How much does it cost to design an app?
Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to design an app?

Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to design an app?

$5,000 – $30,000average cost

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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$5,000 – $30,000 average cost

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
Are you a service provider? Get new customers
Tamatha Hazen
Written by
Tamatha Hazen
Edited by
Tara Farmer
Fact-checked by
Kristen Cramer

Mobile app design cost

App design costs $5,000 to $30,000 on average, depending on the complexity, customization, and design team employed. App designers charge $10 to $200 per hour, depending on their location. Mobile app designers create the app's user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).

Average cost to design an app
Complexity Average cost Number of hours Includes
Simple app design $2,500 – $5,000 40 – 150
  • Minimal design features
  • Simplified design using UI kits
  • Limited screens and animations
  • Single platform
Standard app design $5,000 – $15,000 150 – 300
  • Multiple screens
  • Custom interactive features and animations
  • Single platform
Complex app design $15,000 – $30,000+ 300 – 700+
  • Multiple screens using native UI design
  • Custom animations and transitions
  • Multiple features and user roles
  • Designed for both iOS and Android
  • Separate designs for other screen sizes like tablets, smartwatches, and TVs.

App design is only one part of the app development process, with designers mapping out the app's look, feel, and function. App development costs $50,000 to $200,000 and encompasses the entire app building process, including planning, design, coding, testing, deployment, and ongoing maintenance.

Get free estimates from app developers near you.

How much do app designers charge?

App designer rates by location

App designers charge $10 to $200 per hour, depending on location. North American and Australian designers charge the highest hourly rates of $100 to $200, while designers in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe charge the lowest rates at $10 to $60 per hour.

App designer rates by location
Location Hourly rate
United States (USA) & Canada $100 – $200
Australia $100 – $150
United Kingdom (UK) $60 – $130
Western Europe $40 – $120
Eastern Europe $25 – $60
Southeast Asia $10 – $40

An app design team planning the style and design for a mobile app
An app design team planning the style and design for a mobile app

App designer costs by team type

The app budget and timeline typically determine the type of design team used. Companies often hire freelancers or foreign agencies to save money on design for smaller budget apps but spend more for local design agencies or in-house teams to speed up the design process for larger budget apps.

App designer cost by team type
Type of team Pros Cons
  • Cost-effective
  • Large talent pool
  • Flexible work hours
  • Easy to hire
  • Limited expertise
  • Frequent delays due to divided workload
  • Reduced commitment
  • Less teamwork when hiring multiple freelancers
In-house team
  • More control
  • Improved communication
  • Build a team that fits the project and the company culture.
  • Reduced security risk
  • Familiarity with the company brand
  • Highest cost
  • Time-consuming to hire an entire staff
  • Limited to local talent
  • Employee turnover has greater impact on the deliverables.
Local design agency
  • Quick start
  • Face-to-face meetings for better communication and timely updates
  • Up-to-date skills and tools
  • Scalability to add specialists as needed
  • Higher hourly rates
  • Limited control over staff assigned to the project
  • Work quality may vary
Outsourcing agency
  • Lowest hourly rates
  • Quick progress when hiring multiple designers
  • Larger talent pool
  • Language barriers
  • Differing time zones
  • Less control over the team
  • Unfamiliarity with the company brand

Cost factors to design an app

App design cost calculator
App design stage Average hours Average cost
Planning & research:
  • Market research (competitor profiles)
  • User personas
  • Business model canvas or Lean canvas
25 – 60 $1,000 – $4,500
User Experience (UX):
  • User flows
  • Sketches
  • Wireframing
  • Prototyping
40 – 80 $1,600 – $6,000
User Interface (UI) / Visual design:
  • Mood board
  • Style guide (brand guidelines)
  • Mockups (UI prototyping)
  • Graphic elements and animations
55 – 250 $2,200 – $18,000
  • Automated and live user tests with feedback
  • Accessibility testing for vision, hearing, and other impairments
5 – 20 $200 – $1,500
Total app design cost 125 – 410 $5,000 – $30,000

The following factors affect the cost of app design:

  • Team size – Hiring multiple design specialists is costly but speeds the design process. Relying on a single freelancer delays the design, especially if the project falls outside their area of expertise.

  • Team location – Designers in the U.S. and Canada charge more than offshore designers. Hiring remote designers from Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia reduces design costs.

  • Native vs. custom design

    • Native apps work on a single device or platform. Designers use premade libraries and templates, or UI kits for the visual elements, reducing design costs.

    • Custom designs take longer and cost more but provide greater flexibility and creativity without platform-specific limitations.

  • Platforms – Designing for either Apple or Android smartphones is cheaper than designing for both. Supporting other platforms such as tablets, smartwatches, and large screen devices like TVs and computers increases costs by 30% to 50%.

  • Number of screens – Designing a few basic screens is cheaper than designing numerous screens, animations, and transitions. Adding landscape mode to the screen design increases the total cost by about 30%.

  • Number of user roles – Designing an interface that adjusts for multiple user roles costs more, such as a real estate app with separate broker, realtor, home buyer, and home seller functions.

  • Features and functions – The more features and functions an app must perform, the longer it takes to design the interface. Designing an app with login, messaging, search, and push notifications take longer than a simple calendar app with limited functionality.

  • Branding style – Designing logos, custom graphics, and a matching branded website increases design costs but is important for brand recognition.

    • Custom logo design costs $300 to $1,500.

    • Graphic design costs $20 to $150 per hour to create custom graphics, or $200 to $1,000 to design an app’s launch icon and $10 to $200+ for other in-app icons.

    • Website design costs $3,000 to $10,000 to build a matching website for a small business or $10,000 to $40,000 for a larger site.

App design planning and user research

Planning and analysis are the first steps of app design and ensure the app is a viable business before investing money into design and development.

Steps for comprehensive planning and analysis include:

  1. Define the concept – Write down the app's purpose, describing the problem it solves and how it will work. Briefly explain the core features or “must haves” and refer to this document throughout the design phase to stay on track.

  2. Define the audience – Identify the target audience, their behaviors, and preferences. Create user personas, or fictional characters that represent the ideal customer, and design a product that will satisfy their needs and expectations.

  3. Conduct market research – Identify similar apps and potential gaps in the market. Plan app features based on user reviews of existing apps.

  4. Set business goals – Develop a clear and concise business plan outlining the app budget, timeline, sales, growth, and brand awareness goals.

App development and design of the layout, features, and interactions
App development and design of the layout, features, and interactions

App UX design, wireframes, and prototyping

User experience (UX) design focuses on how an app functions, flows, and engages the user. UX designers build user-friendly screen layouts and intuitive app functions to ensure the app is usable, enjoyable, and accessible to all.

Designing the user experience includes:

  • Mind-mapping – Brainstorming diagrams to visualize critical connections and hierarchy for the app structure

  • Sketches – Pen and paper drawings show the user journey through the app, progressing through the screens to simulate user interactions.

  • Wireframes – Digital sketches, or conceptual layouts, show the workflow and overview of all the app pages but do not include color schemes or styles.

  • Prototypes

    • Low-fidelity prototypes allow designers to work through the content and flow before time and money is spent on developing the app.

    • High-fidelity prototypes mimic a live design of the future app, allowing test users to click through the model and feel what the app will be like.

Mobile app UI design

User interface (UI) design focuses on the app's look, including the color scheme, branding, typography, graphics, and animations on each screen. UI designers plan the interface navigation elements, like buttons, scrollbars, and screen swipes.

Common UI design strategies include:

  • Brand style ­– Apply the company’s style guide throughout the design to build brand recognition. Include a color scheme, typeface, and logos that communicate the brand values.

  • Color Scheme – Limit the design to three colors (primary, secondary, and background colors) that stand out from the competition, evoke the proper emotion, and are culturally appropriate for the target audience.

  • Icons and logos – Create an impactful custom logo that builds customer recognition and emotional attachment.

  • Illustrations and animations – Spend more for eye-catching illustrations and animations that help users navigate the app, provide visual feedback, and draw attention to specific elements on the screen.

  • UI kits ­– Use ready-made elements of app design to save time and money.

  • UI mockups – Apply the style guide to the initial UX wireframes to create a mockup of the app’s visual design. Share the mockup with a consumer test group to evaluate the app’s appearance and with stakeholders to approve the design before investing in development.

Mobile app design implementation and testing

Designers test the app design with automated tools or live users to confirm the app flows properly, meets the user’s needs, and provides a positive experience. Accessibility testing identifies text, colors, images, and controls that may be problematic for people with vision or hearing impairments.

How long does it take to design an app?

Get free estimates from app developers near you.

It takes 3 to 12 weeks to design an app, after the initial 4 to 6 weeks planning period spent conducting market research, writing user personas, and building a business plan. Once an app is designed, it is turned over to developers for coding.

Mobile app design vs. development costs

App design makes up about 10% of the total app development budget. App development costs $50,000 to $200,000 total on average and includes planning, design, coding, testing, and deployment. Annual app maintenance costs 15% to 20% of the initial development cost.

Getting estimates and hiring app designers

When hiring an app designer, be sure to:

  • Determine whether an in-house team, design agency, freelancer, or foreign outsource team is best for your budget and timeline.

  • Look for experienced app designers that have been in business for more than five years.

  • Ask a friend or colleague for references.

  • Research online hiring platforms like Thervo.

  • Schedule interviews with at least three designers with exceptional online portfolios and reviews from previous clients.

  • Select an app design team with a compatible development approach, work atmosphere, and technology stack to fit your project.

  • Get a detailed contract including the payment schedule and project timeline.

Questions to ask

Ask the following questions when evaluating potential app designers:

  • How many apps have you designed?

  • What experience do you have in UI and UX design?

  • Where can I find examples of your past work?

  • How much do you charge for app design?

  • What is your hourly rate?

  • Do you design native or hybrid apps? Which do you recommend for my project, and why?

  • What type of prototypes do you provide?

  • Does your design include custom logos and icons?

  • How long will it take to design the app?

  • How often will we communicate, and what method of communication do you prefer?

  • How will you test the app design?

  • Who owns the design when it’s finished?

  • May I have a list of references?