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The Cost of App Design in 2021 3 The Cost of App Design in 2021
Review: 4 - The Cost of App Design in 2021

“What makes mobile app design expensive?” is a question that often puzzles company owners. It is easy to assume that it does not cost much, especially if you only see the end product. It’s just a bunch of boxes, buttons, and colors, right? No. What you don’t see is the process that occurred in order to make everything functional and appealing.

It takes tremendous effort and time to build a mobile app, especially if it is made from scratch. There are a lot of things to consider, principles to be followed, and ideas to be executed. Just like Rome, it will not take just one day to build everything.

Despite everything, we cannot ignore the fact that the mobile app design cost will be worth every penny. It will help your business grow to heights you never thought was possible. By having a well-designed app under your brand name, you can build a reputation and the trust of potential customers.

Stages of App Designing

First, you will need to understand what makes an app design more expensive than your expectations. Here’s what’s included in the usual price range given by mobile app developers:


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In order to achieve satisfactory results, they must know which strategies they should aim for. Competitor analysis, current trends in the market, and user behavior are usually the main objective of their research.

Analyzing a competitor’s app is a good way for startup businesses to gain insights into strategies already proven to work. This will be accompanied by keeping in touch with the hottest trends that consumers find delightful. To wrap it all up, additional research on user behavior will be done. This is a vital part of the research process since it will confirm whether or not the plan will be effective.


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Once they have successfully determined the path where your app should go, they will start paving the way. In this process, UX design will be the main focus of the designer. Imagine it as the skeleton of the mobile application. It will be the one responsible for holding everything together and making sure everything is in place.

You can expect to see rough sketches and wireframes during this process. It will explain how all elements and interfaces will work together. Usually, functionality testing also happens at this stage. Before they lay any visual designs, they first must know if the sitemap is effective and easy.

To guarantee their usability, interactive prototypes will be released. This way, both the client and the designer can see what works and what doesn’t.

Visual Design

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After setting up a solid skeleton for the whole project, it is time to flesh out everything. It is now time to get the color wheel, designing skills, and creative juices ready and pumping. Important elements, such as color, icons, buttons, animations, and logos will now get their time to shine.

The research part also proves useful in this stage because they need to incorporate trends into the UI design. Also, they can come up with ways on how to stand out from the existing competitions. By utilizing this information, they can come up with an app that is unique to your brand.

How much does it cost to design an app?

There are three major types of complexities when they create a mobile app design: Basic, Moderate, and Complex. Let us take a look at each complexity and how much they usually cost.

Basic complexity

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A simple app usually includes the most basic and standard user interface design. It doesn’t require many features and services, so it only has the basic layout and coding. An example of an app possessing a basic complexity is Uber. It only needs your location and the estimated cost of the service fee. Only basic data entry is needed to be executed, such as log-in details and entering promo codes.

The time dedicated to this kind of project usually ranges from a minimum of 100 to 150 hours. Each hour would cost around $50, which can sum up to $5,000.

Moderate complexity

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If an app features more services and tools, then it can already be considered to be of moderate complexity. It might still feature a standard UI design, but the additional screens and complex actions, and data entry is already considered beyond simple.

An example to keep in mind is a messaging app called Viber. At first glance, it might seem like it has a simplistic design. But what makes it fall under this category is the amount of interaction and data entry that needs to be done. These include voice calls, video calls, messaging, photo sharing, and more.

Also, this messaging app is compatible with different platforms, such as iOS and Android. This means that whatever the design will be for iOS users will not be entirely the same for Android users. These platforms differ in UI and gestures. That is why each platform will need a layout specifically designed for them.

For this complexity, it usually takes designers a minimum of 200 to 250 hours in total. With the usual rate of $50 per hour, you can expect to pay around $10,000 or more.

Complex applications

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A specific type of application to fall into this category is an online shopping app. It highlights a lot of features, graphics, and products that require individual focus. Let’s take a look at a popular shopping app known as eBay. They have thousands of products available, along with the population of their online sellers. Just imagine the number of pages, interactions, and features that are utilized on a daily basis! To support more customers, they’ll also have to be compatible with a lot of platforms available.

For a complex application, it will take developers a minimum of 400 hours or more to finish everything. Considering the usual rate of $50/hr, it can reach a total of $20,000.

Cost of Designing an App in Different Locations

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An app’s complexity is not the only factor to be considered when deciding on the app UI design cost. A designer’s rate can also be a huge deciding factor when it comes to an app’s total price. In this case, we are going to look at the range of a designer’s rate depending on their location, which you can use in the app design cost calculator.

  • India – $10 to 20/hr;
  • South America – $20 to 30/hr;
  • China – $30 to 60/hr;
  • Singapore – $60 to 90/hr;
  • United Kingdom – $60 to 120/hr;
  • Australia – $70 to 100/hr;
  • USA – $50 to 150/hr;
  • Canada – $50 to 150/hr.

Before you get all excited about how low the prices can get in some countries, you still have to be careful. Usually, when you hire someone at a very low rate, it would also mean low quality of work.

Tools Utilized in Designing

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The kinds of tools a developer will use can also affect the cost to design an app. For the different stages of app designing, they will require multiple tools to produce the best results. Some tools can be acquired for free, while most can cost designers a lot. Let’s take a look at some of the tools usually used by designers and developers:

  • Sketch – for wireframing/visual design;
  • InVision – for UI workflow/visual designing;
  • Flinto – for prototyping;
  • Adobe After Effects – for visual design/animation;
  • Affinity – graphics editor.

In addition to the subscription and the license of the software, you also have to consider the rate of the professionals specializing in them. The longer the years of experience, the higher their rate will be. This also means that they can offer more services, flexible performances, and guaranteed app design success.

In-house or Outsource?

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When hiring a designer for your next app designing project, you will have two options: to hire in-house employees or to hire the services of outsourced designers.

Hire an in-house employee if you are looking for the following:

  • Consistent face-to-face interaction with the designer of your choice.
  • Long-term and continuous projects are expected to be finished.
  • You want to ensure confidentiality and protect the company’s intellectual property.
  • Fast solutions to future problems in designing and programming.
  • Make use of the software and equipment you already own.

Hire outsourced designers if you are looking for the following:

  • Working with professionals that are guaranteed experts in the field.
  • Fast recruitment processing. It usually takes less than 48 hours to find the perfect talent for you.
  • You are looking for a short-term commitment.
  • You do not own the appropriate software and equipment to produce outputs.

It will all depend on the needs and capabilities of your business. Evaluate and weigh these factors to decide which option will fit your current situation. You can also look for different tips and feedbacks to see each option’s pros and cons.


To sum it up, here are the factors that affect the total app design costs:

  • The stages followed on how to design a mobile app. This is from planning to releasing the final output to the public.
  • The complexity of the app’s design.
  • Location of your designer.
  • Tools utilized.
  • Let us show you amazing we are in mobile app designing! 

Hopefully, these insights will help you calculate how much does it cost to design a mobile app. Be one of our highly satisfied customers by simply giving us a call or leaving a message. Our designers at Fireart Studio never disappoint.


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