Money And Time Taken to Build A Remarkable Mobile App: A GUIDE

Mobile apps that are quite simple to navigate and operate might lead many to assume that it took almost no time and capital to build them, which cannot be further from the truth.

A mobile app that improves accessibility, enhances customer engagement, improves brand recognition and value proposition, and presents another avenue for sales is anything but quick and cheap to make.

With everyone completely depending on mobile technology and the mobile app industry generating approximately $44.6 billion in 2016, it has become difficult for businesses big or small to ideate, choose and design an app that will get them ahead of dense competition.

Here is a lowdown of all the factors and parameters that will decide how much time and money will be needed for design and development of a particular mobile app.

The major elements that make up the cost of mobile app designing are –


Under this three aspects are covered, viz., Market Research, Consumer Research and Stakeholder Interviews.

The existing competition needs to be analysed so that new features and opportunities can be explored in a given app niche. For example, a mobile app developer has been approached with a basic idea of a workout tracking app; the first step in this case would be to carry out due research and unearth opportunities in the market for fitness tracking apps and then share the research findings that in some way solve a problem for the end consumer in the fitness industry. This way the resulting app will be readily embraced by the end-user.

This is a time consuming process but the end product is worth the due exploration where mobile app developers understand what features they could improve upon or invent.

Tools used for this process are – A/B test results, user personas, and investigative user studies and interviews

This step leads to – use cases, realistic behavioural scenarios, and user stories

Time estimate for this stage – roughly 20 to 40 hours


The next step after competition and user research is user experience (UX) designing, also called prototyping. This step includes the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and attitude towards using an app by improving the usability, ease of use, and the overall experience between the app and the consumer. Companies and firms providing app design services make sure that navigation within the app flows logically and seamlessly from one step to another so that the user doesn’t even notice how he/she reached where they did on the app.

The stage of prototyping includes several iterations sometimes umpteen which are taken forward by usability testing and concept validation. The more users get to use the prototype and share their feedback, the richer the app will be and closer to the desired version.

Refining and revising app prototypes to create the smoothest user experience can actually be a time consuming process as compared to the general perception. This time consumption is worth it though, because it saves your capital. And this happens because under prototyping, the team figures out the structure, framework or app skeleton they need to work on or add features well before the project moves to the development stage. This still doesn’t completely eliminate risks, the risk of changing user requirements during app design timeline.

Still, most mobile app development firms across the globe try to work collectively with business analysts, iOS and Android developers, project managers, designers and the client to shape up a prototype that all can agree on. This cohesive approach that involves everyone helps identify and clear misunderstandings that are a routine to app development. Due to this the chances of exceeding the predetermined budget in the future are fairly reduced.

And prototyping remains very much an integral part of development, even when mobile app costing is considered as a separate expense from app development cost.

Tools used for this process are – Pixate, Principle or Flinto, InVision, Sketch

This step leads to – wireframes of app designs, interactive prototypes, user flow diagrams

Time estimate for this stage – roughly 40 to 80 hours


Visual design, popularly called as User Interface (UI) design is about how a product or app communicates when a user navigates from one screen to another. The look and feel of the app is designed at this stage.

The design team sits down to create a mobile app that is easy to read and definitely easy on the eyes if not pleasant; visual appeal is of utmost importance apart from navigation. Choosing the right colour scheme, typeface, inclusion and creation of different shapes, designing a typographic communication that blends with the service or idea behind the app – all of this is taken care of at this stage.

A creative bent of mind and out of the box thinking is needed to place the content; every placement needs due thought. Design mavens who have years of experience can do this with extreme ease and also bring in ingenuity to the entire apps’ visual communication.

The UI team apart from creating static assets, also puts efforts in making motions and animations fitting the tone of the app. Therefore, it is a 2-fold function for the UI team members, as they have to take both the look and functioning of the UI in account.

It is the mobile app designers who take a call on how a menu will slide down, how will certain functionalities operate, where to swipe for which feature, the home icon, etc. For instance, if a designer wants to change the way of a traditional interface element, the hamburger menu, he/she is free to do that and create a custom menu.

Interrelating visual designing with branding is extremely significant. Screens, mobile app icon, and logo are all a part of visual design and app design illustrates brand identity.

The cost of app designing includes the cost of designing the app logo and the icon.

Tools used for this process are – Sketch, Affinity Designer/Photo, InVision, Principle or Flinto, Pixate, Origami or Form, After Effects or Apple Motion

This step leads to – final product design including app logo, icons, and screenshots for app stores

Time estimate for this stage – roughly 80 to 300 or more hours

Now comes the part that revolves around your pocket…

The cost of app design depends on what constitutes app design. Tasks like user research, user experience design, competitive audit, mobile app interface design, app icon and logo design, graphic design, etc form what is called app designing. App design is usually calculated as per project complexity, the number of platforms being designed for and the designer’s or design team’s level of expertise.

For example, if your Android and iOS app doesn’t require animations and other kinds of complex features, it is sure to take less time to make and consequently with less money. Some parameters across which the cost is calculated.

1. App design cost by country

One of the major cost determining factors continues to be ‘geography’, where the app is being made.

India – Indian mobile app design firms charge $20 per hour and up

UK – Design and development firms based in United Kingdom charge $65 to $130 per hour. iOS app design starts at $1387 and can go upto $6936. The exact cost depends on graphics, scope of work, and platforms. For example, an iPad app is more expensive than an iPhone app.

US – Design teams in the United States charge between $50 to $150 per hour. A customer is likely to pay between few thousand dollars to tens of thousands for a high-end complex app.

Ukraine – Ukrainians can deliver great designs at $30 to $50 per hour.

2. App design cost by the level of project complexity

iOS and Android apps can be divided into Basic, Middling, and Complex. This is how the average price for the 3 types looks like –


A mobile app can be considered simple if it is being designed for one platform only and these apps take about 100-150 hours to develop and starts at $5,000 in terms of costing. Apps for moving companies, for customers that allows order creation and map-based delivery tracking also qualifies as a simple app.

Another example can be a gift app that lets people send vouchers to their friends that can be redeemed at restaurants or food joints.


These take around 200 hours to make and cost around $10,000.

WhatsApp is the perfect example of a middling complexity app. Even though it has a very simplified user interface, on further attention one identifies additional screens with well-designed interactions and the varied types of content one can send in one message. Instant messaging and chat apps like WhatsApp take around 200-250 hours to design. Cumulatively, it would take more than 700 hours to develop for a single platform.


These are mobile applications with custom animations taking around 400 hours to develop and costing around $20,000.

Most mobile applications fall into simple or middling complexity. If the number of platforms are increased, the cost of the mobile solution will go up, this is the most important factor in deciding the design budget.


Taxi App:

Small sized app – $5,000 to $10,000 per platform

Medium sized app – $10,000 to $25,000 per platform

Large sized app – above $25,000 per platform

Dating App:

Small sized app – $4,000 to $8,000 per platform

Medium sized app – $8,000 to $16,000 per platform

Large sized app – above $16,000 per platform

Gaming App:

Small sized app – $5,000 to $10,000 per platform

Medium sized app – $10,000 to $18,000 per platform

Large sized app – above $18,000 per platform

Classified App:

Small sized app – $4,000 to $10,000 per platform

Medium sized app – $10,000 to $18,000 per platform

Large sized app – above $18,000 per platform

Fitness App:

Small sized app – $4,000 to $8,000 per platform

Medium sized app – $8,000 to $15,000 per platform

Large sized app – above $15,000 per platform

Restro Finder App:

Small sized app – $4,000 to $10,000 per platform

Medium sized app – $10,000 to $17,000 per platform

Large sized app – above $17,000 per platform

Buy & Sell App:

Small sized app – $5,000 to $10,000 per platform

Medium sized app – $10,000 to $20,000 per platform

Large sized app – above $20,000 per platform

The estimates shared are an approximate of global design costs. Costs put by freelancers and design studios are not solely dependant on geography, each one has besope solutions on offer, right from quality, specialties, and processes.

When you zero down on the time to design an app, invest well, hire professionals and the best mobile app designers to beautify your app and yet totally utilitarian. App design will always be one of the most important contributing factors to your mobile application’s success. If the design is shabby, the application won’t be popular and will consequently get low traffic, negative reviews and yield poor RoI. Yes, good designing is going to cost you but it will be the investment you make towards the market performance of your mobile application.

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  1. Very helpful! Thank you a lot!

  2. Welcome to my blog, I am glad that you picked up a few nuggets from this post.

    Let me know how it goes once you start implementing them.

    Have a great day ??

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