Cost Of Design

Today we will touch upon an exciting topic – the cost of design. How much does UX/UI design cost? How much do individual freelance designers earn? How much do studios earn? A comparison of Russian and world experience is presented below.

Cost Of Design
Cost Of Design

Freelance prices

I have been working as a freelancer since 2000. And I’ve been watching the deployment of the design industry for a long time. My experience at the moment is mostly based on work with Russian freelancers and Russian customers. But I also have an experience in working on and observing of global freelancing platforms, such as Upwork (formerly Odesk). In general, there are no strong differences in prices in the low-quality segment of the market. And of course, customers always want to pay less, and developers – to earn more.

Dumping exists on any freelance platform, of course. Sometimes I have a feeling that in the nearest future some designers will pay customers for their projects for the sake of the portfolio. Of course, you can call it kickbacks. However, in case of kickbacks a designer still makes a profit.

In general, prices on freelance platforms are different both on the part of freelancers and on the part of customers. According to my observations made on Russian freelance platforms for several years, the average cost of web design (a typical website or a landing page consisting of up to 10 pages or screens) varies from $100 to $300. Everything is different with Upwork. It offers to specify your hourly rate. But if you accept fixed orders, then the cost is about the same.

There is a serious difference in the definitions – Web Design in Russia is just development of the exterior (only UI Design). And all over the world it is development of the entire website on an engine (cms). So, if you see that Web design costs $200 on a Russian freelance platform, be sure that it is different from Web design on Upwork, where it costs $500.

In general, the cost is approximately the same, but it is true when it refers to ordinary low-refined projects. It means it is for people who do not worry about the quality, attitude and refinement. It means it is for customers who do not see any difference between works of designers and do not want to pay more. And for designers with low expertise who either do not want to develop themselves or just learn. For all these people the cost will be, on average, about the same as I described above.

But there are very significant differences in case with high refinement and high-quality expertise.


Russian Freelance

If your rating on a Russian freelance platform is high and if you have a high expertise in your niche, then you can accept more complex and big-budget projects by Russian standards. But all of them are limited to $1,500-$2,000. Getting such a project for website/interface design is similar to flying to space. Such projects are rare on Russian freelance platforms. It’s something like Dior putting a table on Main Bazaar in Delhi. Or like a golden limousine driving across Managua (Nicaragua). In general, it is something unbelievable. So, even if you have a very high expertise and you are really proficient in a particular niche (complex interfaces or glamorous websites), it is unlikely that you will be able to take big-budget projects, because they simply do not exist. Both globally and in general they do not exist, unfortunately. They are in studios, but we’ll speak about it later. So, it is because of Russian mentality, when the quality is of no value. Very few people in Russia need the quality and expertise. But I will talk about it in another article.


World Freelance

There are more interesting projects for top-ranked specialists on global freelance platforms (by the example of Upwork). If the level of your works and the status profile are high enough, if you have testimonials, and if your English is fluent, you can even choose among orders up to the amount of $10,000. And even more. There are a lot of such orders and they are mostly posted by the United States, sometimes by Europe, Australia or Canada, but in smaller quantities. So, by raising your expertise, you can choose very good options even by California living standards.


Prices in studios

Prices for design in studios are, of course, always higher. Office, team, equipment – it is required to pay for everything. However, for the most part, the expertise is also higher, because the whole team is working on the project. There are few studios that are engaged only in design. Such studios are engaged in high-grade UX/UI design. Research, analytics, etc. But nevertheless, 99% of studios render complex services on development. In Russia really interesting budgets come only from financial and government institutions. $20,000-$50,000-$100,000 – it is a usual budget for web design offered by these customers. If a studio does not have access to such customers but its expertise is high, the cost varies from about $5,000 to $20,000.

I would like to mention again that I do not take into account developers (and studios as well), who have low expertise and refinement. I do not think that this is a good example and that it is worth paying attention to.

I do not know much about prices in studios of other more developed countries. I only know that $1 million for a project in New York or California is a normal budget. I also know what salaries designers have in Europe, Australia and Canada. They are about 3-4 times higher than a very good designer’s salary in Russia. Hence, the cost of medium-sized projects is at least 3-4 times higher.
As for the rest it will be interesting to read your opinions in the comments section. Where do you live? What budgets are offered in your country? Tell us in the comments.


The most important issue is how much a good design costs.

Any good product or service will always cost more or much more than ordinary products/services in the same niche. This generally applies to everything. Houses, cars, learning, flights, food, design, anything. The more details are taken into account, the higher the quality and the cost are.

You never get a really good website/interface design for $100.

To order a cool product, you need to contact an excellent specialist. And you always have to get to the back of the line when turning to such specialists. Secondly, prices are much higher as compared to usual ones. The same applies to design. A good design starts at about $2,000. All top-rated specialists are aware of this, and no one will work for peanuts. This is the door to the high-quality world. To have good things, it is necessary to give more energy (funds).

Of course, I do not take into account charitable or social projects. It is another story.


Example of refinement

It is how an ordinary cheap product/service looks like
It is how a high-quality product/service looks like

In this figure I tried to show the difference between beggary goods/services and high-quality ones.

Refinement is an attitude. If you take an example with the company that provides some services or sells goods, then details allow seeing how the company treats its customers. Take, for example, my UX/UI area. If the company has an old website that is not user-friendly (or the company created a new low-quality website for $200), then it is immediately clear that this company simply does not care about its customers.


Life hack

In the modern world the quality of goods or services can be seen in design. If the design is bad, then everything else will be the same. If the design is good, then you can move on and cooperate with this company.

This is not always the case, but in general it works. Since design is a part of the system of attitude towards its customers, it is a branch of the tree. The more beautiful and refined the tree is, the better the attitude is.

If you get to the root of this tree, you will see that the difference between low and high refinement is in time. And low refinement is very expensive indeed. Because one always has to spend much more time on it. And time is the only resource that we have.

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