8 factors that affect the cost of web app development

12 min read
October 17, 2023

Do you want to enhance your online presence, optimize internal operations, drive your e-commerce venture, or launch an innovative startup idea?

Are you considering developing a web app to achieve these goals, and wondering what it would cost?

Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

In other words, the cost of web app development is shaped by an array of factors, from hiring the development team and defining technical web app requirements, core features, and design elements to integrating third-party solutions.

This article will explore these key factors, offering insights and strategies to empower your decision-making process.

Hiring model

Before we delve into the way hiring models impact web app development costs, let’s understand that the first three factors—hiring model, team composition, and team location—are closely related and often interdependent.

As such, these “team setup” factors can have a significant impact on the overall cost of your future web app.

With that in mind, when selecting and hiring app developers, you essentially have three options:

Web app development hiring models

source: DECODE

Each of these models has its merits, and your choice will depend on the internal resources you already have, your web app idea and the scope of work, timeline, budget, and your team management preferences.

The first option of building an in-house team involves finding and hiring app developers with the skills and expertise your company or project is currently lacking.

This model offers complete control and a dedicated workforce, which fosters strong team cohesion and smooth communication.

However, it is often the most expensive hiring model.

The usual costs involve recruitment efforts, onboarding team members, and paying full-time employees’ salaries and benefits.

The second model is probably the cheapest and most flexible, allowing you to hire freelancers with specific skills on a project basis.

Web app development freelancers

source: Fiverr

Yet, finding the right talent can be time-consuming, and managing multiple freelancers can be challenging.

The third option—outsourcing to a dedicated development team—offers a middle ground and can provide both the convenience of an in-house team and the cost-effectiveness of freelancers.

Under this model, you hire an agency that, based on your input, establishes a team of developers and other app development professionals with the desired skills to make your web app a success.

They select the team—subject to your approval—from a talent pool of professionals who are already part of a larger team used to collaborate on app development.

This resolves any team cohesion and communication issues that might affect freelance teams.

To recap, your choice of hiring model should align with your existing development resources (if any), and project requirements while considering the time, effort, and costs associated with each model.

Team composition

Whichever hiring model you select, the composition of your web app development team plays a decisive role in the project’s success and its cost.

Although roles and titles in such teams vary, they’re typically led by a dedicated project manager who oversees the entire web app development process.

Another key figure is a project/software architect, who is an app development expert and planner responsible for the overall system structure.

That person makes sure that the other developers’ and designers’ solutions can actually work in the final product.

Here’s a representation of these and other usual development team roles:

Web development team

source: ScienceSoft

As you can see, your development team will also have user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) designers.

They’re essential for creating an engaging and user-friendly interface, ensuring that the web app meets user expectations and delivers a great user experience.

Developers are equally important, as they build the technical foundation of the web app.

These include frontend developers who work on UI/UX and backend developers responsible for the server-side logic, databases, and application functionality.

Lastly, QA engineers ensure the quality and reliability of the web app by thoroughly testing it for bugs, performance issues, and usability problems.

Naturally, this is just a simplified example of a team composition.

Other roles and experts, such as a business analyst or security specialist, may be included depending on a range of technical factors we’ll discuss below.

However, this basic team description does illustrate the complexities and cost considerations associated with selecting and managing an efficient development team.

This is even more true if project owners lack the technical knowledge and experience in web app development, which is a common occurrence.

Again, that’s why hiring a tech agency or vendor to compose a dedicated development team according to your project’s goals, requirements, and timeline is desirable.

Moreover, when that team is outsourced from the right location, this approach can be very effective in quickly and cost-efficiently creating your web app.

Team location

As you know, many jobs, especially in mobile and web app development, can now be done remotely from anywhere in the world.

As a result, it’s expected that the global IT outsourcing market will double in value in the next decade, growing from USD 525 billion in 2022 to about USD 1,150 billion in 2032.

IT services outsourcing market size 2022-2032

source: Precedence Research

Some reasons behind this outsourcing growth are quality-driven, for example when companies lack a domestic workforce with specific skills and expertise and want access to a global talent pool.

Another reason is, expectedly, reduced labor costs.

Simply put, it costs less to develop a web app by hiring skilled professionals from regions where developer rates are lower.

And that’s why the location of your development team can affect the cost.

Naturally, when outsourcing, there’s much more to consider than the lowest hourly rates, such as a potential language barrier, time zone differences, and legal security.

For example, let’s say you want to have full intellectual property (IP) rights to your web app.

In case of any dispute, you want to be protected not only by the contract you’ve signed, but also by a strong regulatory framework, such as the one established in the European Union (EU).

To address such location-based outsourcing challenges, here are eight things you can do.

8 things to do when choosing an outsourced app development company

source: DECODE

As you can see, the first cost vs. efficiency/security consideration is precisely the location of your future, remote development team.

For example, if you were from the US, Canada, or Australia, you could hire an offshore development team in one of the EU member states with lower rates, thus ensuring legal security and access to a wide talent pool of professionals.

The same is true for British, German, and French companies that regularly nearshore the app development to their less expensive eastern neighbors.

In both cases, Croatia ticks all the boxes needed for efficient and cost-effective outsourcing of web app development: EU member, highly skilled labor, and English proficiency.

And, if Croatia sounds like a good idea, make sure to look up DECODE.

Our pool of 100+ app development professionals ensures we can quickly set you up with a dedicated development team for your web app.

Naturally, your input is crucial, as is being in daily communication with the entire team and having developers work only on your project.

These location-based considerations complete the three team setup factors that influence the cost of web app development.

Now, let’s see what technical factors affect the cost and how.

Web app type

The first cost-impacting factor is, naturally, the type of web app you want to build.

For instance, there’s a big difference between creating a simple one-page promotional website and developing a complex e-commerce platform with multiple features, payment processing, and user accounts.

In essence, there are five web app types, which you can see here:

Web app types

source: DECODE

We won’t go into details about each web app type, as you can learn more about them in the article linked above.

We’ll just say that, nowadays, nearly all web apps are dynamic.

For instance, Gmail and Facebook fall into SPAs, Amazon and eBay are well-known MPAs, and Pinterest and Starbucks are good examples of PWAs.

Overall, the type and functionality of your web app—coupled with other technical factors discussed here—will directly influence the development time, the number of team members required, and, consequently, the overall cost of the project.

Now let’s see what other project parameters affect the cost of web app development.

Tech stack

In simple terms, a tech stack is a combination of different technologies, tools, and programming languages that developers will use to create and maintain your web app.

A rough distinction is usually made between front-end and back-end technologies (client-side and server-side, respectively).

The front-end deals with what users see and how they interact with the web app, and the back-end runs all the processes needed for the app to work.

There are other specialized tools and technologies that might be needed when developing and running your web app, which you can see here.

Web development tech stack

source: Academy Smart

Again, all these technical distinctions and nuances, preferred developer solutions, methodologies, and practices, should be well understood only if you’re creating your tech stack for an in-house development team.

In such cases, it’s best to consult them about the tools that are considered industry standards and that they prefer to use, as this can reduce development time.

If you’re outsourcing, things are much simpler.

The agency forming your dedicated development team typically has experience with a variety of technologies and can choose the most appropriate combination for your project.

The client defines the project’s goals and requirements, and the agency handles the technology choices and the development process.

Naturally, a good development team will have recommendations as to what technologies and tools to use for best results but will also be flexible and adapt to your specific requirements.

Ultimately, tech stack-related costs depend on the desired features and functions of your web app, which brings us to the next important cost factor.

Scope of work

A web app’s development cost will largely depend on the number of hours developers and other team members need to invest in its completion.

Simply put, the more complex your web app is, with a higher number of features and interactive elements, the more time and effort will be required for its development, subsequently affecting the overall cost.

Since many project owners only have a broad idea, the process of defining the scope of work usually starts with product discovery.

In this initial phase, the team and the client collaborate to define the web app’s concept, features, and objectives.

image 43

source: DECODE

Typically, this stage is also where it’s decided when the minimum viable product (MVP) should be created.

The MVP will represent the simplest version of your web app that can be deployed to the market, allowing you to test-run the product and gather vital user feedback.

This saves you both the development time and money, as you can validate your concept without building all the bells and whistles upfront.

Once the scope of work is defined, the development team will move to the actual design and coding, where the bulk of web app development costs are incurred.

Design complexity

The complexity of your web app design can impact the time and resources needed to bring it to life.

In other words, intricate and highly detailed designs with custom graphics, animations, and user interfaces often require more development time and effort, i.e., higher costs.

On the other hand, beautiful designs also enhance the user experience and your web app’s overall appeal.

Therefore, it’s crucial to strike the right balance between having user-friendly and visually appealing design elements and keeping development costs in check.

You’ll have a much better idea about the cost after the product delivery phase, which precedes the design stage and includes the proof of concept, cost estimation, and delivery plan.

Below, we’ve highlighted what the design phase includes.

App design phase

source: DECODE

As you can see, the first step is creating a well-designed user interface that provides a great user experience (UI/UX).

This is followed by creating a cohesive look across multiple platforms through design systems, then web app prototyping, and finally, user testing and refinement.

In summary, while design complexity can influence development costs, it also plays a significant role in how well your app will be received by users.

Therefore, maintaining clear expectations, transparency, and effective communication with your development team are essential for making the right design choices.

Third-party integrations

Last but not least, you should ensure your web app seamlessly works with other specific tools or services that enhance its functionality, such as payment gateways, social media platforms, email marketing systems, or internal business software solutions.

Web app third-party integration

source: Variance Infotech

For instance, if you’re developing an e-commerce web app, it’s crucial to integrate it with popular payment gateways like PayPal or Stripe, as well as social media platforms for marketing and user engagement.

The same applies if your company already uses internal or third-party software solutions and wants to connect them with the web app.

Long story short, third-party integrations are often essential for enhancing your web app’s functionality, but they can increase the technical complexity and development time, consequently impacting the overall cost of the project.


Having covered these eight factors, it’s clear that there’s much more going on behind the scenes of web app development, from hiring your team to third-party integrations.

Therefore, the cost can vary widely depending on your requirements and preferences.

So, to get a more accurate estimate, you should contact the right app development company and see what it’ll take to launch your well-designed and smooth-functioning web app.

Written by

Tarek Saghir

JS Team Lead

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