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A Guide to Getting Accurate Estimates from App Development Agencies

At THRV, we’ve met with hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs trying make an impact in the application industry. These entrepreneurs come in with very interesting ideas and potentially a business plan, but when it comes to pricing, there are lots of variables that have proved useful in increasing the likelihood of getting an accurate estimate from app developers. We’ve been collecting historical information to create a guide to getting the most accurate estimate from an app developer.

In the grand scheme of things, an app project is priced by determining the hours of work it’ll take to complete, and multiplying that by the company’s hourly rate. Agencies try to figure out the work time with the information provided by the client. The information used differs between agencies and developers, but most stick with the essential components: Scope, Complexity, Platform, Design, Testing, and Updates.

A Guide to Getting Accurate Estimates from App Development Agencies  1 | THRV Apps, Design, Digital Marketing & Strategy

Scope of Work

The scope of work is defined by the applications functionalities, how many are there and  what are they. What are the quintessential features in the app, and which functionalitie complement them. 

Complexity of Features

In comparison to the scope where the functionalities and features are defined, the complexity of these features is just as Important for the developer to understand how to put an hour value to it. Factors such as machine learning, external requests, and the use of proprietary technologies can affect how complex a feature will be.


Here the developer considers what platform the app is to be developed for. Will it be native iOS, native Android,Hybrid, web, tvOS, etc.? The platform has a huge impact on the price as developing for different platforms can increase the development exponentially.


Design pricing tends to be based on the amount of screens the agency will have to design; However, this is not always the case. The amount of iterations the design will be expected to go through is an important aspect considered. In addition, if branding design for the app is necessary than that will affect the overall design estimate.


The different types of testing and hours desired and required have a major impact on the testing estimate. How much time is to be spent on quality assurance is an essential piece of information to providing an accurate pricing estimate


This is the final main component that agencies use to provide development estimates. We split this component into different sub-components that fall under the same umbrella. The question we aim to answer: How many hours are expected to be put into minor changes, upgrades and maintenance after launch. How many people need to be fully overseeing the application after launch is also a valuable piece of information to have.

The more information provided, the more accurate the estimate will be.

For us to formulate an accurate estimate, we use the information provided to perform educated guesswork. Therefore, the more information we’re provided, the better we can determine what will be needed to complete the project. Also, it is incredibly helpful to have a set list of features that you don’t plan on adding to or removing from to speed things up and get your development invoice as close to your estimate as possible.

The more solid the project’s scope is, the more fluid the process will be. The biggest mistake some developers make is assuming that the project’s scope wont change on the road to completion. When it comes to entrepreneurs and creatives, we’ve concluded that the more concrete the scope is and the less likely it is to change, the smoother the process will be and the happier you’ll be when you get those invoices.

Present your developer with features for a Minimum Viable Product to increase your scope’s solidity. When providing the developer with the scope of the project, prioritize the apps launch with it’s essential functionality and worry about the complementary ones later. The best option you have is to release the app with its primary features and get feedback to add more features that the users actually want. Doing this will increase the likelihood the projects scope won’t change and is the most efficient way to have a smooth development experience.

The best way to ensure an accurate estimate is to have the information needed for the main components on paper and present them at your next consulting with an agency. The agency will then use the information to conduct research and get you the most accurate quote.

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