How Much Does it Cost to Design an App: Influencing Factors & Services
Have you ever wondered what makes a good mobile or web solution? Technology stack, unique idea, user-friendliness, or great design?
App design, consisting of user experience and user interface, definitely lays a good foundation for further app development process. We assume you are interested in knowing the potential app design cost and what procedures and services set the foundation of this pricing.
Generally, cutting on the cost to design an app does not seem like the right decision, as it creates the basis for the whole digital system.
How much does it cost to design an app properly? If you are asking this same question, by the end of this article you will know the answer. We are going to review the following points:
- the role of app design in your digital business
- the main drivers that impact the cost to design an app
- approximate price of mobile app design for each service
Once you’ve read this article, you will understand the complete process of design creation and the ultimate answer to the question “how much does it cost to design an app?”
Cost to Design an App: Why You Need This Service
According to Statista, a whopping 25% of all mobile apps are used only once and then deleted. Very often, this low level of user retention is dictated by poor app usability. In fact, 70% of online businesses fail due to this factor.
To avoid this sort of situation, it is crucial to address app design very precisely during the initial stages of the software development process.
How much does it cost to make an app, and is app development the same as application design?
This is a common question among business owners who pursue the idea of application development. An understanding of the fact that app design and app development are two distinct services is vital. Let’s clarify them and define the main principles of each.
App development is the final step of application creation and is the technical implementation of the features that need to be added to an application. However, a lot of other processes precede the development stage, one of which is design.
Application design is centered around problem-solving. The main idea behind an app is to solve a pain point that users have. The main mistake that you could make would be to try to copy the solution of a competitor without studying the needs and problems of the target audience. The process of designing a mobile application is complex.
How much does it cost to design an app by yourself? This is another popular question among those who explore the field of app design. While it is possible to do everything by yourself, you need to understand the principles of mobile UX, have profound knowledge of mobile app designing tools, and know how to design an app in general.
Only an experienced UX/UI designer knows all of the ins-and-outs of the app drawing process, design standards, guidelines to follow, and points that make the best app design for a particular niche and product concept.
To sum things up: In order to answer the question “how much does it cost to design an app?,” it is necessary to undergo a specific, well-thought-out project planning process flowing into app design. This is why it is important to turn to real professionals in this field.
Continue reading to find out what factors make up the final app design cost.
Processes & Services Impacting App Design Cost
How much does it cost to design an app? Well, it is impossible to estimate the cost to design an app without knowing all the aspects that constitute this procedure.
The process of designing an app is sophisticated and may include the following services: research, mobile UX - user experience, UI - user interface that refers to the visual part of the design, and branding.
Understanding this procedure will help you get a better idea of how the cost to design an app is calculated and get a distinct answer to the question “how much does it cost to design an app?”
1. Research on App Business & Tech Components
This initial stage helps to create a great app design for a future solution. A lot of time is usually dedicated to research that touches on the target audience, competition, and the main market trends. Without thorough research and an understanding of each aspect, it is difficult to know how to design mobile apps that will be popular and user-friendly.
During this stage, called Discovery, the app designer and business analyst investigate a particular niche in the market, which allows them to look at the app idea from different angles. Understanding the market situation helps to determine the main strong and weak points of competing applications and how these challenges can be mitigated in the future design application process.
Then, by analyzing the latest mobile app interface design trends, they can choose the best practices to help them move forward with the decision-making process of how to design an application.
It is essential to define an app monetization strategy. How do free apps make money? The business analyst can answer these and more questions.
After the research has been conducted, the team then prepares a project mind map and product backlog with detailed functionality on hand. All of these materials will be used further in designing a mobile application.
The costs involved during this initial app discovery stage range, per project, due to:
- app complexity
- hours required to collect and analyze business requirements
- planning compliance with technical implementation
- number of features to think over
- number of platforms covered
- hours spent on team meetings with business analyst, software architect, and UX/UI designer
Continue reading to find the answer to the question “how much does it cost to design an app,” derived from two core services for designing an app - user experience (UX) and user interface (UI).
2. User Experience Design
Prototyping or mobile UX design is one of the key services in the process of app design creation. Depending on the project’s complexity, this may include an initial system sketch or the creation of UX wireframes directly. This influences the total prototype cost estimation.
Let’s check more details regarding what can be involved in designing the user experience within an app.
If the project is really complex, includes lots of features, and has difficult navigation, it is possible to start with a sketching sub-stage. Then, the overall concept of an app is presented in a free format – which can either be done by hand or by using mobile app design tools like Figma, Sketch, Balsamiq, UXPin, etc. Mostly, sketches are created to showcase only the main and most complicated app mechanisms.
At MLSDev, a business analyst and a UX/UI designer are responsible for sketches. They create these along with optional business analysis services referring to market and competition research. So, when you are asking a company “how much does it cost to design an app?,” you need to remember that this service is also included in the overall graphic design costs.
The average time it takes to make sketches is around 16-24 hours.
- UX Wireframes
Unlike sketches, UX wireframes are created only with the help of dedicated mobile app design tools. During this stage, designers lay out the structure of a future application with a focus on its usability and flow.
The main task of the UX wireframes is to get the visual concept of an application that serves as a general understanding of the product and all the mechanics. UX is the skeleton of an application and a stepping stone toward the final mobile app interface.
When asking “how much does it cost to design an app,?” it is important to remember that this stage contributes considerably to the final price.
The average time to create mobile UX Wireframes varies between 1-2 hours for each unique app screen design and 20-30 minutes for each subordinate screen.
Worth mentioning: The approaches and practices involved in app designing do not stand still and are directed to improve and speed up design-dedicated processes. These days, design tools like Figma allow for the transformation of product sketches into wireframes that directly correspond to the UX design standards. This helps to speed up the time necessary to design app UX and logically decrease the cost to design an app.
- UX Wireframes with Native UI Elements
Figma, along with other advanced designing tools, can help to apply a more detailed design structure, add specific fonts, buttons and control styles, and other native UI components even during the UX design stage.
For some projects, this design can correspond to the basic app interface and be used for small projects to validate the idea, MVPs, or first product version within the fully-fledged system. An efficient approach like this in designing a product may reduce the total app design cost substantially.
Note: App design is created for each operating system (iOS, Android) separately, as it should align with specific platform guidelines like Human Interface Guidelines, Android Design Guidelines. As well, when answering the question “how much does it cost to design an app” for both operating systems, one should note that it typically requires half the time to design an app for a second platform.
By applying this more advanced approach, on average, it takes 1.5-2.5 hours to create a single app screen and 30-40 minutes for each subordinate screen.
However, in some instances, designers cannot take ready-to-use UI components. Instead, they need to create them from scratch; for example, specific graphs, diagrams, icons, etc.
Here, we move towards the design stage wherein the user interface is created. In the long run, it takes more time and ends up being more expensive. This is why, when calculating the cost to design an app, it is better to take this into consideration.
3. Visual Design
Visual design is all about communication with users and is one of the best ways to convey the idea behind a product and solve problems by means of visual solutions. UI mockups are created based on UX wireframes and embody the stylized design of an app so that it stands out amongst other apps and creates a unique app design.
UI design services refer to branding, color schemes, interior layers, and the overall appearance of an application. Designers also address the issue of displaying different types of content, which requires a great deal of creativity and experience.
Before creating the whole UI, designers can create a couple of UI mockups to demonstrate different approaches to style, use of different elements, forms, shades, color schemes, and so on.
How much does it cost to design an app from the user interface point of view?
Here is the breakdown of the cost to design an app:
- Mood board creation – 6-8 hours
- UI mockup sample creation – 16-20 hours for 2-3 style options shown on 1-2 core app screens
- Final UI mockup creation – 1-2 hours per a unique screen with simple app design and 16-20 hours for a single unique screen with a more sophisticated design
A lot of factors can greatly influence the final UI app design cost, including the style chosen, general complexity, custom icon creation. In fact, the creation of a custom icon can take up to 4 hours if we consider some abstract notions that should be conveyed with the help of visual means. This is why it is very difficult to answer “how much does it cost to design an app?” without knowing all the requirements.
Want to know the cost and timeline to design your application?
Reach out to our team and we will estimate the budget necessary to design your custom and unique app.
Branding is another essential stage of mobile app interface design as it includes the creation of logos, fonts, and brand illustrations. Branding starts with mood board creation and then moves to logo design.
Logo creation is a complex process that consists of three steps:
1. Initial research and idea development
Designers create mood boards, research the latest trends in a niche and on the market in general, and draw sketches by hand. Some types of logos, like those without custom fonts, do not require hand-drawn sketches.
2. Sample creation
After the stage of initial research and font selection, designers start creating samples. Usually, at least 10 logo samples are created with different approaches to style, visualization, and general presentation of an idea. The logo should be unique and align with the overall mood of an application.
3. Logo finalization
This is the stage when designers present possible logos to the client, discuss the ideas behind each of them, and decide on the final version of a logo. Along with the client, designers finalize the logo creation; they can combine a few samples into a single logo, change colors or elements, or even come up with a new idea for the logo.
When our clients ask “how much does it cost to design an app,” the cost of logo creation is included as a separate service. The average cost for logo design depends directly on the average time needed for said design.
- Initial research and idea development – 8-16 hours (depending on the chosen style and complexity)
- Samples creation – 16-24 hours
- Logo finalization (depending on the number of changes that need to be made and their complexity)
Often, a brand book is also created to showcase the use of the logo in different scenes. This brand book serves to illustrate the recommended backgrounds for logo placement, inversions, horizontal and vertical options, recommended resolutions, etc.
These materials can be used during the promotion of a new app via the media to build brand recognition and consistency of its representation.
The creation of a brand book usually takes anywhere from 8-10 hours, which also influences the final mobile app design cost.
5. Illustrations and Animations
Illustrations, usually created with Adobe Illustrator CC, help to communicate the idea of a mobile app feature or general app concept. Illustrations can be of different styles, but should always align with the overall design concept of an application. The time needed to create one illustration differs depending on complexity, style notion, feature to be covered, etc. Illustrations that depict humans and unique characters take the most time to create.
Very often, illustrations are created for the app onboarding process and consist of at least three unique images. The average time to create them is between 16 and 32 hours.
If you ask “how much does it cost to design an app?,” do not expect these expenses to be included. They are provided as an additional estimation and can significantly increase the final cost to design an app.
Animations are even more difficult to design than illustrations. These dynamic images or objects are usually created in Adobe After Effects. In the sphere of application design, two types of animations are distinguished.
- Custom transitions represent unique ways to depict screen refresh, animated placeholders, transitions from one screen to another, status animation, animated buttons, etc. Custom transitions help to design an app with a truly unique style and design.
- Illustrated animations do not require additional explanations. These moving pictures are usually used for onboarding, tutorial, welcome screens, etc.
How much does it cost to design an app with unique illustrations and animations?
We need to mention that these processes are quite time-consuming. The creation of a single illustrated animation can take up to an entire week. However, developers can use videos and GIFs that have already been created to implement the animation.
As for custom transitions, the situation is quite the opposite. Designers spend less time on these tasks. The task falls onto developers to come up with the best ways to implement custom transitions.
As you can see, the answer to the question “how much does it cost to design an app? varies from application to application and depends on many factors. The style you choose, the complexity of the overall design, and the need for animations and illustrations all contribute to the final app design cost.
How Much Does it Cost to Design an App: Influencing Factors
As we have already mentioned, the calculation of app design cost is a complex process. Here we are going to look at the main factors which influence the final cost to design an app.
- Number of platforms
Do you need to design an app solely for a single operating system – iOS or Android? Or do you need to design an app for both? If you decide the latter, this will double the app design cost as designers need to spend more time on the task. Usually, companies start designing iOS apps and then adapt the design for Android. However, different companies approach the process in different ways.
The cost of mobile app design services may vary greatly based on the country to which you decide to outsource mobile app design. Below you can see a map with the main geographic areas that provide services dedicated to design.
While some regions may seem more attractive due to lower rates, it might be a better idea to look for the best quality-to-price ratio. This is why you need to ask how much it costs to design an app in a particular country rather than in general.
Just like how the mobile app development cost breakdown depends on the complexity of the solution that needs to be developed, the need for customization also determines how much the app design will cost.
You can decide on basic and laconic app design with standard buttons, calls to action, images, and elements that comply with the style guides for a specific platform. The basic design is recommended in the first app version to minimize the cost to design an app.
The time needed to create a basic app design is approximately 1.5-2.5 hours for each unique screen, and 30-40 minutes for each subordinate one.
Custom app design cost is higher, as designers need to add customization to the basic design. The average time required for the creation of each interface sample may vary from 16 to 29 hours. As well, after the design style approval, it will require 2-3 hours to create a unique screen.
Mixed app design cost may be a little lower due to the need to customize only one or two elements of basic application design. All these elements are estimated additionally and impact the total cost to design an app.
To summarize, look at the table below that represents the information regarding basic, custom, and mixed app design cost. These figures will help you get a better idea of the design process and finally answer the question “how much does it cost to design an app?”
|Activity||Notes||Hours||Cost ($40/hour) *|
|Sketches||- created in a free format
- can equate to the low-fidelity UX wireframes
- teamwork of business analyst, software architect, and designer
|~16 - 24+||~$650 - $1,000+|
|Basic app design||- uses basic design practices
- also called high-fidelity UX wireframes
|~40 - 60+||~$1,600 - $2,400+|
|Custom app design||- 2-3 design samples are made
- includes custom design elements
- also called UI mockups
|~60 - 80+||~$2,400 - $3,200+|
|Illustrations||- 3 images||~16 - 32+||~$650 - $1,280+|
|Branding||- logo creation||~24 - 40+||~$1,000 - $1,600+|
|Team meetings (during Discovery stage)||- business requirement collection
- compliance with future technical implementation
|~15 - 20+|
|Periodic reviews by another designer||~4 - 6+||~$160 - $240+|
- Cost is calculated based on the average design service rate of $40 per hour in Eastern Europe (Ukraine)
How much does it cost to design an app without knowing the average UX/UI designer hourly rate? This is why you should ask another question - “how much do app designers make?”
Again, the app design cost depends on many factors and one of them is the region where you decide to outsource design tasks. The average cost for the services of graphic designers in Eastern Europe is around $30-$40 an hour.
If you decide to develop an application with a simple design, the app design cost will start at $5,000 for one platform. The inclusion of some animations, illustrations, or custom design elements will increase the cost to design an app.
Check the table below to get an understanding of how much it costs to design an app based on the different levels of complexity and number of platforms.
|Basic app design (1 platform)||App design of a larger complexity (1-2 platforms)||Complex app design (2 platforms)|
|App design cost (hourly rate - $40)||$5,000+||$15,000+||$25,000+|
How Much Does it Cost to Design an App: Bottom Line
After you have gotten an answer to the question “how much does it cost to design an app?,” you may be wondering whether or not to invest in application design. Investing in UX can save up to 50% of wasted development time and decrease the chances that your application will not resonate with target users.
At the same time, you can optimize the cost to design an app by utilizing the following tips:
- Plan your project well (do not overlook the Discovery stage)
- Hire a professional software design and development vendor
- Be heavily involved in the design process
The app design cost may vary greatly depending on multiple factors. So, when designing an app, pay close attention to cost-forming factors such as the complexity of UX and UI, branding elements, and the number of platforms.
As well, by making a list of all requirements and choosing features that you would like to see in your app, you will be able to comprise an approximate app design cost and budget needed for implementation.
Want to create an astonishing app design?
Reach out to our team and we will help you design your app in accordance with the set guidelines and best practices. Great usability and an appealing look are guaranteed.