Web Application Development Cost Estimation for 2024

Feb 16, 2024
/
16 min read
Web Application Development Cost Estimation for 2024
Oleksandr Savchenko
Oleksandr Savchenko
Senior Business Analyst

“How much does it cost to develop a web application?”

The answer to this question is what every client wants to hear from any development company – even before they describe what they want to receive in the end.

“All the money that you have, or maybe just a fraction of that.”

This is the answer every developer can give you right away, and there’s some truth in it.  Sounds generic, vague, confusing, and unfair? Yes, but so is the question, if it’s put that way. The thing is, in the world of web app development pricing, there is no one-price-fits-all-apps approach – and there never will be. Why?

Web application development costs depend on a variety of factors based on the type of product you want to receive (MVP or ready-to-market), the maturity of the end product (as the development process can be infinite and ever-evolving), the features it should have, and many other variables.


For example, among the Django Stars case studies, you can find projects developed from scratch, as well as those that involved upgrading or scaling an existing product. The experience of our team since 2008 convincingly confirms that there are no two projects alike; each requires a unique approach.

In this article, I’ll describe the factors that influence web app development costs, explain why the client should be open about their project budget, and what every client should keep in mind before asking any team about the cost to build a web app.

You may be interested in: Software Developer Hourly Rates

The Anatomy of Web App Pricing

Developing a web app includes several types of engineers, testing, analysis, design, formulating product hypotheses, and managing the team and the process. So it’s important that the client understands the difference between product development and writing a piece of code.

There are three main reasons why we need cost estimates:

  1. Budget planning. Apart from development itself, you’ll need to include additional steps such as testing and marketing (at least). Plus, there are always other cost contingencies to account for.
  2. Assessing the idea’s viability. What might seem a simple idea can ultimately involve complex development solutions. Maybe there are already lots of apps like yours, so you’ll need to think of a creative way to make it profitable. And when you know approximately how much it will cost, you should answer one simple question: can you afford it?
  3. Pitching ideas to investors. When you talk to them – and you will talk to them – forget about words like ‘game-changing applications’ and ‘huge market opportunities’. Nobody’s interested in your unique concept unless it can turn a profit. What you need are the expected revenues and costs of your web app supported by realistic and detailed assumptions and projections.

If you try to Google how much web apps cost, or even how much it costs to develop a mobile app, it doesn’t matter, you won’t find anything. Here’s why: it’s difficult to figure out exactly where development stops. Most consider a web app as finished when it’s deployed to production. However, as soon as you go live, you’ll think of a new feature you want to add.

How Much Does it Cost to Develop a Web App?

How much does it cost to build a web app? It’s a complicated question because the final development price depends on various factors and is difficult to value at the beginning of the design process. The estimate of apps may vary from $3,000 to 300,000 or even more.

Here, we’ve gathered the aspects significantly affecting an app’s final price. So you can make a web application development cost estimation for your project.

1. Category of an app

There are three main categories of web applications:

One-page application. It’s usually used for single-purpose projects. They have all the data on a single page and very few additional scripts. One-page applications are perfect if you must design small and fast web apps.

For example, Google Calendar is a one-page app. It has all the data and functions on a single page that doesn’t refresh when you’re working with it. Among all three categories, one-page apps are the most affordable.

Multi-page applications. They are fully functional websites with multiple features and lots of data: forums, blogs, educational and medical services, online stores, social networks, e-commerce platforms, etc. The price of a multi-page web app design greatly depends on its complexity and the number of adopted features.

Amazon is a perfect example of a multi-page web app. It has thousands of pages and many internal features for selling goods and boosting app performance and user experience.

Progressive web applications. They provide a unique experience for users and often combine web and native app features. Due to their development and support complexity, they are the most expensive here.

For example, Spotify is a progressive web application. It has numerous web features that are supplemented by mobile apps. It gathers and analyzes a user’s music data and creates a personalized track list using AI-powered features.

 

2. Scope of work

Usually, after choosing a tech stack and designing ideas of all required features, it becomes clear how much time developers will spend in the development stage. 

Standard features development time is well-known. For example, the experienced team may accurately estimate the time to design log-in or payment systems. 

For example, here are some basic features for a web app and their development price:


For example, Django Stars designed a web-based investment platform for small and mid-sized investment and pension funds and banks. Our developers created a full-fledged financial platform with all essential features like user profiles, home and product pages, and payments. Also, numerous financial features were added, like AI-based digital investment recommendations and risk simulations. 

Due to complex and hard-to-develop features, the project’s total price was over $150,000. But their investments have paid off. 

Read more of Django Stars’s case studies here.

3. UX/UI design complexity

A web app interface is the first thing that draws user attention. So developers try to make them fancy and involving. Even here, the spread of price is noticeable. 

A simple landing without complicated scripts and animations would cost about $300-1,000. But if you want to add some life to it by using 3D animations and interactive features, it may be worth $3,000-5,000. 

4. Developers location

The location of the development team matters. The highest rates are in the US, Canada, and Australia — experienced professionals earn $100-250 per hour. For comparison, in the UK, many companies work for $70-150 per person-hour. The lowest rates are in Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Middle East — high-qualified and experienced professionals earn $40-80 per hour. 

It means an average web app development cost will be 2-3 times more when hiring a US team than a company from Ukraine.

How much development different types of web apps cost 

Here is an approximate calculation of different web app prices:


There is no upper limit to the cost of web application development. It may be worth a lot if you want to design something unique for the entire global market.

Approaches in Web App Estimation

There also are some different approaches that will help you to calculate approximately how much does it cost to build a web application. You may choose anyone you like or use some other methods. I’d like to emphasize the three of them.

1. Thinking in Bets

There will always be unknowns or ambiguous elements associated with building a new web app. This approach offers to check the riskiest assumptions first. That way, we learn about the real-world limitations of our idea and can try to adapt it to reality to make it work.

What are the most common assumptions that need to be tested first? Here’s a list based on our experience:

  • Demand hypothesis. This hypothesis tests that there is demand for a product that solves this particular problem. There may be a smaller number of potential customers than initially anticipated.
  • Value hypothesis. When there is proven demand for a product to solve some problem, there may be traditional ways to solve this problem. For customers to want new ways of doing things, the solution must be valuable enough for them to consider switching.
  • Feasibility hypothesis. Is the idea achievable given the current level of technological progress?

Web Application Development Cost Estimation for 2024 1
With this approach, you may be able to check whether there is demand for a new product by building a landing page that outlines all the benefits and provides a call to action for the user. You can do this without building the product itself or vaguely estimating the cost to build a web app.
Web Application Development Cost Estimation for 2024 2

2. Imitation

Previously, there were two common approaches to developing an app: you knew what end product you wanted or what product YOU wanted to imitate. Both approaches are still common. Regardless of which one you choose, your web application development cost estimate won’t be exact. The reason for this is that your original (or imitated) idea might not become the final product.

Here’s an example of why changes are inevitable in both scenarios.

The end-product approach

You want to build a social network for ravers who want to find fellow music lovers to go to parties together. The initial idea is to build an ordinary Create an Account login system. However, how do you make users believe the people in the app are real? You’re  not allowing them to create a rave account, only log in via Facebook.

That’s the kind of change I was talking about. Rule of thumb: deviations from the original idea are 99% inevitable.

Here’s the imitation product approach

‘Dude, let’s build Trello, but with video charts. It should cost the same, maybe a bit more as I add a few features’.

No, it won’t. In fact, because the technologies have advanced since the original Trello was launched, chances are it might be cheaper to if create the EXACT SAME THING. But even if you do build a video charts-based Trello, the code and functionality will be nothing like the original.
Building web apps using this approach is a big no-no because the app will most likely be far more complex than it seems. It’s hard to predict what elements the app will consist of, so the technology you’re going to use will be equally unclear, as is the final cost.

Microtasking

This is a more traditional approach to estimating web application development costs. It’s based on collecting requirements and breaking them down into very small tasks that can be estimated.

The thing is, budget planning gives you an idea of who, how much time, and how much money you need to spend to develop a particular feature during a particular stage. Here, you should define the stage, list the desired outcomes, create a workgroup, set the hourly rate, figure out how much time each task will take, and then add it all up. The result of the multiplication and addition is your estimated web app cost for developing features and taking the product to the desired stage of maturity.

Engagement Models Affecting Web Application Cost

Different hiring options also affect the total cost of web application development. You can hire a freelance developer team, design a project in-house, or use the help of experienced professionals.

So, these are the differences between options:

  • Freelance team services are relatively cheap, but developing something more complicated than a one-page app becomes risky. Moreover, it may be challenging to evaluate the experience and expertise of the freelance team.
  • Creating a product in-house is okay if your team has all the required experience, knowledge, skills, and enough time. If not, the performance may be slipping. From our experience, 9 of 10 companies are not proficient in the required tech stack, even if their managers think otherwise. It may cause significant slowdowns in the project’s development. Also, due to a lack of web app development experience, the best options may not be chosen, so the final product may perform worse than planned.
  • Hiring an experienced development company requires a comprehensive budget, but you may be sure of the high quality of the completed product regardless of its complexity. In the long run, this option might be even cheaper than the other two while creating a complex project.

Hidden Costs for Web Application Development

Web app development can come with some hidden costs that can affect your budget and timelines. For example, such hidden costs are commonly related to the following:

  • project management, which needs specialized expertise and resources to plan, execute, and monitor the project
  • integrating third-party tools and software, which often requires additional development time and effort
  • the testing and quality assurance process, which also can be time-consuming and costly
  • security measures, such as SSL certificates and firewalls, and maintaining and updating a web application

It’s crucial to be aware of the main hidden costs and plan for them accordingly to avoid delays, cost overruns, and communication breakdowns in web application development projects.

Reducing Web App Development Cost

The price of web app development may be really high. So, we’ve collected some advice on cutting it when possible without affecting the design time and quality. Here are three main hints:

  • Hire professionals for the discovery phase. A complete market and target audience research is crucial for web app development. You must know your local and global competitors, target audience characteristics, market flexibility, and openness. As our experience shows, paying for a proper analysis is cheaper than correcting mistakes during the development stage. 
  • Start with MVP and alpha testing. Next, build a minimum viable product and share it with potential clients. You’ll get honest customer reviews about the app’s features, and, what’s even more important, users will tell you about features they want to see in your app. With MPV, you may evaluate the actual demand for the product and improve its future performance. 
  • Use 3-party services. There’s no need to create all product features from scratch. Instead of developing a specific feature, you may just partner with a company that offers it for a reasonable fee and add their API to your web app. It’s common for mapping or payment features but can also be used in other cases.

Trying to reduce web application development costs is okay for new projects. But it mustn’t affect the development quality and overall app performance. Keep this in mind.

Our Approach to Web App Budgeting

At Django Stars, we differentiate the terms ‘engineering estimate’ and ‘budget quote’, and it’s very important that our clients know the difference between the two.

Budget Quote

Budget quote is normally done during initial phases of communication with potential clients. It’s a high level overview of how much a product like this might cost. It’s based on:

  • Initial product information from you
  • Our experience from building similar products
  • Quick wins that we see on the table
  • High level scope that we agree during negotiations

The downside of this approach is that it’s not very exact; this is a minimal commitment at which we expect to deliver value to you. The upside is that it can be done quickly and without signing a contract. This helps you decide whether to go forward with your idea or not.

Example: You have an idea for a product and ask us how much it will cost. We arrange a call, figure out the product details, leave a ‘surprise’ percentage, and then tell you who you might need, what functions the product will have, and how much it will cost. In this scenario, we use the ‘betting’ approach for all the unknown unknowns and can’t guarantee this will be the final price.

Alternatively, if you know the input data, you can use our web app cost calculator to estimate the financial side of your project yourself.
Web Application Development Cost Estimation for 2024 3

Engineering Estimation

Engineering estimation shows a particular amount of money, specialists, and time needed to implement your idea. It’s a commitment of the engineers that will be responsible for the delivery of your product. The thing is an engineering estimate can not be done without prior research, processing the product documentation, and defining the end goal. We call it the discovery phase.

The 3 Stages of Discovery Phase:

  1. Creating engineering tasks based on the product goal, user roadmap, functionality, etc;
  2. Choosing the scope of work;
  3. Estimating the cost of everything needed to complete each task.

Read more: What Is the Discovery Phase, and Why Should You Include It?
After the discovery phase, we have a clearer picture and can work on the uncertainties and come up with a more detailed budget planning so you could better plan the product development workflow.

Example: You describe your project and then we do thorough research based on your desired outcome. We assess the idea, evaluate it, create a budget and state the price. If you agree with what you see,  the work begins. Unlike an estimate, here you know what you’ll receive in the end and how much money you’ll pay for it.

What are the hourly rates of web development companies around the world?

Like everything else related to web development, it depends. The main factors are the country the developer is from, the developer’s domain and level of expertise,  the development company’s position in the market, and the type of product. Below are the average hourly rates of web developers globally.


Of course, these numbers won’t mean a thing after you tell the team what you want, but they can give you an understanding of how much their work can cost. So, if you know who you need to involve and how long the process might take, you can estimate the minimum cost of your app and see how much money you’ll need to invest. After you do that, talk to the team you choose and be ready to add a few zeros.

Read more: Benefits of Django for web development

Conclusion

At this point, chances are that you may not have the answer to the ‘how much does it cost to build a web app’ question in the form of a certain number. And oddly enough, that’s what I hoped you’d come away with. No reputable development company will give you an exact cost without first taking a deep dive into the product details, specifications, expectations, and goals. My other point was to show the inside of the development world and explain why the unknown, unforeseen, or unprocessed factors can cost not only money but also potentially kill the project. Finally, I also showed how to eliminate most of the uncertainties, stick to your budget, and still get your project done.

Don’t forget that you can always contact Django Stars if you need development services or want to hire a development team on your project at the best cost-quality ratio.

Frequently Asked Questions
What is the current web application development market size?
According to Statista, in 2024, the web application development market is projected to reach $179.9 billion, showing an annual growth rate of 6.87%.
What are the stages of developing web applications?
The typical stages of web app development are requirement and market analysis, feature planning and designing, front-end and back-end development, database integration, testing, deployment, and post-launch support and updating.
How long does it take to develop a web application?
It significantly depends on the app's complexity and the number of features. A basic website may take 1-2 months, but developing a full-fledged progressive web application with many unique features and involving activities may take 6-8 months or even more.
How much does it cost to build a web app on Django?
A few price differences exist between creating a web app on Django or some other programming languages and frameworks. A basic web app costs $10,000-20,000; a multi-page full-fledge solution is about $20,000-50,000. And if you want the most complex progressive application with unique features and many involving activities, be ready to pay $50,000-300,000.
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