How Much Does It Cost to Design a Mobile App?

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Mobile app design is an important part of app development. When a business or startup owner is ready to move to the design stage, the first question that comes to mind is How much does it cost to design a mobile app? As UI/UX design is fundamental to a mobile app’s success, there are a lot of factors influencing the cost and duration of design. In this article, we dive deep to find out what affects the cost of mobile app design.

Native vs custom design

Before estimating the total mobile app design cost, we should have a clear view of what native and custom designs are and what pros and cons they have.

Native design

Native designs are created for specific operating systems. Following guidelines for Android (Google Material Design) and iOS (Human Interface Guidelines), designers create functional interfaces that feel like part of the host operating system. For an in-depth understanding, let’s compare the pros and cons of native design.

Pros

  • Well-known interface elements. A native app UI looks a lot like the standard operating system interface, so it meets user expectations and feels familiar.
  • Faster development. Following the guidelines for a specific operating system allows designers to speed up the design process, therefore reducing costs.
  • High-quality. Standard UI components correctly support all user actions, such as touch, drag and drop, and device rotation. Accordingly, native design is considered to be high-quality, since there’s a lower chance of UX design mistakes.

Cons

  • Uniformity. All application screens may have similar interfaces, which can look monotonous.
  • Limited feature set. As designers use individual templates and do everything according to the instructions, it can lead to some limitations in designing applications.

Let’s look at an example of native design. When following Human Interface Guidelines, interface elements are familiar to users so they can use the app confidently.

Native Design

Custom design

Custom design is the opposite of native design. It doesn’t have limitations, so it can contain some native elements mixed with other elements.

Pros

  • Flexibility. Custom designs don’t follow operating system standards. You can be flexible and design custom apps in an unconventional manner.
  • Attractiveness. Thanks to elements that aren’t available in native design, custom designs can make an excellent visual impression.

Cons

  • Overcomplicated user interfaces. As designers can ignore standard design recommendations, there’s a chance of creating sophisticated and messy interfaces.
  • Risk of errors. There’s a high probability of making mistakes when designers place a lot of custom UI elements on one screen.
  • Challenging user interactions. Custom designs aren’t familiar to users like native designs are. Therefore, users need comprehensive onboarding and more time to study the application.

A great example of custom design is the UGEM design concept for a banking app. Using a lot of graphics and illustrations, the UGEM design team created a unique user interface.

Custom Design

The verdict

When choosing between custom and native web design, first consider your goals. Custom design is well suited for brands and businesses that face no restrictions. It’s great for situations when you’re sure users will understand your design. Native design has different features and is appropriate for more conservative apps related to time management or healthcare due to its clarity and restraint.

The cost of designing a mobile app

Knowing the pros and cons of custom and native design, you can estimate the cost of mobile application design. But these aren’t the only factors that affect the final price. Let’s learn more.

1. App design cost depends on geographic location

The cost of design varies greatly depending on the location of the agency you work with. Some regions may seem attractive due to low rates, and some may seem unreasonably expensive. To get a better understanding of cost let’s take a look at each region.

  • Eastern Europe. This region has a lot of high-quality specialists, and the average cost of design services is $25 to $80 per hour, which is wholly justified.
  • Western Europe and the UK. Design prices in Western Europe are quite high, especially in London, which has become the capital of startups in Europe. There’s a large concentration of designers in this region who value their work between $40 to $140 an hour.
  • Asia. The Asian market is broad and affordable. For example, designers in India charge an average of $10 to $65 per hour, making India the cheapest country for app design.
  • The US and Canada. Due to expensive education, high taxes, and a small number of specialists, the US and Canada have the highest prices for design. The average cost is $60 to $160 per hour.
Worldwide design rate

Still, the best price doesn’t mean the best quality of work. Before choosing a UI/UX agency, take a look at reviews on Clutch and GoodFirms, scan social media, and learn about a company’s previous projects.

Learn more about choosing a reliable UI/UX agency.

2. App design cost depends on complexity

The complexity of your design also affects the cost of your application. To better evaluate costs, we can define three levels of complexity:

  • Simple apps have standard buttons, simple images and elements, and one to four screens. These apps are appropriate as the first version of a product to minimize the cost of mistakes.
  • Moderately complex apps are the golden mean between simple and complex. They offer native design with a few customized features, simple animations, and bright graphics. This is the best solution for banking or management apps.
  • Complex apps cost the most because they have many customizations. Complex solutions require a lot of time to design screens, as they may have advanced animations or bottomless designs.

3. App design cost depends on the platform(s)

Do you want to develop your application only for iOS or only for Android? Maybe you want to provide your product on both platforms? Or perhaps you don’t know about the platform and you’ll decide later? Your choice of platform(s) significantly impacts the cost.

Since designing for each platform costs different amounts, it’s important to determine your product’s target audience. The more specific app users and goals you identify, the more likely you won’t spend more money than necessary.

Now that you know the key factors that influence the cost of design, it’s possible to see how much it would cost to design native and custom applications such as Uber, Airbnb, and Etsy.

How much does it cost to design an app like Uber?

Uber app

Established in 2009 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, Uber takes first place in the Travel and Transport category on the App Store. Moreover, Uber operates in 85 countries and over 800 cities. The app provides round-the-clock access to rides via iOS and Android devices. If you want to design an app like Uber, you’ll need to design these screens.

Onboarding guide. This screen shows users how to interact with the app.

Authentication. On this screen, a user needs to enter a username and password to access the application.

User profiles. In their profiles, users can enter personal information like their name, phone number, and a photo.

App settings. Users can configure the application by turning notifications off or on, setting the privacy level, and changing their passwords.

Payment method screen. This screen allows users to choose payment methods, add credit cards, and see credit balances.

Bookings. On this screen, users can enter a current location and destination. They can also select a vehicle type and see the route.

Driver profile. Users who have ordered a ride can see the driver’s name, phone number, and rating on this screen.

Trips history. Shows the history of all of a user’s trips.

Screen Native design estimate (in hours) Custom design estimate (in hours)
Onboarding guide 10 20
Authentication 11 22
User profiles 7 12
App settings 15 22
Payment method screen 15 22
Booking interface 40 60
Driver profile 20 25
Trip history 15 20

To design a similar mobile app, we estimate you’ll need 133 hours for native design or 203 hours for custom design.

How much does it cost to design an app like Airbnb?

Airbnb app

Airbnb is an online house sharing app that takes four place by number of app downloads in the Travel and Tourism category on the App Store and operates in 191 countries. The platform allows users to find and book short-term rentals, enabling users to travel the globe.

To create an app like Airbnb, you need to design the following screens:

Onboarding guide. This screen shows users short instructions on how to interact with the app.

Authentication. This is the screen where users sign up or log in to your application.

User profiles. On this screen, users can fill in personal information.

App settings. Users can configure the application as needed with this screen.

Apartment search and filtering. Using this screen, travelers can easily search and find an apartment they like. The more detailed the search and filtering options, the more satisfied users will be.

Apartment profiles. This screen displays accommodation information and photos along with reviews and ratings.

Host profiles. Users can open this screen to learn more about hosts.

Wish list. This is a screen where users can see saved apartments they want to stay at on future trips.

Travel history. Shows where users stayed on past trips.

Inbox. This screen allows users to get in touch with hosts.

Screen Native design estimate (in hours) Custom design estimate (in hours)
Onboarding guide 10 20
Authentication 11 22
User profiles 7 12
Apartment search and filtering 35 55
Apartment screen 35 55
Host screen 20 25
Travel history 15 20
Wish list 10 20
Inbox 7 10

For a native design of an app like Airbnb, we estimate you’ll need 165 hours. For a custom design, you’ll need about 261 hours.

How much does it cost to design an app like Etsy?

Etsy app

At first, this marketplace was only available as a web application. But to keep up with the times, Etsy created applications for iOS and Android mobile devices. As online shopping has grown, Etsy has gained popularity. Etsy is a marketplace application with unique and creative goods. Using this platform, anyone can buy handmade items.

To create a unique app like Etsy, design these screens:

Sign-up/log-in screen. Using this screen, users can provide their logins and passwords to gain access to the application.

User profiles. This screen contains all of a user’s personal data.

App settings. Users can configure the application as needed with this screen.

Preferences page. Users can mark their preferences on this page so the application will recommend products the user has marked as interesting.

Search and filtering. This feature allows users to find what they’re looking for.

Item cards. This screen provides a full item overview and shipping details. Also, users can find similar items or see more from the shop they’ve chosen with this screen.

Seller profiles. This is an extensive screen where users can see a full list of products, read reviews, learn more about sellers, and study their policies.

Wish list. This is a screen where users can save their favorite items to buy later.

Messages. This screen provides the possibility to contact a seller to ask questions.

Screen Native design estimate (in hours) Custom design estimate (in hours)
Sign-up and log-in screen 11 22
User profile 7 12
App Settings 15 22
Preferences screen 15 22
Search and filtering 35 55
Item cards 35 55
Seller profiles 40 60
Wish list 10 20
Messages 7 10

We estimate it would take 175 hours to create a native design for an app like Etsy versus 276 hours for a custom design.

Сomparison chart

Based on all this information, we can calculate the approximate cost of an application. To calculate this, we’ll use the average design cost in different regions and the hours needed to create applications.

Approximate cost of a native app design:

Native design

To draw up your custom design budget, start with this table. It will give you an approximate idea of the final mobile app design cost.

Custom design

Final words

You can use your design to communicate with your users. UI/UX design is the best investment in your success. Knowing all the factors affecting the cost of application design, you can competently approach this process and develop the best solution for your users. Compare prices in different regions, decide on your app’s complexity, and design a marvelous app. Feel free to ask the UGEM team to estimate the design of your project.

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