To calculate website building cost, software developers need to translate the idea into technology. And I don’t mean a rough idea behind your project, and I mean a detailed list of user stories.

If you already have your website’s user stories listed, just include them in your brief. Otherwise, you can team up with your potential tech partner and use their expertise during kick-off workshops to come up with such a list.

In this post, we’ll walk you through the process of calculating the cost of web development we use at Apptension. What follows is a glimpse into how much does a website cost and what we take into account when it comes to design, frontend and backend development, QA, and DevOps.

1. Sprint Zero

The idea behind the kick-off workshops we usually conduct with our clients is to use Google’s Design Sprint’s principles to discover how to translate your ideas into a viable product and how much does it cost to set up a website. After the workshops, you and the team should be able to come up with user stories and make assumptions about your project you can test.

Depending on the project, workshops can last from one to five days. During this time, you, your tech partner, and other stakeholders (if required) will try to understand the project, discuss different assumptions, make hypotheses, sketch storyboards, prototype, and discuss the outcome.

Usually, our team attending the workshops consists of a technical lead, a PM, a QA specialist, and a UI/UX designer. You would be charged hourly for each team member’s work.

‍2. Design

2.1. Prototyping and testing

Based on user stories, designers will first prototype the experience. They will produce wireframes, user flow diagrams, and interactive mockups at this stage. User flow diagrams help ensure that defined use cases match business objectives and project goals. Wireframes and clickable mockups created in, e.g., InVision or Axure, serve as prototypes to share ideas with technical experts.

As a result, the design team produces a layout of a website or an app that fits project requirements and use cases. Design is the first step where we consider how much a website cost for any project. There are also many other factors in the design that are added based on your preferences, which is why prototyping is necessary to bring the simple idea to life and see how it works.

2.2. Visual design

The next step is visual design. Here’s when designers turn accepted wireframes into actual screen views with assets ready to be implemented by developers.

Based on sketches and wireframes, the design team creates animations, illustrations, graphics, and icons that match the defined specs, screen sizes, themes, and style of your website or app. Creating dynamic content or images may considerably affect the website development expenses. Your web design pricing sheet may also contain the cost of developing a logo and branding other branding components, like the illustrations and animations mentioned above.

What impacts the design cost:

‍Prototyping deliverables:

  • wireframes
  • user flow diagrams
  • interactive mockups

Design deliverables:

  • screen views
  • animations

3. Frontend development

3.1. Variety of devices and browsers

One of the factors developers will base their website development costs on is the number and type of devices your project will have to support, including:

Mobile and desktop

In our mobile-first era, you need to consider mobile devices even when building a website. However, for more straightforward websites, Responsive Web Design will suffice. The RWD is an approach that uses components that change their size and grid to fit different screens without compromising the content’s readability.

But if you aim for a more complex web app targeted at mobile devices, the solution may be to create a Progressive Web App. PWAs are lightweight, although feature-rich web apps, which feel like native apps without the need to download and install them on the user's mobile device.

For the best mobile experience, we can suggest creating a native mobile app. Native apps have static content installed on a device and can access its's advanced features. With React Native, we can develop an app that runs on iOS and Android, which saves you the time and money needed to build two separate apps for both systems. However, it will also impact how much does it cost to develop a website with the said features.

Also read: PWA Studio, a new way to create PWA applications

Legacy browsers

Ideally, every user should have an updated browser on desktop or mobile. But unfortunately, front-end developers have to deal with all types of browsers and their versions, striving to offer the same experience on any of them.

Knowing your target audience, discuss with your tech partner which browsers you want to support, so frontend developers can focus on them while implementing your website.

3.2. Website’s complexity

The complexity of the interface is an essential factor during website building cost estimation. The UI may consist of rich animations using Three.js/WebGL, many images and videos, forms to fill in, and downloadable assets. In addition, they will usually use 3rd party integrations, JavaScript libraries, style sheets, and content delivery networks.

3.3. 3rd party integrations‍

While developing a web application, there might be functionalities that will require 3rd party integrations to be built, like:

  • Email integrations: Mailchimp
  • Social media or email sign-ups: Facebook, Twitter, Gmail
  • Maps: Google Maps
  • Payments: PayPal, Stripe, WePay

Plus, there are sometimes cases when integrations are not as straightforward and require frontend developers to make adjustments in the code or create bridges between external services’ code and your website’s.

3.4. Tech used in a project

Software development companies usually have a chosen tech stack they are experienced in. If you already know a tech stack for your project, try to find a company that excels at it. If not, let the vendor suggest the stack they know and are confident it’s a good fit for your project.

When it comes to frontend development, our tech stack consists of:

  • Languages: JavaScript
  • Frameworks: React, Angular, Node.js
  • Libraries: Redux, D3.js, three.js, PixiJS, Babel

The website-making cost of any paid libraries, tools, fonts, or APIs required to deliver your project is usually included in your project’s cost estimate.

Worth checking: The top backend frameworks for 2022

3.5. Website’s performance‍

Websites consist of different components that may impair performance. For example, rich animations, videos, or visuals rendered in real-time may require more background calculations, slowing the website down. To avoid underperformance, we may use Server-Side Rendering or Client-Side Rendering to load components quickly:

  • Server-Side Rendering: in Single Page Applications (SPAs), it’s possible to use languages like React to take content usually rendered on the client side, generate it on the server, and then send it back to the user, cutting down loading time and improving the experience.
  • Client-Side Rendering: a solution based on rendering the content in the browser using JavaScript. Although it’s a quick way to load the content, it will require a good internet connection to match the SSR experience.

Depending on the number of possible performance issues to optimize for, it will take frontend developers more time to develop your project, which results in a higher cost of creating a website.

What impacts the cost of frontend development:

  • Supported devices and browsers
  • The complexity of the UI
  • Interactions with the UI
  • 3rd party integrations
  • Tech used in the project
  • Website’s performance

4. Backend development

4.1. Choosing a tech stack

This way, they get to know programming languages frameworks and tools they use, so they get more experienced in them. Languages we use at Apptension are Python and PHP. In addition, we create APIs using Django REST Framework. The latter has proven to work and applies to rapid application development.

Backend developers will also investigate if any available applications may help reduce the time and cost of delivering your project. It includes tools or services like Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud solutions. Choosing them will eventually speed up the development, resulting in lower overall cost of your project.

4.2. Security

Web security is rightly the big issue today. With much data being stored by websites, it’s crucial to implement the best standards for securing it. Compromising your users’ trust may, eventually, sink your business, as this trust is tough to rebuild once lost.

Depending on the data you need to secure and the chosen methods, it will cost you more to implement a website that meets modern security standards. Security being a fundamental aspect of website building will have more impact on how much does it cost to set up a website regardless of its type and design.

Common security steps while building a website include:

  • SSL (Secure Socket Layers) certificate: allows secure connections between a server and a browser.
  • Auth0: authentication and authorization as a service.

The SSL certificate cost may vary depending on your options and hosting provider, and you pay for it independently. If a website is running on different subdomains then, a wildcard SSL certificate would be a good choice. RapidSSL wildcard, GeoTrust Wildcard ssl, Sectigo wildcard are few suggestions to secure unlimited subdomains including a primary domain. Likewise, the Auth0 pricing depends on monthly active users visiting your website (starting from $13/month for 1000 users), and you will also have to pay it separately.

4.3. Database integrations

Depending on the data types you will have to use and the number of data sources, developers will have to integrate them with your website to provide users with a unified view.

Different databases have to be chosen for different kinds of data, too. For example, at Apptension, we often use Redis (in-memory key-value structure store) and PostgreSQL (an object-relational database management system).

Regarding website development costs estimate, database integrations will be billed by the hourly rate of developers assigned to that task. Additionally, you may have to budget for any database-as-a-service solutions (e.g., AWS cost per the number of data).

4.4. Setting architecture

Backend architecture defines how servers, databases, and routings are organized to streamline requests and responses to the client side. These estimates usually vary based on the providers of these servers, routings and more and can be different in every case for how much a website cost at any particular time.

Backend developers must identify possible bottlenecks to create an architecture for your project. These bottlenecks can happen if the load needed to return a page grows with the number of concurrent users on the website. It is often the case with websites supporting extensive marketing campaigns or events or e-commerce websites during big sales.

To optimize the backend performance for your project, our developers may, e.g., optimize SQL queries or transfer “heavy” ones to the background.

Performance optimization reduces the website’s or the app’s maintenance cost in the future. As we usually advise choosing SaaS solutions for handling requests, reducing the bottlenecks cuts the subscription price you will need to cover.

What impacts the website making cost of backend development:

  • Choosing a tech stack
  • Security
  • Database integrations
  • Setting architecture

5. DevOps tasks

DevOps, which stands for software development (Dev) and information technology operations (Ops), is a methodology that aims to shorten and automate some parts of the software development lifecycle.

As a role, it includes the system administrator’s tasks to shorten the time needed to set up the production environment and ensure reliable product releases.

Suppose you're wondering how much does it cost to develop a website with this system and whether it will cost more than other options. In that case, you can rest assured that our state-of-the-art methodology makes it much easier to carry out the DevOps tasks, saving you time and money.

At Apptension, we’ve developed our continuous delivery (CI/CD) system to improve how projects are being set up and deployed, drastically cutting the time needed. In turn, the shorter time required for this kind of operation reduces the price included in the ballpark estimate without compromising the quality and safety of your project.

6. Quality Assurance

Quality assurance (QA) ensures that end-users receive a functional user interface and an optimal user experience when using a website or web app. In addition, it examines a website to try and uncover any issues that may have been overlooked during design or development.

To ensure that the code meets the quality standards, one or more QA specialists will be included in the project. Their role is to test the website or the app with different use cases. Depending on how many QA specialists join the project, their hourly rates and estimated time are included in the cost of creating a website.

You may also like: What does Quality Assurance actually mean? (and how we use it!)

6.1 Design testing

Testing the design involves checking whether the intended look and feel are consistent with the design and overall layout.

In design testing, the QA testers check whether the design displays items correctly and whether they can be navigated through easily. They also test mobile compatibility and ensure the design appears consistently across various screen sizes.

6.2 Functionality testing

Functionality testing evaluates how easy and intuitive it is to navigate through a web app or a website. In addition, the usability of the website or app is examined during the functionality test.

It is done by simulating how users behave to determine if everything works properly. Then, when evaluating the platform’s overall performance, the tester checks whether the UI/UX is consistent with the company’s goals and vision.

6.3 Requirement testing

Functionality testing assesses the usability and the experience of a web application or website. It often is the final step in quality assurance testing. It is a rigorous process that ensures that each feature, link, button, and all the other features of the interface work properly.

The web application or website is tested across various browsers, platforms, and devices to ensure that the end user can browse and navigate without any problems.

7. Web hosting and domain

Getting your hands on a web hosting and domain name is undoubtedly the first step you must take before launching your website. Without a proper web host or domain name, your website is nameless and without an address. That being said, the costs for setting up a hosting server and buying a domain can vary greatly and impact your website building cost. A shared host like Hostinger, for instance, is owned by someone else, so you’ll share the hardware cost with others who also use the same server.

7.1 Website hosting cost

Since web hosting is often bundled with proprietary software, you'll need to consider the cost when choosing a provider that offers cloud computing or self-managed hosting.

Web hosting prices vary depending on your service type; the most popular options include shared hosting, managed hosting, and virtual private servers (VPS). A shared host is owned by someone else, so you'll share the hardware cost with others who also use the same server.

With managed hosting, you pay a monthly fee to a company that owns and operates the server. You can buy a VPS directly from the provider, though they usually charge a premium price compared to shared hosting. It's a no-brainer that shared hosting is the most affordable out of all options, while a private server is the most costly.

You might also need to consider which type of server your website needs before deciding here. A private server is a necessary expense, especially if your website demands high security, speed, and data exchange.

7.2 Domain registration cost

No matter how you choose to host your website, you'll need a domain name. A domain name gives your business a unique online identity and helps people find you online. You can get the right domain name for your business or product name. You can also buy a generic "top-level" domain (TLD) matching your target audiences, such as .com, .net, or .org.

Here’s the catch, every domain name or extension can cost you differently. Some platforms and third-party hosting service providers include a free year of domain registry when you sign up for an account. However, others require you to purchase a subdomain from a third-party registrar, such as GoDaddy or Namecheap, and then connect it to an account.

Domain extensions play a more significant role in your cost because each extension is priced differently for the same name. For example, .com is the most popular domain and is more expensive than other alternatives like a .org domain.

3 things to know before you get started

Building a website is an exciting thing to do and, given our era, absolutely crucial. That said, it is essential not to go overboard if your expectations aren't realistic. Here are some valuable tips to ensure everything goes smoothly throughout the process.

Starting small

You don’t have to waste money on unnecessary features early on. Your site needs to scale before you worry about functionality or design. It is why we're here, to give you a complete estimate of your website building cost. The Apptension experts also have your back to provide sound advice based on your type of website.

Every website has essential features that can not be overlooked, so starting with the basics is always our go-to plan in case the budget is low. However, the goal here should be expanding your website and bringing in more features later on as it starts gaining recognition. Investing in your website is like investing in a business, which means you must continue improving it to keep getting the returns, regardless of whether you start big or small.

Staying real

A popular internet myth says that "a good designer can design any website." Unfortunately, very few people can do this; most designers are focused on one area, such as corporate identity, branding, or UX. However, if given clear direction and enough resources, the best designers can take care of everything on a site, including usability.

But if you are just starting, asking yourself how much does a website cost might not help you much. What you need to know is what kind of sites your customers want. It means understanding what businesses are trying to achieve from their online presence, thinking about what type of information they want to see, then working backward.

Once you've done that, go back to the question, "how much does a website cost?" and ask yourself whether those two things are compatible.

For example, if you're creating an e-commerce store, you'll probably find that having detailed product descriptions, images and testimonials is essential to selling successfully. You may also need to consider whether your website fits search engine optimization because customers who can't find your company can't buy from you.

Setting up priorities

Now with the other two tips in mind, you already know that before you go too crazy with your development, you need to think realistically about your target audience’s needs.

Think about the questions regarding the functionality of your website and answer them honestly before devoting months (and lots of money) to something that no one wants or needs. Unfortunately, most people make the mistake of spending more time designing than planning how their website will technically work.

Consulting specialists and understanding your website should or should not be is also an essential part of the planning. If you have a clear idea, it will also help us know what needs to be delivered and plan your website development costs accordingly to make the most in the least.

How much does a website cost? Conclusion

Knowing what will have to be delivered in terms of design and development, we can calculate the cost of your project. First, designers and developers estimate how many days it would take them to deliver each user story. Similarly, we determine how many employees should participate in each story to complete it.

Based on the time and number of employees needed, we calculate an estimated duration of the project. Next, we add the work time of quality assurance specialists and project managers.

Finally, we also add a tech lead to the project to oversee the technical aspects of the project, manage developers and ensure the project’s overall quality. Depending on the project, the work time of these team members may equal 50% or 100% of the time needed for development.

We include risks and uncertainties too, hence the contingency fee that will make up for overtime or the cost of 3rd party services (if they weren’t included upfront).

Summing it all together gives us a more precise idea of how much does a website cost for your specific project.

Ready to estimate your project with us?

Let’s build an amazing project together.

Check out our website development case study as an example of such.