That’s the most frustrating answer you can possibly get, isn’t it? It seems evasive, doesn’t give you a straightforward number, and you’re still stuck without any clarity.
Here’s an honest confession – I’ve been guilty of giving that answer too….because it’s true.
The cost of developing a custom WordPress plugin does depend on a lot of different factors.
Think of it as trying to figure out how much building a house would cost you. You know that it depends on factors like the location, square footage, quality of the materials you’ll be using, etc.
Estimating the cost of your plugin isn’t all that different.
With this post, I’m going to try and help you get unstuck. By the end of it, I hope you’re at least one step closer to your custom WordPress plugin development goals.
Before You Start Building a Custom WordPress Plugin From Scratch…
Check if an existing plugin can get the job done.
We’ve seen our clients lose thousands of dollars because they didn’t.
I’m not saying you’ll find a plugin that matches all your functionality requirements to the T. That’s very unlikely. But you can always have a similar “base plugin” customized to suit your needs.
For example, let’s say you want to build a ‘Hotel Booking Website’ on WordPress. In this case, WooCommerce Bookings is a great “base plugin” to start working with.
It comes with all the necessary features like:
- allowing you to create bookable products,
- displaying availability based on different time-zones, and
- allowing you to permit cancellations.
However, it does not include some other key features like rescheduling, or re-booking. You can have them custom-built on top of the existing WooCommerce Bookings plugin.
I suggest you have your plugin built from scratch, only when you don’t find an existing plugin that cannot be of use. This will save you a LOT of time, money, and effort when you’re working with your own website, or even your client’s.
Even if you’re setting out to have a new WordPress plugin developed that you can sell, this would be a great first step. It helps you:
- validate your idea,
- understand your competition, and
- figure out how your plugin would be different from and better than others in the market.
Top 3 Factors that Influence the Cost of Your Custom WordPress Plugin
Let’s face it.
When you’re trying to find out the true cost of plugin development, what you really want to know is:
A) how much budget you’ll need to set aside, and
B) what’s the most efficient way of utilizing it.
The best way to figure this out is to take a closer look at the factors that determine your development costs.
So, let’s zoom in!
#1 The Scope of Your WordPress Plugin Development Project
For starters, a ‘project scope’ or ‘estimate’ gives you clarity about the task at hand.
You get a clear picture of:
- the different features your plugin will have, and
- how many billable hours will be required for development.
The more complex your plugin is, the more number of hours it’ll need for development. In other words, you get a tentative idea about the amount of work that will need to go in.
Say, you happen to realize that you have a smaller budget than what’s needed, now’s the time to find a workaround. For instance, you can exclude certain nice-to-have features from your project’s initial phase. You can always revisit them and consider having them developed at a more suitable time.
Having a detailed and accurate project scope also helps you avoid “scope creeps”. That is the pesky little tasks and cost overheads that pop-up after the project has started.
There’s absolutely no alternative for an experienced WordPress plugin developer. Especially when it comes to deriving accurate WordPress plugin development estimates.
If you know which developer you’ll be working with, you’ll want to ask him or her to prepare an estimate. If not, you can always get in touch with us for a quote. We’d be happy to help you out.
Your requirements may evolve over the course of the project, and that’s alright. At this point, we’re only aiming for a ballpark figure.
#2 The Billing Rate of Your Developer or Agency
If you’ve been anxiously waiting for a straightforward formula, it’s time for the big revelation!
|Number of Billable Hours||Developer Billing Rate||WordPress Plugin Development Cost|
|X Hours||$Y Per Hour||$(X*Y)|
That’s all there is to it. Well, there’s also the maintenance cost, but we’ll get to that later.
Remember the ‘development hours’ we spoke about in the previous point? Multiply the ‘number of hours’ with your developer’s ‘billing rate’.
Et voilà! You have your total plugin development cost!
As far as the billing rate is concerned, people are not kidding when they say that it can range from $15 to $200 per hour (or more!).
Freelancers may charge anywhere between $15 per hour to $75 per hour based on their experience. You can find freelance WordPress developers on Codeable, Fiverr, or Freelancer. Agency billing rates, on the other hand, range from $30 per hour all the way up to $275 per hour!
Irrespective of who you choose to work with, make sure you ask about their prior plugin development experience.
If you have an initial scope (and no. of billable hours), you can use a $70/hr billing rate in the formula to come up with an approximate cost. That should more or less give you a rough idea.
While building a theme, you need to take into account the design work that might be needed. This applies to plugins with a front-end module too. It’s very likely that the design services come with a different price tag.
Before we move on, I’d like to leave you with some suggestions that’ll help you make the most of your investment.
- Work in Phases – Breaking down your project into smaller components is always a great idea. Especially if you’re working with a developer for the first time. It makes managing the project easier and lets you hold your budget on a tight leash when you’re starting out.
- Experience Saves You Money – An experienced team can help you avoid inaccurate estimates, unforeseen glitches, missed deadlines, and infinite loops of going back and forth; all of which cost you money. Although they charge a premium, experienced agencies worth the investment.
If you’re looking for custom WooCommerce plugin development services, here is a list of Official WooCommerce Expert Agencies. The billing rates of these companies are also mentioned here for your reference.
Like us, a lot of agencies on this list do offer WordPress plugin development services.
- Avoid Fixed Cost Projects – If you’re looking to have a minor feature developed, ‘fixed cost projects’ may work out. But not when we’re talking about a full-fledged 70 hour plus custom plugin development deal.
#3 The Post-Launch Maintenance of Your Custom WordPress Plugin
This is something that a lot of people overlook when they’re starting out. The maintenance overheads differ based on the use case of your plugin. I’ll explain it.
Case 1: You’re having a custom WordPress plugin developed for your business website.
Your new plugin will be compatible with both:
- the current version of WordPress, and
- the plugins on your site.
But, updated versions of WordPress (and these other plugins) are released from time to time. That means, your developer cannot guarantee that your plugin will “play well” with the future versions of WordPress.
In such cases, you might need your developer’s help with making tweaks to your plugin. While this may not happen very often, it’s a possibility that you definitely cannot ignore.
Case 2: You’re looking to sell your custom-built plugin to WordPress users.
As the owner of the plugin, you’re responsible for its upkeep and maintenance.
You basically need to make sure your plugin is compatible with the latest versions of WordPress and other major plugins in the ecosystem. That means consistently rolling out new updates. Updates with everything from minor compatibility fixes, bug fixes, to major functionality additions.
You can have your in-house team work on it, or you can choose to outsource it. Either way, this again is an ongoing expense that cannot be overlooked.
Then there’s also the ‘software support’ that your team would need to provide to the plugin customers, aka. additional investment.
Not Quite Satisfied?
Ok fine. I give in.
I’ll give you the numbers you’ve been looking for.
Note: These are not actual quotes. They are general figures (based on experience) that are only meant to try and give you a general idea. Also, none of these ranges include maintenance costs.
Low range: $2,000 – $5,000
This is really the least it’s ever going to cost. I’m talking about a small plugin that is only built for adding some minor features to your website.
Medium range: $5,000 – $20,000
At this range, you’re looking at a more complex and evolved version of the above plugin.
Average range: $20,000 – $50,000
Yes, those first two ranges were just to make you feel better. If we’re talking about serious plugin development, your idea is likely to fall into this price range.
High range: $45,000 and above
In this range, are plugins that are unique and demand in-depth requirements analysis. They may have a very rich feature set and/or complex development work involved.
I hope you have a little more clarity about custom WordPress development than you did before.
This is me signing off for now, but feel free to drop any questions you may have in the comments section below.
Until next time!