When you try to google how much does it cost to develop a web application, you won’t receive a clear answer. Everybody wishes it could be that simple – to receive a split-second estimate and time-frames – but it’s not.
Imagine going to a construction company with the question: “What is the price of building a house?”. Most would agree that the final price depends on many factors, such as the house size, number of rooms, total floor area, exterior and interior finish, architectural plans, permissions, and so on.
The same applies to software development. For example, a web app that requires API integrations, data analytics, or other complex features will cost you more than a standalone app. Similarly, there’s also a big difference between engaging a group of freelancers or a web app development company like MindK.
To help you determine web app costs, here’s a proven sequence of steps you can use to determine a rough budget for your project.
#1. Compare web developer rates
Let’s address the elephant in the room right away: the cost of a web application with the same requirements, functionality, and engagement model may be different depending on:
- technology partner (the company size, reputation, and awards),
- business experience of the development partner, and
- geographical location of your development team.
Large enterprises usually have higher rates as they have an extensive portfolio, well-organized processes, and an assigned account manager to keep you satisfied. At the same time, you should understand that web development companies with experience in specific industries may charge more as they possess industry-specific knowledge and know how to satisfy your end users.
The physical location of specialists also very often determines how much they are paid. Companies located in countries with higher costs of living tend to have higher rates.
To help you see the big picture and compare developer rates in different locations, we’ve analyzed the latest data on annual Middle Software Engineer salaries without a link to the programming language. Sure, the salaries may vary a bit depending on the technology, but not significantly.
The average salary of a Middle Software Engineer across countries 
According to the levels.fyi
As you can see, building web apps with an external team is more cost-effective than hiring a web developer in-house in the United States, UK, or Europe. Based on this salary data, you’ll pay around $14,100 per month (plus overheads) for a Middle Web developer in the US if you hire them in-house. You can save up to $9,000 a month if you use the professional team at MindK, for example, as we have developers in different countries like Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine. Read the reviews of our clients on Clutch:
Moreover, the decision to hire an external team provides you with access to global IT expertise while speeding up the app development. So, why invest in costly in-house development when you can access a global talent pool of experienced engineers?
Outsourced vs In-house app development
|Huge talent pool
|High level of expertise
|Possible time-zone challenges
|Lack of talent
|Lack of personal control
|More expensive because of a number of related costs like taxes, vacations, insurance and so on.
#2. Take the project complexity into account
To help you understand the rough cost right away, we singled out the categories of web applications by their complexity. Once again, the numbers are not precise estimations, but average cost ranges of web application development from a web development company like MindK. Your grand total will depend directly on the features you need to develop and the web development company’s rates.
Basic (simple) web apps
$20,000 – $50,000
Basic projects are usually projects involving simple functionality, minimum content and interactive elements, plain UI/UX, and simple search functions. Examples of such web applications are:
- simple web apps with predefined template layouts;
- small online catalogs;
- promotional websites; and
- widgets or additional features to the existing web apps.
Peco-inspx.com, a promotional website made by MindK
Startup web apps (Proof of Concept, or PoC)
$50,000 – $70,000
These web applications are often used by innovative startups to acquire additional funding for the development of a fully-fledged product. They are more interactive and contain a lot of content, media, and functionalities. Such apps typically take under 1,000 hours of development time.
A great example is our project Melody. With an idea to create an intuitive melody search tool, the MindK team first built a Proof of Concept – a robust Progressive Web Application (PWA) performing well on various devices. It helped our client to test the solution on the market and raise funds to develop a better, more feature-rich solution.
Mid-complexity web apps/innovative MVPs
$50,000 – $150,000
Mid-complexity apps and innovative Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) usually include advanced features like audio/video processing, basic analytics, real-time synchronization, API integrations with third-party services, and so on. Such apps take up to 3,000 hours of development time.
For example, in just three months, MindK managed to develop an innovative MVP for a US-based startup called Bridge. The main idea of the product is to allow companies to remotely open offices across the world with a 100% transparent hiring process and control of spending. Using the current solution as a springboard, our clients partnered with several staffing agencies and raised additional funding for the development of new features.
Complex/enterprise web apps
Such web applications are very often developed to automate processes in a company with 200+ employees or are built upon a successful startup MVP. The project may require 6-12 months of development time and a varied team of engineers depending on your requirements and deadlines. Among the common enterprise applications are B2B SaaS applications, business process automation and management solutions, and much more.
A great example among the projects we delivered is AIM Analytics, an intelligent TV and radio ad campaign management platform. The system covers and automates the end-to-end advertising workflow, allowing the client to manage thousands of different campaigns and analyze their results in a few clicks. This is a multi-featured web application that involves a number of third-party integrations, in-depth campaign analytics, customized dashboards containing a variety of graphs and charts, and much more.
#3. Consider the cost of web development services
The cost of web development also highly depends on the web development services you need. For example, at MindK we provide:
- End-to-end new product development (starting from MVP);
- Custom software development;
- Team augmentation;
- IT consulting.
End-to-end new product development and Custom software development. It implies that the client delegates the entire project to an IT provider. The provider allocates a team of professionals, manages the development team, and completes all of the work required to produce a functional solution, including UI/UX design, quality assurance, and maintenance.
This strategy is better suited for companies without an in-house IT department or that require resources to deliver new products or services from scratch. Full-cycle app development is usually more expensive than paying for a couple of developers in an augmented team. It’s because the tech partner takes on more responsibilities, including project management, design, business analysis, architecture, testing, and so on.
Here at MindK, we use the Agile software development methodology for app development. We value the flexibility Agile brings, especially in these volatile times. MindK delivers over 85% of projects using Agile and Agile frameworks such as Scrum or Kanban, which thrive in mid-to-long-term projects with incomplete requirements or a high degree of uncertainty.
Agile presupposes splitting the whole project into several iterations, each lasting from one to four weeks. During the iteration, the team designs, develops, and tests complete features that can be released as a working product. As a result, the piece of the app developed during the iteration provides immediate value to the end users and can be improved in following iterations.
This iterative process includes five phases that repeat until the product is ready:
- Requirements analysis/iteration planning. Agile development doesn’t need a comprehensive set of requirements to get started. The initial iteration generally focuses on the minimum valuable features required for a PoC or MVP. Business Analysts, together with the client and project manager, gather new requirements at the start of each iteration.
- Design. The team translates the requirements into user stories, which is a short and simple description of a feature written as if the person is the one who needs a specific new capability. Meanwhile, designers come up with the app’s look and feel.
- Development. Developers work on developing the features that are included in this iteration. MindK engineers also write unit tests to validate even the tiniest bits of code. This enables us to detect issues as early as possible and minimize the cost of fixing them. At MindK, we also make use of Continuous Integration/Delivery (CI/CD) to deliver even more value. This means that whenever a developer makes a change to the code, the system tests it and pushes it to production automatically. These micro-releases enable engineers to find and pinpoint errors more rapidly. A high level of automation speeds up development and shortens the feedback loop.
- Testing. QA engineers run various types of tests to make sure that the web app works as intended. The tests run in the current iteration are added to the regression suite for the next one. Iterative testing guarantees that new functionality does not break the existing one. As a result, with each new release, test coverage increases. To expand the test coverage, even more, we apply automated testing, allowing for more tests at reduced costs.
- Release and review. After the piece of working software is released, the client can receive feedback. Customer feedback is used to establish the new requirements for the following iterations and make necessary improvements. The user interface and requirements are most likely to be changed. If it helps the project, architecture, code, and even technology can be changed too.
We highly recommend reading our e-book Decision Maker’s Guide to Agile Product Development if you want to learn more about managing an Agile project and the client’s involvement in the process.
Team augmentation. We provide the required specialists that work as a part of your team and are managed on your behalf. Its primary purpose is to quickly fill positions in your organization with remote employees. In this case, you retain complete control over the project, while your outsourcing partner handles recruitment, education, training, retention, and employee productivity.
For instance, each MindK employee receives a unique career plan, coaching from experienced engineers, and team leadership assistance. We devote significant time and effort to ensuring that our professionals are at the top of their game. This is how we share responsibilities with our clients:
Team augmentation is extremely flexible as it allows you to easily scale from one developer or a test automation specialist to a large team of engineers. This makes the cost of this model flexible, too—you pay for each specialist separately and can scale up and down if required.
This model suits companies that have tech expertise on their side and are ready to bear full responsibility for managing the developer workload and project schedule and budget.
IT Consulting. We’ve spent over a decade building software products and improving processes in order to achieve high efficiency, rapid delivery, and ultimate quality. So, now we are ready to give our clients professional consulting on building new products or re-engineering existing ones.
#4. Explore how to reduce web development costs
There are several factors that are able to reduce the cost of web development. Here are some of them:
- Cutting the scope to build MVP. Leave only the essential parts of the app to build a Minimum Viable Product. Many successful products that we came to love over the years, like Uber and Dropbox, started as small proofs of concept. MindK has also used this approach when building a number of web applications.
- No-overengineering. Under no-overengineering, we mean using low-code, no-code platforms, off-the-shelf solutions, and similar. If off-the-shelf software platforms are not always the ideal choice since they do not always fit business requirements and very often have little room for customization, low-code and no-code (LCNC) platforms can help digitize your business with fewer professional staff and more domain knowledge. LCNC solutions apply a visual development environment with tools like drag-and-drop interface modelers, pre-built components, smart services, connection templates, and so on. They enable people with limited technical and coding abilities to create new apps. This doesn’t mean that the LCNC platforms allow you to build a quality end-product, but they can be used to cut the scope of work, and save time for developers on more valuable features.
- Using a cloud-native approach. Cloud-native development is a method of rapid development and upgrading software while boosting quality and lowering risk. It is a method for developing and running responsive, scalable, and fault-tolerant apps anywhere—whether in public, private, or hybrid clouds.
Cloud-native development emphasizes an architecture’s modularity, loose coupling, and service independence. Each microservice implements a business functionality, runs its own process and communicates with other microservices via APIs or messages. Based on this, the key capabilities of these cloud-native applications are:
- Microservices-based. Microservices divide an application into a set of self-contained services, or modules. Each service refers to its own data, serves a distinct business purpose, and communicates with other modules via APIs.
- Container-based. Containers are software that logically separate the app, allowing it to execute independently of physical resources. Containers ensure that microservices do not interfere with one another.
- API-based. APIs link microservices and containers while simplifying maintenance and security and allowing microservices to communicate with one another.
- Dynamic orchestration. Container orchestration technologies are used to manage the complicated lifecycles of containers. Resource management, load balancing, scheduling restarts after an internal failure, and provisioning and deploying containers onto server cluster nodes are all handled by container orchestration technologies.
Cloud-native approach is more cost-effective because computing and storage resources may be scaled up and down when needed. This reduces the requirement for overprovisioning of hardware and load balancing. Virtual servers are readily deployed for testing, and cloud-native apps may be up and running quickly. Containers may also be utilized to increase the number of microservices that can operate on a single host, saving time, resources, and money.
#5. Keep in mind how web app development costs might unexpectedly grow
There are two reasons why web applications may cost more than estimated:
- Scummy development companies may provide you with a low price intentionally to catch your interest, and then charge you for each change request.
- The scope increases while the project is being developed.
Reliable development firms try to address the first reason right away, at the pre-sales phase. At MindK, we usually start our partnership with a short introductory call. Even before we learn about your project, you can request an NDA to protect your IP rights. Within 2 days, you’ll get a rough estimate – an approximate number of hours needed to complete your project.
After signing a contract, we’ll organize a short Discovery phase to learn more about your needs. This can take anywhere between two to four weeks. During this time we’ll analyze your requirements, prioritize them, and prepare prototypes of your product. Once the Discovery phase is complete, you’ll get an updated cost estimation that better reflects the amount of work needed to complete your project. We make the commitment to time, scope, and cost, and have certified project managers that allow us to deliver on expectations.
Now, let’s handle the second problem. A lot of clients come up with new ideas when the project is already under development. This results in their wish list growing over time, increasing the project scope. This uncontrollable scope creep is one of the top reasons why software development costs escalate beyond the initial estimate.
To keep control of your budget when the scope changes, you can use a product backlog. It’s an extensive list of software development tasks, sorted by importance. Every two weeks, software engineers pull several highest-priority tasks from the backlog they plan to complete in the next iteration. This way, developers only work on the most valuable features.
Once a new idea appears, add it to the project backlog. Update and maintain it continuously. As the project goals may change through time, a product backlog prevents you from wasting your time on irrelevant “wants and wishes”. This approach will help you focus on top business needs, optimize ROI and streamline the development process.
Now you know that the process of creating a good-quality web application isn’t as simple as it appears at first glance. The development process involves a multi-functional team and several stages, such as generating product hypotheses, sketching prototypes, feature prioritization, and testing the final product.
All of this has an impact on the overall cost of web app development. And estimating the cost of developing a web app is part of the process. If you want to get a more precise estimate, your next step is to contact web development companies directly.
Here at MindK, we consider the project estimation process as a chance to better understand the customer’s business needs and the target market. In turn, our customers have time to see whether they are satisfied with our way of communication, work approach, and prices. So, feel free to reach out to us and get a project estimation.