How Much Should You Spend on a Web App?
This article explores two options businesses face when investigating the cost of web apps and considering how much to spend on a web app.
(How much should you spend on a web app? Hint: That depends on how much value your web app will create!)
As we progress further into the digital age, web apps are emerging as a prominent mechanism for creating new business value. The cost of web apps can range from a few thousand dollars, to hundreds of thousands. It’s a significant investment for any business – no matter what side of this scale you fall on.
We have some clients who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars building web apps that can scale their businesses 3x, 5x or 10x. Other companies are looking to spend just a few thousand dollars on automating a set of tasks.
Large investments are only worth it if you realize a higher level of value, which we’ll describe in Option 1. If you’re not looking to make that kind of investment, you can expect to save money, but don’t expect the product to make a long-lasting impact on your business.
Cost of Web Apps | Option 1
Build a Web App to Transform & Grow Your Business
This option usually costs more to execute, but promises far greater rewards.
In 2015, author and entrepreneur Omar Mohout wrote an article for StartUs Magazine about creating enormous value through technology. In his words, “There has never been a better time to start digital businesses that reach ultimate status: They become hyper scalable ventures.”
His saying is still true today. Digital businesses like Airbnb, Zillow, Netflix and countless others operate on web applications that make hyper-scalability feasible.
If you’re looking to (successfully) create a web app that will enable hyper-scalability for your business, here are some services you should be prepared to pay for:
Market Validation and Product Strategy
Refine your product concept and verify the market need. Identify who will use your product. Identify the “why” and “how” based on what users want, need and will pay for.
Prototyping and User Research
Conduct user research and usability testing on a working prototype before development. This will allow you to make sure your product concept satisfies their objectives. Testing allows development to start in the right direction.
Many companies need big-picture guidance on how to create and position a product for the most lucrative results.
Design and Build
It can take months to design and build a web application that succeeds with end users.
You could spend somewhere around $300,000 for a web app that transforms and grows your business, just keep in mind that usability testing and prototyping is the only way to accurately anticipate the cost of web apps before building.
This degree of investment is worth it when it delivers all of the following results:
- A product that removes an operational bottleneck in your business
- A reproduceable digital solution that you can monetize or sell to other companies
- A fully functional minimum viable product you can launch with confidence
- The capacity to become an industry disruptor who owns the competition
Cost of Web Apps | Option 2
Build A Web App that Offers New Functions Without New Value
Some web apps aren’t designed to make an impact. They are designed to fulfill a function. Companies building this kind of web app don’t invest in research and testing because they aren’t concerned about nailing down a concept that resonates with users. They generally neglect developing a well-researched product strategy and often don’t bother to consider big-picture impact on the business.
For web apps designed to offer new function without creating new value, you’re simply paying for someone to execute your requirements, minus the higher-level work that goes into testing and validating a concept to completely transform operations or services. You can often outsource this type of work to low-cost development centers, so it should cost far less than the $300,000 threshold of option one.
(If you’re not paying far less than what you would pay for option one, you’re not getting your money’s worth!)
Here’s what you should expect to get in return:
- The product should hopefully work as intended, without necessarily solving any core business dilemmas.
- You won’t know how the product resonates with end users until the launch, because there’s little to no pre-build research.
- The product may save time performing certain tasks, but is unlikely to generate new revenue.
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