From the small business looking to improve its business processes to multinational corporations that need to manage important data and transactions, a growing number of companies are building their own web applications.

The benefits are countless, but so too are the potential risks and costs. Software development, after all, is a tricky business, and for companies that aren’t in the business of developing software, building a web application can be very difficult.

Here are five tips for making the undertaking more cost-effective.

Invest in a spec.

Writing a good specification has a cost and it isn’t
always easy. For these reasons and more it’s easy to ‘skip the spec’ and
jump right to development. Unfortunately, this usually isn’t
productive, as the lack of a spec makes it much more difficult for your
developer(s) to ‘get it right’ the first time.

Use a framework.

When in the hands of an experienced developer, a
development framework can reduce the amount of code that needs to be
written, promote code reuse, encourage cleaner code, and implement the
proper separation of the data, presentation and logic layers. These can
produce immediate cost savings. But the cost-saving advantages of using a
framework are long-lasting too: an application built with a framework
is generally easier to maintain, and ownership of it can usually be
transferred to another developer or team far more easily.

Buy a template.

A good web application is a usable web application.
Therefore it’s not wise to skimp on a design. But not skimping on design
doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel either. If you’re building
an administrative tool, for instance, there are plenty of quality
administrative templates that can be purchased at low cost from sites
like ThemeForest. Where such templates are viable, potentially thousands
of dollars can be shaved from development costs.

Don’t bring on too many developers.

When building a web application,
many companies assume that the more developers they have on the project,
the faster it will be developed. For large projects, this assumption
may not be incorrect. But for most projects, the reality is that more
developers can slow the process, in turn making the application more
expensive to develop.

Don’t put it all on the developer.

Some web applications can reasonably
be built from start to finish by a single developer. But others, which
are more complex, may require work that a developer isn’t best capable
of handling. Instead of asking for a developer to be a jack of all
trades, consider what other roles (project management, DBA, UI designer, etc.) may be
required.