How to Build a SaaS Platform Like Canva: Costs and Development Strategies

Sudeep Srivastava April 3, 2024
saas platform development cost like canva

The recent surge in remote work and digital content creation has significantly boosted the demand for SaaS design platforms like Canva, used widely by individuals and businesses alike. These platforms are not just tools for creating engaging visual content but have become essential in various professional contexts, including presentations, graphic design, and more.

Serving a diverse range of purposes like crafting engaging social media posts to designing professional business presentations and website designs, Canva caters to 170 million+ users across a wide range of spectrum.

Being valued at $7.57 billion in 2023 and expected to reach $8.43 billion by 2024, witnessing a CAGR of 11.3%, the design software market has been witnessing an upward trajectory, with Canva leading the charge.

Furthermore, a Statista report also suggests that the SaaS market is expanding at an exponential rate, with revenue four times from 2016 to 2024 and expected to reach $374.50 billion by 2028. This growth is fueled by the widespread adoption of cloud solutions, the demand for user-friendly interfaces, and the increasing need for efficient digital collaboration tools.

SaaS Market Growth Worldwide

Thus, if you are a business contemplating embarking on this similar venture, now is the right time to leverage compelling market statistics and the increasing reliance on digital design tools.

This guide offers a clear and concise overview of creating a SaaS platform like Canva. We’ll cover the development process in detail, explore different SaaS models, outline key features, and discuss Canva-like SaaS platform development costs. But first, let’s understand why and how Canva has created a buzz in the market.

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Unveiling Canva: Revolutionizing Design with an Online Platform for Everyone

Canva is a dynamic online platform revolutionizing how individuals and businesses create visually captivating designs. The mobile app has rapidly grown into a global powerhouse in graphic design. With its intuitive interface and extensive library of templates, images, and fonts, Canva empowers users to bring their ideas to life effortlessly.

The company’s net worth reflects its success and impact, showcasing its position as a leading player in the industry. The app boast over million of users globally to create, collaborate, and brainstorm new ideas, specifying a vibrant community where innovation thrives.

They generate revenues from a variety of sources, including subscriptions for premium features, a marketplace for design assets, and even print-on-demand services. As per Forbes, after attaining a $40 billion valuation in 2022, the company ventured into the $1.7 billion market in 2023, contending with leading industry competitors.

With Canva’s revenue on the rise, businesses should take note of the expanding SaaS software market and consider leveraging this trend. By creating a SaaS platform like Canva, they can streamline their operations, enhance productivity, and stay competitive in today’s digital landscape.

How Much Does It Cost to Develop a SaaS Platform like Canva?

Building an app like Canva entails various expenses influenced by factors such as feature set intricacy, platform adaptability, and design prerequisites. A basic version might require an investment ranging from $30,000 to $100,000 or more, while a more sophisticated iteration, incorporating additional functionalities and customization features, could increase SaaS platform development cost like Canva between $100,000 and $250,000 or more.

Conducting meticulous research and outlining specific requirements beforehand can help streamline development and ensure optimal resource allocation.

App Complexity LevelFeaturesCost EstimationDuration
BasicGraphic Design Tools, Template Library, Collaboration Features$30,000 – $60,0002 to 4 months
IntermediateAdvanced Design Features, Custom Templates, Branding Tools$60,000 – $100,0004 to 6 months
AdvanceTeam Collaboration Features, Enterprise Integration, Analytics$100,000 – $150,0006 to 12 months
PremiumAI-Powered Design Suggestions, Custom Brand Guidelines, Advanced Analytics$150,000 – $250,000+12+ months

Factors Influencing the Cost to Develop a SaaS platform like Canva

As we delve into understanding the factors shaping the cost of developing a SaaS app like Canva, several key determinants emerge, each with its revolutionary impact on businesses across diverse sectors.

Cost Influencers for Building a SaaS Platform Similar to Canva

App Complexity

The complexity of the SaaS platform, including the number of features, customization options, and integrations, significantly influences saas platform development cost like canva. More complex platforms with advanced functionalities typically require more extensive development efforts and resources.

GDPR Compliance Impact

Ensuring compliance with data protection regulations like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is imperative for handling user data securely and responsibly. Achieving GDPR compliance may require additional development efforts and resources, particularly in terms of data encryption, user consent mechanisms, and data access controls.

Geographic Location of Development Team

The location of the development team significantly influences labor costs, as developer rates vary across regions and countries. Choosing an app development firm in regions like Asia or Europe is a strategic decision that offers access to a diverse pool of skilled talent and innovative technological capabilities, complemented by optimized costs as compared to the US or the UK counterparts. Here is the estimated hourly rate of development as per multiple regions:

RegionHourly Rates of Development
UAE$60 to $65
US$95 to $100
Western Europe$80 to $90
Australia$70 to $90
Eastern Europe$50 to $55
Asia$30 to $40

Expertise of the Team

The level of expertise and experience of the development team impacts both the speed and quality of development. A highly skilled team is more efficient at solving complex technical challenges and delivering high-quality code, but their services may come at a premium, potentially increasing SaaS platform development cost like Canva. Here is the estimated hourly cost of a well-defined app development team:

App Development TeamHourly Rates (Approx)
Project Manager$25 to $30
Tech Lead (Backend / Frontend)$28 to $30
Sr. Mobile App Developer$24 to $30
Sr. Web & Backend Developer$24 to $30
DevOps$25 to $30
Business Analyst$20 to $25
UX/UI$20 to $25
QA$20 to $25

UI/UX Strategy Investment

Investing in a robust UI/UX strategy tailored to user needs and preferences is crucial for enhancing user satisfaction and engagement. Allocating resources towards user research, prototyping, and usability testing can result in a more intuitive and visually appealing SaaS platform, ultimately impacting SaaS platform development cost like Canva.

Platform Choice

The choice of platforms to support (e.g., web, mobile, desktop) and their compatibility requirements can influence complexity and Canva-like SaaS platform development cost. Developing for multiple platforms or implementing cross-platform compatibility may require additional development efforts and resources, particularly in terms of design and testing.

Technology Stack

To develop a robust app like Canva, it’s crucial to integrate a top-notch technology stack. This includes leveraging front-end technologies like HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and back-end languages like Python or Node.js. Additionally, familiarity with databases, cloud storage solutions, and APIs for image processing and collaboration features is essential for comprehensive app development.

It is vital to understand that the technology stack significantly influences app development tasks, affecting factors such as development time, scalability, and maintenance requirements.

Below are some of the newest technologies you can incorporate into your Canva app:

 Cutting-edge Technologies for a Canva-like Platform

Testing and Quality Assurance Protocols

Implementing thorough testing and quality assurance protocols throughout the development process is essential for ensuring a reliable and bug-free SaaS platform. While investing in rigorous testing can add to SaaS development costs, it ultimately contributes to delivering a high-quality product that meets user expectations.

How to Build a SaaS Platform Like Canva?

After delving into factors influencing Canva-like saas platform development cost, let’s progress towards a comprehensive guide for creating a SaaS platform like Canva. This guide will facilitate a smooth journey from conceptualization to deployment.

Strategies for Creating an App Similar to Canva

Market Research and Idea Generation

Businesses should conduct extensive market research to ascertain prevailing trends, user preferences, and existing competitors within the target industry. By gathering comprehensive insights, companies can identify potential market gaps and opportunities that could inform the conceptualization for building a SaaS app platform.

Idea generation sessions should be conducted to brainstorm innovative solutions that address identified user needs and pain points, ensuring the platform’s relevance and competitiveness in the market landscape.

Conceptualization and Planning

Following the acquisition of valuable market insights, businesses must engage in a meticulous process of conceptualization and planning to lay the groundwork for building a SAAS app platform. This involves defining the platform’s clear vision and mission, articulating specific goals and objectives, and delineating the project’s scope.

Through collaborative efforts involving key stakeholders, companies should outline a comprehensive plan that delineates the platform’s feature set, development timeline, resource allocation, and budgetary considerations, establishing a strategic roadmap for successful execution.

Designing User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI)

Recognizing the pivotal role of user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design in driving user engagement and satisfaction, businesses should prioritize creating intuitive, visually appealing, and user-centric designs for their SaaS platform.

Leveraging insights from user research and market analysis, design teams should craft seamless UX/UI solutions prioritizing ease of navigation, accessibility, and aesthetic appeal. Companies can refine and optimize their designs through iterative design processes based on user feedback and usability testing, ensuring a compelling and immersive user experience.

Prototyping and Wireframing

As an essential step in the development process, businesses should invest in prototyping and wireframing activities to translate conceptual designs into tangible, interactive prototypes. Prototypes serve as invaluable tools for visualizing the SaaS platform’s layout, flow, and functionality, allowing stakeholders to understand its design and user experience.

By repeatedly refining and adjusting design concepts, companies can refine and iterate on their design concepts, soliciting feedback from stakeholders and end-users to make informed improvements.

Development of Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

With a solid foundation established through thorough planning and design, businesses should develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that encapsulates essential features and functionalities of the SaaS platform. The MVP serves as a scaled-down version of the final product, designed to validate core assumptions, gather user feedback, and test market viability cost-effectively.

By prioritizing MVPs that address critical user needs and pain points, companies can expedite the development process and mitigate the risk of resource overallocation, ensuring a lean and agile approach to product development.

Testing and Quality Assurance

Once the initial development phase is complete, businesses should allocate sufficient time and resources to testing and quality assurance (QA) activities to ensure their SaaS platform’s robustness, reliability, and functionality.

Through comprehensive testing methodologies such as unit testing, integration testing, and user acceptance testing (UAT), companies can identify and rectify any bugs, errors, or inconsistencies in the platform’s codebase and functionality. Quality assurance protocols should encompass various aspects of the platform, including performance, security, compatibility, and usability, to deliver a seamless and error-free user experience.

Deployment and Launch

With the development and testing phases complete, businesses should proceed to deploy and launch their SaaS platform to production environments, marking a significant milestone in the development journey. The deployment process involves configuring servers, setting up databases, and deploying application code to hosting environments in a controlled and systematic manner. A well-executed launch strategy can create momentum, attract early adopters, and establish a solid foundation for future growth and success.

Iterative Development and Feedback Incorporation

In line with agile development principles, businesses should adopt an iterative approach to software development, continually refining and enhancing the SaaS platform based on ongoing user feedback, market insights, and evolving business requirements.

By soliciting input from stakeholders and end-users through regular feedback loops, companies can identify areas for improvement, prioritize feature enhancements, and adapt to changing market dynamics in real-time.

Scalability Planning and Infrastructure Setup

As businesses prepare to scale their SaaS platform to accommodate growing user demand and evolving business needs, they must proactively plan for scalability and resilience in their infrastructure and architecture. Scalability planning involves designing a flexible, scalable, and robust infrastructure that seamlessly accommodates increases in user traffic, data volume, and feature complexity without compromising performance or reliability.

Leveraging cloud-based technologies and scalable architecture patterns such as microservices and containerization, companies can future-proof their SaaS platform and ensure its ability to scale elastically in response to changing business requirements and market conditions.

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Essential Features to Integrate During SaaS Application Development

SaaS software development necessitates the integration of essential features to ensure optimal functionality and user satisfaction. Let’s explore!

Key Features for SaaS App Development

Video Editing Capabilities

This feature empowers users to effortlessly create professional videos with features for trimming, merging, and applying effects. It enhances businesses’ ability to create captivating multimedia content for marketing campaigns and presentations.

In-Built PDF Editor

Streamline document management and collaboration with comprehensive tools for editing and annotating PDFs directly within the app. This functionality aids individual users and businesses in efficiently handling document workflows, improving productivity and collaboration.

User-Friendly Interface

Ensure a seamless and intuitive experience through easy navigation and user-centric features. A user-friendly interface is essential during SaaS software development fostering positive user interactions, encouraging business engagement and retention.

Design Tools

To build a SaaS app like Canva, providing users with a robust suite of tools to craft visually captivating graphics and designs effortlessly is essential. These tools empower businesses to create impactful visual content for branding, advertising, and communication.

Customization Options

Customization options allow businesses to tailor their designs to their specific needs and brand identity, enhancing brand consistency and recognition. SaaS-based application development enables users to personalize their designs with ease, incorporating text, images, colors, and more to reflect their unique style and branding.

Collaboration Features

Real-time collaboration functionalities foster teamwork and creativity, facilitating seamless interaction among team members. Collaboration features enable businesses to streamline project management and encourage team creativity and innovation.

Mobile Compatibility

With seamless compatibility across mobile platforms, you can seamlessly transition between devices and design on the go. Mobile compatibility extends businesses’ reach and flexibility, allowing users to create and collaborate from anywhere, at any time.

Integration with Third-Party Tools

Enhance productivity and expand functionality by seamlessly integrating with various third-party platforms and tools. Integration capabilities enable businesses to leverage existing tools and workflows, improving efficiency and effectiveness in design processes.

Offline Access

Ensure uninterrupted productivity by allowing users to access and edit designs even without an internet connection. Offline access enhances businesses’ resilience to connectivity issues, allowing users to continue working seamlessly in any environment.

Analytics and Insights

Gain valuable insights into design performance and user engagement, empowering informed decision-making and optimization strategies. Analytics and insights enable businesses to track the effectiveness of their designs and refine their approach to better meet user needs and preferences.

Customer Support

Robust customer support enhances user satisfaction and loyalty, fostering long-term business relationships. Deliver exceptional user experiences with responsive and dedicated customer support to address any queries or issues promptly and effectively.

[Also Read: What are the Elements for Interactive Chat Bots Building Customer Engagement]

Stickers

Elevate designs and enhance creativity with an extensive collection of pre-designed stickers, enabling users to add expressive elements effortlessly. Build a SaaS app with stickers as an essential feature, enriching user experience and enabling creative expression. It also aids in conveying messages effectively , enhancing brand communication and storytelling.

How to Monetize a SaaS Platform Like Canva?

Canva utilizes several revenue streams, including subscription plans for its premium features, enterprise solutions for businesses, and sales of physical products like printed materials and merchandise through its platform. Here are various methods through which businesses can drive revenue by spearheading innovation and improving customer experiences via Canva-like app development. Let’s explore!

Monetization Methods for a SaaS Platform Like Canva

Advertising and Sponsorship

Monetize the platform through advertising placements, sponsored content, or sponsored features. Partner with brands, advertisers, or affiliates to display targeted ads, sponsored templates, or promotional offers to users, generating revenue through pay-per-click, pay-per-impression, or sponsorship arrangements.

Data Licensing and Insights

Aggregate and anonymize user data collected through the platform to generate valuable insights, trends, and analytics. Offer data licensing agreements or subscription-based access to proprietary data and analytics reports to businesses, researchers, or marketers seeking market intelligence and consumer behavior insights.

White Labeling and Branding

Offer white labeling capabilities that allow businesses to rebrand and customize the platform with their logo, colors, and branding elements. Charge a licensing fee or recurring royalty for white labeling the platform and reselling it to their customers under their brand.

Subscription Model

Offer subscription plans with different tiers (e.g., Basic, Pro, Enterprise) that provide varying access levels to features, storage, and support. Users pay a recurring fee, typically monthly or annual, to access the platform’s services.

Freemium Model

Provide a free platform version with basic features and limited functionality while offering premium features and advanced capabilities as part of paid subscription plans. This allows users to experience the platform’s value proposition before upgrading to a paid plan to access additional features.

Print Service

Canva’s print service monetization strategy involves offering users the option to print their designs on various items, such as t-shirts, invitations, flyers, and banners.  Furthermore, Canva’s international shipping capabilities, which extend to over 30 countries, provide users with a convenient way to receive their printed designs.

The pricing structure for these print services may vary depending on factors such as the type of item and shipping destination. This strategy enhances user engagement and satisfaction and creates an additional revenue stream for Canva through print sales and fulfillment services.

Create a Canva-Like App with Appinventiv’s Expertise

At Appinventiv, we pride ourselves on being a leading SaaS platform development company renowned for our expertise in creating innovative solutions tailored to our clients’ diverse needs. Our approach begins with meticulous project planning, where we collaborate closely with our clients to define clear objectives, scope, and deliverables.

Through comprehensive research and analysis, we gain valuable insights into market trends, user preferences, and industry benchmarks, enabling us to devise strategies that drive success.

Leveraging cutting-edge development methodologies and technologies, our seasoned team crafts robust and scalable SaaS applications catering to clients across various industries. With a stellar portfolio of successful projects, we have earned a reputation for delivering excellence and exceeding client expectations.

Our SaaS application development services enable businesses to accelerate growth, enhance user experiences, and stay ahead of the competition in an increasingly digital world.

If you’re looking to develop a SaaS platform like Canva, connect with an Appinventiv representative to bring your vision to life with unparalleled expertise and dedication.

FAQs

Q. How much does it cost to build a SaaS platform like Canva?

A. The cost of creating a SaaS Platform Like Canva can vary widely depending on factors such as complexity, features, development team location, and scalability requirements. Generally, it can range from $30,000 to $250,000 or more.

Q. How long does it take to develop an app like Canva?

A.  Creating a SaaS platform like Canva can take 3 to 12 months, considering the design, development, and testing phases. The timeline can also vary based on project scope, complexity, and team size. Additionally, factors such as custom features, integrations, and user feedback iterations can also influence the app’s development timeline.

Q. What are the benefits of developing a SaaS app like Canva?

A. Developing a SaaS app like Canva presents significant opportunities for businesses to drive profitability through subscription-based revenue models, recurring payments, and scalable growth. It enables businesses to capitalize on the growing demand for online design tools, reaching a wide user base and fostering customer loyalty through innovative features and continuous updates. Additionally, leveraging data analytics and user insights within the app can further optimize monetization strategies and enhance overall profitability.

THE AUTHOR
Sudeep Srivastava
Co-Founder and Director
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