Get to understand your estimated cost for web development

Blog posts 14 March, 2019 Sean Boyle & Ha Bui

To the disappointment of the many who googled “How much does it cost to build a web application?”, there is no quickly returned answer that will be an accurate estimate of your project’s own intricacies and the reality of its developmental journey.

The stock answer of there being too many factors to consider in such a broad question is not an attempt to dodge the question, rather a nod to the importance for all parties of producing an accurate web development cost estimate. This can only be done by defining clearly what the site’s functionality and purpose are going to be.

This blog will break-down how a web development cost estimate is calculated and try to provide some approximate numbers for the wide range of websites that are being built today. The fear of an overrun on costs is always a real and present danger in web development.

Having some knowledge of what an estimate is based on, can allow crucial decisions to be made by a well-informed client on what should be prioritized and what is an unjustified drain on resources. It is up to the client to choose which user experience they want with their finished product and what features matter most in its delivery.

Three key questions that help determine your cost

An extensive search for a web development company that is a good fit for your project is a must, again knowing what you want is key to a smooth and efficient development process. Do your research and come prepared with the right questions to make sure your partner is fit for purpose.

A good web development company will also ask you the right questions and not expect you to sit down and blurt out all the relevant information in one sitting, you are paying for their expertise after all.

1)  What is the purpose of your site?

Most websites exist to help their business in achieving its goals, but there are many methods available dependent on the line of business and their place on the supply chain. Some sites generate leads, others re-engage old customers or promote the brand and some are all about getting to the checkout. Clearly outlining what you want from the website and what you need, will allow a business analyst and a team of developers to draw on their experience and start to make a plan and a web development cost estimate that reflects the realities of the project.

2)  What do you want it to look like?  

Are there any websites with a style or theme that have caught and kept your attention? There is no shame in taking inspiration from some of the brilliant webs designs already out there, but even a simple sketch of what you want could suffice. There is also free online design software available that can act as an efficient way to share your vision for the user interface with the development team.

3) What is your plan for content?

What will the content be about and where will it come from are questions that need to be answered, when working out the cost for web development. Do the clients need a professional copywriter or UI/UX writer and if they have a source for the content established, when will the content be ready? The effect on the long term maintenance cost of the website cannot be ignored, with choices to be made on which content management system to use, a full understanding of the project must be shared between the stakeholders.

Get a check on the reality

The info exchanged in the web development cost estimate phase, through Skype or in face to face meetings, is the beginning of the collaboration between the client and the agency. This allows them to determine which features are unrealistic due to their complexity, which is unprofitable, oversaturated or prohibitively expensive to implement. It may be the case that the agency does not have all the expertise needed for the project and will need to bring in outside talent.

The highly customizable nature of the web development process means that no two projects are entirely alike. Without taking the individual requirements into consideration, it is difficult to provide an estimate of any real accuracy. So, the numbers we are going to list here should not be given too much weight if you are factoring them into your own budget, relying too heavily on an inaccurate estimate is a recipe for disaster.

Approximate cost of a simple landing page – $600 to $7500

A single landing page is usually informational in purpose and can generally be completed in twenty to fifty hours of development time. The developer’s hourly salary could range between $30 to $150 per hour and while it is only a single page. Much of the web development cost estimate depends on how long and complex the page actually is. Extensive options with animation and other customizations can prolong the development time and lead to an increased cost for the client.

Approximate cost for a business website – $3000 to $45000

Again there is a huge variety of business types that require a website, from small operations to mid-sized and large scale businesses. Each individual site requires certain features and levels of complexity. Smaller ones will simply have a blog, contact us, services and about us as features, while a large business may need a corporate behemoth of a site with multiple portals available. The development time could range anywhere from one-hundred to three-hundred hours of development.

Approximate cost for an ecommerce site – $9000 to $120000

Entering the burgeoning world of e-commerce requires an engaging and frictionless user experience and thus the most complex and expensive web development process. All aspects of the development need to be considered with the user in mind and what is most likely to drive sales. The typical development time could fall between three-hundred to eight-hundred hours and prove to be a costly and time-consuming venture, but the potential rewards are huge.

Where is your money going?

The bottom line is impossible to get away from when considering the cost of web development, but your main concern should be where the money is going. The purpose of your site should dictate which features are prioritized. If your web app is designed to convert sales, its design and interface will either captivate or disengage the user and make or break your product.

Thorough research and a wireframe is required to establish an effective structure for the site before any content or visuals can be added. A professional web development company will provide business analysts who can help to optimize the use of your resources.

1.Front-end  web development

After the design and planning stages, the interface is the first priority, establishing how the user will interact with the button layout and visuals. A wide range of animations can be added with caching and metadata implemented. The front-end development determines how responsive and adaptive the site will be and its complexity will affect the web development cost estimate that you receive.

2.Back-end development

The nuts and bolts of your website, back-end development mainly relates to the server and is essential to the website’s functionality. Without the back-end, the submit button would be a pretty little picture and nothing else. This is what shares and processes all that lovely data from your website and is capable of third-party integration. Ensuring it does this effectively, will make up the bulk of your software development cost estimate.

3.Content management system

Once a website has been developed, a system is needed to allow content to be added without the aid of a web developer. Ready-made CMS engines can often be a simple solution, but for some, a custom-built system is needed to provide added security. For some businesses, it is worth the wait and extra cost and for others, it is an ineffective use of limited resources.

The emphasis a business places on its content will be evident by the proportion of funds they allocate to its delivery. Taking into account ongoing maintenance and assessing the long-term need for a UX/UI writer are also important considerations which should be included in an accurate breakdown of the costs.

Estimating the cost for web development

If the developers have experience with similar projects they may be able to give a benchmark estimate. This is drawn from their familiarity with similar projects and their duration. However, a more accurate approach is to break the project down into in its component parts in the form of a string of short-term milestones that are to be hit and what the projected cost of doing so will be. The estimate for each task is added together, with a slight buffer included, and you get a little closer to an accurate web development cost estimate.

Clients naturally focus their attention on the end product, whereas developers have to figure out how to build something that matches reality with these expectations. The problem that often arises is a simple sounding app can have an extremely complicated back-end that necessitates a costly and somewhat lengthy development process.

There is an impossible number of options for development, the website that the client wants will affect how the cost is estimated. The client may decide to reduce or limit the scope of the project or even remove a feature altogether, but they should have a break-down of what their project entails in terms of cost and duration.

Your project needs you

A client’s input is absolutely pivotal in producing any degree of accuracy in a web development cost estimate. By collaborating with the Business Analyst and the team of developers it is possible to outline a reasonably accurate forecast given the information.

However, it takes time to calculate and there are many unpredictable elements involved. Estimating based on previous projects can be misleading, perhaps different developers were on the team or a slight deviation turned into a long road of development

If you are looking for a web development company, first of all, ask yourself if your business goals justify the expense. There are much drag and drop sites such as Weebly and Squarespace which require little to no technical knowledge to use. They are low cost, but are not always user-friendly and still require web design.

In reality, a lot of developers use WordPress, which offers much more flexibility than a drag and drop site. There are a host of project management tools to assist on cost estimates and track and manage project development. There is no web development cost template, but effective collaboration between the parties should produce a ball-park figure. The accuracy of the estimate will come down to the quality of the communication between the client and the agency. To talk to experts in the field of web development and to find out more about the cost of web development, contact fram^ today.

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