The cost of design will vary according to who you employ, what they do, how experienced they are and where they’re based.
Design skills are available from many types of providers, ranging from individuals to large agencies capable of providing a wide range of specialisms ‘under one roof’.
The way those services are charged for will depend on the type of project. You may pay a day rate, for instance, for work on an advertisement, while a more complex fee structure would apply in the case of product development, accompanied by a brand review. In certain cases, help is available to fund design costs. Contact your local Business Link for more information.
As with other professions, you will find that fees vary according to factors such as location – London, for instance, may be markedly more expensive than other parts of the country – specialism and experience. Nevertheless, it’s possible to give general guidelines based on types of service provider.
Large, well-established agencies usually provide and, more importantly, integrate, a variety of design disciplines. For example, they could provide an integrated response to a brief combining contributions from hardware and software designers, design psychologists and researchers. Agencies usually have brand and business expertise rolled into their design process as well.
Having an interdisciplinary design staff allows agencies to offer one-stop product or service development. They are able to deal with the research concept development, testing and engineering of the product or service. This ‘one stop’ approach can offer considerable communication and time saving opportunities.
Such agencies tend to represent the upper end of the market, with fees averaging £700 to £1,000 per person per day. Naturally, you would expect to pay more for very senior, renowned or experienced staff, but these people are unlikely to bill large numbers of hours for a project, delegating most of the less strategic work to less senior (and less expensive) staff.
Single discipline agencies
Well-established, single discipline agencies tend to charge day rates at around £400 to £600 per person. They specialise in a particular field, but most are able to bring in suppliers with different expertise should the project require it.
Another option is designers who are just starting out in their careers. They can provide good value for money at rates of perhaps £200 to £300 per day. However, you are likely to have to work hard at briefing them, as well as paying close attention to the project management process.
In the ball park
Design fees are usually quoted in advance as either an estimate, fixed price or on a ‘price-not-to-exceed’ basis. These prices usually relate to the amount of time a consultancy thinks it will spend on a project, multiplied by an agreed day rate. Fees are then usually billed in day or half-day increments. Make sure you discuss with your chosen designer how they will tell you about any additional costs they may incur, as although costs may be agreed at the outset, you may discover that additional services are needed later.
To estimate how much a design project might cost, discuss with your designer how long a person or team might need to:
- Understand the background, context and goals of the project
- Carry out the research
- Generate early design responses
Your design consultancy is an important partner to your business. Finding the right partner and ensuring that both you and they have a solid understanding of the expectations and a firm brief and contract in place will pay dividends for your business.
Information provided by the Design Council www.designcouncil.org.uk