Web Application Development Cost: How to Save Your Budget

Budgeting a web development project is not an easy feat. One of the most common reasons for project failures is unexpected expenses during web development. According to TeamStage, 55% of tech companies overrun their budgets simply because they make mistakes in project cost estimation. Therefore, understanding the cost of web application development is important. 

The tricky part is that there’s no one-size-fits-all-answer when it comes to web app development. It’s like guessing the cost of a house. You can make assumptions, but the final price will be formed based on the number of rooms, layout, materials used, interior and exterior works, the total area, location, and construction team composition.

The same is true for web app development projects. There are at least eight common types of apps, plus custom applications, that may differ in features and functionalities. Additionally, new technologies constantly emerge, pushing companies to continuously innovate to be different from the competition. All of these factors affect the end price, making it challenging to provide a precise estimate for web app development. 

In this article, we’ll shed light on the key factors affecting the cost of web development. We’ll also provide you with steps that will help you determine the approximate cost of development and make better decisions during the initial stages of the software development lifecycle. 

Main Factors That Affect Web Application Development Cost 

Even if you pop into one of the largest software development companies and ask them the exact cost of your web application, they won’t be able to tell you the price without breaking your project down into detail. First, they’ll need to hear your requirements, and then they will be busy creating the blueprint for your digital venture, which will take some time before they are ready to give you a precise cost estimate.  

Let’s take a look at the factors that influence web development and which need to be taken into consideration before starting a project. 

Complexity of Web Applications Is the Number One Factor

One of the main factors in determining the cost is the complexity level of web app development. Obviously, the larger the app, the more extensive the functionality and the higher the bill you’ll be looking at at the end of the project. And vice versa, if you only need to develop a simple web application, your costs are likely to be more contained. Further down, we break down the average cost of web application development based on the project complexity so you can get an idea of what you might be charged. 

Simple Applications

Web applications that are simple in nature, include minimum functionality, and have a very simple UI design are relatively cheap to build. A case in point is a one-page brand website, a widget for the existing application, or an online catalog. On average, the cost of developing such an application varies in a range from $20,000 to $50,000.

Proof of Concept (PoF) Applications

PoC applications contain quite a lot of content and interactive features, but don’t imply any complex integrations and are mainly designed to gather funds from investors. They are considered stepping stones to more elaborate applications. On average, building such an app takes about 1,000 development hours and falls in between simple and mid-complexity web apps. 

Some of the most notable examples of Proof of Concept apps include Dropbox with its explainer video and Buffer, which went public with a single landing page to validate their product idea. All these examples were quite simple to implement yet had enough features to gather user feedback, prove their value, and raise funds from investors. The cost of PoC applications falls within the price bracket of around $50,000 to $70,000.

Medium Complexity Applications

Mid-complexity apps have more intricate functionality compared to PoC applications. Most often, they come with video or audio processing features and include some kind of analytics tools and API integrations. The development of these apps takes approximately 3,000 hours or around 3-4 months, depending on the size and skills of the team that’s been hired for the project. 

An example of a medium-complexity project our team was tasked with is Odoo development. We were approached by a European insurance company looking to implement an Odoo-based solution, allowing for quick processing of customers’ claims and calculations. The biggest challenges that we faced were ensuring proper localization of European markets through the program’s functionality, achieving preciseness in automated calculations without removing the option of manual calculations for high-risk transactions, and streamlining the management of requests. 

Despite the challenges, we nailed the task with ease and grace. Our team picked the most suitable tech stack commonly used for Odoo app development and implemented an API to make data transfer to and from the head office smooth and quick. In general, the development of the project – from gathering requirements to implementation – took two months, which was rather quick. 

Overall, mid-complexity applications vary in cost quite a lot, with estimated costs floating around $50,000 and $150,000 marks. 

Complex Applications

Complex applications include custom web solutions and feature-rich management systems like ERPs and CRMs. These can also be SaaS products for businesses, electronic health record systems, e-learning solutions, automation management platforms, banking software, taxi booking, and other intricate applications designed to handle intense workflows, large datasets, and high user interactivity. Furthermore, if we take any application that has features like a shopping cart, checkout, payment gateway, or shipment module, it will fall into the category of complex solutions.

The development of complex web applications isn’t quick and would require a team of highly skilled developers proficient in complex tech stacks and technologies. In this case, web application development costs will be considerably higher compared to simpler applications. The price you’d be looking at will start from $150,000 and can go up to $350,000 for more complex enterprise software.

An example of a complex application QArea’s team was working on is a Cryptocurrency social-based eCommerce platform. In total, the development process took us two years. However, the result was a fully functional platform designed from scratch that embraced a novel customer engagement model, allowing users to reach new audiences and effectively grow their social presence online.

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Type of Web Application

The type of an application may heavily influence the web app development cost. As we’ve mentioned earlier, there are eight types of web apps that vary in complexity and functionality. Let’s delve into how these apps can impact the overall development cost.

1) Static Web Applications

Cost of Implementation:

These are the simplest of web solutions consisting of fixed content and devoid of any dynamic features. Most often, they are built using simple programming languages such as HTML and CSS and have no personalization. Even though static applications allow for advanced features like video and GIFs, they aren’t the easiest to incorporate, making modifications possible to implement only by experienced web app development companies. 

Since these apps require minimum interactivity, development costs are rather low and typically vary from $500 to $2,000.  

Examples of Static Web Applications:

  • Brochure websites;
  • Personal portfolios;
  • Landing pages;
  • Event websites;
  • Educational institution websites. 

2) Dynamic Web Solutions

Unlike basic web apps, dynamic websites display content that can be updated in real-time, making them the best type of web solutions for constantly evolving online experiences. They may include a bunch of interactive elements to draw the user’s attention and make use of databases to store content data. 

As a rule, these applications have an admin panel, allowing the administrator to assign users different roles and modify the content. To create a dynamic web solution, software engineers typically use web programming languages such as PHP, ASP.NET, and JavaScript. 

Cost of Implementation:

Development costs increase due to backend development for dynamic content generation and range from $1,000 to $300,000, depending on the intricacies of the application.

Examples of Dynamic Solutions:

  • CMS;
  • eCommerce apps;
  • Blogging platforms;
  • Online forums;
  • Social networking sites. 

3) eCommerce Platforms

An application that is used to promote products or services refers to eCommerce. Just like an online shopping store, it includes all the basic eCommerce features such as inventory management, payment processing, and order fulfillment, and has a management panel to let you effectively control various aspects of your online store. 

This type of application falls under the mid-level category in terms of complexity as it involves many advanced features like user accounts, payment gateways, product databases, shopping cart functionality, and so on. Even if you’re not going to build a web app like Amazon, eBay, or Walmart, the cost of an e-commerce website will be rather high. 

Cost of Implementation

On average, the cost to develop a web solution in e-commerce ranges from $10,000 to $250,000, based on the chosen platform, the complexity of the project, the required functionality, and the amount of personalization.

4) Content Management Systems (CMS)

A CMS is a rather complex type of application that empowers users to create, manage, and modify digital content on a website without requiring advanced technical skills. These systems are particularly beneficial for businesses and individuals who work with content a lot and need to regularly update and organize it. Some of the most popular content management systems that have been developed and are widely used around the world include WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

Cost of Implementation

Should you be interested in developing another big CMS, be aware that the development cost may vary dramatically depending on the scope of the project and the team you hire to do the job. In general, the total bill can be anything from $20,000 to $500,000.

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5) Social Media Platforms

Without exaggeration, social media platforms are about the most complicated web applications out there, combining intricate features, real-time interactions, multiple types of content, and extensive user management. These applications can handle massive loads of data and allow users to engage with each other through various media formats. Most of them also include integrations with third-party services, advanced algorithms for content delivery, and security measures to protect user data and privacy. 

Cost of Implementation:

The development cost for social media platforms is one of the highest due to the extensive features involved. On average, it starts from $50,000 and can go up to several million dollars, depending on the application’s scale, features, and specific requirements. For example, the cost of Facebook, with its vast infrastructure and continuous feature enhancements, reaches millions of dollars. 

Examples of Social Media Platforms:

  • Facebook;
  • Twitter (X);
  • LinkedIn;
  • Snapchat;
  • Instagram, etc.

6) Custom Web Applications

Custom solutions are designed to align with the specific requirements of a business. Unlike pre-built systems, they are built from the ground up and seamlessly integrate with existing systems and third-party services. The strength of custom software is that it represents the brand’s identity while offering a unique user experience. In addition, it can easily grow and adapt to the business’s changing needs.

Cost of Implementation:

Since custom web application development takes more development time, effort, and resources, the cost of implementation is rather high. It’s common for the cost to range from $20,000 to $500,000 or even more, depending on the scale of the project. The upside is that investing in custom-built software is usually quite rewarding, as you get a product that meets the specific needs of your business and provides unique capabilities that off-the-shelf software can’t offer. 

Examples of Custom Software Solutions:

  • Enterprise resource planning systems (ERP);
  • Customer relationship management systems;
  • Project management systems;
  • Healthcare information systems;
  • Educational management systems. 

7) Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) represent a modern approach to web development, combining the best features of both web and mobile applications. They offer a seamless, responsive, and engaging user experience, regardless of which device or platform is being used. The best thing is that PWAs can seamlessly function even when the user is offline or experiencing a slow Internet connection. Besides, they support push notifications, allowing businesses to re-engage users by sending them messages regardless of whether they’re connected to the internet or not.

Cost of Implementation:

The cost of developing progressive web applications varies based on a number of factors, such as complexity, features, and integration requirements. In general, they tend to be more cost-effective compared to native app development, with the pricing falling between $10,000 and $100,000.  

Examples of PWAs:

  • Twitter (X);
  • Pinterest;
  • Flipboard;
  • Starbucks;
  • Trivago. 

8) Single Page Apps (SPA)

Single-page applications (SPAs) have been gaining traction in recent years due to their streamlined and efficient web development approach. They don’t require browser reloads like most traditional websites and update the content dynamically as users interact with the application, allowing for faster response and reduced latency times. Additionally, SPAs can be reconfigured based on the goals and objectives that a company wants to achieve. 

Cost of Implementation:

The cost of a typical single-page application ranges from $5,000 to $20,000, though it can be considerably higher if the functionality of the app includes sophisticated features and extensive integrations, like in the case of Facebook. 

Examples of SPAs:

  • Google Maps;
  • Gmail;
  • GitHub;
  • Trello. 

As you can see, each type of web solution comes with its own set of complexities, features, and functionalities, directly affecting the time and cost required to build an app. Make sure that you know what type of app exactly you want to build in order to estimate the cost right and find a development partner with the required expertise. 

Compliance With Regulations Impacts the Project Cost

The two most regulated industries requiring strict compliance with regulation requirements are fintech and healthcare. For example, if you’re planning to develop a web application in healthcare, it will need to be HIPPA compliant, have FDA clearance, include HL7 integration if the app implies sharing health-related data, and meet EVV requirements for remote patient monitoring. 

The key regulations for fintech solutions include CGPR for data protection, PCI DSS for payment card information, and various financial regulations depending on the location of the operation. 

However, these aren’t the only industries where compliance is required. You can take any industry, be it education, eCommerce, legal services, etc., and it will demand its own level of compliance. So, it’s important that development firms are fit to develop these kinds of applications. As you can guess, the team’s experience with stringent legal regulations is directly reflected in the cost of web app development.

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Tech Stack of Web Apps

The chosen backend infrastructure is one of the other factors that directly affect the web application development cost. For example, using modern serverless frameworks such as Node.js, .NET, and Java for back-end and cloud services like AWS and Microsoft Azure will cost more compared to traditional server-based architectures. 

The same goes for front-end technologies. Hiring specialists adept at standard web development languages like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS costs less compared to those proficient in advanced frameworks like React, Angular, JQuery, and Vue.js. 

In addition to choosing a back-end and front-end tech stack, you’ll need to pick a suitable database for storing your data. Some of the most popular options for storing large volumes of data are Amazon S3 and Google Cloud Storage, but both are on the expensive end of the spectrum. To reduce web application development costs, you may want to opt for cheaper alternatives like Wasabi, DigitalOcean Spaces, or Backblaze B2. 

Whichever decision you make, make sure that you plan with scalability in mind. It can be much more cost-effective to pay more at the beginning rather than incorporate major changes later on when the application is up and running.

UI/UX Design Determines Success

The user interface is an important part of web application development that can make or break your digital venture’s success. Not only does it play a crucial role in how users perceive your web app, but it also helps boost user engagement and improve retention with existing customers. 

Furthermore, a well-crafted UI/UX design can cater to diverse needs. By skillfully implementing features like voice searches, readable fonts, bright colors, and keyboard navigation, designers and web developers can build a web application that’s inclusive and can be easily accessed by people with special needs. 

Surely, building a web solution with intuitive navigation and a visually appealing interface demands the skills of professional UI/UX designers, which will impact development costs.

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