How Much Does It Cost to Design an App?

The cost of app design s on what the design process entails. Designing an app involves a broad range of tasks: user research, competitor audits, user experience design, interaction design, web and mobile app interfaces design, graphic design, app icon and logo design, and much more.

We’ve already written about the cost of building an app. Now it’s time to talk about the average cost of app design, or the price of an app’s look and feel. But first, But first, let's figure out what all these aspects of app design are and why they're necessary to create a high-quality app.

What goes into the cost of design services?

Design is about problem-solving. Whether you’re creating a brand-new product or improving an existing app, to design an app is to solve a problem.

Read also: How to Create an App Design That Works

To design a solution that effectively covers the needs of a particular user or solves the challenges of your business, it’s not enough to craft good-looking screens. Creating a working design requires much more: understanding users, their pain points, their goals, and their needs by analyzing your business processes.

At Yalantis, we have a well-established app design process that can be divided into several stages. 

Research

We always start by researching three things: 1) users, 2) common practices for solving your business challenges, and 3) your competitors.  

First, we conduct complex user research to understand your app’s users. Who are they? What goals can they achieve with your app? Are you creating app for regular users or software for your employees? We also dig into your business to analyze how to organize information better and what navigation will help users achieve their goals as quickly and easily as possible. Finally, we analyze the competition to identify how competitors solve common challenges within your industry. What unique and must-have features do their apps have and what user needs do they cover? What holes in the user experience (UX) make users step aside from their user journey? What are design trends that other companies follow?

This information helps us better understand users and create a UX design that will satisfy them and cover your business needs, whether you’re looking for more effective sales, a larger number of active users, faster communication between users, or something else.

With this information, a professional app designer  is ready to create the very first design concepts screens for your app just to get a feel for the project. 

For example, when we came up with a concept for a workout tracking app, we first did some research and identified an opportunity on the market for fitness tracking apps.

We then created a Workout Book concept to share our vision and solve a specific problem for gym-goers. Our concept received lots of positive feedback from the design community. Even today, we continue to receive messages from people asking us to build a similar app for them.

Workout Book by Yalantis

Our design for a workout tracking app isn’t even close to what similar apps offer. It took us quite some time to understand what features of existing workout apps we could improve and to invent some new ideas of our own.

Instead of concentrating on other people’s products, you should think about your own users and the strength of your own product. We study the behaviors, needs, and motivations of your target audience so we can design an app that appeals to them.

  • Estimated time: 20 to 40 hours

  • Deliverables: Use cases, realistic behavioral scenarios, user stories

  • Tools we use: User personas, A/B test results, investigative user studies, interviews

Read also: Product Designer in App Development

UX design

Next, we structure our ideas to craft a delightful user experience. 

To do this, our design specialists create a user flow diagram that displays the complete path a user takes when using a product. In this phase, we map the high-level structure of the app or website.

User flow diagram

Then our designers proceed to wireframing. This stage brings more clarity to everything we already have. A wireframe is a schematic representation of an app that demonstrates how interface elements will exist on pages. 

First, we make basic low-fidelity wireframes that show how elements are placed on the screen. Wireframes allow our UX designers to make sure that navigation within the app flows logically from one step to the next. 

Once you’re delighted with the navigation and screen composition from the low-fidelity wireframes, we proceed to creating high-fidelity wireframes. In doing so, our designers refine the graphics, spacing, and layout from the low-fidelity wireframes to get a more precise vision of the end product. From this stage, our developers can start implementing basic elements of the app.

Wireframes by Yalantis

Creating app wireframes and iterating to create the best user experience can take more time than you might expect. But thorough wireframing actually saves you money. Does this make any sense? In fact, it does.

  • With wireframing, you decrease the probability of exceeding your budget and time constraints. This is because our software engineers can start development without waiting for the final design. If you have a strict release date, the development team can save time by getting started right after you’ve accepted the wireframes, creating basic elements and adding details later. 

  • All software projects have inherent risks. One of the most common sources of risks is changing requirements during the project’s life cycle. With wireframes, we can make changes within minutes. On the other hand, changes to a fully designed screen may take much longer. So by creating wireframes, you save time on changes and hence cut development costs. 

At Yalantis, we work on wireframes collectively. Everybody including business analysts, iOS and Android developers, designers, project managers, and the client works together to develop a wireframe they can all agree on. This helps us to identify and address misunderstandings that might occur during app development.

Before designing the UI, a designer also creates application prototypes. Prototyping breathes life into wireframes. Static high-fidelity wireframes are unable to convey animation. But prototypes with interactions can do it pretty well. A prototype is a live version of the design where you can tap buttons, send forms, open menus, and so on. 

  • Estimated time: 40 to 160 hours

  • Deliverables: Wireframes of app screens, user flow diagrams, interactive prototypes

  • Tools we use: Sketch, InVision, Principle, Overflow

UI design

If UX design development is about problem-solving, visual design, also called UI design, is about communication. UI design tells a story about a product as the user moves from one screen to the next.

A UI specialist designs the look and feel of the product. This entails choosing colors, creating shapes, and designing typographic communication. Finding the right way to display different types of content requires creative thinking. Designers with years of experience can do this well. 

KPMG visual design

A designer deals with both the look of a user interface and the function it performs when a user interacts with it. This means they not only create static assets but also motions and animations.

During the UI design stage, a designer also creates a design system – a collection of reusable components guided by clear standards that can be assembled to build any number of applications.

Design system

It’s important to understand that visual design and branding are interrelated. Visual design is about creating a cohesive product style and encompasses an app’s logo, mobile app icon, and screens.

High quality web or mobile app design illustrates brand identity. So asking How much does an app logo design cost? doesn’t really make sense. A logo is just a small element of the brand – and hence, a small component of the overall design. We include the cost of designing an app logo and icon into the total cost of app design.

  • Estimated time: 80 to 320 hours

  • Deliverables: Final product design including app logo, icons, and screenshots for app stores; a design system

  • Tools we use: Sketch, Photoshop, Illustrator, InVision, Principle, Pixate, After Effects

How much does it cost to design an app?

Now that we’ve finished with our definitions and discussed the stages of app design, it’s time to talk about money. The cost of app design is usually calculated according to the project’s complexity, the designer’s level of expertise, and the number of platforms being designed for. At Yalantis, we create native mobile apps for all iOS and Android mobile devices, watchOS and Android Wear, and also Apple TV and Android TV.

If your iOS or Android app doesn’t require complicated solutions like animations, it will require less time and therefore cost less money. But the main factor that influences the cost of app design is the location of your design team. So how much money does it cost to design an app across the map?

1. App design cost by country

To provide you with the most common hourly rates for design in US dollars, we researched design agencies in five leading outsourcing destinations: the US, the UK, Germany, Ukraine, and India. We analyzed the hourly rates of 100 companies in each country.

To get these numbers, we used Clutch, a reputable source of ratings and reviews of leading IT firms. As of August 2020, statistics wee as follows:

  • United States. 42 percent of US-based design agencies charge $150 to $200 per hour, while 29 percent deliver designs for $100 to $150 per hour. Four of the agencies we analyzed don’t disclose their hourly rates. 

  • United Kingdom. About a third of studios in the UK (31 percent) charge $50 to $100 per hour, while 29 percent charge $100 to $150 per hour.

  • Germany. Hourly rates in Germany vary greatly. 37 percent of design companies charge $50 to $100 per hour, 27 percent charge $25 to $50 per hour, and 23 percent want $100 to $149 per hour. 

  • Ukraine. In most cases, Ukrainian design studios charge from $25 to $50 per hour (61 percent of companies), and nearly a quarter of Ukrainian design studios charge $50 to $99 per hour. 

  • India. Almost 40 percent of Indian design studios we checked charge $25 to $49 per hour, and another 35 percent deliver designs for less than $25 an hour.

Cost by country

Read also: How Much Does Software Development Cost in Europe Compared to the US?

2. Custom design cost by project complexity

To give you a better understanding of costs, we can roughly divide applications into three types: 1) basic, 2) middling complexity, and 3) complex. We’ll calculate the cost of app design based on a $50 per hour rate, since this can be considered as near-average globally. First, however, let’s discuss what indicators can help you define the complexity of your app: 

  • Number of platforms you’re developing it for (web design, android app design, iOS application design, or all of them)

  • Whether it's a minimum viable product (mvp) 

  • Complexity of app functionality (Does it include AR functionality or non-standard functions for a narrow niche?)

  • Needs and specializations of end users (apps for warehouse staff or medical workers need specific and complex functionality, for instance)

  • Level of design customization

  • Number of user roles in the app

1) A simple app will take about 100 to 160 hours to design and will start at $5,000.

The app we designed for KPMG clients is a good example of a simple app. We created a minimalist design and simple navigation to let KPMG clients quickly consult with KPMG professionals. 

The KPMG app

2) Middling complexity apps will take about 320 to 640 hours and start at around $16,000.

An example of a middling complexity app is Brilliant Move, an on-demand delivery app we built for a moving company. We created three products for Brilliant Move: an app for customers, an app for delivery crews, and an admin panel for delivery managers. 

Brilliant Move

3) Complex apps with custom animations can take closer to 1000 hours and cost $50,000 and up.

A delivery and logistics system we developed is an ecosystem of several multi-platform apps that brings large logistics online. Components of this ecosystem include:

  • a web solution for dispatchers 

  • a web support center

  • user apps for the web, iOS, and Android with delivery listings, parcel management, payments, and real-time order tracking

  • a courier app with order management, navigation, and a minimalist design so as not to distract couriers from driving

  • a web admin panel for platform analytics and employee management

This delivery and logistics system was a large project with 30 specialists on the team, so our designers needed to collaborate closely. For this, we adopted a shared library of reusable components. Some of the designers working on the project built new UI and UX components. Once created, these components were put into the shared component library. Then the other designers could use these UI and UX elements for other parts of the platform, implementing a consistent design and saving time for other tasks.

Keep in mind that these design estimates of average global design costs are approximate. The cost of a freelancer or design studio not only depends on the location. Each design studio offers its own mix of quality, approaches, specialists, and processes.

We’ve given you some information about how we design apps at Yalantis and what we charge our clients for. To learn more about our experience, you can check out apps we’ve developed over the past year and check our works on Dribbble and Behance. Let us know if you have any questions about the cost of app design and we’ll be glad to assist you with any question regarding app design cost.

Design cost infographics

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