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How Much Does It Cost to Design a Mobile App in 2022? [Cost Breakdown]

13 min read

Design is more than the visual side of a business. Today we invite you to explore this topic and find out the factors that impact the cost of a mobile app design.

Here you can find a detailed overview of the cost with examples.

If you prefer visual to text, then go straight to the bonus Infographic  “How much does it cost to design an app?”

How Much Does It Cost to Design an App?

The app design cost varies from $3000 to $30,000. This is a quite wide range, that depends on a few factors: the complexity of an app idea, the type of team, and the team location.

Let’s take a look at the app design prices breakdown based on these factors.

Cost Depending on the Complexity

The app complexity is essentially equal to the complexity of the product idea: the number of roles, the number of screens, the number of unique features, their usability, and visual design. In turn, these parameters determine the viability of the business model.

Simply put, the simpler the business model and the challenges you will solve, the cheaper the app design will be. And usually, the simpler the design, the cheaper the mobile app development.

Let’s look at a few examples with conditional complexity.

Complexity Average cost, $
Simple App Design 3000
Average App Design 12,000
Complex App Design 30,000

At the same time, keep in mind that this is a conditional value. Because if you have complex functionality on the backend, such as AI/ML integration, design can be cheap, while app development can be expensive.

Cost Depending on the Type of Team

Besides the complexity of the product concept, the development team is the second crucial factor, that defines the required budget for a design phase and software development.

As a basis for calculations, we’ll use the average size app, which requires 300 design hours.

Type of a team Average cost, $
In-house team 36,000
Local design agency 48,000
Outsourcing agency 12,000
Freelancers 6000

We will consider each type of team in this section. Now, let’s talk about how a development company’s location can affect pricing.

Cost Depending on the Location of a Team

Please note, that the complexity of an idea defines the expertise level required to be able to develop an application.

At the same time, an experienced app development company from outsourcing countries can cost less than a less experienced team from the United States, Britain, or Western Europe.

We’ll use the same example, an average size app, which requires 300 design hours.

Location Average cost, $
Australia 36,000
The US 48,000
The UK 40,000
Western Europe 28,000
Eastern Europe 12,000
South Asia 6000

The choice of design partner is determined by many factors: from available project budget to quality requirements or availability of niche expertise. We’ll talk about the checklist to help you choose the right partner later.

For now, let’s look at the design aspects that shape the price.

On this picture you can see the key factors, that impact the cost of the application

What Factors Impact the Cost of a Mobile App Design?

In this section, we will talk in detail about the technical aspects of design that set the price and duration of an app design and development.

Let’s get straight to the point.

Factor 1. The Type of Design

There are two types of app designs that you can implement. And the mobile app design price for both of these design services will be different.

Type 1. Custom Design

The custom design of a mobile app means you need to create a User Experience and User Interface from scratch instead of using premade libraries.

Most probably, the cost will be higher than the native design. It is much more effective, and at the same time, it is also risky.

Pros Cons
  • Uniqueness. With customizations, you can control the app design cost while ensuring uniqueness and exclusivity. However, while creating unique experiences, the designers must not sidetrack the core principles of UX design.
  • Branding. You can ensure that your mobile app design and cost reflect the organization’s vision and mission. Customizing the design can take a healthy representation of your company’s profile.
  • Overall cost. The answer to how much does it cost to design an app can vary with this approach. It is because customizing a design can take time, effort, and money. Plus, there is no limit to what kind of design and which level of designers you can hire.
  • Cost per designer. Finding a good designer who understands the nuances of custom designing while keeping the cost in check is not easy.

Almost every app on the phone has a custom design: Uber or Lyft, Tinder or Bumblebee, Airbnb.

A customized design will bring groundbreaking success if you do everything right and learn to understand the customer’s perspectives, engagement levels, and pain points.

But as an alternative option, there is a native design.

The custom design is another point you need to consider when finding how much does it cost to design an app

Type 2. Native Design

Nativity to a mobile app design means following the platform-specific design guidelines and element placements. For instance, with the iPhone, the button to “Go Back” is always on the top left corner of the phone screen.

iOS, Android, and other mobile device platforms have some set precedents of how everything shall look on the screen.

Following the native guidelines, you will incur fewer application design costs relative to the custom design.

Pros Cons
  • Platform-specific design. Due to this, the mobile app design price is also lower. Platform specificity implies that the designers can access all the standard functionalities without running into design or framework errors.
  • Easy implementation. With native app design, the designers will primarily work with familiar systems. There is less room for experimentation with a lesser learning curve.
  • Quicker development. Here, you can use templates of high quality. This saves time for developing everything from scratch. Also, the final cost to design an app is less.
  • Less experimentation. Some designers believe that a native mobile app design framework reduces the potential to explore. There is a lesser inclination to deviate from the set standards that take all the fun out of the design.
  • Limited design solutions. Because a native mobile app has to follow the set guidelines, the number of features is limited. Design elements like buttons, scrollers, screens, and so on have a limited variety.

Examples of apps with native designs are WhatsApp or Twitter.

The native UI kits will make app design cost cheaper, than if we use custom version.

Another critical factor is the app’s complexity. Let’s research it in more detail.

Factor 2. The Complexity of the App

In terms of design, the complexity of the app is, in fact, the number of unique screens, specific blocks, and exclusive interaction in its features. But we could decompose further on the following :

Number of Roles

One of the first things you need to define is the number of team roles for your design project. The more unique features you want to implement, the more UI/UX designers you need to find.

For a project of average complexity, you may need only a project manager, but also specialists that will be responsible for:

  • Creating a user persona
  • Sketching app wireframes
  • Working on app prototypes
  • Developing intuitive app interface
  • Making necessary changes after testing and target audience’s feedback

Number of Screens

There are several basic screens and a number of platforms that your application needs. But you can go further and leverage the power of screens in various places of the application. Here, you can use:

  • Welcome screens
  • Onboarding screens
  • Login screens
  • Screens to indicate the next steps
  • Screens containing buttons and icons
  • Menu screens (hamburger menu)
  • Other screens and pages like Errors.

But if you ask how much it costs to design an app with numerous screens, especially with animation, the answer will probably be higher than the average cost.

Number of Features

Here, the app design cost will depend on:

  • The platform of the app development process (iOS app, Android app, cross-platform, etc.)
  • Type of the product and type of app. Are you designing an MVP or a full-scale application with every tidbit added?
  • Including the sophisticated technologies and AR, VR, AI, and ML elements, so on.
  • Adding some unique elements for a specific cohort of users.

Depending on these factors, you will get an estimate of the number of hours required.

Your choice of the type of service provider will also change the app design cost. Let’s see how exactly.

On this picture you can see the three key factors that impact to the complexity of the cost of app design

Factor 3. The Type of Team

Who designs the application? Are you hiring a local agency, a group of freelancers, an in-house team, or outsourcing? Because the hourly rates of these players are different.

Let’s see what to expect if you hire an in-house team.

Type 1. In-House Team

In-house specialists are people who work in the company’s staff. This type of cooperation, like any other, has its pros and cons that we will consider below.

Pros Cons
  • It is easier to control all the activities of the internal team.
  • In-house employees are more involved in all processes. They better understand the product, values, culture, and brand philosophy.
  • The performance is high, as app developers devote all their efforts to one project.
  • In-house employees can be limited to one project. Sometimes it can cause burnout.
  • Hiring an in-house team costs much more than an outsourced team or freelancers. Use our startup salaries calculator to compare the price.
  • If some employees get sick, you need to spend time or money on new hiring.

Hiring in-house teams can cost- and resource-consuming as it requires a lot of additional work.

The other option is hiring a local design agency.

Type 2. Local Design Agency

Hiring a design agency means hiring a team within your local proximity. Let’s break down the significant pros and cons of app cost design by a local design agency.

Pros  Cons
The local team understands your market. There can be limited views on the overall perspectives.
You’ll get better communication and faster updates. You can’t change the personnel of the team.
You can work with a team in person and participate in all the processes. The cost can be higher depending on the location.
The team can use local resources, brand ideas, and networking. The quality of work can vary.

Hiring a local agency in the USA can cost you $150 per hour. The other option is hiring freelancers.

Type 3. Freelancers

Hiring freelancers means you can choose specialists on your own. This approach has its pros and cons too.

Pros Cons
  • Freelancers are cost-effective.
  • They are available in an instant.
  • They are easy to hire.
  • They can pick up your ideas quickly.
  • Freelancers are not very reliable and efficient.
  • Freelancers are not very smooth to deal with.
  • They require more intricate management, and you may have to deal with various reworks.
  • You will have to look for various freelancers for different roles.

The average pricing for freelancers involved in design ranges between $15 to $25 per hour.

This brings us to the last but one of the best options. Hiring an outsourcing agency.

Type 4. Outsourcing Agency

Hiring an outsourcing agency means hiring an agency located in another country, like Ukraine, for example.

It can get you lower rates and perfect quality. Everything depends on the time you need to provide input on all the elements of design. For instance, sketches, basic designing, branding, meetings, quality assurance, and so on.

Let’s see the main pros and cons of this option.

Pros  Cons
  • You have access to the best talents.
  • It can increase your revenue.
  • You save time and resources.
  • You can get a fresh look at your project.
  • Time gap.
  • You can’t control the entire process.
  • There can be a lack of transparency.

Hiring an outsourcing agency in Ukraine can cost starting from $40 per hour.

What does usually include in the design process, and how does it impact the app design cost? Let’s go through this process in detail.

On this picture you can see the types of development teams, which depend on the cost of application design development


How Does the Design Process Impact the Mobile App Design Cost?

By taking an overview of both UI and UX elements, we will look at which tools can be used, the benefit of addressing these concerns, and how to approach them.

Let’s begin with the application UX.

Stage 1. UX Design and Its Impact on App Design Cost

UX design takes a major part in the whole mobile application UX/UI design process. About  70% of the design budget is used for creating the User Experience. Why?

The role of UX design determines the way your future product will work. Your concept becomes visual precisely at the UX stage.

But in addition to realizing your vision, UX also takes care of achieving your business goals as a founder, as well as user objectives. So, in fact, UX defines the development stage scope of work.

Let’s look at the UX process details:

  • User research
  • Mind mapping
  • Low-fidelity prototypes
  • High-fidelity prototypes

Let’s take a closer look at each point.

Step 1. User Research

During the research phase, we will identify the kind of research you require.

Make sure the business analysts conduct thorough research on the business model and technical aspects of designing the app.

Under user research, we want to answer questions like:

  • Who are the ideal application users?
  • Who are buyer personas?
  • What are the goals that you want to achieve with the application?

This stage dramatically impacts the final cost of the app development, as here, we observe new trends emerging in the market and understand what functionality we can add.

During the research phase, we execute mind mapping.

This picture shows the first stage of UX design, which consists of 6 elements that affect the cost of application design

Step 2. Mind Mapping

Mind maps leverage the benefits of a 2-D structure depicting the relative importance of each subject.

You can use the mind maps for:

  • Showing the steps
  • Informational hierarchy

The best part is that Mind Maps is apt for every stakeholder of the project. They help the viewer understand the core functions and the critical branches of the project.

Mind maps are essential from the perspective of mobile app design price.

More sophisticated applications with a user base of thousands create specialized maps – Ontology Maps.

In terms of other tools, the designers use prototypes of different fidelity.

Mindmapping is the second step of UX design. The complexity of mind map will define the overall app design cost.

Step 3. Low-Fidelity Prototypes

Low-fidelity prototypes often don’t involve user interactions. The design team uses them to collect and analyze feedback.

Low fidelity shows the placement of elements. It helps us understand what goes where in the application design and layout.

Think of it as the skeleton of your application. It does not have any color, vector shapes, and other elements.

For low-fidelity prototypes, you can use paper sketches. They become essential when you have an intricate application design and a lot of screens to cover.

However, if you are focusing on minimum viable application development, sketches can be left out.

Step 4. High-Fidelity Prototypes

High-fidelity prototyping includes wireframes, i.e. sketches created using the software. For example, we use Figma. It is the next level of creating a great application design, impacting the mobile application design cost.

Also, high-fidelity prototypes are created with interactions.

After completing the User Experience and its attributes, let’s move on to the User Interface.

And yes, UI also brings a difference in the app design cost.

Low-fidelity prototype define the how much does it cost to design an app as well as more detailed versions.

Stage 2. UI Design and Its Impact on App Design Cost

User experience is how the application feels, and the user interface is how the application looks.

With UI, we have four different elements to cover:

  • Color Scheme
  • UI Kit
  • Icons and Logo
  • Animations

Let’s consider each point in detail.

Step 1. Choose a Color Scheme

The user interface is about communicating your vision to the users. Every element that you add to the application has to engage with the user.

In UI design, you must take care of color psychology. Here, it’s essential to understand the impact of every type of color on your users.

Step 2. Create a UI Kit

UI Kit is a time-saving element of the application.

Using a great UI Kit like Lovely UI or Pttrns will undoubtedly reduce the app design cost. It provides you with ready-made elements of app design. It is excellent, efficient, and provides us with the requisite details.

Not only will you find the items and elements of the UI conducive to your design and the client’s vision, but you can also customize them as needed.

For an agency, every bit of delay reduces the accountability and reliability of your company.

For an owner or founder, the time it takes for an idea to cross the four walls and reach outside is paltry.

The UI kit makes prototypes live, and additionally define cost to design an app in a final look.

Step 3. Design Icons and Logo

Every element in the UI design is a way to communicate with your users.

Apple, Nike, Reebok, Starbucks, and McDonald’s don’t need to write their names in the adverts. We recognize them with symbols.

These brands have set a benchmark of some unique qualities that resonate within the market.

For your logo making, take care of three qualities:

  • Trustworthiness. You must build your value proposition as an authentic and reliable service provider.
  • Awareness. Implies your recognition demonstrated by the logo.
  • Emotional attachment. The result of trust and awareness.

For a good and impactful logo, the app designing cost may rise. But the money you invest here will be worth it.

The illustration shows an example of an icon and logo design that affects the cost of user interface design

Step 4. Design Animations

Animations help deliver several aspects of a great design.

They help with:

  • Reducing the cognitive load put in by a user.
  • Gaining attraction and appeal.
  • Redirect user attention towards the significant aspect of the page.
  • Easier understanding.

You can leverage the power of animations in various places of the application. But if you ask how much it costs to design an app with animations, the answer will most probably be higher than average.

And as an example of animated onboarding, take a look at our dating app design.

To better understand how to choose an app design partner, look at these tips we collected from our practice.

3 Tips on How to Choose an App Design Partner

  1. Check the Portfolio. Obviously, when choosing an app designer, you need to pay attention to the portfolio. However, there are a few things to pay attention to:
    1. Beautiful design is subjective, but also not as important as UX;
    2. Note the industries the team has worked with;
    3. Notice how transparent, detailed, and accurate the design process is.
  2. Check the Testimonials and Social Media. The next point is to check reviews from previous clients. You can check the site, Clutch, Linkedin, or other listings. Pay attention to the team’s strengths from customers’ words and compare them with your expectations.
  3. Conduct an Interview. Finally, the “strongest” way to see if a team is right for you is to talk in person. After all, we are all human. Actually, finding a common language is one of the fundamental principles of successful collaboration.

Now that you have understood the major aspects of mobile app design cost, you need someone to help you.

This picture shows the 3 tips for choosing a development team that impact the cost of app Design Cost

Looking for a Mobile App Design Team?

The cost of an app design depends on many factors: from an idea to industry regulations. But turning norms on their head by introducing explosive innovations is a real challenge for startups.

SpdLoad is a full-service startup app design and development company. We’d love to work with you if you’re looking for the expertise to create a profitable and valuable product.

Look for a Top-Notch Design Team?

Tell us about your idea and we will provide you with a list of core features, suggestions for UX, ideas for UI, and estimate within 24 hours.

Talk to Us

Bonus Infographic

Here’s a summary of our in-depth guide. Learn about the highlights of the cost of app design in 2022.

This infographic shows detailed steps to help determine the correct cost of app design

Thinking about App Design?

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