Plugins are the best way to extend the functionality of your WordPress website. Whether you want to make your site faster or more secure, improve your site search, boost SEO, or help grow your subscriber list, the possibilities are endless.
There’s a plugin for almost every single thing you could think of, which you can find in WordPress’ official plugins directory or third-party sites that sell WordPress plugins.
However, you may sometimes want a really specific feature that no plugin on the market offers. In this case, you can develop a custom WordPress plugin to fit the particular needs of your website.
The true cost of developing a plugin depends on various factors which we discuss in this post. After reading this article, you should be able to estimate the WordPress plugin development cost for your business website.
What are custom WordPress plugins?
WordPress plugins can be created by anyone. There are over 55,000 plugins in the WordPress.org plugin repository and these include official WordPress extensions and third-party plugins. Many WordPress companies also sell plugins externally, on their own websites. Instead of purchasing a plugin that already exists, you could build or commission a custom WordPress plugin that extends the functionality of your website in a way that is specific to your needs.
For example, if you have a basic search box on your website, you can use a plugin that adds advanced search that makes it easier for visitors to find the content they need. An advanced search plugin could scan all your indexable page content from existing pages to taxonomies. It could give you options for prioritizing search results and add features that help users, such as real-time suggestions (auto-complete).
Many WordPress site owners who need a custom plugin solution will engage WordPress developers because they have neither the hard-core technical background nor the resources to set up in-house website design and development. This allows them to allocate an appropriate budget for their WordPress plugin development cost without having to resort to long-term hires.
What are the main benefits of custom plugins?
Adding new features/extending a plugin functionality as a custom plugin will provide you with:
- More control: this approach splits into several independent elements your website from its core functionalities and design. For example, your requested new custom features will stay in place even when you’ll change your theme.
- More granularity: this approach makes it easy for you to turn on and off specific site functionalities.
- Easier update management: this approach is more convenient when it comes to keeping your website and its parts up-to-date.
- More flexibility over your code: this approach gives you the opportunity to branch out (part of) your code into a brand new plugin or products.
As you should never directly change WordPress core files, the same thing applies when it comes to adding new features to plugins. If you’re a bit technically experienced, there’s an interesting article from Ian Dunn listing out the best way to customize a WordPress plugin if you’re interested.
How do you estimate the cost of developing a WordPress plugin?
There are many factors that go into developing a WordPress plugin, and each one of them affects the overall custom WordPress plugin development cost.
The complexity of the plugin
If you want to add a simple feature to your website that WordPress doesn’t offer as a default, you might consider having a custom plugin built.For example, say you want to display custom post types in a certain location and as a grid or list. A web developer may be able to build a plugin fairly easily without costing you too much money.
It’s worth keeping in mind that a custom plugin will almost always cost more than one that’s readily available. Simple plugins usually have a low annual price, making them more affordable than a custom-coded plugin built from scratch. You also need to factor in that you will need to update your plugin periodically.
Of course, if the plugin needs to have a lot of features, then you can expect development costs to rise. An example would be developing a bespoke chatbot that handles more than just simple questions for your WordPress website. As it’s a pretty complex job, developers will inevitably charge a premium. However, this could still be worth it if no other plugin like this exists – or if you don’t like any of the other premium plugins available on the market.
If you did your research before beginning to ask for estimates around, you’d know whether there are tools and plugins you could build on top of available on the market.
Will any of these get you the same output? Would editing their codebase do that? As Chris Lema suggestes:
Instead of building a custom solution from scratch, sometimes the best approach is to grab a few key plugins, and then pay a developer a bit to connect some dots for you.
There you have them, the 5 key elements that will surely have an impact on the final price for your custom plugin work.
How many hours you will be billed for
Developers often charge an hourly rate and may adjust their estimates to accommodate for any extra time spent on revisions, client communication, and managing unforeseen issues. A feature-rich or advanced plugin usually takes longer to build. A developer may take on other projects too and split their time across each.
If you need the developer to work on a tight deadline, they’ll have to devote more of their time to your project, hindering their ability to accept more gigs. This is bound to cause your WordPress plugin development cost to rise as you’re now demanding more of their time on a complex solution. You can also expect to incur a higher cost for a relatively simple plugin that the developer must have ready within a day or two.
On the other hand, if you’re relaxed about the deadline, you may be able to negotiate a lower price. Sending the developer a detailed brief could also help factor in a better price as they’ll need to spend less time on extended communications.
How many revisions are needed
Most often, revisions are caused by briefs that are lacking in detail or include unnecessary additions. An unspecific brief fails to give a clear idea of your exact requirements. You could fill in the gaps during your initial meeting with the developer, but any issues after development cannot be attributed entirely to the developer. You’ll then need to request revisions and incur extra billable hours.
Having second thoughts about what your plugin should do can lead to scope creep. You may find yourself requesting additional features or functions, which will inevitably increase your overall WordPress plugin development cost.
Adding these bits of information to your brief will give the developer a good idea of what you want:
- Your business objectives: Be clear about what you want to achieve through the plugin so that the developer can determine what they need to build.
- Examples and references: Share the websites that have the functionality you’d like or the design or features of an existing solution that you’d like to emulate.
- Your audience: Explain who your users are and what they want. An experienced developer will be able to add to those insights to build a great plugin.
What hiring platform you use
The hiring channel you use can also influence your WordPress plugin development cost. On some platforms, freelancers set their hourly rate before a brief is even received. You can estimate costs more easily based on the number of hours development will take. However, if the work takes longer, you will end up paying more than you’d hoped.
If you’re able to negotiate the hourly rate after the developer has gone through your brief, you’ll need to consider the complexity of your project, and the skills and value the developer will be bringing to it. If you’re looking at an advanced plugin with several features, you may want to consider a reasonable time frame for completion as well.
The developer’s experience directly affects the time required and the quality of delivered code, thus your costs. Your best bet is to dwell a bit more into finding a WordPress developer who has proven experience in your desired field of work.
By following this approach, you’ll be able to leverage the developer’s foreknowledge and ability to prevent common issues from happening.
As there are multiple variables to consider, you’re better off using a hiring platform like Codeable, which has vetted WordPress developers to ensure that you will be getting quality work that meets the expectations of the hourly rate or overall project cost.
Are you planning on making the plugin available to other WordPress users or using it exclusively for your website? If you’ll be selling the plugin, you may want the developer’s ongoing support after the plugin’s release. In this case, you should negotiate a separate arrangement and cost for maintaining the plugin with the developer directly.
Common methods to narrow down the WordPress plugin development cost
A simple way to calculate your plugin budget is to multiply the hourly rate quoted by a developer with the estimated number of hours the project will take. The time required to build the plugin will depend on the project scope, tasks involved, hours for revision, and any extra time to make room for contingencies.
Note that it’s common for experienced developers to charge a higher rate. Generally, experienced developers pick complex or niche projects and command higher prices in line with their expertise and the demands of the project.
Let’s go back to our earlier example of a plugin that shows custom post types in certain locations on your site. You will find that WordPress developer rates can vary from platform to platform. For example, WordPress developers on Upwork cost $15–$28/hour. On Arc, the hourly rate for a WordPress developer ranges from $61-$80.
This means that if you used Upwork, you could find a freelancer willing to build the plugin for $20/hour. And if it takes the developer 10 hours to make the plugin, you’re looking at an average cost of $200.
If you go with a developer on Arc, you’re looking at an average cost estimate of $700 for the same job, assuming most developers charge $70 per hour.
That kind of pricing makes more sense when we look at more complex plugins. Let’s say you want a custom chatbot plugin for your eCommerce site. This is the experienced developer’s turf, so you would expect to pay more.
Hourly rates on Codeable range from $70-$120, which are higher than what we’ve seen previously. However, you are guaranteed expert service, which is a must for a project like this. Due to the complexity of the project, the developer may need 50 hours or about two weeks to make the plugin, bringing the cost up to $3500-$6000.
An easier way to control the cost of developing your WordPress plugin
If you’re looking to determine the development cost of your custom WordPress plugin, you need to keep in mind that not all development agencies or freelance platforms are an ideal solution.
Not all development services companies and freelancer platforms are WordPress specialized. Avoid working with developers who are inexperienced with WordPress, as it will make it hard to calculate the true project costs and will likely result in revisions.
Additionally, if you use a freelance platform, you will likely have to go through large quantities of profiles, check their references and try to figure out their compatibility with your project, even before you even start negotiating rates. This will take up more of your time, which ultimately makes the project more expensive when you consider that you could have spent that time focusing on other business needs.
That’s why we recommend finding the best WordPress developers for your project through Codeable. Codeable has a pool of developers who specialize in all facets of WordPress web design, including developing custom plugins. They will be able to determine the exact costs of your project and deliver on quality.
- Codeable has an exclusive focus on WordPress development and maintenance.
- All freelancers on Codeable are vetted for WordPress skills and experience.
- You’re matched to 1-5 WordPress experts that have the skill set and conviction to meet your expectations.
- A single pricing model makes it easier to calculate your WordPress plugin development cost. The hourly rate on Codeable is $70-120/hour.
- Response rates are faster with a vetted WordPress talent pool. You will be matched to developers within the day of submitting your project. Work can begin once you accept an estimate you like.
- You make the payment only after your plugin is complete and if you’re happy with it. Codeable has a money-back guarantee to compensate you if you’re unhappy with the result and don’t mark your project as ‘complete’.
Build a quality custom plugin at the right price
A custom plugin can improve your website and help boost your conversions. When you have a clear idea for a plugin that can’t be found on the WordPress repository or anywhere else, it’s better to have it developed by a WordPress expert. This way, you can get a unique solution that fits your site’s exact needs or a brand-new plugin that you can look into monetizing.
When determining the cost of developing your plugin, consider factors such as:
- The complexity of the project
- Revisions required
- Hiring platform used
- Whether ongoing support is necessary or not
On Codeable, hourly rates are provided in advance of receiving your brief. As the developers are already qualified, you can go straight to assessing estimates and making your selection. While you cannot control the hourly rates set by developers, you can make calculated decisions on whose offer works best for you, without worrying about their capability to execute your project.
Estimates are free, and there’s no obligation to hire if you aren’t ready. If you’re happy with Codeable service and quality of work, you can keep coming back to build more plugins, add optimizations to your existing plugins, do maintenance tasks, or do any other type of WordPress development. Submit your plugin project now and get matched to WordPress developers quickly.