How Much Does it Cost to Build an App?

At Essential Designs, our hands-down number one incoming phone call on a daily basis is the question, “How much do apps cost to build?”  The short answer is,  there is no quick or easy answer. If you’re in the initial idea phase of your app, it’s not possible to give you a real quote. However, this graphic can give you a quick starter sense of pricing:


mobile apps cost vancouver app development

Download our infographic:  How Much Do Apps Cost to Build?


How are App Costs Calculated?


Online app calculators will generate price tags ranging between $200,000 – $350,000 for feature-heavy apps. Sounds high, but don’t panic yet!  Small apps with fewer features can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 CAD.

It may sound redundant, but the price is largely based on the features you want to be included in your app. Building out complex features requires experienced, high-level development teams and development hours.


What are the Main Factors Affecting App Price?


The main factors affecting the apps cost:

  • What kind of app is it? (game, business, lifestyle, social networking, etc.)
  • What platforms do you want it to work on? (iOS, Android, web accessible, etc.)
  • Design (complex modern UI/UX, basic design, template design)
  • Size (how many pages in the app)
  • Features / Infrastructure (user level, login, APIs, database connections, etc.)


What are the Stages of App Quoting?


According to a recent Clutch survey, the average apps cost to build is $171,450. Without even considering the marketing or business expenses related to building your app, there is a price tag associated with each step of the app development process:

Discovery Stage
68% of companies require a discovery stage before they begin the app development process. This means really evaluating the need for the app, what business problems it intends to resolve and how.
app development discovery stage
Design Stage
From high-end UI/UX design to templates, there are different levels of design to fit every budget.
cost of app development design
Development Stage
Starting with an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) aka including the least number of features in order to achieve your initial goal, is the easiest way to keep your budget in check.
average app development project size
Testing / Deployment Stage
In Agile development, it’s imperative that you work with your development team to confirm that development is moving in the direction you intended. This includes receiving frequent updates where your app development company can incorporate your feedback.
cost of app testing & deployment
Maintenance / Upgrades Post-Development
With platforms constantly updating, it’s imperative to have a team that can continue to adjust your app if necessary, to keep it functioning.
cost of app maintenance & upgrades


How Do I get a Mobile App Quote?


We use the following analogy to help better explain the web and mobile application quoting process:

“Think of it like building a house.”


You need to convey what you want, in detail, to the architect who will be creating your blueprints. This includes explaining what your wants and needs – from the location, the type of home, how many levels, how many rooms, is there a garage? What kind of landscaping, or is a pool included? What is your budget?

The more specific detail you provide here, the better your blueprint quality, meaning it will match your vision and need fewer revisions. This means less time and money are required in the future; if you need to add features after the fact, or modify work that has already been done, it can get expensive. Building software for your business is a different beast. Read in more detail a step-by-step guide to building software for your business, and also how to build a good Scope Document on our tech blog.


Once the idea has been fully vetted, all features listed and explained in detail with functionality fully clarified, we can start on the quoting process. Companies build their quotes using different methods: at Essential Designs, we build fixed-price quotes. This means we spend a lot of time developing this quote to break down each feature in the app, and the hours required to complete it.

An apps cost can typically take us anywhere from 1-4 days of manpower to build out and quote. Unless you have put time and detail into your initial Scope Document, we cannot put the resources into building quotes, but we can give you an extremely general price breakdown.


A generic quote will fluctuate wildly depending on the features you wish to build into your app! If you want to build a better Facebook, $5K isn’t going to cut it. Heck, $500K won’t cut it. Facebook is a multibillion-dollar internet company that has been in development for 14 years with over 30,000 staff members.


How to Get Started


  1. Read up on Building software for your business
  2. Build your Scope Document
  3. Give us a call


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By Mary MacPherson

Authored by Mary MacPherson

Mary is a popular Vancouver DJ and has been working in the high tech field since her inception as a web developer at Newbridge Networks in 1996.

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