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Article  |  Strategy

How Much Does a Custom Web Application Cost to Build?

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How much does a web app cost to build?

As one of the folks on the Planet Argon team who handles project inquiries, I’ve often fielded the question, “what does a typical web application cost to develop?”

Like a good software engineer, my response begins with, “it depends.”

The short answer

$80-300k USD to design, develop, and deploy a minimum viable product (MVP).

The long answer

Custom software development is far from typical, which is why we use the word “custom.”

There might be a handful of similarities between our projects…but each project is a unique little butterfly of ideas and business logic.

Quite often, the only consistency between two applications is that some type of user can register, sign into an account, and “do stuff.”

As much as I’d love to be able to respond to your question with a, "It depends, how much can you afford to invest?”…I understand that there is a reasonable chance that this is unchartered territory for you.

It’s my responsibility to help folks like you understand the complexity involved.

To help you understand where I’m coming from, let’s compare this process to a scenario where you were looking to build a house.

We're not building you a model home on a piece of land that you own; we’re embarking on the design and development of a custom house.

If you were to ask an architect to help you design a house—I am skeptical that you would be surprised if they asked, “what is your budget for this dream house?”

Honestly, if an architect started working on blueprints before discussing your budget — I’d recommend that you find a different architect.

If they started designing something that you could never afford — then you would have wasted some money and time.

A budget affords the architect to think within a focused scope.

The same is true for building web applications.

How we provide ballpark estimates

When an entrepreneur asks us for an estimate, we let them know that we can only provide a ballpark range.

In order for us to determine this range, we run through a series of high-level conversations. This allows our team to acclimated with the goals of your project.

A personal approach that I’ve grown keen of is to try to get a feel for how big of a project it could be.

Over the years, I’ve grown a large spreadsheet that includes a wide range of past client projects with corresponding data that we’ve compiled.

I then start asking myself a bunch of questions. For example:

  • Do any of these past projects feel similar in scope?

  • How many months did the previous project(s) take to developer?

  • How much capital did the client need to invest into an initial MVP?

  • How large of an organization were they? (bigger organizations often have more stakeholders, which takes longer for decisions to be made)

  • Were the past project(s) as complicated as this one?

  • Will we be able to leverage existing patterns to help this project move quicker?

Assuming that I’m able to align your project with a previous one, I then run through some calculations to determine a range of months and corresponding costs.

Typically, I would send you this in the form of, "Based on our experience, we believe that a project of this magnitude could take 4-5 months to develop and would require a budget of approximately $120-160k."

Since 2002, I have seen projects range as low as $40,000 to $650,000 USD to get built.

Again, it really just depends.


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