How Much Does It Cost to Build a Web Application in 2023 and Beyond
Why isn't there a single universal web app development cost? Well, that's because the pricing varies based on many factors. Since every project is unique, the process, execution approach, duration, and pricing will differ every time, resulting in a custom outcome.
This guide can help you understand how to estimate the cost of web application development, figure out why the average price range is $40,000 to $100,000 USD or more, and what influences the price. Plus, we give an example cost calculation, breaking down the possible expenses.
What Are Web Applications?
Let's start by defining what web applications are. To clear any doubts, they are not the same as websites and aren't native or hybrid mobile applications either. Web apps are launched in a browser like Safari or Chrome, yet are responsive and provide a seamless user experience.
In essence, web apps free users from the need to install software or apps directly to their device, be it a laptop computer, tablet, smartphone, or any other device with Internet access. They are designed to remove device boundaries that deal with platform-specific programming and allow users to make the most of their experience without downloading an app directly to their internal device storage.
In the case of mobile use, the web app experience can be compared with what traditional mobile apps offer in terms of features and usability. You may basically get similar UX/UI and ease of interaction, except you don't have to download the web application from the App Store or Google Play and store it on the device to run it. Instead, you just open the web app in your preferred browser.
Reasons to Build a Web Application
Before jumping over to web app development cost estimates, we have to note that there are numerous things that make such development a reasonable move, as they bring multiple benefits to users and businesses. So, why should you opt for web application development? Here are several main reasons.
Since a web application doesn't have to be downloaded to the device to be used, you omit the device restrictions that, say, mobile applications have. To compare, mobile apps are available for installation via Google Play or App Store and are often built as native applications (which are separately created for iOS and Android).
Web apps, on the other hand, can be accessed from browsers that smartphones are equipped with by default, making them just as easy to open as any website. Actually, you can use the web app from any device (be it a smartphone, tablet, laptop, computer, or other device with Internet access). Not to mention that the number of IoT device types is growing by the year, which explains the popularity of web apps as a tech solution.
Most modern web applications are findable because they have URLs like websites. This paves the way for SEO optimization of separate app pages and boosts your chances of improving your audience reach. On the other hand, in the case of classic mobile applications, many of your efforts will be limited to only the promotion of the corresponding Google Play or App Store app pages.
3. Makes Sense for Certain Niches
As follows from the two points above, creating a web application may be a smarter decision for specific niches. For instance, web apps and PWAs are popular in the e-commerce sector, particularly with small or mid-sized stores. There are a few reasons for that. For starters, it's difficult to urge customers to go to the App Store and download an app they won't use regularly. Secondly, it's easier to promote goods because separate pages with distinct URLs are simpler to find using Google or another search engine. However, large-scale marketplaces often have both PWAs and downloadable mobile applications.
Mentioning other sectors, web apps are also a common choice for developing social media platforms (e.g., Twitter or Pinterest) and various SaaS products (for instance, Google Docs or Evernote). Nonetheless, the web app development cost for these products will differ.
4. Simpler Maintenance and Scaling
Web applications are rather flexible and easy to integrate, maintain, and update. The data is usually centralized, so making backups and managing and securing data is simpler. On the user's side, this also means that there's no necessity to update the on-device application when a newer version is rolled out. Hence, the user is less pressured to keep up with the latest version.
What's for scalability, if the traffic increases, you have the freedom to expand the solution to handle the growing volumes. And frequently, this is less time-consuming than with native applications.
Most importantly, the web application development cost is an important point to mention too. Building a web application can be a way to save the budget if this type of app is relevant for your specific product.
In other words, it is relatively cheaper to develop a web application if comparing the costs of creating traditional desktop or standalone native mobile applications. Namely, web app solutions don't have to be downloaded and don't need to be coded separately for various operating systems, which speeds up the development process and can influence the involved costs. But web app development can be comparable to cross-platform app development (when you create hybrid applications with a single codebase) in terms of price.
Factors that Affect the Cost of Web Application Development
As we've already noted, just as with mobile app development cost, the answer to the question "How much does it cost to build a web application?" will vary depending on multiple factors. Let's go over a few key points that can impact the total.
Selected Web Application Type
The cost of developing a web application will vary based on the type of app you're planning to create. What are the possible types of web applications, you ask? Let’s put it this way, there are different kinds of citrus fruit, and web apps can be your oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits. The major categories of web applications are:
- single-page apps (SPA);
- multi-page apps;
- progressive web applications (PWA);
- web portal apps;
- static web apps;
- dynamic web apps;
- among others.
As such, single-page apps are simpler and faster to implement than complex web portals. The same applies to the static vs. dynamic web app development comparison.
Feature Quantity, Design and App Complexity
The complexity of the solution and the work scope can make all the difference in terms of web application development cost. The larger the scope, the more intricate the UX/UI design, and the more complex the functionality, the higher the project duration and price tag.
This is why many teams start with a minimum viable product. It's a rational decision as you can work your way up from a small product to a fully feature-rich solution. In any event, you need to give feature prioritization a lot of thought as this object of expense can be visibly cut down.
Chosen Tech Stack and Architecture
The technology and web application architecture choice also matters since there are many approaches to bringing this or that feature set to life. As such, you may come across diverse hourly rates based on the programming language or framework for web development you decide on.
Some types of developers with a specific tech stack are more in demand than others, not to mention that the rates can drastically differ from region to region. Therefore, it shouldn't come as a surprise that this also affects the web app development cost.
Who'll Be Developing the App
The team you choose to execute your web application and the hiring method are also vital aspects forming the web application development cost. Are you going to opt for in-house or outsourcing? Assembling your own team is generally a more time-consuming and cost-intensive move (especially if you're hiring specialists from the USA or Canada). But you're always free to hire freelancers or outsourcing teams from any part of the world as an alternative.
In the latter case, the options are aplenty as well. If you decide to partner up with a tech vendor, you'll get access to a well-versed team of professionals who'll deliver a product according to your needs and even advise you on the optimal execution paths. However, the price for the project won't be the same for every provider as the cost for such services is formed from and affected by multiple things:
- the tech vendor's location;
- how many people you need;
- the specialists' level of expertise;
- how fast you need the app;
- and many others.
Hidden Web App Development Costs
What else should you mind when estimating the web application development cost or reviewing the vendors' project quotes? After all, the business or startup budget usually isn't elastic, therefore, below are a few things to consider.
Including the Discovery Stage
Whether or not the project discovery phase is counted as part of the overall web app development cost can affect the quotes. The discovery stage is carried out before development and can last several weeks. It is needed so the team can:
- go through proof-of-concept;
- research the market;
- study the target audience;
- analyze the competitors;
- create specifications;
- outline the scope;
- plan the work ahead, etc.
UX/UI Design Costs
Oftentimes, the services of a UX/UI designer may be calculated separately from the rest of the web application development cost too. A designer is responsible for creating prototypes, designs, and a UI toolkit to portray the vision and ensure the solution is usable. Plus, this is what the development team acts on. The MVP design or full app design process can take from several weeks to several months, increasing both the costs and web app development duration.
Paying for Tools and Integrations
Another point you have to account for when counting the cost of web application development is the service fees for used tools. These are ongoing expenses, including the charges for the used payment gateways, as well as fees for the server, hosting, software, plugins, and integrations.
On a similar note, sales, marketing, and promotion expenses (like what you'll spend on ads) are out-of-scope too.
Making Frequent Changes
It is possible that some things will have to be altered during the process of web application development. However, if you go back and forth repeatedly requesting changes that are a long way from what was initially signed, this will result in extra hours, additional payments, and visible timeline shifts.
Work After the Launch
It is customary that post-release expenses aren't taken into consideration when calculating the web app development cost. Nevertheless, after the release, you'll still have to invest in maintenance and bug-fixing, which can cost you up to one-fifth of the total.
The same can be mentioned about the additional features and extra work you have on your product development roadmap. The scope that's planned after the MVP has no limit, so whatever you build will be counted separately.
Web Application Development Cost Estimation and Timeline
Yes, the variables are countless, and this is precisely why there's such a drastic gap in the average price ranges from $40,000 USD to several hundred thousand dollars. To clarify these blanks, we decided to provide a sample timeline that depicts the development process. We'll explain why the web app development pricing estimates may differ.
Stage 1: Discovery
As a rule, the process begins with the discovery phase. If you don't skip it, this crucial preparation stage can last at least one week, depending on the project's complexity. On average, it takes about two weeks to complete.
Stage 2: Design, Development, and Testing
The development block can vary based on what you'll be building. For many, starting with an MVP development process is the most reasonable choice as you first work on a small yet well-functioning product version with basic features which get expanded later on. As such, you probably won't include intricate features in the MVP like face ID authorization, social sign-in, multiple complex user account settings, or multi-language support if they aren't integral for your product's first launch.
In any event, the web app development process that influences the cost of web application development services is generally broken down into distinct phases. If it's an MVP, you'll need an average of two or more months to create the pilot version of the web app.
- For example, just the design creation and approval part can take around two weeks. And if the customer requests lots of design iterations, this can prolong the overall duration, directly affecting the project's schedule.
- Once the designs are finalized, the development work begins. On average, two or three developers and a QA Engineer will need at least a month to build the web app.
- Although QA testing is carried out throughout the development process, about a week is set aside for the final regression QA testing that’s needed to ensure the software runs as planned without glitches. This is also the time to fix bugs and sand off any imperfections before launch.
Stage 3: Post-Release Maintenance
Your web app will require support after the MVP launch. So even if you aren't ready to continue building the extra post-MVP functionality yet, you'll need to have a QA Engineer and developer to keep an eye on the existing app version, at least part-time. Generally, this implies ongoing support for a month or even more, and the web application development cost quotes from tech providers typically don't include these maintenance expenses.
Stage 4: Additional Feature Development
The web app development cost for creating extra functionality after the MVP is live can be thought of as a separate block (i.e., another Stage 2 round we described above, yet regarding the new features you want to build). Once again, the duration and pricing will derive from the complexity of the built features and can range from a few months to a few years.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Web App with Upsilon?
At this point, you'd probably want a more accurate project estimation. Here's how we form estimates at Upsilon. Note that we work in sprints, where one sprint equals ten business days.
- We usually count the discovery phase as a standalone payment. The phase takes one sprint (or two weeks) and costs $6,000 USD for the part-time work of a Lead Developer, UX/UI Designer, and Product Manager.
- The web application development cost for the design, development, and testing stage also uses sprint-based dedicated team pricing. The assigned team typically includes a UX/UI Designer, several developers, a QA Engineer, and a Product Manager, and we provide visible results after every sprint.
Sample Web Application Development Cost Calculation
Here's a simple breakdown of the web app development cost we'd give at Upsilon for a sample product.
Let's pretend we decided to build an MVP version of a web application for placing car and motorcycle ads that's based on React for the front-end and Python for the back-end. In this scenario, the minimal feature set could be:
- simple user sign-in (using a login and password, which is the usual authentication type used for MVPs);
- ad placement functionality (needed for posting an ad that'll have photos, vehicle details, owner contact information, etc.);
- bookmarks to save favorite ads;
- ad display in user feeds;
- integrations with services (for instance, to fetch data reports about VIN numbers);
- standard data safety and compliance features.
The duration of the project could fall between 3 to 7 sprints and cost $36,000 to $84,000 USD, respectively. Who would be on the team in this case? The small team would be made up of one UX/UI Designer, one Senior Front-end Developer, and one Middle Back-end Developer, all working full-time, as well as a QA Engineer and Product Manager working part-time.
Can you reduce the web app development cost? Sure, you can pay less for the MVP version of the web application, say, if you already have your own designs and only need the developers to do the coding. In such a situation, a designer from our side might participate partially if any adjustments are required. We'll just need some time for the discovery stage to study your designs, dive deep into the logic and plan, and then begin the development phase straight away.
What if you need a hand with post-launch maintenance? If necessary, Upsilon can provide you with the talent to support your product after the release. The same applies to cases when you need additional sprints for creating other simple features. Such services are counted and charged individually.
Do you have to start with an MVP? If you already have a product or are looking for a team to help you build one from scratch and then be with you to maintain and scale it, then you can opt for IT staff augmentation services or hire a bigger project-based team. The team will be formed according to your needs. The roles, level of seniority, number of specialists, and duration will determine the cost of web application development.
What else should you know? Upsilon is a transparent and results-oriented MVP development company. As an experienced tech partner that helped multiple clients create web apps and scale them, we'll form a team for your project within 48 hours. In case you want to be on the safe side, we have a free one-sprint free trial, so you're sure we're a good fit. Finally, we have special terms for startups and can provide tech for equity to select partners.
Final Thoughts on Web App Pricing
So, how much does it cost to build a web app? There truly is no single answer. The project duration and web app development cost can differ based on multiple things, including what you're building, how difficult the project is in terms of execution, and who'll be creating the application. How fast you want the results, the intricacy of the design, as well as the advanced features and their quantity matter too.
There certainly are ways to cut costs, find a solid price-per-quality ratio, and get a quality product as a result. And if you need a quote or have any questions regarding Upsilon's custom web application development services, feel free to contact us to discuss your project!