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Anonymous User

Does anyone have advice & cost approximations for website and app development?

Hi all,

I am looking to launch a new online business with a website and app available. I would be eager to find out what would be the costs associated with this and what to look out for when contracting developers.
The website would need to have a database, searching/filtering functions and social media integration.
The app would need to be able to use GPS/location information, create user profiles and 'push' marketing e.g. send mobile alerts to users.

Any advice on what costs to expect would be useful and any tips on contracting would be great.

Many thanks,

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Anonymous User

You need to do a project description first. Put it on 2-3pages of paper, what you want to do.

Describe general idea, then put down functionalities you want to have. Be DESCRIPTIVE no need to go technical but be as EXACT as possible.

i.e. database / searching filtering is NOT functionality. as site must have a database is not a correctly described functionality (a database can have 1 database table or 125 database tables, it is not the same).

Correct feature description would/could be:

"Site must have a database of all registered users. The data gathered for each customer consists of general contact info (address, email, IM account) as well as profile data (gender, DOB, hair color, weight, height, sex orientation)

Site must have a general search functionality where user enters a word or part of the word and users are searched by their first/last name or nick name. Search can be narrowed by user location/address."

When you have that on paper you can approach a developer or contractor and discuss your needs, clarify the idea and expect them to give you an estimate of the cost.

If possibly go for a fixed price, on a project basis, and based on mutually signed implementation document (describing the required deliverables). depending on the size of the project and time needed to do the project expect from the developer to calculate in some instant changes as the product develops but beware it can cost you extra (have some 20% extra budget ready if you plan to have a lot of changes).

Define timeplan and stick to the timeplan. Be VERY involved in the project. Ask if you can have insight of the changes done to the project every few days - and do the revision, it is your project. Do a meeting with the developer (chat/live) once per week to go thru the milestones and give input.

Dont go for the cheapest.

If you need help PM me.


Alex, people could just throw prices but the thing a true project manager such as myself would do is gather your idea and thoughts.

Here is my advice. Start by focusing on functionality you wish to develop, then determine your needs:
*Analyze your business needs
*Then look for similar websites, record the look and feel.
*Be precise and create website goals for web navigation & conversions
Now consider your marketing efforts, Do you need email addresses (how many)?
How about a wysiwyg editor, (What you see is what you get for the novice content editor)

Start with looking at hosting providers. Here is a quick sample you can use that will help you out. I use this sample as a way to educate and gather information from clients investing in web marketing

Web Site Creation Strategy
Use this list to help you compile the various types of information you need to design an effective, comprehensive, and user-friendly website/product
Website (Domain name)
Project name: Example build my company website
Prepared by: Ray Stevens
Type of Website:
Informational E-commerce Both
General description and specifications for the Web site:
Development information
A. Objectives: What are we trying to achieve by building this Web site?
How many visitors do we want in a given time frame?
What do we want them to do when they visit our site?
B. Target audience: Who is our target audience for the site? (Additionally will you use it for recruiting employees)
C. Current target audience perceptions:
How does the target audience perceive our company, our products, and our current Web site (if there is one)?
D. Net impression: What is the most important impression that we want our Web site to make on our target audience?
E. Key copy points: What do we need to tell our target audience?
F. Proof points: Why should our target audience believe us?
G. Tone: In what manner should we speak to our target audience?
That is, should we use technical language; marketing hype; standard, straightforward English; or a combination of these tones?
H. Information buckets: What information categories must we provide to meet our objectives?
How do we want to organize our information into these categories?
I. Navigation: How do customers want to navigate within our Web site? What search and browse mechanisms should we offer?
J. Site map: What are the interrelationships among the pieces of information that we provide on our Web site?
K. Additional functionality: What features should we provide on the site to make it easy for our customers to do business with us (for example, shopping cart and payment options)?
L. Keywords and meta tags: What keywords will customers likely use to find our Web site? EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
M. Search engines: Which search engines do we want to register our Web site with?
What level of registration do we want?
N. Other mechanisms for driving traffic: What other techniques do we want to use for generating business on our Web site?
O. Contact information: What contact information and mechanisms for contacting us do we want to provide on our Web site?
P. Competitive assessment: What are the pros and cons of our competitors’ Web sites?
Web site project execution
Q. Resource requirements: List internal and external resources.
R. Estimated budget: If multiple vendors are required, break down the budget accordingly.
S. Timeline: List project milestones, including estimated beginning and completion dates for each development phase.
T. Other considerations and mandatory inclusions:

There are few other things I would add to this sheet, but this is a typical starter sheet I interview with when I'm talking to clients who want to build or upgrade an existing website or program. I can't give you 20 years of experience in one shot by I can try. Most companies just throw websites up and don't think about the goals. Also remember to look into responsive design. Tablets, and cell phones now control the market so the website needs to adjust to all sizes.

BTW: I'd be interested in talking about your project more if you want to find me on LinkedIn. These are the type of projects I enjoy working on. https://www.linkedin.com/in/raymondtstevens
Good luck,


Hi Alex,

From your description, the project could cost anything from $5K to $50K. It is just too vague. You need a more detailed plan. What about UX design, what about interaction with users, what about security. How large will your app be - thus does it need to scale? Do you need ecommerce integration? Who is your primary user base? Do they use phones? Tablets? PCs? What browsers do they use? Where are you planning on hosting? What technologies were you looking at?

As you can see, this is just a small set of questions a decent developer/freelancer will touch base on. There are many more.

As some other answers here said, develop a project description/project plan. From there, take a look at the prospective freelancer's work and work ethic from references. Another good thing to check is if they do open source development. By inspecting the quality of code (or get someone to do it) on their Github or Bitbucket accounts, you can generally get a good feel about the developer's skills.

Good luck!



It's extremely difficult to gauge the costs of a software project, so here are some tips that might be helpful:

- Don't assume anything (be as specific about your RFP as you can)

- Hiring developers is really, really hard -- if you don't have a technical co-founder and you don't have a serious technical background, you'll be relying on your developer(s) for advice and technical direction. Keep this in mind.

- Unless you're in a rare technical situation, don't try to test a developer with
programming questions or tests -- instead, have them start on your project and monitor their performance. Playing tech-bingo and writing arbitrary code usually produces poor results.

- With very rare exceptions, don't force developers to sign an NDA before discussing your project details.

- Reward and praise developers that perform well and make things easier, cut loose those who can't perform, are difficult to deal with, or create tension.

Good luck on your project!



Alex, all of these answers are great. The one piece of advice I would give that I didnt see in the other responses at a quick glance is this:

Do not base your decision on who has the lowest bid. Most of the freelance work I do comes from companies that outsourced their web design project to the lowest bidder, often overseas and then need it redone.

Not only does this cost the company a ton of time and frustration, but it also ends up costing them much more than if they used the appropriate contractor originally



Asking "how much does a website cost" is not unlike asking "how much does a house cost". How big and quality a house do you want? What amenities do you expect? Similarly, more information is needed to do a budget estimate for your website.

At a minimum a web designer/developer will need to be able to accurately estimate the hours and resources required. More detail is needed about the expected site content, the nature of the "app", the type and size of the database (and what it is expected to do), the expectations of the GPS function and the "push" marketing plans. Will the site require e-commerce?

From the information you did provide, I expect this will not be an inexpensive site. You will need an experienced designer/developer to deal with both front-end and back-end requirements.

I hope this is helpful.



There's no point in guestimating costs unless you have a detailed spec sheet because the costs range as much as going to a car dealership that has 20 different brands and saying: how much does a car cost :).

In general I can tell you on the website front that front and back takes roughly about the same time on average, obviously details will shift this but 30-90 day websites designs are on the quickest end when you have your offer and strategy planned out.

It's not about the app or site...it's about the solution you provide to the customer so based on their problem your solutions will vary. My fees for instance start at $6,500 for a non-ecommerce / non-member type sites (startups, corporate etc) and go from there to $8,500+ for ecommerce / member type websites. If you want something fully custom you're looking at $13,500+

These all come with CMS, social media ready, video ready, basic SEO etc...

The GPS/location info <-- This may mean few things, need specification document.

Push marketing <--- I'm assuming you're talking about automation of sorts with your emails , txts all based on user's behavior + social media...this will need extra functionality but once again this can mean several things, needs a spec document.

The sites I design are mobile ready as they are responsive and platform agnostic.

Now you need a mobile app, those start minimum $3k+ depending on complexity. Once again you need a detailed spec sheet.

I suggest writing out all of the known functionality, explaining what problems you are solving and for whom and go from there.


All those answers are good, however, having tons of experience with software development projects, here are my two cents. If you are going to the independent developers or to a company that can take care of full project management, i would suggest that create a scope document that is very clear and tight. Make sure you document the Application work flow and data flow very clearly. this will help you comparing the vendors, because they can then more accurately estimate the time and cost. Also will help you testing the app .

The cost will depend on how complex is the task. if it is a functional app then typically easy to code, however if it has extensive datapoints then integration may take more time and testing will be more extensive as well. it really all boils down to how detailed your scope or SOW (statement of work ) is.

Many companies will also have some generic applications that are build and ready to go on the shelf, that might be a good option, if you are not to fussy about 100% match.

We build many apps from a very simple process to more complex ... feel free to get in touch and initial advice is free...


Hi Alex,

Some great suggestions here! Do not go with the cheapest rate or quote. Definitely do a thorough requirements analysis in as much detail as you can. Mockups of how you want it to look and function are invaluable to architecting a solution. Be sure to define the sources of input (i.e. manual input, databases,GPS, etc.). Offshore developers can be cheap in their rates, but their total hours are significantly higher due to communication issues and the deliberate pace they take as they try to build to meet your needs (sometimes with frequent start overs if they lack well-defined needs and resulting SOW (Statement of Work)). Get some technical help from a consultant to define what you need and lead the selection process. Your description is too thin yet to provide estimates. But do plan on a budget of at least 10k to start and adjust once you have the requirements completely defined.

I hope this helps. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions.



As to website cost, it can be minimal, if you do it yourself as far as design.
HostGatore.com., Google.com (Wax.com), WordPress.com, GoDaddy.com and many other companies all have development tools, to help the beginner. SEO, Monetizing, and Optimization are another ball of wax. Some of these come with purchases of services, others are free with memberships. But all will get you a website. Purchasing a Domain Name or Hosting account are the easiest in my estimation, and they all have help desks that will guide you through the process. I suggest you look at as many as you can find, before you make your decision. Apps are a bit more complicated, and costly. You can find videos on YouTube.com also for instructions on both. If you budget can take a serious hit look for a professional web designer, any where from 15,000 to 50,000 depending on what you need. Ffiver.com has professionals who you can discuss the process with. I know people who had it farmed out to, out of country programmers, in China, Japan, India and the Philippians. or you can build it yourself then get professional programmers to do the really technical stuff.
The choice is yours alone, if you know any programmers, chat them up for your
specific needs first.

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