Custom web application development: Benefits and ROI for your business
Today, there is an abundance of web app builders that make it possible to quickly launch a product with little to no programming knowledge. At first glance, this approach may seem cost-effective and efficient — why invest in custom development when no-code platforms can handle it all? However, this line of thinking often overlooks a critical aspect: return on investment (ROI). To fully understand the long-term potential of a product, it’s essential to consider the factors that influence ROI. In the sections that follow, we will explore the numerous benefits of custom web application development, as well as the ways to increase the ROI that it can offer when compared to off-the-shelf solutions.
Custom web application development and off-the-shelf solutions
Definition of custom web apps
Custom web applications are software solutions specifically designed and developed to address the unique needs and requirements of a business. Unlike off-the-shelf products, which cater to a broader audience with generic features, custom web applications are built from the ground up to align with a company’s specific goals, workflows, and processes.
The primary difference between custom web applications and off-the-shelf products lies in their adaptability and scalability. While ready-made solutions offer a one-size-fits-all approach with the risk of redundant features, custom development offers the flexibility to add, modify, or remove functionality as per the evolving needs of a business. To be more precise, let’s have a look at the services and limitations that ready solutions have.
While web app builders offer rapid launch for startups and businesses looking to increase their online presence, they come with their pitfalls. The majority of website builders focus on creating visually appealing websites instead of web apps with complex functionalities. When a startup wants to scale, these out-of-the-box solutions can lead to spending more on customization than developing a custom web app from scratch. The following is an overview of low- and no-code platforms that specialize in web applications.
Bubble is a no-code web app builder that enables users to design, develop, and launch web applications without any coding experience. Although it provides a straightforward approach to web app creation, Bubble may present challenges when implementing more advanced features that require custom coding.
The platform might not be suitable for heavy-duty applications or those with extensive data-processing requirements. While Bubble offers a variety of plugins, not all third-party services or tools are available. If custom integration is required, either a plugin needs to be developed, or the desired functionality may not be possible.
OutSystems is a low-code application development platform used for creating web and mobile applications for various industries and use cases. It accelerates application development timelines, but scaling can become complicated. While Bubble offers a variety of plugins, not all third-party services or tools are available. If custom integration is required, either a plugin needs to be developed, or the desired functionality may not be possible.
Although it is a low-code platform, developers still need to learn how to use OutSystems effectively, which may require additional training or hiring experienced developers. OutSystems uses a proprietary language, which might cause issues if the startup wants to switch platforms in the future. Rebuilding or migrating applications to another environment can be time-consuming and costly.
Zoho Creator is a low-code application development platform that allows users to build web and mobile applications for their businesses. However, it limits design customization to the available templates, components, and tools. Achieving a truly bespoke look and feel can be challenging.
As a business grows, it may need more complex features or custom integrations that Zoho Creator cannot support. Zoho Creator does not offer full offline capabilities for its apps. If a startup requires offline functionality in the application, they’ll need to explore alternative solutions.
AppSheet is a no-code app development platform that enables users to create mobile and web applications using data from Google Sheets, Excel, and other sources. While AppSheet simplifies the development process, it may not support every specific requirement or feature a growing startup needs.
AppSheet’s no-code environment can limit customization options, particularly in terms of UI/UX designs and advanced features. As with much no-code performance may not be optimal for large-scale or computation-heavy applications. It might not be suitable for startups with high-performance requirements.
By understanding the limitations of each platform, startups can make more informed decisions about whether a particular solution fits their long-term vision and growth plans. Custom web app development remains an attractive option for those seeking flexibility, control, and scalability without the constraints of off-the-shelf solutions. What are the exact benefits of software solutions though?
Custom web app development benefits
Custom web application development offers numerous advantages that can contribute to an improved return on investment for startups and businesses. These benefits include enhanced user experience, scalability, unique competitive advantages, and improved security compliance.
Enhanced user experience and personalization
Custom-developed web apps allow for greater design flexibility and the ability to create tailor-made features that correspond to specific user requirements. This enables businesses to develop highly personalized web applications that reflect their brand identity and take into account their customers’ preferences. Customization improves the overall user experience, which often leads to increased user engagement, higher customer satisfaction, and retention rates.
Scalability and flexibility
Custom applications are designed with long-term growth in mind, which allows easier updates and modifications, ensuring the app keeps up with a business’s evolving needs. Apps can be designed to integrate seamlessly with existing software systems or business processes, facilitating data exchange and streamlining operations.
Unique competitive advantage
Custom web applications enable startups to differentiate themselves in the market by providing unique features, services, or user experiences that competitors might not offer. They may also have tailored features to address specific industry needs. By this, it’s meant that they address niche market segments or solve industry-specific challenges, giving businesses a significant competitive edge.
Improved security and compliance
Custom web apps often come with higher security levels due to the ability to implement custom security measures and protocols that suit the app and business requirements, reducing the risk of data breaches and security incidents. They as well can meet industry-specific regulations and requirements, ensuring the apps meet necessary compliance standards.
All in all, an out-of-the-box solution may appear more cost-effective initially, but over time hidden costs and limitations may slow down growth and bring additional expenses. Custom web app development, while more expensive upfront, allows for greater control, scalability, and adaptability, potentially leading to long-term savings and an optimal return on investment.
To get a better idea of custom development perks, see the table below highlighting the comparison between adopting an out-of-the-box solution versus custom web app development.
|Custom Web App Development
|Low upfront cost as software is pre-built
|Higher upfront cost due to custom development
|Limited features and customization options
|Highly customizable to fit specific business needs
|Restricted by the software’s built-in capabilities
|Easily scalable to accommodate future growth
|May have limited integration with existing systems
|Seamless integration with existing systems and tools
|Generic UX, possibly not tailored for your users
|Bespoke UX designed specifically for your target users
|Ongoing maintenance costs
|May include recurring subscription fees
|Can be optimized through custom maintenance plans
|May require constant updates or new software
|Highly adaptable to changing market conditions
|Data security and compliance
|Compliance may vary, limited control over security
|Customizable security measures and enhanced control
|Vendor dependency / lock-in
|Risk of vendor lock-in and reliance on their updates
|Greater control over development and future
|Potential costs for workarounds, add-ons, and third-party integrations
|Custom development may have higher initial costs but can save in the long run by minimizing hidden expenses
Now that you see what factors affect the quality of custom development, and, for instance, prefer it to out-of-the-box solutions, it’s time to ask the question: how to achieve profitability?
Calculating ROI for custom web application development
Knowing the benefits, let’s now see how to calculate ROI for custom web application development and what factors help to increase the ROI when a startup works with a software company developing a custom solution for it.
To calculate ROI, you need to evaluate the total revenue generated by your custom web application and deduct the total cost incurred during the development process. Here is a simple formula for calculating ROI:
In this formula, the total revenue refers to the income generated from the web application, while the total cost refers to the expenses incurred during the development process, including the software company’s fees, hosting, marketing, and maintenance costs.
To increase the difference between total revenue and total cost and thus maximize your ROI, you need to focus on minimizing your expenses and maximizing the income generated by your web application. Here are some factors to consider when working with a vendor to help you achieve a higher ROI:
Clear project objectives
Having a well-defined project scope and objective will enable the software company to provide a more accurate cost estimation. This ensures you are paying for features that bring the highest value to your web application and avoid unnecessary expenses on redundant features.
We can help you refine your product vision and estimate project costs
Choose the right technology stack
The success of your web application will depend on the technologies used during the development process. The right technology stack can improve performance, security, and user experience while reducing costs in the long run. Make sure the software company you choose has expertise in the technologies best suited for your project requirements. The info about the tech stack should be available and open.
Prioritize user experience (UX)
A well-designed UX plays a vital role in driving user satisfaction and engagement. By working with a software company that prioritizes UX, you increase the likelihood of user retention and conversion, thus maximizing your web application’s revenue.
Focus on scalability and flexibility
Your web application must be able to scale with your growing business and adapt to changing market conditions. Ensure that the software company you choose designs the application with scalability and flexibility in mind to reduce maintenance and upgrade costs in the future.
Optimize for search engines
SEO plays a crucial role in driving organic traffic to your web application, which results in higher revenue generation. Ensure that the software company you work with is well-versed in SEO best practices and develops a web application that is search-engine friendly.
Keep maintenance and support in mind
Regular updates, bug fixes, and improvements are essential to keeping your web application performing well. Make sure the software company you choose offers maintenance and support packages to help you manage ongoing costs.
Analyze and optimize constantly
By regularly analyzing user behavior, engagement, and feedback, you can identify areas for improvement and ensure that your web application continues to evolve and stay relevant to users. You can do it by integrating Google Analytics for Firebase, anyway, your software vendor should manage it. This can lead to increased user satisfaction and retention, therefore increasing revenue.
Control budget and timeline
Effective project management is crucial for keeping your web application development within budget and on schedule. Work closely with the software company to establish and adhere to a clear project plan, budget, and timeline to avoid unexpected costs and delays.
Calculating and increasing the ROI for custom web application development requires a strategic partnership with a skilled software company and a focus on key factors such as project objectives, technology stack, user experience, scalability, and ongoing optimization. By carefully considering these aspects and working collaboratively with your software development partner, you can ensure that your custom web application not only meets your business objectives but also maximizes your return on investment. Investing in custom web application development can provide significant long-term benefits for your startup, as long as you make informed decisions and prioritize ROI throughout the entire development process.
You might question why we started discussing the vendor right away without considering building the web app with your own team. But remember to factor in expenses related to hiring, salaries, work environment, and equipment when making this decision. The right choice will depend on your specific circumstances and priorities but partnering with a skilled software vendor can play a vital role in achieving a high ROI on custom web application development.
How to predict the ROI
One of the critical aspects of custom web application development is accurately predicting ROI before committing to the project. This is particularly necessary for entrepreneurs, as knowing the potential ROI can help them ensure that the cost of the web app will pay off. Fortunately, software companies like ours provide detailed cost estimates before beginning product development, allowing you to calculate revenue-generating factors such as subscription fees and other potential income streams.
To predict the ROI, use the cost estimation provided by the software company in conjunction with anticipated revenue from your preferred business model. For instance, let’s assume you are developing a custom web app with a subscription-based model and you expect 1,000 subscribers in the first year. The cost estimation received from the software company is $50,000, which includes development, hosting, marketing, and maintenance costs.
Using these figures, you can calculate your potential ROI as follows:
- Determine the subscription fee
Considering the total cost estimation of $50,000 and the anticipated 1,000 subscribers, you might decide to set the annual subscription fee at $75 to cover the web app implementation cost and generate revenue.
- Calculate total revenue
With 1,000 subscribers at a $75 annual subscription fee, your total revenue for the first year would be $75,000 ($75 x 1,000).
- Calculate ROI
Using the ROI formula illustrated earlier, the anticipated ROI for the first year would be: ROI = ($75,000 - $50,000) / $50,000 x 100 = 50%
In this example, with a 50% ROI in the first year, you can be confident that your web app’s costs will be covered and that your investment will yield a profit. Of course, these calculations are a simplified illustration, and various factors can influence the actual ROI, such as market conditions, competition, and subscriber growth rate. However, this example showcases the importance of working with a reliable partner that provides accurate cost estimations and helps entrepreneurs make strategic decisions.
Keep in mind that the earlier you start generating revenue, the faster your initial investment pays off. Working with an experienced software company can also help you optimize costs through efficient project management, reducing development time, and maximizing user satisfaction — all of which contribute to a higher ROI.
Predicting the ROI of your custom web app development is an important step in your decision-making process. By working with a software company that provides pre-development cost estimations and by thoroughly analyzing various revenue streams, pricing strategies, and market conditions, you can make informed decisions and ensure that your investment in custom web app development is worthwhile and pays off in the long run. Being proactive in predicting ROI will not only help you make better decisions during the development process but also ensure long-term business growth and success.
Custom web application development can provide startups with numerous benefits, such as enhanced user experience, scalability, and flexibility, ultimately leading to a competitive edge in the digital world. Focusing on factors such as project objectives, technology stack, user experience, and ongoing optimization will help maximize ROI for your business. By working with a reliable software company and strategically predicting the ROI, you can ensure that your investment in custom web application development is worthwhile.
Our showcase of building a booking web app for UK Retreats can be a good start to knowing how we create custom web applications. You can explore the project by visiting the Cases page. This will provide further insight into our work and demonstrate how we can help transform your vision into a digital product.
Ensure the highest ROI for your web app by getting a project estimation from our team.