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PHP Costs and Hourly Rates

Brett MillerSoftware Development

How can you answer the undefinable question of “What does PHP Software Development Cost?” The challenge lies in the fact that, without knowing the specific functionality required, accurate cost estimates and hourly rates are impossible. There are hundreds of factors that potentially play into the equation of PHP cost and rate, so our only avenue is to peel back the layers, make some generalizations, and then examine some of the more salient points.

PHP Development Background

PHP is currently the most popular programming language for developing dynamic content and eCommerce websites. It is an open source (meaning no cost) part of the software bundle labeled LAMP, which is Linux (operating system), Apache (web server), mySql (database) and PHP (programming language).

It has been used to create the Content Management System‘s (CMS): WordPress, Joomla and Drupal (among others). These CMS systems allow non technical users to easily customize the content and pages of their website. Additionally, plug-ins are used to add popular functionality (like a “Contact Us” form or twitter/like buttons). PHP and HTML are used as the underlying architecture and sew all functionality together. It is utilized for maintenance and for enhancements, as these packages will rarely do everything exactly the way you want.

PHP is comparatively easy to learn and to use, which sometimes encourages novice developers to try their hand at professional coding. Unfortunately, novice coding techniques can create many functional issues; i.e., fixing one problem causes malfunctions in three other places. This is a symptom of “spaghetti coding” and it can be both difficult and costly to fix. Novice developers are everywhere in the industry, enticing unsuspecting clients with low hourly rates and fast promises. But good isn’t cheap, and cheap isn’t good … many highly experienced and qualified developers will not even take a project to repair “spaghetti coding” regardless of the rates offered.

Now to the good stuff: Rates, Costs, Money!

PHP Hourly Rates & Costs

PHP Rates typically average between $30 and $120 an hour. The lower side of the range is where you will find most novice developers as they usually work exclusively on the simplest of all applications. Just keep in mind that if the application is not built properly future modifications may become a major and costly headache … or could even become impossible without starting over from scratch.

The wisest approach would be to select the most experienced developer you can afford. It almost seems counter-intuitive, but developers at $70 per hour are usually more affordable (in the long run) than someone at $30 an hour. Would you want to use an auto mechanic that only charged $30 an hour? Probably (and wisely) not!

PHP Development Project Costs

Simple CMS / HTML based PHP websites and functionality can be built for as little as $1500. When you need eCommerce capabilities you are usually looking at double that cost figure (building a very simple eCommerce solution). Advanced features can easily drive the price up to $20,000 (and well beyond) for the most technically advance and desirable features/functionality.

Do you want to sell an item or two … or do you need the full spectrum of glitz and glory (like an eBay)? As expected, this answer dramatically affects your project costs

Finding Your PHP Developer

Using a Google search to finding software development services is a standard initial step in the selection process. I certainly cannot find fault with that, assuming you have the time to really drill down into what you find. Keep in mind that high search engine position does not equate to qualifications or experience.

I like to encourage people to seek referrals. Find someone you know and trust who has direct experience in working with a developer, get names, and check that the developers portfolio meets your expectations.

If you can’t find referral like that … feel free to contact me at dev@cspreston.com. I have worked directly with a wide variety of highly skilled and talented software developers over the years and would be happy to help with an introduction.