Posted 21 Jun 2010 - No Comments - leave yours now!
One of the first questions that a client has in mind when embarking on design project is: ‘How much is this going to cost?’ It’s the way of the world, everything has it’s price!
How much does good design cost? What should a designer charge? Questions that will not go away and they are things every designer has to work out for themselves. Most novice designers struggle with these questions, for good reason because there are no straight forward answers. Why is this?
Every design job is unique, which means the amount that is charged has to be assessed on a job by job basis. Each client that employs you is different from the last and has specific needs of their own.
Personally I’m quite wary of designers/companies that offer strict pricing structures, as this suggests that a customer will receive a restricted service. If the price is not catered to the client and the job in hand, it means the resultant design won’t be either.
For a fair price to be offered the designer needs to be armed with a good design brief that gives them all of the correct information for them to assess a fair quotation.
What work is involved?
The nature of the design process varies from job to job but does keep a standard form. The price varies because the application of the design process changes according to the needs and/or budget of the client.
In order to explain further I’ll give you a brief overview of my design process.
1. A design brief must be defined and agreed upon by both designer and client.
3. Ideas generation & development
5. Presentation & client feedback
6. Revisions & further feedback/finishing touches.
7. Final artwork creation/supplying artwork files.
This is the basic framework/work flow I tend to go through on each job. Depending on the brief I have agreed with the client, which tells me what they expect and need, I will spend varying amounts of time on each stage.
If the overall job is restricted by a budget I try to assess if it will be worth my while working within it.
For example if a client would like a logo design and is determined to keep to a budget of no more than £300 I must figure out if I can produce something worthwhile in the amount of time that £300 gives me to work.
If the client has a small budget that I believe I can work within I then warn them that they will most likely receive an almost cosmetic result because their budget does not allow me to spend enough time on research and development, thus I will only scratch the surface of the possible solutions I might be able to come up with.
A lot of the time clients are happy with this, sometimes they try to extend their budget. Either way it is important to explain to the client how much work goes into their project so they can appreciate the value of the work you will eventually produce for them.
When quoting for a job the designer must assess how much time it will take to work through each stage of their process, if the client has given a guide budget, it is easier to figure out how much time you can give.
The more time you can give to research and development the better, this is where the ‘real’ design work takes place, but I’ll expand my thoughts on this in future posts.
If you have a good idea of how long your design process takes you then need to pair that with the hourly rate you charge. This in itself can be dependent on many factors.
The longer you have been doing something, the more efficient you should be at it. If this theory is applied; a designer that has been working hard within the industry for 5 years will get a lot more done in an hour compared to a graduate, so they can charge more for their time.
If you are a freelance designer you will have a bunch of overheads that need to be considered when assessing your hourly rate. A few of these include: Renting an office space/desk, utilities, phones, computers, software and then there’s the day to day consumables like paper, ink etc. You get the idea.
Cost of living
To help you work out a decent hourly rate you need to work out how much money you need to live. This is where you have to be realistic, it’s easy to say to yourself that you think you should be earning millions a year!
Consider your domestic and personal outgoings and how much money you need to live a comfortable life with a few perks here and there. There is no point working your arse off and just scraping through life.
Once you have your magic number; the amount of money you need to exist and the ideal amount of money you hope to earn to live a comfortable life, you need to add the total cost of your expenses for the year to this, then divide by the number of hours you will work in a year, this should result in your ideal hourly rate, with a possible adjustment here and there allowing for experience and current economic conditions.
This is just a rough guide and there is plenty of wiggle room. However, I tend not of quote an hourly rate to a client, I like to provide an overall price for a whole job. To do this I assess how much time I need to complete the brief and apply my hourly rate.
I can also do this in reverse when given a budget. I divide the budget by my hourly rate which gives me the amount of hours I would have to complete the job for it to be profitable.
It’s important to remember that graphic design, when done properly and professionally is a skilled service, and the amount of money you decide to charge should reflect this fact.
It is just as important to emphasize to the client that good design work should be treated as a sound investment. A logo design might cost them a lot of money but it could potentially last them decades, and be the first and most important point of contact to all of their new customers.
I do have one personal rule I go by when quoting a job. I can talk about doing the sums and working out hourly rates until the cows come home, but I will only send a quote to a client once I’ve looked at the price and know in my gut that it is fair. I’m not looking to get more money out of my clients than I deserve, I just want a fair price in exchange for a good service.
Never forget, once that price has been agreed, it’s up to the designer to provide that service and prove to the client that they were worth every penny.
Let me know what you think of the above article. How do you work out your quotes? Do you agree with solid pricing structures? Do you use an hourly rate?
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