Have you ever received a quote from a graphic designer and felt your jaw drop? The price of design can rack up to four digits, which can be a lot of money for a small business. But the pricing isn’t just a random figure. There are reasons why design comes at a cost.
It’s a familiar scenario for most designers; they get a dream client wanting the whole design shebang. But after sending the client a quote, they get ghosted. Chances are, the client didn’t realize what went into the design process and didn’t see it as an investment.
Good design is an invaluable asset to your company. And that comes at a cost. Let’s delve into the reasons behind the cost of design.
Four reasons behind expensive design
Many designers charge several thousands of dollars for premium packages. If you’ve never worked with a designer before, this may come as a surprise.
To understand the rate of a professional designer, there are a few things to consider. For example, what do graphic designers do, and what resources do they need?
Let’s look at the key factors why hiring a graphic designer will cost you a fair amount.
1. Design costs time
f you think of graphic design as slapping a logo and an image together, think again. Before even opening a design program like Photoshop, a lot of hours have been put into the process already.
Designing something isn’t a linear process that can be repeated for each project. It’s constantly exploring new ideas, making adjustments, and editing.
For each concept your designer sent you, there were multiple concepts that never made the first cut.
Good design takes time. Therefore, you should look at it this way: expensive design ensures that a lot of thought and research went into the process.
What do graphic designers do?
What exactly goes into designing something? Let’s sidetrack a little to elaborate on why good design takes time.
In short, this is what a designer’s process can look like:
- Define the scope of the project according to the client’s brief.
- Suggest possibilities to the client.
- Specify the main message the design should communicate.
- Create or source imagery.
- Design graphics such as illustrations, icons, or logos.
- Pick out colors and typography choices.
- Organize each design element according to a specific layout.
- Refine the design according to trial and error.
- Show the result and clarify the process to the client.
- Adjust the design according to feedback.
- Check for any design mistakes before submitting the final result.
- Optionally revise again, depending on the client’s feedback.
As you can see, it’s not just a matter of picking out some colors and a font. Of course, the list of tasks varies per type of graphic design service. A website design usually requires focus groups, and product design has a prototype phase.
2. Design adds value
Design can have a massive impact on your business. It can establish you as a brand, boost sales and create a loyal following.
Good design speaks more than a thousand words. If things look alright on the front end, customers will automatically assume things are a-okay at the back end. Besides, it shows your customers that you care about your brand. And that’s what will draw people in.
You can imagine this by thinking of a product shelf. In our current society, each product comes in various shapes and forms. Even at a small-scale drug store, picking out a regular shampoo comes with a wealth of options. The product that eventually lands in your cart is most likely the most appealing bottle.
When you hire a designer, it’s not just a sum of hours you’re paying for. You’re also paying for the results.
3. Designers are experienced
A recently graduated designer without work experience will charge a very different rate than a designer that has been in the field for ten years. The amount of skill and knowledge an experienced designer brings to the table comes at a cost.
It’s no different from any other business. You get promotions, and your salary increases according to your experience. A designer has also invested a lot of time and money into their career. So naturally, they increase their price accordingly.
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Additionally, graphic design is an ever-evolving field. As a designer, you have to keep up with recent developments. You need to invest time to do research and spend money to pay for a course or a specialized tool.
4. Graphic designers have expenses too
Unless you opt for a design agency or subscription-based design, chances are your designer is someone running their own business.
Operating your own business comes at a cost. A chunk of the fee will go into taxes, and another part will go into the resources needed to get the job done. Think about things such as tools, subscriptions, and design software. Then there’s e-mail and website hosting, marketing, and physical items such as a printer or stationery items.
And then we haven’t even gotten to living costs yet. A graphic designer has rent or a mortgage to pay, groceries to buy, etc.
What is the average pay for graphic designers?
Now that you know the reasons behind expensive design, let’s talk numbers. Because surely, at this point, you’re curious. What is the average pay for graphic designers?
Rates of graphics designers can vary from $15 to $150 per hour. The average cost depends on different factors: the complexity of the project, whether you opt for a freelancer, an in-house designer (or something entirely different), and the designer’s location. Hiring someone full-time in-house comes at a different cost than hiring a freelancer based in a developing country.
According to Indeed, the national average salary in the U.S. for a graphic designer is $47,666 per year.
It’s clear that design will set you back a pretty penny. This might make you wonder: do you need a graphic designer? As a small company or startup, you may not be able to afford the initial investment straight away.
Luckily, there are options available that will allow you to cut costs:
If you are interested in design, there is always the option to do it yourself. Nowadays, many affordable resources are available to anyone willing to give design a go. From stock images to royalty-free icons, there is plenty to get creative with.
This option is only recommended if you feel comfortable designing. Otherwise, the amount of time and effort put in won’t be worth it, and you’re better off hiring someone else.
Some designers sell pre-made branding templates that you can use for your business. They often come with the possibility of slightly altering colors and are based on the industry you operate in.
In addition to pre-made branding templates, you can use web design templates on website creation platforms like WordPress. This is called a theme and dictates the overall look, feel, and style of your website.
Bear in mind that things get complicated quite fast, especially if you need more than a static page. If you feel uncomfortable with basic design and coding, you might want to leave your web design to the pros.
Don’t want to lift a finger but still want something unique for cheap? Participating in a design contest may be the option for you. You can find numerous platforms online that allow you to host your design contest. A community of designers will then submit their designs for you to choose from.
For a novice creative designer, it’s a great way to build a portfolio. And for your startup, it’s an affordable alternative to get your hands on unique design.
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The cost of bad design
We’ve shed some light on the importance of good design. But bad design actually comes at a price too.
Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Cars, famously said: “If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.”
With bad design, this is what you miss out on:
You’re losing reach
Bad design can cause potential customers to overlook your brand. With a growing number of competitors, not standing out is the last thing your brand needs.
You’re losing credibility
If you sell a modern product but your website is outdated, you’re not winning any credibility points with your audience. People are quick to judge, and you risk the assumption that your brand isn’t the real deal.
You’re losing money
It’s often more expensive to turn bad design into good design. With bad design, you’ve already lost your competitor advantage. Then, you have to spend time looking into what doesn’t work and how you can fix it.
This entire process will set you back more than good design would have cost you in the first place.
If you’re running a small business and receive a quote from a graphic designer, it’s easy to overlook all of the expenses that make up the total amount. But it’s not just a random number; good design is expensive for multiple reasons.
Working with a professional designer can be expensive. But for all the right reasons! Good design can be invaluable to your brand, making it an investment rather than just a cost. And that’s something to keep in mind the next time you reach out to a designer.