How Much Does It Cost To Design An App?

Moses Kim
Moses Kim
May 3, 2017 · 7 min read
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Mobile is the future. And the present. Any doubts? Remember the last time you left home and forgot your phone? I can’t really and if I would catch myself without my phone on me, I’d be terrified. Not enough? Such thing as portable phone power banks exploded on the market, making sure your phone never dies. Some say this has to do with a narcissistic addiction to social media and staying in tune with all the stuff going on around but does it?

Mobile App Design Cost

Today mobile apps start your car engine, sync with your watch, provide you with music(like your friends used to before), watch your diet, control your account and manage your expenses, take care of your commuting, and are just the extension of your eyes, ears, hands and what have you. It feels like there an app for everything. And whenever you come up with an app idea, whoops… it’s already been done.

It wasn’t always like this though. Ten years ago, mobile app development was a Wild West and nobody knew what the heck they were doing back then. Mostly there were apps designed by programmers in a purely functional manner. But that had to change. The market is sensitive to new stuff especially coming from the Silicon Valley oven. So aesthetics came into play with designers turning their gaze on mobile application design.

So years into mobile app design industry, billions of apps, and millions of dollars made, how much does app design cost now? Is it as expensive as it used to be just a couple years ago, or is the competition watering the market and bringing the price down?

What is App Design Price Composed Of?

In one of our previous articles, we wrote about the app making process in general terms and the idea behind it. But now, let’s see what app design price is composed of.

Footwork. This is information research. Studying the market, target users, and key people behind the project. At this stage, we study the industry, research competition, and look for our strong sides to build upon. App design has to be unique and intuitive, be interesting, yet stay in the loop of the people’s focus.

Our experience in performance reviews allows us to find what’s special about your project, define strengths, and leverage them, not just copy the short-term success of the competition.

  • Time: 40 hours.

Wireframing/Prototyping. With project statement in place, these are the first visual deliverables of different detalization. UX design implications, usability testing, UI formation, and validation.

Our UX design is formed through multiple iterations and usability testing repetitions. Creating prototypes is crucial for your app budget, as it’s much easier to implement changes to design within minutes than spend days or weeks on debugging the code. This, however, is not purely designer’s job. Prototyping involves people from different teams as building user experience requires diversity.

  • Time: 100 hours.

End Design Product. This is the final version of product design, polished look, and feel, ready to be sliced and handed off to developers.

Our app design goes in conjunction with the brand identity or becomes the testing ground for the new approach whenever the company is looking for a change. The overall design cost is a combined entity of a bunch of small fractions which often times can’t be broken down into atomic parts. Logo design cost is included into the design of an app, as we pursue consistant and custom feel of the entire project.

  • Time: 300+ hours

App Cost Efficiency

The complexity of an app’s infrastructure affects the design cost in the first place. The more menus, pages, graphics, and architectural patterns — the more expensive the app becomes, however, with the use of UI kits and style consistency, complex app becomes very cost efficient.

Attributes affecting the app cost:

  • Cross-platform implementation. There are two major mobile platforms — the gigantic Android and the iconic iOS. But what about the rest? If you want a full-on coverage and outreach, you have to take care of those as well. This requires peculiar application design patterns, as Windows Mobile is way different from an iOS app.

All of these attributes are important in their own way and combined, they contribute to the application success and brand credibility. Embed those into your app cost calculations early on and you’ll get a flexible, efficient and complete application design.

App Design Costs Geographically

In the early 2000s when first proprietary applications for rudimentary mobile platforms like Palm OS (now Garnet OS) and RIM Blackberry OS started to appear, design was a luxurious add-on to the functionality.

Application development was concentrated mainly in the US, so the rates for first app designers were American, that however, had to change soon.

How Much Do App Designers Make?

Today the UI designer hourly rates vary in different parts of the world. And it’s clear that some places provide the cheapest design possible, but that rock bottom of price also means rock bottom in quality. So how much do good app designers make? It depends on the cost of app design itself and here is a map to illustrate it:

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The complexity of costs is defined by the smallest fractions of design work, like icon design price, buttons style, fonts used and so on. As for the prestige, design quality, specialists’ notoriety, and process refinement, this are the additional app cost boosters.

The more companies represent good design, the higher the level of competition, and thus the prices. A compromise here would be in finding out which Eastern Europe and Russian companies are on top in their region and see what they are capable of. One of the fair and reputable sources is and they’ve been providing rankings based on customer feedback. Shakuro just featured in the top 3 of web and mobile developers in Russia which makes it one of the best in the region overall.

How To Count Your App Cost?

Let’s start with app scope. If your application is meant to be a faster and more of a snug way to reach your business service, this is a presence app. In terms of design, it has to be appealing and capable of being a habitual use.

If you are dealing with a standalone app that might have the potential to become your main business servicer delivery media, this is a serious investment and it has to be designed responsibly.

And the pinnacle of an app design would be a huge service with multithreading abilities, big data handling policy, legally set, and of viral properties. These are the main price-affecting aspects to start your calculations with.

App Cost Range

  • Simple App. Will cost around $6 000 and might take about 100 hours to design. The app we build included paperwork digitization capabilities and usage of the camera to quickly scan a document and apply multiple functions to it.

All the costs are approximate, as there are no two identical projects and with every app being unique, the costs may vary as well.

Location still plays the biggest part in the price-building scheme. This is an easily available information, so it gives you a leverage when distributing the budget. Things get a little more complicated in terms of quality, as the most expensive does not necessarily mean the best. Trust your eyes and your fingers in that. Try out different apps from designers all over the world and you will have your own rankings.

All the above concerns app design, but it can’t be organically separated from development. If you take design seriously, trust in the professionals’ vision, you will take yourself to another level in brand recognition and customer loyalty.

We’ll be covering the cost of an app development in one of our coming posts, so stay tuned!

Shakuro Writes

Behind every word, pixel, and line of code, there are…

Moses Kim

Written by

Moses Kim

UX writer and researcher at Shakuro. Former tech writer at Edifecs & freelance translator. #bjj #ps4

Shakuro Writes

Behind every word, pixel, and line of code, there are people. This is for people.

Moses Kim

Written by

Moses Kim

UX writer and researcher at Shakuro. Former tech writer at Edifecs & freelance translator. #bjj #ps4

Shakuro Writes

Behind every word, pixel, and line of code, there are people. This is for people.

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