How Much Does It Cost To Design An App

October 23, 2017

Mobile apps have made doing business much easier. Yet, you cannot directly attribute the success of any business to the mere existence of an app. It is also important how that app is designed, that is the user experience and user interface, as well as whether they carry over the company’s brand to mobile well. 

In other words, if you want to have a thriving online business where mobile plays a key part, you must first make sure your app has a fitting design that works for your customers. The more visually appealing and user-friendly it is, the greater the chances of attracting more loyal customers.

Solid app design needs solid investment. This article will guide you through the factors that will determine the cost of your app, and help you understand what exactly you will be paying for and how much. 

Let’s start.

Factors Determining The Overall App Design Cost 

A quick app design cost search can reveal big numbers. However, you should not forget that design is the foundation of any product, not just mobile applications. Therefore, if you want users to love your app and continuously return to it, that numbers should not be all that surprising. 

Before moving on to finalizing your budget for app design, you must first understand how the entire process works. This will not only help you in calculating an approximate cost for app design of your application, but also give you an idea of how your money would be put to use. 

Let’s quickly go through stages of mobile application design.

1. Conducting Market Research

Market Research For The Overall App Design Cost

Designing an application is not only about creativity. When you are launching an app, you naturally aim to acquire many users, gain popularity in the target market quickly, and make your business profitable both in the short and long term.

To achieve this goal, you need to carry out comprehensive market research. Pinpointing the fitting target market, rival brands and products, and design features offered by other apps in the target market are just some of the many things you must know prior to designing your app. Here, you will already need a professional designer on your team: if researchers and the designer work separately, you will spend more time on this stage and risk the consistency of the design. 

It generally takes around 20-40 hours of work to conduct a comprehensive research and come up with first actionable ideas. Feel free to extend that time frame to allow for more thinking space. 

At the end of this stage, you will also learn an approximate app design cost for your planned venture.

2. Designing UX – Wireframing  

When it comes to designing mobile applications, you cannot just rely on creativity and technical resources. You should also make your app a user-friendly, it is a topmost priority. An application that loads quickly, is easy to navigate, has all the options easily accessible, and is eye-pleasing is what users want. Besides, your app will gain more attention if it succeeds in giving a personalized experience to each user.

In short, you need to focus on creating a compelling UX design.

Designing UX (User Experience) – Wireframing For App Design Cost

Designing a good UX does not mean coming up with out-of-this-world features. For example, minimalistic design is often the best way to go. Remember, UX is all about user experience, literally. So, the ultimate goal is building an app that will appeal to your users. That is where the skills of a designer come into play.

Based on the product’s nature, the features you want in your app, and the rival applications, it generally takes from around twenty to two hundred hours to create a winning UX design. The more effort your designer puts into working on the UX, the greater the app design cost.

3. Working On The UI – Prototyping

After UX design, the next step is designing a user interface, or UI, for your application. This phase includes adding stylistic elements to wireframes and app sketches to create a prototype of the app. You can then collaborate with your designer on any further changes to design to make the app user-friendly. 

Working On The UI – Prototyping For App Design Cost

The prototype of your app will give you a pretty good idea about the look and feel of your application. Any changes to the prototype can also influence the cost to design app as planned.

Designers usually need about eight hours to deliver a prototype, including app sketches and wireframes.

At this stage, the designer checks how the features work in the app, and whether or not the app design can meet user expectations.

4. Creating The Final Visual Design

After finalizing the prototype, you can now confidently proceed to creating the final visual design. This stage is where a designer deploys all of their creativity to come up with a visually appealing mobile application for users.

From color schemes to icons, logos, and images, every detail is added to the app on this stage. Then, the overall design is analyzed to see if all screens and sections work well together and deliver the right message to the application’s end-user. This phase involves the use of the research done earlier to make the app more user-friendly and more attractive than those of rival companies.

This stage may take up eighty to two hundred hours, depending on the complexity of the app design. In turn, it impacts the final cost to design an app.

5. App Maintenance

After the launch of the app, begins a seemingly never-ending phase of maintenance. At times, you need to make changes to the application design based on customer feedback or to surpass competing applications. This will have a notable impact on your planned app design budget.

Features Increasing The Overall App Design Price 

The common process of designing mobile applications remains almost the same for all apps. However, the more input an app requires from designers, the higher the cost for design. 

Additional features such as illustrations and animations usually add to the app design cost.

  • Illustrations: These are rich visual presentations that reflect your company’s brand and the app functionality. Based on the nature of the illustration you want (flat or 3D), a designer may require up to 32 hours to create it. Illustrations depicting human characters are more complex and need more time to complete, adding more to the designing price.
  • Animations: Designing dynamic objects or images (such as GIFs) also requires more time and resources. While you can make your app more appealing by adding custom transitions and illustrated animations, be ready to add to your app cost as well. 

How Much Does App Design Cost In General?

Apart from feature design, the price of creating an application also depends on the overall app complexity. Factors like additional visuals and support for multiple operating systems make the designing process more complex, thereby increasing its cost. That is why one cannot generalize a certain price for app design. 

How Much Does App Design Cost In General

Nonetheless, considering the price range for designing an application of a certain complexity level, you can estimate your own mobile app design cost. For better understanding, we can sort mobile applications into three different complexity categories. 

1. Simple Apps

Simple mobile applications are those that require minimum efforts, at least, from a designer’s point of view. Such apps have a modest design, fewer animations, and are usually developed for one platform only. 

For instance, SurfClub is a simple yet interactive application for users. The app specifically aims at the surfers, features a simple design, and supports iOS only.

The design of simple applications like SurfClub usually takes up around hundred hours, and the mobile app design cost usually starts at $5000.

2.  Medium-level Complexity Applications

This type of apps requires more effort from designers owing to the number of features they usually offer. Those involving illustrations, animations, and multiple features require designing numerous screens. Such apps may take up around two hundred to two hundred and fifty hours to design and may cost you roughly $10,000 on average.

Status, an iOS-based social networking app, is a nice example of a medium-level complexity application.

3. Complex Apps 

While most mobile applications usually fall under simple or medium-level complexity categories, there are also many complex applications out there. Such apps offer a wide variety of different features, may include custom illustrations and animations, and are usually designed for more than one platform. 

The tablet app for train staff of railway operator Eurostar is an example. The staff has many useful features on their hands, including reservation management, streamlined reporting, and staff chat, as well as a notification system that allows them to quickly respond to emergencies, and even book taxis for customers. The app also allows the company’s managers to track and gather data to create comprehensive end-of-journey reports. Importantly, the solution allows managers to easily track and gather the data required to generate end-of-journey reports.

 

The app design cost for complex apps may start at $20,000 go up to 250,000 and sometimes even reach bigger numbers.

Mobile Games

Complex Apps Design Cost

Mobile gaming applications are never simple, as even the very basic game apps involve animations and require a lot of work.

Therefore, depending on the complexity, designing game applications will at least cost you around $15,000 or more and involves at least 300 hours of work.  

Cost Of Designing An App Based On Choice Of Platform

The rates for designing apps also vary for different platforms. Based on the guidelines for app design for Android or iOS, the market competition in that ecosystem and numerous other factors, a designer may have to work differently. Therefore, your app design cost also depends on the platform you choose. 

Cost Of Designing An App Based On Choice Of Platform

UI Design For An iOS App

Designing an iOS app is not all too difficult when it comes to the look and feel of the app, as all iOS apps tend to follow a standardized pattern. However, the critical thing with such apps is to take care of the App Store guidelines. Even slight negligence can lead to rejection of your app.

That is why iOS app design is usually expensive, with starting prices ranging between $500 and $10,000. Given, the price for your iOS app may go further up — it all depends on your requirements.

UI Design For an Android App 

Designing Android apps is a far more complex process compared to app design for iOS. Hence, there exist significant variations in the cost to design an app for Android.

This is partly attributed to its high fragmentation. Different smartphone makers operate their devices on different versions of the OS with corresponding third-party elements. Moreover, devices running Android OS also vary greatly in what their hardware is capable of. Therefore, designing an app to make it compatible with such a huge number of varying devices requires a lot of input from designers. 

However, if you merely focus on the latest Android devices with minimal app requirements, you can reduce the overall design cost by up to 10-15%.

Variations In Cost To Design An App By Country

In general, designers from developing countries tend to charge less as compared to the ones in developed economies. Still, the tech expertise of the first may exceed that of the latter often. Here we list the average app design cost based on the designers’ location. 

  • USA: $50-250 per hour
  • UK: $65 to $130 per hour
  • Australia – $50-$150 per hour
  • Western Europe: $40 and $60 per hour
  • Eastern Europe – $25 – $45 per hour
  • India, Pakistan, Bangladesh – $10-$20 per hour

Tips To Reduce The Average Cost Of App Design 

  • Prepare a comprehensive plan for your mobile application design. List all the features and functionality you want to see in your app.
  • Conduct thorough market research and decide on your app’s features accordingly to compete with the existing rival applications.
  • Research about designers and their standard rates worldwide. It will take some time for you to choose a fitting designer that provides best quality work on a smaller budget. 

Summing Up

Application design is the most critical aspect in the creation of an app. No matter how good your services are, if the design of your app fails to attract customers, then get ready to face challenging situations, bad reviews, and an awful ROI. 

However, if you plan thoroughly and invest some amount as the app design cost, no one can stop you from thriving in your market. 

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