Mobile App Design Cost: Calculate Your Design Cost In 10 Min

3345 10.14.2021
Virliana Tymkiv

Design Team Lead at Northell

5/5

Table of contents

Mobile app design is a separate item of cost in application development. The design is the first thing that your end-user sees when they install your app on their device. Mobile app design generates the introductory feeling about your application, as your users understand how convenient your product is, is it easy to use, etc. Thus, a design largely influences whether or not the user will continue using it. 

As a result, design gets critical. But how much does it cost to design an app? What factors influence the pricing? How not to overpay for the app design? Find out answers to these and a range of other questions in this article.  

What’s included in Mobile App Design Cost?

Like the product design process, mobile application design is a complicated process that comprises a wide range of steps. Thus, the pricing of mobile app design is also rather complex.  

Yes, the mobile app design process demands time and expertise. The two main factors that affect the final price are the seniority level of the designers and the complexity of your project. Let’s walk through the key steps of mobile application design, including product discovery, UI/UX design, and testing to discover how the price is formed at each stage. 

Mobile App Design Cost: Product Discovery

Everything starts with the research and exploration – this is what the product discovery phase is for. That is the stage when your designers learn about the app, its target audience, your vision of the final product, as well as your project’s objectives.

Product discovery is all about proper planning, so it requires many interviews – with you, as a customer, the stakeholders, the users, etc. Also, it is critical to perform a thorough analysis of your competitors as well as a SWOT analysis. 

We at Northell also think over the business model, create personas, user stories, and prepare customer journey maps at the product discovery stage.  

Once designers have a good idea about the concept and grasp the product’s needs and wants, it is time to go to the next stage – namely UX design. 

Mobile App Design Cost: UX Design

Mind maps and site maps are two integral tools that reveal how your end-users interact with screens and information flow. Yes, wireframing is where you actually see your application in action. It is a fast and cost-efficient way to visualize the concept and make changes with the least possible cost. Wireframing and the app’s basic design can take from 14 to 140 hours, depending on the project’s complexity. 

Typically, the UX design stage includes wireframing, and it takes from 100 to 200 hours, depending on the complexity of your project. 

UX as well as UI, which we will cover later, are responsible for how the app looks and its usability. UX is about how the user feels when using your app – is the app convenient, is it logical, is navigation easy to follow, etc. There is no universal recipe for how to create a perfect UX. However, we at Northell have come up with best practices that help us assist our clients on the challenging path of the mobile app design process. 

For instance, we worked on the UX for one of our customers – StockApp, which is a solution for tracking investments without spreadsheets. Our client wanted to provide an interactive, easy-to-use app for beginners and experienced investors to manage and track their investments. 

Having drafted wireframes and overall ideas in place, StockApp reached out to us to enhance the vision of the StockApp functionality. This project comprised four main stages: research, analysis, prototyping, and deployment. 

As a result of this cooperation, we designed an iOS app for interactive investment tracking. We have crafted a UX design that allows viewing data on holdings with current prices, daily changes in value, and its overall percentage weight. 

Mobile App Design Cost: UI Design

The next stage, namely the UI design, is, in fact, the visual communication of the application and whether or not it is in line with the theme that UX designers have built. UI designers are responsible for delivering pages and screens, branding, interior layers, color schemes, and the overall appearance. The time needed for the creation of UI design varies from 80 for a simple app to 200 hours for a more complex one. 

Northell professionals have also created UI design for StockApp. We have improved the UI design features at the prototyping and deployment stage based on user feedback.

What’s more, we worked on redesigning the app for Zettlo – the social engagement game. The application helps users take part in social activities, meet new people, explore new locations, and more. 

This client has reached out to us as they needed to make the design more engaging and user-friendly. Northell experts have conducted thorough research and analytics, which allowed them to recreate the customer journey and thus make it smoother. We have also improved the navigation, making it easier, created a convenient feed, and more. 

Mobile App Design Cost: Testing

Typically, the testing phase requires the following activities: in-depth interviewing of focus groups, preparation of assessment research, and generating usability reports. 

To make this process as efficient as possible for our clients, Northell has founded a UX lab. The user in Northell lab gets a product’s prototype. With the help of special eye-tracking equipment, we learn how the user acts when interacting with the product interface. After that, it becomes possible to analyze the real user behavior and make changes to the product. 

At Northell, we have a great experience with each stage of mobile app design

We design, develop and maintain B2B/B2C businesses at each stage of the app development process. We have contributed to 140+ projects and helped clients from 45+ countries and do not mean to stop. 

Have an idea of the next great project?

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How much does Mobile App Design Cost?

With key stages of mobile app design covered, we have already discovered what work is to be included in the final pricing. But how much does mobile app development cost? 

As usual – it depends: depends on the project size and complexity, the time required, seniority level of the professionals involved, and the country where your team is based. 

What’s more, concerning the professionals engaged in your project, many businesses choose to work with individual freelancers or design agencies. Such an approach offers the benefit of cost-optimization, as, typically, you do not need a mobile app designer all year round, so it makes sense to hire them for a limited period of time.   

Let’s compare the options of working with individual freelancers or design agencies, as both have their advantages and disadvantages, and you should understand them to make an informed decision. 

Mostly, individual freelancers have lower rates than those in design agencies. If you have a limited budget, need to make slight adjustments to your design, or your project scope is small, go for hiring freelancers.

Although you should keep in mind that individual freelancers typically have more than one project, so they are not likely to stay focused on your application. If you opt for hiring a team of freelancers (especially if they are from different locations), you risk facing miscommunications, lack of expertise, postponed deadlines, etc. 

If you need to build a strong team and your design is complex – cooperation with the design agency is a more viable choice.

Now we will take a look at the average rates of designers in different locations and of different seniority levels. 

Prices for mobile app design by country

According to different sources, outsourcing services of mobile application design can save from 30 to 60% of your budget. So, many businesses choose to outsource mobile app design for the sake of cost optimization. 

There are three most popular outsourcing destinations: Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Each of these locations has its peculiarities, and prices there are different. Let’s see how much does it cost to design an app for these destinations. 

Cost to design app: Eastern Europe

The cost of mobile app design in Eastern Europe depends on the country. Yes, rates of Ukrainian mobile app designers are lower than those in Poland or Romania. Generally, the lower cost of living in the country is – the lower the rates are. So, we recommend taking the cost of living index by Numbeo to the account. 

Prices for mobile app design based on seniority level in Eastern Europe

When it comes to the seniority level of the local professionals, the rate of a junior mobile app designer is around $25 per hour, while hiring a senior will cost you about $50 per hour.

Here is a price range for the key services included in the mobile application design in Eastern Europe.

Product discovery UX design UI design Usability testing
Price per hour $25-55/hr <$45/hr <40/hr <30/hr

Cost to design app: Asia

If you’re searching for a mobile app designer in Asia, rates here amount to $10-$15 for a junior mobile app designer and $20-30 for a senior mobile app designer. 

Although the rates in Asia are the lowest in the global labor market, the region lags behind others in terms of digital adoption and the quality of the Internet. These factors may hamper your cooperation with designers based in Asia, so keep this fact in mind. 

Here are the rates table for product discovery, UX/UI design, and usability testing in Asia. 

Product discovery UX design UI design Usability testing
Price per hour $15-25/hr $15-30/hr $10-25/hr <20/hr

Cost to design app: Latin America

One of the key factors that drive businesses (mainly US-based) to outsource mobile app design to Latin America is geographical proximity and little time difference. 

If you choose to hire a junior mobile app designer in Mexico, Argentina, or other Latin American countries, prepare to spend from $30 per hour for junior professionals to $50 per hour for senior mobile app designers. 

Here is an app design cost range in Latin America:

Product discovery UX design UI design Usability testing
Price per hour $25-55/hr $45/hr $40/hr $30/hr

Prices for mobile app design by project size

Typically, we distinguish startup-, middle-, and enterprise-level projects according to their complexity. 

The cost to design an app also depends on your project’s size. Small or startup-level projects require less time to design, fewer professionals involved, and, thus, are less expensive. On average, startup-level projects take around 150 hours to design. What is the timing for other project types? Let’s find out together. 

Mobile App Design Cost: Timeline and the final pricing

Like the cost, timing is also influenced by the size of your company, the complexity of your app, the seniority of your team, etc. However, even the least complex projects are time-consuming. So, it is in your best interest to find skilled professionals to work with to make this process as time-efficient as possible. 

Mobile app design cost depends primarily on the time you spend on the actual design, so knowing the timing will help you estimate your project cost. 

As we mentioned above, the design process comprises four main stages: product discovery, UX design, UI design, and usability testing. Here at Northell, we have come up with the best practices that help us spend as little time on each step as possible without compromising quality. Let’s now take a look at how much time it takes us to create a mobile app design for companies of different sizes. 

How much does it take to design an app for a startup?

Startups typically take the least time to create a mobile app design. In the table below, you will see the approximate timing of each mobile app design stage. However, keep in mind, the calculation is not one-size-fits-all, and the time required for your project may be different.

Product discovery UX design UI design Usability testing
Time required 30-60 hours 60-120 hours 50-100 hours 40 hours

How much does it take to design an app for a middle-sized business?

Businesses of the middle size typically have a clear idea of what they want and a list of requirements in place. 

For instance, our client StockApp has reached out to us with the drafted wireframes and overall ideas. Such an approach allows saving time on business and user research. Usually (from Northell experience), the time required on mobile app design for middle-sized businesses looks as follows:

Product discovery UX design UI design Usability testing
Time required 60-120 hours 120-200 hours 110-220 hours 40-80 hours

How much does it take to design an app for an enterprise?

Typically, enterprise-level clients develop a complex product that has many design requirements. They are aimed to purchase designs that would make their product recognizable to attract many users.  

As a result, it takes much time to conduct thorough business research, analyze the market, create wireframes, perform usability testing, etc. 

The table below shows how much time it takes to design an app for enterprises: 

Product discovery UX design UI design Usability testing
Time required 120-240 hours 200-500 hours 400-600 hours 80 hours

To estimate how much does it cost to design your app, use simple math: multiply the price by time. For instance, if you choose to hire mobile app designers in Eastern Europe, here are the approximate costs for startups, middle-sized, and enterprise businesses:

Startups Middle-size Enterprise size
$15,000-50,000 $35,000-70,000 $70,000-150,000

Mobile App Design Cost: Calculate Your Design

To calculate your cost to design an app, you can use this checklist of steps required:

  • Assess the complexity of your project

How many pages of your app are there? Do all of them need design or redesign? Do you have a clear vision of your app design? Do you need tailor-made design, or can your designers use out-of-box templates?

  • Select specialists and their location

What specialist do you need? Do you need business analysts? How many professionals does your project scope require?

  • Estimate the approximate time frame of the project

How much time is required to deliver your project?

  • Find out the approximate price of your project

Multiply the hourly rates by the number of hours required. 

How Not To Overpay For Mobile Design? ( Tips from Northell team)

  • Go for outsourcing and choose the location that suits you in terms of rates, cultural proximity, talent pool, or other factors;
  • Hire a product designer for the time needed, instead of paying them all year round;
  • Estimate the seniority level of the experts your app requires: is it complex enough to hire seniors, or will juniors and middles do the job?;
  • Find a trusted provider of mobile application design: the one that will understand your business needs and deliverables and will assist you at each stage of mobile app design;
  • Entrust your mobile application design to Northell 🙂

Mobile App Design Cost: Summary

How much does it cost to design an app? We hope we have helped you answer this question due to this article, and you can estimate the approximate cost of your mobile application design. 

However, you should keep in mind that there are many factors that can influence or change the final price of your app design. So, think whether you need to hire mobile app designers on-site or it is better to go for outsourcing, compare rates in different locations, and look for a technology partner you can rely on. Good luck!

 

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