how much does it cost to design an app

How Much Does It Cost to Design a Mobile App?

Estimated read time: 10 minutes

Wondering how much it costs to design a mobile app? Keep reading! In this article, I will provide some relevant insights.

In this article

  1. Cost to Design a Mobile App
  2. Mobile App Design Process
  3. Planning to Design a Mobile App?
  4. FAQs on How Much Does It Cost to Design a Mobile App

At a time when digital consumption is shifting more and more towards optimizing functionality in the mobile experience, having a mobile app in either the Google Play Store or Apple App Store has become a fundamental pillar in any business strategy for customer engagement and eventual revenue growth.

Designing an app requires a deep understanding of UX/UI design principles, app prototyping, UI toolkits, etc.

If you don’t have a professional team to take on this task, look no further. DevTeam.Space is a vetted community of expert developers with a rich portfolio of successfully developed mobile apps. You can submit a request for a complimentary discovery call, and one of our tech account managers will contact you shortly to discuss your project requirements.

Cost to Design a Mobile App

With technology, user design, and user experience rapidly advancing to meet the wealth of experiences offered through mobile development, companies are no longer bound to the static conventional design frameworks of decade-old mobile applications, be they for iOS or Android devices.

As a direct result of the seemingly limitless boundaries in mobile application development, the associated mobile app design price varies greatly.

Needless to say, not only do lower-end mobile app design costs imply that you’re getting a simple app design, but it is also indicative of a subpar final product that may very well have a negative impact on impacting digital spaces.

25% of mobile apps downloaded by users globally were accessed only once after the download.

Although it will be more expensive, the higher end of the cost spectrum is the sweet spot since you are almost guaranteed a solid foundation for a high-converting app post-development.

This is almost a given for high and medium-complexity app features where failure is simply not an option. 

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Your app design cost depends on the following key factors:

1. The scope of the app development project

Business requirements determine the scope of the app design and development project and the associated cost. Three business needs that can affect your app design cost include:

  • You do not have an app and need to build an MVP first;
  • You have an existing app and want to improve app features;
  • You have an app and want to develop a new app from scratch.

No existing app

If you don’t have an app already, it means you have an app idea and want to test the user market. You would need to build a minimum viable product to showcase your app idea to end users.

The design process for such a brand-new app includes a discovery phase with market and target audience analysis. App designers do lots of brainstorming to come up with a simple app with minimum features that help test the app idea in the market.

A simple app design process with main stages of research, prototyping, design, and testing takes around 900 hours or 1-1.5 months. The total cost starts from USD ~9K.

Improve an existing app

You might want to improve some features in your existing app. For example, improve loading times, implement better caching, add better animations, personalize push notifications, etc.

You need to finalize the app features you want to improve so your app designers and developers get to work. The number of hours required depends on the extent of app enhancement you require.

However, you don’t have to spend time and money on research and discovery for MVP design phases. Simple app improvements, like those listed above, can take up to 2.5-3 months.

Redesign an app

You might have a mobile or web app but are not satisfied with the app design. You could plan a whole new app with intuitive design elements and features.

In this case, you take up app design and development from scratch. You require a full team with an understanding of design frameworks, theories, guidelines, tools, etc.

Redesigning a new app can take developers around four months at a minimum. The cost starts around $15K and can increase depending on app features and complexity.

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2. Mobile platforms

Your app design cost also depends on the type of app you want to build. You need to decide between native and hybrid apps. It’ll also determine the choice of mobile app developers‘ specialization.

Native mobile apps target a specific mobile OS. Android and iOS are the leading mobile platforms in the user market. Native apps are designed to access device-specific hardware and APIs. They give better performance and user experience.

Hybrid apps have cross-platform compatibility. They can run on multiple platforms, like Android, iOS, and web usually with a single codebase and minimum modifications. This enables faster design and development times of hybrid apps.

You need to consider the trade-off between time and money while choosing the type of your application. Native apps give better performance and cost more. Hybrid apps come with user experience and performance limitations but are more cost-effective.

Usually, a hybrid app is a better option for designing an MVP. The rapid prototyping and development of a hybrid app help developers quickly deliver an app to the user market to test the app idea.

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Once the user feedback is collected and the app idea is validated in the market, you can design and develop the final app with complete features as platform-specific native apps.

3. App complexity

The app’s complexity plays a huge role in determining the app design cost. The complexity of an app includes the sophistication of its features, user flows, and overall functionality.

A complex app requires more time and effort to understand user flows, design UI elements, etc. Such apps have nested navigations, elaborate visual elements, complex information architecture, etc., compared to simple apps.

A complex app can be with an average complexity or high complexity. An average complexity app has multiple interactive features and visual elements. They are designed separately for Android and iOS apps for a native user experience, for example, WhatsApp app.

High-complexity apps have more interactive elements, app transitions, and multiple app screens. They require a device-centric UI design, for example, the Netflix app.

Moreover, advanced features based on cutting-edge technologies like virtual reality and artificial intelligence, such as gesture-based navigation, interactive product visualization, real-time language translation, etc., require more time and effort from mobile app designers.

Designers need to understand well these features and then integrate them seamlessly into the user interface which impacts the design cost.

4. App design team

The cost associated with each design phase will also be influenced by how much of the app development process is outsourced and how much is done in-house.

As is the case with most product owners or digital project managers, your schedule does not permit you to be integrally involved in the carrying out of tasks done in the design phase.

Therefore, in all likelihood, it will be easier for you to outsource a mobile app design team to get the job completed.

At first, you may feel inclined to begin your search for talent on a job board or freelance platform. If you are like other recruiters, you may think that it is a financially wise decision to contract a freelancer in India or Eastern Europe (such as Ukraine) at a low hourly rate of $20/hour and build a team that way to get your project completed. 

If that’s the case, you are doing yourself and your mobile app design project a huge disservice.

Freelance platforms and job boards make up some of the most high-risk spaces where you can source team members. 

Their nature as communities that require minimal entry requirements or quality control causes them to be a breeding ground for ill-reputed service providers who spam job postings and attempt to fool businesses into believing that they are the right fit for the job.

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Mobile App Design Process

Needless to say, the complexity of the tasks required for each design phase, its inclusion/omission, and the resources used (or lack thereof) will all play a vital role in estimating each one’s cost within the mobile app design process.

The design process constitutes a series of steps that a team must follow in order to build the mobile app. This enables the design team to be adequately guided throughout the length and breadth of the project and maximize productivity. 

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Prior to diving into the various tasks which make up these steps, it must be stated that mobile app design is not a one-size-fits-all field. For that reason, some projects may deviate from the following guide.

That said, this step-by-step breakdown of the mobile app design process does dictate the general flow for most projects of this nature to maximize cohesion between product design and its users’ expectations. 

app design prototype

An app design process involves one or more of the following stages depending on the type and scope of your app project:

  1. Mobile app research: This involves both user research and quantitative and qualitative market research (market sizes, market scope, competitors) respectively.
    • The cost of this design phase depends on the extent of research required by business analysts and designers, such as competitor analysis, user interviews, etc.
  2. Mobile app ideation: The mobile app design team comes up with possible ideas as to how the design will appear. In doing so, the team then approves or disapproves of key design elements which may or may not appear in the final product. 
    • One of the most common ways to achieve this is to segment markets into clearly categorizable groupings. These may be done based on geographics, behavioral, psychographics, and demographics.
  3. Wireframing and Prototyping: Based on the ideas generated previously, a product sketch is usually done which seeks to concretize the design concept that the team has envisioned.
    • Low-fidelity wireframing is a popular choice as they can draft out a basic sketch or template of what the mobile application is supposed to look like prior to more in-depth design work so that changes can be made ahead of time and not when the project is already far advanced.
    • Once approval is granted for the final design, the product team can then proceed to upgrade these low-fidelity wireframes into high-fidelity ones which give a more realistic look and feel to what the mobile application is supposed to look like.
    • The complexity and number of screens dictate the amount of time and effort required for creating wireframes and prototypes, which impacts the overall design cost.
  4. UI/UX design: In this phase, designers create the visual elements and user experience of the app. It includes selecting color palettes, typography, designing icons, creating UI elements, etc.
    • The cost of this design phase depends on the UI/UX requirements, the UI complexity, the extent of custom design illustrations and graphics, etc.
  5. Mobile app testing & validation: This phase is where the design produced previously is fire-tested to see how it holds up against the target market segments.
    • Usually, high-fidelity wireframes are then converted into interactive models which are presented to users for user testing. 
    • The results of these user tests are then analyzed to improve upon the existing design. 
    • The complexity and number of iterations affect the design cost. Significant design changes require more time and effort that can impact the overall design cost.
  6. Design handoff: The design handoff phase includes the preparation of design assets and guidelines for developers to implement the design. Your design would create design documentation, style guides, provide design assets in appropriate file formats, and collaborate with app developers.
    • The cost of this phase should also be factored into the final design cost.

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Planning to Design a Mobile App?

When it comes to the average app design cost, there is no one-size-fits-all price list. It is based mainly on budgetary constraints which will, needless to say, impact the techniques used in the various phases of mobile app design.

This guide provides you with different factors and phases involved in the design process that affect the costs associated with a mobile application design. 

As indicated, determining the mobile app design cost, considering each factor is highly subjective and dependent on the techniques used, phases included (or skipped), and your budget restraints.

However, what is true is that connecting with shady professionals via job boards and freelance platforms for $20/hour is not an expense that you should ever willingly assume.

If you are designing a software app and need to scale your team with additional skills and expertise, then take a moment to tell us about your project requirements here. One of our dedicated tech account managers will be in touch to show you similar projects DevTeam.Space has done before and share how we can help you.

You can also get in touch with us to find out about app development costs (be it iPhone iOS and Android apps, hybrid apps, or web apps) associated with your project.

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FAQs on How Much Does It Cost to Design a Mobile App

1. How much does it cost to design an app?

The cost to design an app depends on the app’s complexity, including features and non-functional requirements, the target mobile operating system, the number of hours required to develop and test app features, and the hourly rate of hired app developers.

2. How to design a mobile app?

A complex app design requires detailed market research, and the creation of wireframes and prototypes, keeping in mind the app design guidelines such as for Android and iOS platforms.

3. Who should I hire to design my mobile app?

You should hire an experienced UX/UI designer from a mobile app development company to design an interactive and intuitive future app design according to the business requirements.

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Alexey Semeney

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