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How much does it cost to design a mobile app in 2021?

23 min read
How much does it cost to design a mobile app in 2021?

Mobile app design cost calculation is a crucial step in business processes. To get a clear-cut answer to the question “How much does it cost to design an app”, we should first get through fundamental aspects that may give you a rough idea of app design costs.

Mobile app development is a comprehensive and multi-level process leveraging many resources. But first things first, let’s talk about mobile app design and how much it costs to design an app. After all, a visual interface always comes first to grab attention. In this guide, we will talk about the factors defining app design costs and the stages of app interface creation.

While reading, you will reveal the key aspects of app design development and cost estimation.

  • Mobile app market statistics 2021 and why it is worth investing in mobile apps
  • App design cost drivers and factors
  • What tech components are essential to driving value.

Once you are done with this article, you will have a clear vision of mobile app design costs.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO DEVELOP A MOBILE APP AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT

To start with the role of app design, let’s draw the line between “app development” and “app design” notions. It may be the most confusing part in terms of calculating costs and building an app roadmap.

Mobile application design is user-centric. It is all about building a smooth user experience and attractively wrapping up the app. It may sound as easy as pie, but the processes are complicated.

Mobile app development is a technical implementation of the future app’s features. The process sets in motion all the UI and UX design components. In other words, it makes things work.

Are you interested

How much it costs to build an app?

Check out the following cost calculation techniques.

Why is it worth investing in mobile apps? According to Statista, by 2024, the number of mobile users will reach 7,41 billion, the largest pool of potential consumers to work.

How much does it cost to design a mobile app in 2021?

Starting with a successful application that will grab attention on the market and gain followers is a challenge. With a compatible app design, solid UX, and UI, the new mobile app has all the chances to create value. Indeed, those two components, great design, and smooth user experience are the core aspects of the winning application. Well planned and professionally implemented app will get more traffic, user conversion and thus increase ROI. So our goal is to build an app design with a neat and attractive structure, uninterrupted user experience.

Laying a good foundation for your app with quality design is the factor for user retention and attaining revenue. So cutting on the costs of app design doesn’t seem the right decision.

Before speaking about the cost to design an app, it is helpful to follow the stages of app design development. Any project starts with an idea that may live if well projected and implemented. The app design development goes through 5 stages.

STAGE 1. RESEARCH & PREPARATION

Research is the initial stage of app design, the discovery workshop with stakeholders’ meetings, market analysis, aligning the expectations and requirements. In its turn, this stage has the processes to be discussed.

  • Evaluating the idea (data collection and analysis)

In this step of evaluating the idea, it is essential to bring out the challenges and problems that the app will solve. By filling the Lean Model Canvas, it will be possible to align the client’s vision with the project.

How much does it cost to design a mobile app in 2021?

Problem – The app is truly unique if it solves a big problem.

Customer segment – To make the app valuable, it is significant to define the target audience.

Unique value proposition – Specific features will make the app stand out in the market.

Solutions – The segment includes the ways to solve already defined problems.

Channels – This segment is essential for identifying the accurate marketing channel to promote the app.

Revenue streams – The right business model is vital to make the app not just popular but profitable. It can be in-app purchases, subscriptions, ads, etc.

Design cost structure – The segment assesses the resources and estimates the costs of app design development.

Key metrics – This is the key segment that pictures the success of the app in numbers (number of downloads, revenue).

Unfair advantage – The app should have a strong advantage, a feature over its competitors. 

  • Making a mind map

After filling the Lean Model Canvas and analyzing all the components, it is now possible to create a mind map, the visualization, and the structure of the project. With this step, it is possible to group the design ideas that fly around. 

  • Research on the market and trend

An essential factor in building a solid app design is to get it aligned with the latest tendencies. The extensive market and trend research will help to explore the top design features of 2021 that may be useful.

  • In-app gestures
  • Face ID
  • Content-focused experience
  • Illustrations
  • Serif fonts
  • Vibrant, futuristic colors
  • Transparent elements
  • Rounded shapes
  • Dark mode
  • Smooth swiping
  • Shadows, layering, and dimensions
  • VR & AR immersion
  • Fullscreen
  • Conversational design

Those are the latest app design features trending on the market. Of course, it doesn’t mean that the app should be filled with all of them. The usage of each feature should be reasoned. Moreover, you should keep in mind that each new feature adds value to app design costs. 

  • Creating the image of the user 

To build an app design that will be attractive to the user, the first stage should include the research of the user persona. The right way to get used to portrait is to go through three elements:

  • Social standing
  • Behavioral model
  • Demographic data

App design cost estimation during the research and discovery depends on several factors.

  • App complexity
  • Hours spent on collecting data and analyzing business requirements
  • Hours spent on meetings with a client

STAGE 2 WIREFRAMING

Wireframing is the first step of visualization of the future app. The schematic framework design is a skeleton presenting the general functionality and interface. Still, wireframing does not reveal all the details (both visual and functional) of the app. Wireframing is a must step in app UI development, yet it is about the extra expense that may affect the app design cost. At the same time, wireframing may be cost-efficient because, in this stage, the client and development team can bring out all the data for efficient work.

The wireframes are added based on the comprehensive research of the market, user persona, competitors, and trends. The essential process of wireframing is close communication with the client to understand the expectations and make necessary changes. 

STAGE 3 PROTOTYPING (UX/UI PROTOTYPE)

UI prototyping follows wireframing. In this stage the visual is much closer to the final app design. If the application covers two platforms (iOS and Android), a prototype is prepared for both platforms. If the application is supposed to be integrated into wearables, this stage includes the prototype for that platform too. 

Prototyping includes the presentation and testing of functionality and navigation between screens. The professional mock-up also affects the app design costs. At the same time, it may reduce errors in user experience and user interface designing phases. This stage is an efficient way to validate the mobile app idea, avoid common mistakes and eliminate features that will have no value.

How much does it cost to design a mobile app in 2021?

Mobile app prototyping falls into two main categories:

  • Low-Fidelity Prototypes

This category has much in common with wireframing. It includes basic app design features, storyboarding, and sketches. The step involves close interaction of both parties.

  • High-Fidelity Prototypes

The high-fidelity prototype looks and operates similarly to the final app. It can be called a pilot version of the product that may be tested and changed. 

The process of prototyping is divided into two steps, user experience design, and visual design.

  • Mobile UX designs

The duration UX design process depends on the project’s complexity which simultaneously influences the total prototype cost. The initial UX design prototyping starts with sketches and wireframing.

With the next step, the prototyping validates the app’s MVPs and may even cut the total cost of app design. 

  • Mobile UI designs

UI mockups are built based on UX wireframes referring to the brand’s color schemes. The prototype displays the content layout and interior layers. Professional UI prototyping offers two mockups with different approaches to bring out the best design idea. Mobile app ui design cost depends on a number of elements like custom icons, UX complexity, etc.

STAGE 4 TESTING

User testing is the priority stage to define whether the app managed to rich its perspectives and whether it gets user satisfaction. In this stage, the users will be testing the design, interface, color schemes, layout, etc. The user feedback is essential to make on-time changes and eliminate extra costs on updates after the development. 

STAGE 5 FINAL DESIGN

It is the point when the client has finalized the app UX and UI design, all the components are approved, and the team may proceed with app development and deployment. At this stage, it is possible to estimate app design costs because all the components are already discussed and approved.

So, let’s get back to the question of the day, “How much does it cost to design an app?”. 

The five stages of comprehensive work require hours of research, analysis, and dedication. To lay a solid foundation the research may take up to 60 hours (depending on the complexity of the task).

Prototyping: 70+ hours of mobile app development.

Testing: up to 100 hours.

Final design: at least 100 hours, up to 500 hours (depending on the project).

WHAT FACTORS INFLUENCE THE PRICE OF THE APP DESIGN?

Calculation of the mobile app design cost is a complicated process because each of the components requires hours of work. Besides the complex stages of app design development, there are a number of factors that influence app design costs.

  • Apo Design Cost by Number of Platforms

The success of the app depends not only on its solid design and functionality but the availability on different platforms. The more users the app will gain on platforms, the more the venue will be. So yes, it is a smart decision to get an app for Android and iOS. Each of the platforms requires its stages of app design and development with unique UX and UI. Therefore, app design costs greatly depend on the number of platforms.

As for the design development and app development process, the iOS platform seems easier to develop because there are limited types of devices, therefore, limited screen layout. Here the UX/UI design team is following App Store instructions. 

Compared to devices running on the iOS platform, the Android platform has a vast number of devices. Building a solid UX/UI design that will run smoothly on any Android version and Android device is about costs. The best way to reduce costs is to stick to the latest OS version and newest devices. 

The types of app design that affect the price

Native Mobile app Design

The term refers to the platform-specific design components and guidelines to be followed. The two most common platforms, iOS, and Android have a unique set of precedence over the screens’ layout. Native design’s interface is built to be smoothly aligned and integrated as part of the operating system.

Native mobile app design guidelines dictate the placement of each element, which means app design should be built strictly following the guideless. This type of mobile design has its advantages and disadvantages and influences the overall app design costs. 

Pros:

  • Familiar. The elements are already familiar to the user
  • Time-saving. The design may be built on a ready-made template.
  • Cost-effective. By cutting the time of design development, it is possible to reduce app design costs.
  • Easy to implement. The elements of the design are pre-fixed, and there is no room for learning and experimentation.

Cons:

  • Less visual appeal. Due to pre-set elements, it is hard to play with branding and make app design unique and outstanding. 
  • Limited features. For native app design, developers have a limited feature set supported by the platform, like buttons, screens, and scrollers. The designer can play only with the UI kit.

Custom Mobile App Design 

A custom UI design supposes an app designing from scratch. This type of app design gives more space to create a unique and completely different design. It is best in terms of branded apps and setting trends in mobile app development. The custom UI design development takes more time therefore, it takes more resources, and the price for such app design will be much higher. Whether the expenses are justified or not depends on the business strategy.

Pros:

  • Unique design. The app design will have custom elements, still not neglecting the core principles of designing.
  • Brand identity performance. App design may best represent the organization’s core principles.

Cons:

  • Time-consuming. It takes twice as much time to design a custom UI from scratch.
  • Extra costs on app design. With this approach, the app design cost will be dramatically different.
  • Inconsistency with operating system elements. Often Custom UI design may require redesigning some system elements like keyboards to make them look more harmonious with the app.
  • Talent search. Custom UI requires the search for professionals with specific designing skills.
  • App Design Cost by Country 

In other words, average app design costs vary between about $4000 to $20 000 and more. Aside from the complexity of the app, the final app design cost is estimated by the number of hours spent on creating the design. The more complex the app is, the more time it will take and the higher the final price will be. The value of the hourly rate varies not only by the expertise of the development team but also by country. 

  • United States and Canada – $50 – $150/hour.
  • Australia – $50 – $150/hour.
  • UK & Western Europe  – $50 – $100/hour.
  • Ukraine & Eastern Europe – $25 – $50/hour.
  • India – $20 – $49/hour.
  • Vietnam  – $10 – $25/hour.

Check out another article from our blog covering the detailed overview on

How to Create a Messaging Application from Scratch
How much does it cost to design a mobile app in 2021?

Low cost doesn’t mean low quality, and at the same time, high price doesn’t necessarily deliver high quality. The biggest problem is to find a golden price-quality ratio that meets your budget. The best thing is to explore the market to find a reliable development team for good value.

App Design Cost Calculator

How much does it cost to design a mobile app in 2021?

How can you choose the right company?

  • Define the goals, expectations, and deadlines of the project.
  • Shortlist potential development companies or specialists by experience and location.
  • Evaluate the candidates’ background by expertise and client reviews. 

 

  • The app design cost of hiring a designer

Besides the hourly rate ranging from country to country, the hourly rates may differ from the type of the company.

In-house company 

Pros:

  • More dedicated
  • Have long term-commitment
  • Culture fit
  • Familiar with the product
  • Security control
  • Face-to-face communication

Cons:

  • Limited talent pool
  • Costly
  • Time-consuming

Freelancer

Pros:

  • The cheapest option
  • Large talent pool
  • Flexible
  • Available beyond office hours

Cons: 

  • Shared with other clients
  • Frequent delays
  • Slow response time
  • Limited expertise

Outsourcing App Development company

Pros: 

  • High-quality resources
  • Flexibility
  • Scalability
  • Reduced costs
  • No office distractions
  • Range of services
  • Experience with many projects
  • Up-to-date skills and tools
  • Responsibility

Cons: 

  • Logistical challenges
  • More expensive than freelancers

 

WANT TO KNOW HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO DESIGN AN APP?

Get in touch with our team for a free consultation and mobile application estimation.

  • App design cost by project complexity

Another factor that influences the app design cost is the app complexity. In truth, this factor is the core element defining the app cost. The more complex the app is the more processes and number of hours of design development it involves. So, according to these criteria, mobile apps fall into three categories.

Simple app Medium app Complex app
100-160 hours 320-640 hours 1000+ hours

One platform

Native design

Standard UI components

Multi-platform

Several user roles

Complex interactions

Highly customizable

Multi-platform

Several user roles

Complex interactions

Custom animation

HOW TO OPTIMIZE THE MOBILE APP DESIGN COST

Finally, taking into account all the tech components and factors influencing the final app cost, it is possible to work on optimizing app design costs. 

  1. Plan the budget, business strategy, and the problems that the future app is going to solve.
  2. Hiring specialists of the app development team with expertise and medium hourly rate. The research of the talent pool will help to find a professional team that meets your initial budget.
  3. Focusing on MVP concept. Starting with the basic functions that bring value and then extending the project to MLP is the way to optimize the costs and filter out extra components.

CONCLUSION

Quality mobile app design plays a crucial role in the very first stages of developing an app and overall product success. Investing in extensive research of the market and competitors, analysis of the latest trends will build a solid foundation for designing a good product. In this step of designing an app the most burning issue is the cost to design an app.

The article with a detailed overview of the factors defining app design costs is aimed to help you understand how the final price is compiled. Wrapping up the whole information let’s point out the main factors influencing app design costs.

  • Number of platforms
  • Types of app designs
  • Hourly rate by country
  • Project complexity

Interested in the costs of app design and development? Get in touch with our team.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many hours does it take to design an app?

The number of hours for app designing mostly depends on the app complexity. 

Simple app – 100-160 hours

Medium app 320-640 hours

Complex app 1000+ hours

Let’s not forget that the app design process starts with extensive research and market analysis that may take up to 60 hours.

Is it easy to design an app?

Mobile application is the best means for business development, customer engagement, and retention. Starting with a successful mobile app that will gain active users, get more traffic and revenue is not an easy job. It will be wise to entrust a professional team of developers and designers to build our app. 

What does the designers' work cost?

The value of the hourly rate varies by country. 

United States and Canada – average hourly rate – $50 – $150

Australia – average hourly rate – $50 – $150

UK & Western Europe – average hourly rate –  $50 – $100

Ukraine & Eastern Europe – average hourly rate –  $25 – $50

India – average hourly rate –  $20 – $49

Vietnam  – average hourly rate –  $10 – $25

What is the cost to design a mobile app?

App design cost calculation is based on the formula hourly rate х number of hours spent = app design price.

What is the process of designing an app?

Mobile app designing is a complicated process divided into several stages

Stage # 1 Research and Preparation

Stage # Wireframing

Stage # Prototyping

Stage # Testing

Stage # Final Design

How Much does Mobile App UI Design Cost?

The cost of app UI design depends on the specifics and components. Depending on whether you choose a Native mobile app design or a Custom UI design, the final app design cost will change.

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