Why Custom Web Development Is So Expensive

01 Mar 2021


#Startup Library

#Web Development

If you ever thought about creating a software product, one of the most pressing matters was probably its cost. While the product itself — how it performs and how it satisfies the initial goal — is, of course, the main priority, the price tag is still of high importance and should be carefully considered.

Usually, to develop a product you have two options — either ask for an off-the-shelf solution or develop a new, unique product based on your specific requirements. The latter option is called custom software and is usually associated with higher costs. But why is it so expensive? And is it worth the price? And most importantly, for what products do you actually need it?

Defining custom web development

First of all, let’s define what custom web development is and for what projects it is the most suitable option.

Custom software (or tailor-made software, bespoke software) is software that is specifically created for a specific client. A custom software developer designs, creates, deploys, and, quite often, maintains it for a specific set of functions, users, or organizations. Unlike commercial off-the-shelf software (or COTS), custom software allows for creating a product under a defined set of requirements. Thus, it is aimed at satisfying some specific needs set out by the client. Usually, custom software development is used for particular and rather niche industries to cater to the exact sophisticated needs of its future users. So, if you need a quite standardized solution and have a limited budget, you’ll be better off turning to an off-the-shelf solution — although it provides less tailored functionality, it will surely save your money and time.

Price-driving factors

We already know that custom software is associated with higher price tags. In this section, let’s discuss what is it that makes custom web development more expensive than creating an off-the-shelf one.

1. Custom projects require more time to develop

It sure depends on the project, but quite often, the time spent in development is one of the most significant expenses. Why does custom software development require more time?

  • Firstly, because there is no specific template and skeleton for a custom product — everything has to be developed from nothing.
  • Secondly, custom software always has a few iterations — in the course of development, there may be needed some modifications to the product. Sometimes, they may be so significant that the product may completely change its face — and that process, of course, requires time — which is money.

2. Custom software development is more complex

As mentioned above, custom software development takes time, and often quite a lot of it. This fact is closely linked to the second reason why custom software development is so costly — because creating a product from scratch is a complex process. Project complexity usually depends on a few factors:

  • uncertainty: since the product is developed from the ground up, there is a high possibility that it will need to be altered a lot in the course of the development. Those changes could be driven by various factors: unexpected moves of competitors, strategy alterations, gathered feedback of the users, or even budget tightening or increase.
  • novelty: creating and implementing innovative cutting-edge technologies (such as blockchain, AI, or AR/VR) is more demanding than developing something standard.
  • privacy and security: quite often, custom software requires higher levels of security than an off-the-shelf product. Projects for which high privacy and security are among critical requirements demand more time and development efforts as well as special arrangements for the process.

3. Qualified human resources are more costly

Professional software developers are in high demand these days and thus ask for fair pay for their expertise and time spent on the project. Moreover, since developing a custom project is a complex task, it usually requires a team of qualified developers with creative thinking and supplementary skills. When a company provides full-stack custom software development, just like Idealogic, its team usually consists of a wide range of roles — from UX designer to Quality Assurance to Project Manager. Hiring a software development team may be expensive but it’s worth the money to be sure your idea and its implementation are in good hands.

Why you shouldn’t be scared by the cost

Custom web development has a high price tag for a reason — it allows for a wide range of personalized solutions. Not only does custom software better cater to the needs of specific clients, but also is more secure and flexible. A high level of security is ensured because when developing custom software, the most secure encryptions and protocols are used — they are tailored specifically for that exact product. The flexibility of such software is ensured by the fact that when the business scales or needs to modify its product to some extent, adding more features or adjusting them is far easier with tailor-made software. Unlike a ready-made solution which functionality is limited by the platform, custom software functionality is dependant solely on the product requirements and can be customized to the needs with a high degree of precision.

Moreover, considering the fact that custom software development quite often includes maintenance of the created product, the long-term cost of the whole development may be even lower than that of an off-the-shelf solution. Especially when keeping in mind that altering the features of the latter may be a challenging task.

Summing up

While off-the-shelf software is usually cheaper than the custom one, it provides solely the ability to use its predetermined functions and not the source code. With custom software, on the other hand, you pay only for the development of the product and then own all the assets which can be further modified and supplemented by other features.

If you understand that your product needs to be flexible and there is a high probability that you’ll need to make updates and modifications to it, your best choice would be custom software development as altering commercial off-the-shelf software may cost even more than making a custom one. Custom software brings longer value, so its expensiveness is quite relative.

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