How much does it Cost to Design a Mobile Application?

26 October 2023

Whether we are planning to design an app for our startup or take the current business on a digital landscape, having a mobile app is valuable to each business these days and for the future. Based on the complexity of the app and the customizations it requires, the cost of designing a mobile application is different from project to project. On account of a huge IT service industry in India, the average man-hour cost for mobile app designing starts from $10 - $40/hour approximately, whereas it can cost around $100/hour in the US. We will discuss at length various factors that affect the cost and the ways we can minimize the design cost. At first, let’s dive deep into the factors that determine the cost.

Factors Affecting the Mobile App Cost

Smooth navigation, accurate action sequence, visuals; etcetera determine the success of a mobile app. From the choice of platform to the complexity of functions, every factor adds to the final cost.

Major factors contributing to the cost evaluation of a mobile app are:

1. Choice of Platform for the Mobile App


There are two categories for the platform choice which are- Native app development and Cross-platform development.

Native App Development

Native apps work only with a single platform, either Android or IOS. Native apps are complex but these provide high level of performance because these are designed for a particular platform. Different development teams are needed if we want to design a mobile app for both Android and IOS. And that will add to the design cost significantly.

Cross-Platform App Development

Cross-platform apps are built to run on different mobile platforms. Cross-platform frameworks help us to write reusable code for the objective of developing these apps. It provides efficiency in terms of saving time and finances both at the development and maintenance stage.

2. Design


The designing phase plays a crucial role in the cost evaluation of mobile development. Design is a combination of what the users see and how they interact with the app. For example, when we open any app, whichever action we take: swiping, tapping a button, we want a smooth experience. And we also prefer better visuals. User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are part of this process.

User Experience (UX)

Navigation and functionality of a mobile application comes under UX. We should not compromise on this aspect of the app. The final goal of a mobile app is to solve a problem for the end-user. And if the navigation and functionality are not exceptional, it will decrease the chances of the success for the app. Smooth user experience will drive better engagement on the app.

User Interface (UI)

The visual aspect of software is referred to as User Interface. Colors, shapes, typography, layout, sliders, input fields, etc. are part of it. We need to decide first what our objectives are with respect to the usage of various elements. The more complex is the design of an app the more will be the final cost.

3. Complexity of Functions on the App


The cost for designing a mobile application increases or decreases based on the complexity of its functionality such as- apps for bills and utility payments, socializing, shopping, entertainment, news and information, and many more. Both time to design the mobile app and the costs incurred will be less if the functions of the targeted app are less complex. Like every other decision, we need to decide in advance as how many specific features the business needs for its service or product.

Amazon Prime, Netflix are high complexity apps. Uber, Whatsapp come under Medium complexity apps. Simple apps like alarms do not have interactive design elements.

4. Designing Team Costs


The Cost of designing a mobile application will vary significantly with respect to the designing team in different countries. As mentioned earlier, on account of a huge IT service industry in India, the average man-hour cost for mobile app designing is approximately $10 - $40/hour, whereas it can cost around $100/hour in the US. So choosing the designing team for the project plays a pivotal role in terms of final costs.

Other than the above stated major factors, there are costs related to further updates on the application and future improvements.

Total Design Cost and How to Minimize the Mobile App Design Costs?

Now that we have come to understand the major factors that contribute to the mobile application design costs, the total cost to build a mobile app is calculated by multiplying the hourly charges of the designing team and the total hours taken by the designing team to build the application. It can range between $5 K and $25 K or even more. For example: If the hourly rate of mobile App Designer is $40 and the time taken to build the application is 150 hours, total cost for the app will be $ 6 K.

1. Planning the Requirements of the Application in Advance


We should plan in advance all the requirements of the target app and the functions that it is supposed to provide with respect to the service and product of the business. Improvements with time are understandable and necessary as well but the planning should be well researched keeping in mind the market and the product both.

2. Creating a Prototype to Minimize Costs


Hours of design work can be saved by creating a prototype. All the necessary changes in the functionality can be made accordingly. It actually decreases the total time taken to build the application.

3. Designing MVP App


Minimum Viable Product can be designed to include only the necessary functions. It provides quality experience to the users. And it incurs comparatively less cost on the business.

4. Investing in Cross Platform Mobile Applications


Building Cross Platform mobile apps is less costly than native app development. As mentioned earlier, Cross Platform app runs on both Android and IOS platforms.

5. Making Use of Existing Mobile App


Designing customized app from scratch will lead to huge costs. For most functions, a business can make use of third-party elements. So make use of existing application as much as you can to save time and design costs.

6. Outsourcing the Application Development


Outsourcing an established and experienced mobile app designing company will prove to be cost effective as compared to an in-house team. Instead of hiring full-time employees, payment is done on the project basis.

Final Notes:

Based on the complexity of the project, the mobile app design costs vary significantly. It can range between $5,000 and $25,000 or even more depending upon the complexity of functions and the number of features, etcetera.

And there are ways to reduce those costs as discussed in the above mentioned points. But the main focus must always be on the functionality of the application. Having a clear and well-defined vision for the app goes a long way. Prioritizing the quality rather than the quantity of features is useful in terms of saving design costs for the mobile application as well as the success of the application itself. And as discussed earlier, having a mobile app is valuable to each business in today’s digital world.


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