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How Much does it Cost to Create a Site like Craigslist?

Are you looking to do the craigslist clone?
Yuri Musienko
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Craigslist has more than $1 billion of annual revenue, 50 billion page views per month, 100 million new advertisements per month, 70 countries covered and 15 languages supported. And all this is about the site with several features and an outdated «newspaper» interface, which almost hasn’t changed in 25 years. Later, we’ll tell you how much the development of a clonea website with largely similar functionality, but a little more modern design – costs.

What influences the development cost?

Project complexity. Craigslist is a pretty simple site, a foundation of which was laid back in 1995 when Craig Newmark decided to make a digital analog of newspaper ads. The platform structure almost hasn’t changed since then, but the technologies have, which has made the website development much simpler and cheaper. Therefore, you only need $1-5 thous. to make a Craigslist clone.

However, Craigslist is a phenomenon of the online advertisement market and its complete copy will hardly be successful. So when creating your online platform, you should not only clone an original but also improve and complicate it. Kijiji, OLX, OfferUp, LetGo, and other successful clones of Craigslist have chosen this path and it’s exactly what you should do if you want your project to be liked by users and commercially successful.

Create a Craigslist Clone

Evolution of online advertisement boards. Source

Developer’s location. You can launch your clone with the use of a respective WordPress theme – it’s fast and cheap. However, it will be a one-size-fits-all solution with low reliability and security. That is why this option is used only to test an idea and enter lowly competitive markets. In all other cases, websites are created by custom development.

The cost of such an approach depends on the developer’s location. Specifically, an average hourly web development rate in the USA is $95, Western Europe and Great Britain — $67, Eastern Europe and Asia — $32. Though, interestingly, despite such a wage differential, the quality of work of a programmer from the USA and Ukraine is the same. For this reason, Microsoft, Google, Apple, IBM, Dell, and other American IT companies give a part of the development of their own projects to outsourcing to «cheaper» countries.

Here is a table with a comparison of the estimated cost of software development based on the project complexity and the location of the developer company:

Create a Craigslist Clone

How much does the creation of a Craigslist clone cost?

The creation of such an online ad board as Craigslist is $6,5-35,5 thous. We’ll tell you what stages the development process consists of, briefly describe it, and specify an estimated cost.

Preparatory phase

Create a Craigslist Clone

Experience map on the housing section of Craigslist. Source

As we have written earlier, if you simply clone Craigslist and put this project on the market, it’s unlikely to be successful. It’s because people won’t have reasons to choose your site over the original or another popular online board. You need a unique value proposition to attract users to your platform. This proposition might be a unique functionality, support of a certain language, or design, which is custom-made for a specific niche.

You can understand what your potential users need by using marketing research that may include an analysis of the target audience and competitors (pros and cons, users’ reviews), interviews with the target audience, focus groups, and the like.

The cost of marketing research depends on the depth of the analysis:

  • Top-level report — $100-1000. It’s a surface scan of the market, competitors, and/or target audience, which provides answers only to basic questions. An analysis is conducted by studying public marketing and statistical data.
  • Complete market report — $1,5-8 thous. This is a deeper study of the market, competitors, and audience, which will provide answers to questions such as users’ main habits, reasons for competitors’ success/failure, and the possible existence of promising niches.
  • The detailed market report on the product — $15-35 thous. This document contains in-depth data about all the important aspects of the launch of such a website as Craigslist. Besides, this document usually analyses trends, which exist and which may arise, their possible impact on the market, niche, competitors, and target audience.

Development of a clone’s design

Create a Craigslist Clone
Example of a possible design of a Craigslist clone. Source

After you realize what exactly the users need, you can start developing the design of your Craigslist clone. We remind once again that it shouldn’t be identical or very much similar to the original. As the anachronistic design of Craigslist is like an appearance of cabs in London – a singularity, which only works in their particular case and nowhere else.

To make your ad board attract users, you need your unique design, which is custom-made for your niche and target audience. Development of this design for a Craigslist clone consists of the following stages:

  • Frame development — 14 to 140 hours or $448 to $4480. It implies the creation of sketches with the key elements of design and a user’s path to his goal: what he should do (what buttons to press, what data to enter) to buy and/or sell a product or a service on your site. The purpose of the frame development is to show the website structure, which the designers must work on.
  • Creation of a mock-up of the interface — 14 to 210 hours or $448 to $6720. It implies the development of a static interface design of a Craigslist clone with low or high accuracy. This provides the possibility to see how the site will look like, which is useful not only for the development but also for attracting investment for early-stage start-up financing.
  • Creation of a functional prototype — 7 to 200 hours or $224 to $6400. It implies the creation of an interactive prototype of the website interface in a form as the users will see it. Due to that, it’s possible to understand how the ready site will work, which allows receiving more accurate feedback and optimize both appearance and user experience.

Main features of Craigslist

Sign up, log in — 10 to 50 hours ($320−1600). You don’t have to sign up to buy or sell on Craigslist except for a few categories. If a user wants to create a personal account, he can do it via email only. Implementation of similar functionality in a Craigslist clone will take 10 to 20 hours of development. Adding log in through Google, Twitter, or Facebook will need 10 to 30 more hours of development.

User profile — 10 to 20 hours ($320−640). The profile is needed to manage ads, track the history of selling/buying, communicate with other users, track interesting offers, etc. It’s possible to add a bank card to the profile, specify one’s address and phone number, or create lists of favorite offers.

Search system, filters — 10 to 30 hours ($320−960). Search for a product is probably the first thing the user will do on your platform, so your search system has to be as simple and fast as possible. People will look for products with keywords, categories, or various filters: price, region, popularity, photos, a new or used thing it is, and the like.

Communication within the site — 14 to 28 hours ($448−896). Different platforms use different approaches to communication between the system users. Craigslist allows users to communicate via encrypted emails. Users of OLX talk to each other in an internal text chat.

Form to post an advertisement — 10 to 30 hours ($320−960). This is the main peculiarity of online ad boards. You can post ads on Craigslist without creating an account whilst other sites require the users to sign in to post ads. Anyway, a form to post advertisements has to be simple and intuitive.

Product/service page — 5 to 20 hours ($160−640). Initially, all product pages on such platforms as Craigslist looked like a headline in bold and a small textual description. Now you can add photos, files, videos, contacts, etc. to the text in the ad.

Product/service listing — 10 to 25 hours ($320−800). The simplest option is a headline and price. More complex options imply the possibility to add photos/videos, tags, location, rating (of a product and a seller), and date.

Help center — 6 to 24 hours ($192−768). These are instructions as articles or FAQ, which can help users figure out the operation principles of the platform and solve the most common problems.

Additional features

Notifications — 10 to 30 hours ($320−960). The system will notify users of the fact that their products are sold, a new message, expiration of an ad, unusual activity in their accounts, the platform updates, and the like.

Map, geolocation — 12 to 24 hours ($384−768). Locating a user via IP and GPS for the optimization of search results, recommendations, autodetection of the interface language, and search for products by map, etc.

Event calendar — 10 to 40 hours ($320−1280). Craigslist started with emails about upcoming events. Then a calendar was added to the platform, where it was possible to add an event or find one.

Purchase and delivery — 20 to 50 hours ($640−1600). Due to this feature, people can buy products right on the site. In this case, the platform has to be integrated with payment gateways and postal services. OfferUp and OLX have such functionality.

Rating and reviews — 10 to 30 hours ($320−960). People should have a possibility to rate sellers and buyers to weed out unreliable contractors in such a way. It’s a very useful feature for any shop.

Website testing

Bug fixing — 34 to 100 hours ($1088−3200). 25% of development time is usually spent on quality control and bug fixing in the software’s work.

Manual testing — 14 to 40 hours ($448−1280). Testers do it by simulating a user’s actions without using special software tools. It usually takes about 10% of the time of development of the whole project.

What you need to create a Craigslist clone

Tech stack

This is a set of various tools that are used during software development. It includes programming languages, frameworks, compilers, cloud services, database management systems, and the like. When creating a clone, you can use the following development tools:

Create a Craigslist Clone

Development team

  • Project manager.
  • Front-end developers.
  • Backend developer.
  • UI / UX designers.
  • QA-specialist.

Wrapping up

Cost of the creation of a Craigslist clone ($32/hour)


How Much does it Cost to Create a Site like Craigslist? key takeaways:

#1. What influences the development cost?
#2. How much does the creation of a Craigslist clone cost?
#3. Preparatory phase
#4. Development of a clone’s design
#5. Main features of Craigslist
#6. Additional features
#7. Website testing
#8. What you need to create a Craigslist clone
#9. Tech stack
#10. Development team
#11. Wrapping up

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Yuri Musienko
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Merehead is a leading development company

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