“How much does a web app cost?” It’s probably the most consistent question we get from prospective clients. Cost is justifiably front-of-mind for any business considering creating a new web or mobile app.
So how much does it cost to build a custom web or mobile app? It depends on what the app is trying to do. Here are five key factors that influence the cost of a web or mobile app:
One of the first questions to ask is whether you need a custom solution. Many software-as-a-service options on the market can help your businesses operate efficiently and profitably every day, and so you should investigate those options.
If you decide custom software development is the way you should go, you still need to choose the right level of customization. Does every page in your web app need custom design, or can pages use similar templates to save time? Does your mobile app need custom design on every screen, or can you minimize effort by using standard iOS interfaces?
Customization can be beautiful, and it can be the wisest solution. Just make sure to know the impact of custom design and development on your budget so you make the right choices for your specific business situation.
The more complex a web or mobile app is, the more expensive it will be. Complexity isn’t always visible on the surface, so it’s important to make sure understand the factors that create it.
One major factor in determining cost is the amount of polish and the number of features you want to offer when you launch your web or mobile app.
We usually recommend an MVP approach when building a web or mobile app. By launching with a minimum viable product, you avoid paying for features users don’t really want. Instead, you can watch how people actually use the app and ask them questions, and then add polish based on proven user experience needs.
An MVP approach is almost always the right idea for a startup, and is usually worth considering for any external-facing app. On the other hand, if an app is internal, a business often has more defined processes and needs. In that case, a little more polish and a finished project may provide a better solution in the end.
The platforms you choose can lead to wide variations in cost. Think of this in terms of a mobile app. If you can choose to develop either an iOS or an Android app, it will be cheaper than building an app for both platforms. And choosing a mobile-friendly website instead of an iOS or Android app might be even more inexpensive.
The platform you choose also matters with a web app. Choosing a software framework like Django will allow you to more easily address complexity than CMS-first solutions like Drupal would. As a result, Django can provide a more inexpensive solution in the short and long term for many websites, e-commerce systems, and web portals.
All of these factors determine the amount of development effort required to bring your web or mobile app idea to life. At Worthwhile, we calculate costs for custom software development based on the effort we believe is required to deliver a solution. Many other firms in our industry use a similar approach.
So the more complexity, customization, polish, and platforms your app has, the more effort it will take, and the more it will cost to build. For our clients, this cost can range from $50,000 to $250,000 or more.
The good news is that you have control over many of these factors. The right software partner will help you navigate these factors so you can right-size your web or mobile app and get the most bang for the buck.
This will allow you to gain ROI on your project, regardless of how much money you spend. And that will end in a win for your business.