Cost for development of a site like this?

Jonathan Greenberg
Jonathan Greenberg used Ask the Experts™
I'm looking for some feedback, from someone with experience building complex sites, on what the going cost might be for development of a site similar to the example I was given.


The sitemap indicates the following:
10 top-level menu items
38 sub-menu items
42 sub-sub-menu items

Additionally, the site appears to contain two custom web apps, enabling users to search and apply for jobs.  The job search app is located under Careers » Search Jobs; another app is accessible from within each job listing and allows applicants to submit resumes and other info.

There's a great deal of information within this very well organized site.  But, aside from the two web apps, the site strikes me as something that could could fit nicely into a Joomla or WordPress site (Joomla is my preferred CMS).  And a php-enabling extension would allow the web apps to be built within Joomla -- I don't know if this is as easily done with WordPress.

I've been invited to bid on the new site, which will be similar to the one I've referenced here.  I'm thinking a reasonable bid would be in the $20,000 to $30,000 range.  But I've never built a site of this complexity.  I'd be grateful if someone who has would weigh in on what a reasonable bid would be for a site like this.


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I am also in the middle of building a complex site and I would say your price range is correct.

Nothing could be worse than underbidding and then finding yourself overwhelmed by the site being much more complex than you thought.

Some things to keep in mind.

1)  Some of the more routine and tedius tasks could be handled by an assistant once you get the overall structure working. So you would want to make sure you include money to pay for that person.  

2)  Joomla has some real nice extensions that can make the task of building your site easier than just relying on the built in core extensions. So as you build the site make sure you stay in touch with the Joomla experts here to help you once you start the site.

3)  Clients change their mind during construction, so make sure your written agreement has included the scope of the project as much detail  as possible. If only to cover yourself in case it is costing you more and taking more time, you can point to the contract and request more money.

4)  Keep in mind that a project of this site can take over your life for months so make sure you are well compensated.

Let's see what others have to say!

Don't talk to me.
Hi Jon,

Both WordPress and Joomla (and Drupal, too) have pre-rolled Job Board extensions so depending on how custom the Jobs section actually is, 20-30k may be way overkill.

Look at the JobRoller theme for an example of a particularly good WordPress system:

Not saying it will work for this project but it could really shorten the dev cycle.  As for the static content, I usually charge one hour per page at my normal rates for copy/pasting and whatever image rearranging needs to happen.  So 90 hours for the above @ whatever your going rate is per hour for the static conversion.

You would then just need to figure out the cost to re-do the dynamic functions once you evaluate if you can do it with an off-the-shelf product, an off-the-shelf product with minor modifications, or if you are rolling your own.

And a php-enabling extension would allow the web apps to be built within Joomla -- I don't know if this is as easily done with WordPress.

It is and doesn't require a plugin.  For WordPress you would just build new templates for the web apps and create a page that matches the template to call it.  See the Codex on template hierarchy for more information:


Thank you, Rowby and Jason, for a couple of really helpful answers.

Jason, until reading your answer, I hadn't considered prepackaged job board extensions.  Upon further examination, it appears that the job search and apply software on the site I referenced isn't custom, but rather is provided by  Thanks for opening my eyes to this possibility.

It looks like that would bring down the bid quite a bit.  Rowby -- if I may hit you up for another response -- if we're not talking about any custom software development, do you think a bid of $12,000 to $16,000 is in the right ballpark, or does that seem low?
The bid is okay, but it's a little hard to tell based on the hours needed to get it done.  

Sometimes, when I am not sure what a client will pay I offer them 2 or 3 levels.

One is for a more basic site,

Two is for most of the featuers

Three is for the best site possible :)  

But never bid so low that you end up wishing you asked for me.



As is often the case when I post questions to EE, I wish I were able to award more points than 500, because these were really helpful answers!  Thanks to you both for your help.


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