of these professionals cost different rates. Here’s what you can count on:

Hourly rates of professionals in software development team

Every case is specific. Maybe you are a designer yourself and have already prepared your business plan. Then all you need is proper app development and testing.

Or you may be completely new to the sphere, but devoted to creating an awesome web app. Then you probably need all of the mentioned professionals on your team. Of course, the cost may vary.

Approximate price for web app development

Here we have a few examples of web app development cost considering various team structures:

  • the price of the low-cost solution where only developers and QA engineers are involved
  • the price of the custom web application involving business analysis, design, programming, etc.

How much does a landing page cost?

Let’s start with a simple landing page, which is usually used an MVP. To be exact, you launch a landing page describing your future service and collect sign-ups until your web platform is in development.

Low-cost solution: from $2,000

Full-feature web app: from $10,000

Price for a SaaS web application

Development of a SaaS app is quite hard to estimate as it completely depends on the functionality of the app.

When you want to move your traditional on-premises software service to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model, there’s not much work to be done. You have the ready design and app logic that need to be adjusted to the new approach. You also have your customer base. In this case, the transfer to the SaaS model may cost you $8,000 or more.

If you're working on a SaaS product from scratch, the numbers are higher. You have to hire the whole team, begin with market analysis, and develop the app’s interface and functionality. The prices may vary between $35,000 for a SaaS MVP and $100,000 or more for a full-feature application.

ERP system development cost

The complexity of a web-based ERP app depends on the number of departments that will be using it. This fact affects the price as well.

An ERP minimum viable product (MVP) that covers the basic needs of one department can cost as little as $15,000.

When it comes to the price of an ERP system, there’s actually no limit. You can count on a price tag of $80,000 to $150,000 for a medium-sized company, but it can actually go far beyond a million dollars if you have to manage an enterprise with thousands of employees, multiple offices across the globe and dozens of departments.

Costs to develop a marketplace web app

All marketplaces have similar functionality, so the price difference is not as huge. However, there are still a lot of things to consider.

A marketplace web app will cost you between $25,000 for an MVP (design included) and $120,000 for an app like Etsy.

Conclusion

There are too many factors that affect the price of a web app. When striving to save money, you may be in danger.

If the app cost offered by a vendor is lower than you expected or much different from other candidates’ estimations, don’t hurry to sign the contract. It's better to ask for a detailed estimation.

Unfair contractors tend not to include support, bug fixing, project management, etc. in the initial price and then attack you with invoices for these additional services. The end price may be much higher than you were ready to pay.

So don’t hesitate to ask for a detailed estimation when it comes to web app development. This small step may save you much time, money, and mental health.

Do you need an exact estimation of your future web application?

Send us the details of your project and we will have your estimation ready in the shortest time!

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