Ruby on Rails is a powerful web development framework at the core of many industry leaders’ online presence. Whether you have just realized that you are ready to tap into its benefits, or have already leveraged it in your projects, you may be wondering what the current fair implementation cost is.

Ruby on Rails developer hourly rate is the key variable (not a constant!) that determines the cost of building your digital product using this framework. However, there are other constituents at play.

Ruby on Rails Development Cost Deconstructed

In order to better understand the forces that shape the ultimate Ruby on Rails development cost for your project, you should keep in mind that a standard IT team includes:

  • developers
  • team leads
  • QA engineers
  • DevOps
  • project manager(s)
  • designer(s)

Typically, when you request an established team from a vendor, they will provide you with an overview of working hours for each member of the team. As a result, you know exactly what you’re paying for — including their hourly Ruby on Rails programmer rates. Looks like a great deal of transparency, right? Well, only if you can read the numbers in the proposal.

There are a lot of factors that determine RoR developer rate such as the developer’s location, company structure, experience and so on. In this article, we analyze what is going on in this field currently, outline what to look at when choosing your vendor, and, finally, define a fair price range.

The Ruby on Rails Development Market Is Growing

Since 2011, the number of Ruby on Rails developers has been growing fast. Just look at the progress over the past two years, according to rubygems.org/stats:

gem stats

The fight over the market has caused the lowest price threshold to drop dramatically in the past couple of years. If you go to Fiverr, one of the most popular freelance job marketplaces, you will find offers starting from $5.

The higher the demand, the more people there are who see Ruby on Rails as a gravy train to jump on. Today, the market has solid industry veterans, newcomers of various backgrounds, and hopeless laypersons all competing against each other.

On the other hand, top veterans keep their prices stable, which makes for outrageous differences in Ruby on Rails developer hourly rates. In the USA alone, Glassdoor shows an annual salary range from $11,000 to $257,000. 

Companies on Clutch, a popular B2B catalog website, charge from below $25 per hour to $200–300, with one firm charging over 300 bucks for each hour of work!

Who Dumps RoR Programmer Rates and Why

The situation on the Ruby in Rails marketplace is not much different to that in any other industry. Newcomers dump to gain a foothold, and you never know whether they qualify for an assignment or not. Some of the veterans who typically charge a little above average for quality work may eventually offer a discount to balance their workloads and revenue in adverse times.

The one specific thing about RoR developer hourly rate dumping? A huge share of the market where the lowest bidders will cause an outsourcing disaster in 99% of cases. If that’s what you’re after, you may consider their prices fair.

Economic Geography Factor

If you have ever outsourced the development of a digital product overseas, you might have noticed a particular geographical pattern. Without pointing fingers, it’s safe to look at the RoR development world beyond the US as composed of three major regions by rate and quality:

Economic Geography Factor

Although this table might seem overly simplified, it clearly demonstrates how the economy shapes everything. Low living standards are often a result of a poor educational system, which also influences developer skills. However, people in regions affected by these issues often do not have the financial opportunities to access high-quality professional education to change these circumstances.

The only way low-level Ruby on Rails developers can remain competitive is by dumping. You may think that they can handle a simple MVP app for the price, but, in this segment, developers’ skills tend to be too low even for the simplest of tasks. As a result, you run the risk of creating a nightmare that will be very expensive to fix. No price is fair when inferior work leads to further financial losses.

Of course, there are exceptions and you might be able to strike a dream deal with a top developer whose rate is pressed down by the overall reputation of their home region. But if you lack the experience to adequately screen a Ruby on Rails developer’s skills, you’d be better off playing the lottery instead of hiring one — you’ll only pay once if your luck runs out.

Meanwhile, there are two parts of the world featuring strong engineering education and RoR programmers with equally stellar skills. What these regions vary in are living standards and consumer goods prices, which shape the financial expectations of their citizens — and, consequently, developer rates.

Identifying the region of a Ruby on Rails development company can be tricky, though. Today, you can often find a firm registered in the USA or Europe with a local CEO and the core development crew that’s located in a distant land where programmers are not famous for having strong skills.

A Closer Look at the Ruby on Rails Services Market

Now that we have a general picture of what is going on with Ruby on Rails developer rates, let’s zoom in a bit. We suggest looking at nine company profiles on Clutch, with three randomly chosen firms from either a low, average or high hourly rate category.

LOW RATES (<$25)

Company L1

Company L1

This company positions itself on Clutch as an enterprise registered in the USA. However, if you click the “Visit Website” button, you will be redirected to a mobile development landing page that describes the company as a “leading […] company in india”. The entire website is written in poor English. 

By randomly browsing their clients who left positive reviews you will find:

  • websites that have been offline for years
  • websites that haven’t been launched yet
  • websites that look like they are still being tested online
  • one company that claims to operate in the UK with a website featuring poor English
  • and other oddities.
Indian dev team reviews
Review section on a website built by Company L1 in May 2019 as of 26 November 2019

Company L2

Company L2

Of the five reviews left on the company’s profile page on Clutch, you will find:

  • a startup they have worked on since March 2018. The company’s website is offline. In December 2017, Company L2 tweeted about the launch of their product in 47 days.
  • a small digital design firm in the USA they collaborate with on a constant basis
  • an Indian company they collaborated with from February 2018 to April 2019. We couldn’t find the company’s website.
  • a Californian medtech startup that seems to be doing very well.

That’s not much for a company that has been in business since 2003.

Contact form at the website of Company L2

Company L3

L3 company

The profile of this Vietnamese company features reviews from five established enterprises. However, all of them are from the same country, despite the international positioning of the developer. 

There are two comments by reviewers raising a red flag:

  • “Services could always be more affordable.” Given the hourly rate below $25, we can only guess why this criticism might have arisen. However, the second comment might be helpful to understand that.
  • “Small issues continued to arise even after we asked Company L3 to fix them.”

AVERAGE RATES ($50–$149)

Company A1

company a1

The portfolio of this Polish company features several European high-end clients from the car, fintech and education industries. One of the reviewers on Clutch suggests their prospective customers make sure both sides are clear about the price, because Company A1 tends to be unrealistic with cost estimates; however, the client claims that they sorted this out.

Company A2

company a3

This company has an office in Texas and is registered on Clutch as a US company. However, their development team is located in El Salvador (which they don’t really try to hide). Seven of their reviews are from clients located in the USA, one from a firm in Canada, six are from Latin America, and one reviewer preferred to hide their country of origin.

Among the companies that have left their reviews, you will find two well-known professional sports clubs, a Californian digital agency, and several other established companies and startups. One reviewer left the overall score of 1 and an honestly negative comment on their pricing policies. It looks like the two just failed to make the requirements and costs clear to each other.

Company A3

The profile page of this company says they are from Manhattan. However, if you go to their website, you will quickly find that they position themselves as “India’s best […] tech talent”.

Most reviews on the profile page are from clients in Europe and the USA. Many of these positive comments are anonymous while many others are from people with Indian names, which may indicate a lack of objectivity.

What raises a red flag here is that there are three very negative reviews characterizing them as disorganized, unprofessional, and incapable of delivering decent quality and meeting deadlines.

HIGH RATES (>$150)

Company H1

Company h1

Headquartered in Chicago, this company creates the impression of having a strong foothold in its local area. The company regularly runs live workshops and other events in the city. 

Nevertheless, you will not find a team introduction on the company website. This probably means that they outsource development to skillful offshore teams, and the rate covers their expert service in picking the right specialists for an assignment.

Most clients in the review section are US companies that prefer to stay anonymous. Others include several formidable brands, startups and a world-famous Japanese app company. Some of the reviews include critical comments on minor pace of work, scheduling and project cost issues.

The company’s website features eight badges including awards from Clutch, Goodfirms, and more. They are also an official member of Forbes Chicago Business Council. This makes a strongly positive impression.

Company H2

If you go to this company’s website, you will find it features their management team. This gives the impression of a digital agency or consultancy that selects and manages outsourced resources, rather than a dev shop. Guess who such firms outsource to? Yes, to guys like us.

Both of the reviews available give them five stars. One of the two clients is a well-known marketing communications network.

Company H3

This company’s office is located in the UK capital where its core team sits. Among their featured clients, you will find BBC, the Royal Opera House, the UK government and other established businesses and institutions. 

The reviewers on Clutch suggest high rates, unclear pricing policies and low predictability of the final cost as the improvement areas for the company but, overall, reviews are positive.

Company H3 exemplifies a developer located in a region with high living standards and an in-house coding team. This clearly explains the high rate.

Conclusion

We suggest that you ditch the idea of “fair” when scoring Ruby on Rails developer hourly rates because:

  • What is considered a fair salary for an RoR programmer in Eastern Europe might be a joke for a professional who lives in Western Europe and delivers the same quality. 
  • Expensive companies from Western Europe and USA often charge you for their headhunting services. This might be a fair deal if you are short on time, lack expertise or just have a budget to implement. Frequently, you simply pay two to three times more than you would for stellar development quality from the average-rate sector. If you work with their outsource partner directly, you get the same quality for a lower price.
  • When you chase after the cheapest rates, you will inevitably find yourself in a dark domain, unable and unlikely to discover decent skills and work ethics. 

Think we are being too judgemental or arrogant here at Rubyroid Labs? Challenge us with your RoR-based project and we will show you what stellar development quality for a competitive price looks like.

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CMO at Rubyroid Labs

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