Web Application Development: Processes and Costs

Andrew Zola
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Web applications are now a critical component in enterprise operations. They help businesses work more efficiently and achieve their goals and objectives much faster. So almost everyone is trying to develop a robust enterprise web app to enhance business processes.

But how much does it cost to build a web application?

Although business leaders want you to answer this question with an actual dollar amount, it’s just not possible. Even if you try to Google the answer to the question, you won’t find a thing.

In this scenario, cost estimation isn’t straightforward because it’s all relative to the web app’s functionality, features, and where you’re going to develop it.

It also depends on when you consider the development process to be complete. A lot of people say the job’s done when the app’s deployed to production, but what about maintenance? What about adding new features after you go live?

While there are plenty of app cost calculators on the Internet, once you start developing your app, you’ll find that the numbers just don’t match up.

This makes it critical to thoroughly think things through before starting a web app development project. If you haven’t done this before, it’s even more important to spend some time doing your homework before engaging a development team.

In fact, mapping out the whole process will be vital to completing the project successfully while saving money (and time). When you have it all down clearly on paper, the development team will have a better chance of providing an accurate quote.

What’s a Web Application?

A web app can be described as a program that's designed to perform specific functions by using a web browser as its client.

The word “client” refers to the client-server environment that’s used to run the app. It’s also the application used to enter and store information from multiple sources in a database.

Something simple like a contact form or something more complex like a real-time multi-player mobile game are all excellent examples of web apps.

How Do You Estimate the Cost of Web App Development?

When calculating costs, you have to consider things like QA testing, application architecture (like how many cloud services you’re going to use), and the overall product management.

Beyond the actual coding and designing of the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), you also have to think about other non-technical aspects of product development that will have an impact on final costs. For example, you’ll need someone to assess the viability of the idea, market the product, and engage in budget planning.

If your idea is deemed viable, then you can get the ball rolling. As some of the business logic and objectives can be quite complex, the trick here is to break it down into more simple manageable tasks.

After every feature has been identified, you can consolidate all the different analysis and approaches in a single document to validate it.

When the task at hand is mapped out, and you have engaged a developer who has worked on a similar project before, their experience can help them make better estimations by using time-tracking as a reference.

When you have every aspect of web app development written out on paper, you’ll be ready to perform a complexity analysis of each task before classifying it. Next, you can list all of the development demanded by each task (logic, UI, testing, etc.).

You also need to prepare yourself for the unknown. This is especially true if it’s an idea that no one has tried to build before. Whenever this is the case, there’s a real possibility that you will face some obstacles down the road (so it’s a good idea to set aside some time and money).

At this juncture, it’s also a good idea to apply the three-point estimation technique to help increase the accuracy of cost and time estimates. 

How Many People Do You Need to Develop a Web App?

The size of web application development teams can vary depending on the complexity of the project. The bigger the task at hand, the bigger the team that will be required to complete it successfully.

At it’s most basic, web application development teams usually look like this:

  • Project Manager (to bridge the gap between tech and non-tech teams)
  • Product Owner
  • Back-end Developer
  • Front-end Developer (UI/UX)
  • Graphic Designer
  • Quality Assurance Tester
  • System Administrator

According to global software development outsourcing investigation firm, Accelerance, the following are the going rates for these positions across continents:

Software Outsourcing Rates

As you can see from the above, the overall cost of web development can vary (significantly) depending on where you choose to build it. Developing web apps isn’t cost-effective in the US, so nearshoring it to Canada or Mexico can save you a lot of money.

The final cost of web development will also depend on the type of teams you choose to work with. For example, you will undoubtedly pay more for a senior developer and that will increase your development costs significantly, but might save you some time since you'll be working with a professional.

Depending on the type of project, you also have the option of taking a blended approach. This means a couple of senior team members may be enough to create a successful digital product with the help of other mid-level or junior employees.

However, when you’re choosing a web application development company, as a rule, it’s always best NOT to go with the cheapest option. This is because these types of companies tend to work with mass produced templates and do not follow high ethical standards.

Whenever that’s the case, you can’t expect any support from them down the road when things start to fall apart. So while it may seem a lot cheaper at the start of the project, you will end up spending a lot more money over time to fix all the bugs in the system.

To learn more about web application development or to get a cost estimation, reach out to one of our in-house experts.