How much does it cost to design an app?

How much does it cost to design an app?

In order to answer how much does it cost to design an app, we need to understand what actually is mobile app design. Someone might say app design is a harmonious combination of shapes and colors. Others will say that design is, first and foremost, market research and they will be right too. Let’s consider what things actually affect the final cost.

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The thing is that mobile app design is a complex process that isn’t limited only by the work of one specialist. It includes a number of development stages from market research to A / B testing of the final design. Each stage has its own timeline depending on the complexity of the particular app. It is the reason why mobile app design costs can extremely vary from project to project.

The main price-determining characteristic for the mobile app design is man-hour cost. In the US, the average man-hour cost for the mobile app design is $100-120. For Europe, this value equals $50-100 per hour. The final price is formed on the basis of this value multiplied by the time needed to design an app.

4 mobile development stages

Usually, when we are talking about development time we assume it to be divided into four parts – development stages. Here are these stages:

  • Research and analysis
  • Concept and prototyping
  • Design
  • Testing

Let us consider each stage and its possible cost in turn.

Stage #1: Research and analysis

This stage needs to be completed prior to design prototyping. What it exactly consist of?

  • Market analysis and competitor research. Developers analyze the market’s niche in which mobile applications will run, current tendencies, and design area trends. Also, the design team analyzes the top 5 competitors' products. Interfaces solutions, UI design features, usability components – this is the partial list of parameters that need to be analyzed in competitors’ products.
  • Audience analysis. Professional developers try always to put themselves in the users’ shoes. "Okay, we’ve designed this icon. Can we place it right here? What will happen if we will change its location? How will the app look like if we will remove it?” It's all about user experience.
  • Brainstorm. Designers and developers put on the table all ideas related to the project. This step is similar to the audience analysis because here all possible use cases need to be explored.

Generally, the research and analysis phase takes about 40-45 man-hours. However, this value can also vary depending on how many developers of what level are working on the project.

How to validate a product idea and build an engaging mobile app

Stage #2: Concept and prototyping

At this stage, the team unveils the main design concept and builds a prototype. Designers collect the best ideas and on the basis of that develop a prototype. The next step is the UX design. It's all about usability, remember? The prototype will be tested on a target group of people so developers can collect feedback and make certain adjustments to the project.

Why is testing so important in the prototyping stage? It’s very simple. Testing saves clients money. By spending time (and money) on testing at the prototyping stage developers can save up to 10x more resources in the future.

To describe this picture more clearly imagine the application that has been released without testing. Well, in this case, something will go wrong for sure. What does that mean? Developers will need to make major adjustments and redesign. As we all know modification of the final product is a much more problematic case than the identification of possible shortcomings in the initial stage.

As to development timing, the prototyping stage will approximately take about 80-90 man-hours.

Stage #3: Design

It is definitely the most lengthy and time-consuming part of the entire design process. Usually, this stage takes about 250 man-hours. At this point, virtually all work is done by the designer. His task is to implement existing ideas into reality with the help of different tools (Designers can even use graphic design apps for this purpose). To tell the app story through shapes and colors. A story, which will be simple, believable, and understandable to the user.

This story should also convey the brand values, show all its strengths, and tell the user how the application can solve his problem (every product on every market was designed to solve a particular problem, and mobile application isn’t an exception).

In addition to the forms and colors, the designer models all the animations and transitions. The aim here is to create a movement inside the application. It must be harmonious and native at the same time.

Stage #4: Testing

Even though we’ve talked about it before, let us think what is the essence of testing at the final stage of app design development. Have you ever thought that an excellent idea (design idea as well) rarely comes from the first time? Then how designers pick great ideas and build a cool app design? The answer is simple.

Professionals always make several versions of the same item. Sometimes the number of such versions can go up to 10 or even 15 if we are talking about expensive and complex products. “10 versions of one” means extra time – sometimes it may take several days to design one icon. But as a result, we get the best design solution which was also tested on the target audience. At this stage, we add extra 50 man-hours to the total design development time.

With all these price concepts in mind let us now calculate how much does it cost to design an app in total.

Mobile app design cost

It should be noted, that the more complex application is, the more time developers need to finish the design project. Likewise, developers need less time to design a simple application. Why do we want to highlight it? There is a little tip.

Before design begins, pay attention to how much time the development team says they will need to finish the project. As we have said, the design of a huge project takes at least 200 hours. If you have been told that the full project design will take 70 hours, then it is time to examine cases of a development company in detail, as well as to ask for advice from a third party. Now let’s move to the price calculation.

Speaking of a simple app design, developers will need about 90 hours to complete all four stages. It is equivalent to $4,500 (at man-hour rate of $50). Typically, these applications are developed for one particular platform(iOs or Android) and have a standard set of elements.

Otherwise, it will take about 150 – 170 man-hours to create a mobile app design for the more complicated app, which will have additional transitions between screens, more content, and different features. This amount of time is equivalent to $7,000 – 8,000.

Finally, to design a top app from scratch, designers need to spend 300 hours or more. Design of such applications costs approximately $15,000 (and higher). The most important reason why the design of such apps is so expensive is cross-platform availability. This greatly affects the final app cost.

Yet complex applications aren’t very popular. Even though they provide a bunch of features to users, developers are still trying to find simple solutions for the apps. The development of a simple application takes less time, resources, and it will be easier to make adjustments in the future.


Today we tried to cover the main design pricing elements. Of course, there are more factors that affect the final price, such as company location, the number of specialists working on the project, development approach. But the main cost principles for app design always remain the same – man-hour value and time.

If you still have any questions regarding design prices mail us at and you will get free advice about prices for your particular application. For over 20 years Cprime Studios provides successful IT solutions for startup and business projects. Our managers always give full feedback on all issues that the client is interested in. Do not hesitate and get your own unique project. 

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