6 Ways To Cut Custom Website Development Costs
Website development is a multi-faceted, complex process that may cost from a couple thousand to a million dollars.
The final cost depends on website complexity, developers’ experience, location, and project management.
We examined all these factors here to show you how to reduce expenses. These tips are backed both by experts in web development and by entrepreneurs.
Let’s start with defining exactly what we mean by custom website development.
What is custom web development, and how much does it cost to develop a website?
There is a heap of confusion when it comes to custom website development. This article will talk about websites tailored to your needs instead of websites built with platforms like Shopify.
Custom websites are built by developers using a programming language (e.g. PHP, Ruby) and a framework (Laravel, Rails). Such an approach is appropriate when:
- the website needs unique features and design
- the business has outgrown platform solutions like WordPress or Shopify
- high-level security is required
- there are complicated integrations
- the page load time of platform-built websites is too slow, and it negatively affects SEO
Custom website development requires more resources than template-based solutions, requiring more time and money. The total sum will vary depending on the type of website you will create. Business owners recommend the following methods to save some money.
6 Tips to reduce the cost of custom website development
These tips are based on our own decades-long experience developing custom websites and the opinions of other entrepreneurs and experts in website development.
1 – Conduct a Discovery Phase
When you are about to launch your business online, you need a plan so that you and your team know where you’re going. This is why it is always good to begin a project with a Discovery Phase.
This is when you collect all the necessary data, formulate your ideas, think through different user types and flows, and plan the development.
The Discovery Phase is paramount in our list of tips because it can save you money and headaches. The benefits of the Discovery Phase are numerous:
- helps understand the target audience and whether the product is needed
“It is critical to invest time in identifying your target audience and understanding their expectations, requirements, which devices they often use while surfing the web, how much they are willing to pay for a specific service, their pain points, and what services and features they are searching for. Once you’ve clarified all of these points, you can focus on only those areas rather than investing in items that your target audience isn’t interested in. As a result, you may save a lot of time and money by narrowing down the items you need to put on your website”.– Daniel Carter from Loanx
- reduces the risk of misunderstanding and increases trust with the team
“Before starting the project, the agency should ensure that they are on the same page with the client about cost, specs etc. This should be written down in detail and ideally, sign it in the form of a contract as well. This will limit future back and forth, time and energy expenditure. Time is money for the agency”.– Alex Chaidaroglou from Altosight
- establishes the roadmap
“Begin by writing down your requirements to avoid the ambiguity that results in the haphazard design, ineffective functionality, and a lack of detail and raise the cost of producing software. Then, discuss requirement documents with the development team and respond with any queries they may have about the program. Of course, numerous adjustments will need to be made to the paper, but you will reduce the initial work. It will lower expenses and save you time, allowing you to focus on other critical business issues”.– Daniel Carter from Manhattan Tech Support
2 – Start with MVP
When you launch your business, your resources are tight, particularly finances and time. To stay within your budget, you need to cut down on excessive functionality, integrations, or the number of pages on your website. Spend resources on what matters the most.
Daniel Carter from Manhattan Tech Support says:
“When it comes to software initiatives, stakeholders are often enthusiastic and want many features. This is before the costs have been calculated. Make sure you understand the important elements of your software that are required for the initial release. Remember that when it comes to bespoke software development, an entire solution may require several iterations”.
It is important to prioritise certain aspects of your business and add them to your website first.
How to do this? Here is Daniel’s opinion:
“Begin with a modest piece of software that meets the most basic criteria, and if it is useful and profitable, further software extensions are always an option. This can cut development expenses while also allowing you to do market research to predict how your customers will react to the product”.
Here are a few essential tips when creating an MVP:
- Remember that for high SEO rankings, quality is more important than quantity
“It is usually preferable to create a few high-performing pages with relevant material rather than many low-quality pages. This strategy may boost your SEO ranking and lower your site development expenditures. Remember that you can add more pages later while in the maintenance stage. Because company information and history are secondary to lead generation, you should provide these pieces later”.– Sep Niakan, Managing Broker of Condoblackbook.
- Don’t rush to employ complicated functionality.
Automation is excellent, but it takes a lot of time and money that you could better spend on your core functionality. Nicole Zeno from Clever Cow Media advises automating only those processes you must automate and leaving the rest to operate manually until the money is not an issue.
Additionally, Adam Wood from RevenueGeeks says that you should adopt basic content formats without complicated multimedia features.
Visitors will find your site more attractive by employing video, animation, graphics, and tools. The problem is that incorporating a variety of detailed information raises the costs.
Complicated material on a website can often be counterproductive. By incorporating only the most critical elements, you will have a less expensive site. Also, visitors are more attentive and successful at encouraging them to take the following step”.
3 – Hire the right team
Most of the time, you get what you pay for. The work of an unqualified development team can cost you more in the long run than if you had hired an elite team in the first place.
Inexperienced developers perform their jobs poorly and slowly and need to redo their work constantly.
You need to check the experience and qualifications of the development team and check the feedback from other clients before hiring.
Adrian Goh from NodeFlair reassures:
“Companies save a lot of money by paying top dollar for top talents. You might not need to hire the top 10% for the job, but looking for the cheapest will almost always hurt you in the long run.”
For example, you might opt to go for someone that costs 50% less per hour and think it is a steal. However, it will cost you more for the whole project as they take longer to complete.
Or the work might be low quality and require a lot of bug fixing and maintenance work, which will add to your cost. Or worse, the website might cost you revenue as potential customers get turned away after being frustrated with your website.
Many clients have come to our custom web application development company and asked us to fix an unfinished website after previous developers have mucked up the job.
These clients chose teams with lower rates but were unhappy with the result and came to us to rebuild their websites.
They ended up having to pay more than if they did things right in the first place. Don’t sacrifice quality to save money. Invest in a good team from the start.
4 – Use outsourcing
The cost of web application development varies from region to region. As a rule, the USA or Western Europe employees expect higher salaries.
You can cut the costs by hiring specialists from regions with lower average hourly rates. You do not have to sacrifice with teams from other regions‒their work is on par with that done by more expensive teams; you have to look at their experience and the quality of their work.
For example, Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa have highly qualified developers who will charge significantly less than their North American colleagues. Outsourcing is a chance to save money without accepting poor quality.
Here is the average cost of web development services around the world:
- USA – $65 (junior) – $130 (senior) per hour
- Latin America – $50 – $70 per hour
- Eastern Europe – $25 – $60 per hour
- Asia – $20 – $45 per hour
- Africa – $20 – $40 per hour
Bram Jansen from vpnAlert explains why outsourcing is a great idea:
“The primary benefit of outsourcing development is cost savings: you save money on infrastructure and labour while gaining access to highly experienced professionals. The question is where to go for a dependable web development partner.
Some Eastern European web developers have demonstrated their ability to provide reasonable solutions at a reasonable cost. The other alternative is to hire an Asian crew; however, keep in mind that the time difference between Asia and the United States can be as much as 12 hours”.
To choose the best candidate, consider these factors:
- Is there a language barrier?
- Do your time zones overlap?
- Do they have a proven track record in your region?
- What are their experience and certification?
- Does the project manager communicate clearly?
- Do the budget and deadline meet your expectations?
Wonder where you can find your perfect outsourced workforce? Alex from Tasty Edits recommends the following sites:
“Talent marketplaces like upwork.com and fiverr.com are well known. However, if you’re looking for talent at a discount, I’d suggest posting on reddit.com/r/ForHire. You’ll spend twice as long filtering out unqualified candidates on For Hire, but you’ll also find some well-qualified people for a fraction of the cost as other platforms”.
5 – Use template design
Undoubtedly, website design prices are high and may take a considerable chunk of your budget. Luckily, even if you have opted for custom development, you still can save money by using ready-made designs instead of custom ones.
There are plenty of places where you can find ready-to-use designs for a meagre cost.
“Especially coming from a design background, I’ve always been wary of web developing tools that do too much of the “real work” for you, whether design and layout, eCommerce or other backend functionality or even hosting. The truth is that a lot of these tools are perfectly functional, especially for those who are first preparing to launch a website. Once it’s up and running with “out of the box” design, it’s easy to bring in professionals for future upgrades”.– Devon Fata, the CEO of Pixoul
Numerous online markets sell out-of-the-box themes. They allow you to reduce design expenses while still providing a nice appearance to your website.
Tyson Stevens from Education Resource Eduref names Elegant Themes, Template Monster, and Themify.me as a few places to look.
6 – Use white-label solutions
White-label solutions can provide building blocks for your website and significantly cut development costs.
These are scripts, libraries, and other tools that your developers can use without sacrificing the flexibility of your software.
Unlike website builders and platforms like WordPress or Shopify, white-label solutions allow unlimited changes and upgrades. Let’s take a look at some examples.
Oliver Palmer from Public Basic recommends:
“use an existing framework like TailwindCSS. It’s straightforward, fast, and highly performant. They also offer a library of components that you can assemble to make just about any website. They’re neatly designed and easily customised with colour or typography.
It’s an excellent way to focus on what matters and not reinvent the wheel”.
Another option is to buy a script for a type of website you want to build (e.g. a multi-vendor marketplace, delivery system, tutoring platform, etc.).
Envato is a marketplace of scripts you can browse and find something close to what you want. Your web development team can take such a script as a base and transform it into the website of your dreams.
In this article, we shared tricks for reducing custom website development costs.
Let’s revive these recommendations:
- The Discovery Phase helps to eliminate ambiguity
- An MVP is enough at the start; you can add the rest later
- It’s crucial to find a reliable team
- Outsourcing can provide the same results for a smaller price
- The template design is a good idea
- You can build a custom website with white-label solutions
Use a single tip, or combine several of them. Do whatever works for your business. The sky’s the limit!
Author Bio: Inna Lebedeva is a market researcher and writer at Greenice, a custom web application development company. She explores today’s trends in the IT business and provides valuable insights for startups. Inna covers many topics, from remote work to eCommerce development. Her writing is always based on deep research and expert interviews.