How Much Does It Cost to Design a Mobile App in 2022? [Cost Breakdown]
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, $|
|Local design agency||48,000|
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, $|
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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Examples of apps with native designs are WhatsApp or Twitter.
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.
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.
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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.
|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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
- 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:
- Beautiful design is subjective, but also not as important as UX;
- Note the industries the team has worked with;
- Notice how transparent, detailed, and accurate the design process is.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Here’s a summary of our in-depth guide. Learn about the highlights of the cost of app design in 2022.