Web development costs explained


Ever shopped around and found that costs for getting an app built are all over the place? Offshore developers can promise the same web app for as little as $1000 and big web firms can go all the way up into the millions. What the heck is going on here?

Putting dollar values to the side for just a moment, there are really big differences from one provider to the other in terms of the level of service you’ll be getting. The most important thing for you to do is figure out your needs. Then, and only then, can you choose who is right for you (and how much it will cost).

If you base your decision solely on budget, you’re bound to not get what you want (and you’ll waste what budget you do have). It happens all the time.

So, how do you know what freelancer or company is right for you? Carlos and I have drawn up a chart that will help you make the decision.

And a little context: we’re friendly with competitors both big and small. From solo freelancers, to offshore teams, to huge development firms. Our aim was to make this analysis as neutral as possible, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each option (including our own company) to equip you with unbiased information to make a decision with.

Big firms i Ryan & Carlos i Offshore
Expertise They hire guys like us We hold degrees and are active in the community Are often underqualified
Reliability The heavy-hitters in the field with the portfolio to back them up Our clients can attest to our dependability Even when working with a more established company, beware of empty promises
Communication Professional, but you’re one of many clients Professional, and aim to personally educate our clients with a completely opposite message: “Don’t build anything: business first, technology later.” Time zone differences and language barriers can negatively impact collaboration
Brand name May give you an advantage when vying for investment Lesser known N/A
Team size Large teams can provide varied expertise and contingency, potentially at the cost of flexibility with changing projects requirements Dedicated and focused on project success, but with access to less human resources Access to sometimes vast pools of potentially underqualified talent
All-in-one solution Can provide almost any service you might need for your new app at a medium to high caliber Only provides high-caliber development (no design, for example) Will provide you with whatever you want, be wary of quality
Access to CTOs You work with the corporation and don’t have a name and face to stand behind your product and the tech. side of your business Many startups find comfort in the ability to have an expert by their side for investors to see as they try to build their own team N/A
Minimum budgets around $50,000 up to $1MM+ USD and rates $160 - $300 per hour

Average budgets around $10,000 - $200,000 USD and rates $160 - $200 per hour

Can be the cheapest option, although prices have been on the up lately

Use the chart above to align yourself with a particular web development shop type: a big firm, a high-quality freelancer, or a potentially cheaper offshore team, based on what’s most important to you. Further, know if who you work with understands and is committed to delivering what you define as success for your project: be it a financial return on investment, making you look good to investors, or helping you build and get acquired as fast as possible.

Need help deciding who’s right for you? We’d love to help with totally unbiased advice. Simply contact us or hit me up in the comments below.

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