What's the cost of product design services for a new product?

June 3, 2024
15 minute read
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Innovation reigns supreme in the ever-evolving world of business. As a business owner, you've likely found yourself with a groundbreaking idea. Thinking about a product that could revolutionize your industry or capture a whole new market is a thrill.

However, every visionary product idea comes with a price tag – the cost of product design.

The practicality and success of your product concept depend on how you manage the cost of bringing it to life.

Today, we're looking at design costs and the mysteries behind the number of proposals you've likely received.

So, if you've planned your dream product, and it's full of potential, you're probably wondering, "What will it cost to create a design that will grow my business when I send the product to market?"

Keep reading.

In this guide, we'll explore the complexities of product design costs, with tips on the factors influencing pricing. You'll understand the factors that affect design cost significantly and how to ensure your project will cost less with a plan.

So, prepare to discover the art and science of managing and lowering your costs. We'll ensure your grand idea takes center stage without bankrupting your business.

Key Takeaways

  • Factors affecting design costs
  • Project-based pricing vs. design subscriptions
  • In-house development teams vs. freelancer product designers
  • Understanding design price cost estimates
  • The importance of user-centered design
  • Airbnb's user-centered design success

Factors Affecting the Cost of Product Development and Design

Imagine you're taking a cross-country road trip.

Before you hit the open road, you need to calculate the expenses:

  • fuel
  • accommodations
  • unexpected detours
  • potential accident costs

Your product design journey is quite similar - you've got to anticipate the cost of developing and designing before a product launch.

So, let's explore what affects how much you'll pay to build the product of your dreams.

Project Complexity

Just like a road trip, the complexity of your initial design idea is the twists and turns of your route. The complexity of designing a product will affect the product design process, the final product, the cost of hiring, and the increase in the overall cost of your team.

Complex features, advanced technology, or unique user experiences often demand more time and expertise, increasing design costs. Design is an important aspect of your project, so don't always opt for a simple project due to cost. It could lead you to dislike your product once the design is complete.

Design Scope

Deciding how many cities to visit impacts your budget on a road trip. Similarly, the scope of your product design plays a significant role. Are you creating a single product or an entire product line? Have you completed the market research for your type of product? When hiring a product design team, you must define the project's boundaries to estimate the costs accurately. Without a clearly defined scope, you can't get a good estimate to bring your product to life.

Team Expertise

Think of your product design team as co-drivers on your journey. Their expertise determines how smoothly you navigate the road. Highly skilled professionals may command higher rates, but their proficiency can lead to more efficient and cost-effective outcomes.

Would you rather be a travel partner with ten years of driving experience or a 16-year-old who got their license yesterday? For a great product, you likely prefer the latter. Professional product design will increase the cost of bringing the product you want to market.

Iterations and revisions can extend your project's duration and costs.

While refining your product's design is necessary, excessive changes can inflate expenses as you create a product and prototype design possibilities.


Before heading out on a long road trip, you might take your vehicle for a test drive.

If not, you'll at least check the tires and oil.

Similarly, prototypes allow you to assess functionality and user experience when creating a new product. Developing and testing prototypes is an investment that can lead to higher design costs, but they are highly valued during concept development. New product ideas without a prototype make it difficult to ensure that the design is perfect.

Design can vary greatly depending on your designer's abilities and your ideas. So, a prototype design can help test the product's value before you develop it.

Materials and Technology

Choosing materials and technology for your product is like choosing the right vehicle for your journey.

High-quality materials and cutting-edge technology often come with higher price tags.

You're choosing between a Tesla or a Ford Fiesta. We know which most people would choose, do you?

Balancing features and costs is important, but don't do it simply for the price of a product or service.

Why get the Tesla if you only need a Volvo? Unless you are looking for superior product quality, the real cost will be substantial, but you may not need an extravagance like Tesla's premium interior.


In both road trips and product design, time is money. Rushed projects may require more resources, leading to increased expenses.

Setting a realistic timeframe can help manage, ensure quality, and make designing the product simpler for your product design agency.

At the least, it will save you money later in your project.

Geographic Location

Your starting location affects your road trip costs. Similarly, the geographic location of your product design team can impact pricing. Consider both local and global options to find the right balance between quality and affordability.

Understanding these factors will help you plot your trip itinerary. It helps you anticipate costs and confidently navigate your product design journey.

How Much Does Product Design Cost?

Now that we've explored the factors influencing the cost of product development and design, you might ask, "What's the price tag for my specific project?" It's an important question, and in this section, we'll explore prices to give you a clearer picture of what to expect.

Overall Product Design Costs: Project-Based Pricing vs. Design Subscription

There's a lot to consider when considering costs associated with design. The pricing structure can vary significantly based on several factors.

For project-based pricing, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 or more, depending on the complexity and scope of your project. Smaller projects with basic features will naturally fall on the lower end of this range, while large-scale, intricate projects will lean toward the higher end.

On the other hand, design subscription services offer a more predictable monthly fee, typically ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 or more. This subscription model can be useful for businesses that require ongoing design work, as it provides a steady and manageable expense.

Consider your project's unique needs and duration when deciding between project-based pricing and a design subscription service. It would be best to balance affordability and ensuring product design quality.

Design Project Development Costs

Product design companies within an agency can significantly affect your overall design and costs. Some agencies offer a one-stop shop, combining UX design and development services, while others focus solely on UI design.

Design firms with in-house development teams charge higher fees due to their comprehensive service offerings. However, this approach can streamline the design-to-development transition (including the design handoff process), potentially reducing the project timeline.

On the other hand, product design firms without an in-house development team may provide more cost-effective design services. However, you must coordinate with a separate development team, which can introduce additional communication and project management challenges.

Your choice should align with your project's needs, timeline, and budget. Be sure to assess the advantages and disadvantages of both options to make an informed decision.

Design Prices: Design Agency vs. Freelancer

Another important decision for product development costs is collaborating with an agency or a freelance designer for new product designs. Each option comes with its own set of cost-related considerations.

Agencies typically charge higher rates than freelancers but offer a broader range of expertise and resources. They can handle complex projects with multiple components and ensure higher quality control.

Freelancers, on the other hand, often have lower hourly rates or project-based fees. Freelancers can be cost-effective for smaller projects or when you require specific design services. However, freelancers may have limited capacity and offer different scalability expertise and support than agencies.

Your choice between an agency and a freelancer should suit your project's complexity, timeline, and budget. Evaluate your priorities and project requirements to make an informed decision that balances cost and quality.

How to Read and Understand Design Price Cost Estimates

You've read everything above and potentially chosen the right path for designing your product. Now, it's time to understand the design cost estimates.

Estimates sometimes seem like a puzzle, but don't worry  – we're here to help you decode them. In this section, we'll look at common terms and components you might encounter in design estimates, helping you understand what each element entails.

Scope of Work

The scope of work is the backbone of any design estimate. It outlines the specific tasks, deliverables, and objectives for your project. It needs to understand what the design team will create, from wireframes and prototypes to final design assets. Review this carefully to ensure it aligns with your project goals. Don't be afraid to contact your design team if something is unclear. Our team will answer your questions thoroughly, as should any good design team.

Hourly Rate

The hourly rate represents the amount the design agency or freelancer charges for their time. It'll help you determine the overall cost of your project. Hourly rates can vary widely based on the designer's experience, location, and the complexity of the work. Ensure you understand the hourly rate and how it applies to your project.

If you opt for hourly contracts, ask for an estimate of time for your work. Most developed agencies should know roughly how long it takes to design something. If not, it's a red flag to avoid that company - or better yet, choose a cost-effective design subscription service.

Fixed Fee

A fixed fee is a predetermined, all-inclusive price for the entire project. It gives you a clear cost structure and benefits budgeting posts. However, make sure the fixed fee covers all aspects of the project.

The last thing you want to do is accept a pricing estimate that doesn't cover everything in your project.

Revision Rounds

Revision rounds refer to the times you can request changes or revisions to the design work. Most estimates are inseparable from revision rounds; you must understand this limit. Additional revisions beyond the agreed-upon rounds may lead to extra charges.


Deliverables specify what you'll receive at the end of the project. This can include design files, prototypes, style guides, and any other assets necessary for your project's implementation. Review the list of deliverables to ensure they meet your project's requirements.

Also, make sure your estimate outlines how you will receive these deliverables.

Will the design team follow your design process and input them into your design library?

Or will you receive a Dropbox link with many files inside one folder?

Payment Schedule

The payment schedule outlines when and how payments are due throughout the project. It typically includes milestones or phases at which payments are expected. Understanding the payment schedule helps you plan your budget accordingly and ensures a smooth payment process.

All parties involved should agree on the payment schedule. It could mean the difference between paying everything up front or breaking your amount down into bite-sized payments you can manage.

Terms and Conditions

The terms and conditions section outlines the legal and contractual aspects of the project. It may include project timelines, intellectual property rights, confidentiality, and dispute resolution details. Always carefully review and clarify any points you find unclear.

Familiarize yourself with these common elements in design price estimates. This way, you'll be better equipped to evaluate and negotiate proposals from agencies or freelancers.

Open communication and clarity are key to a successful partnership and a design project meeting your expectations and budget.

If you take nothing else from this section for costs, it should be that you need to clarify all aspects of your agreement before accepting it.

Understanding How User-Centered Design Affects Cost

User-centered design (UCD) is a fundamental approach to designing products and experiences that prioritize the end-users' needs, preferences, and behaviors. It involves continuous feedback and iteration to create functional and user-friendly solutions. But how does UCD impact the cost of your design project, and why is it important to consider?

UCD Explained

At its core, UCD revolves around empathy for the end-users. Designers immerse themselves in the user's world to understand their goals, challenges, and expectations. This deep understanding informs every design decision, from the layout and interactions to the visual elements of a product.

The Importance of UCD

UCD is a key part of creating successful and sustainable products.

Here's why it matters:

  1. Enhanced User Satisfaction: UCD ensures your product resonates with users, leading to higher satisfaction and engagement. Happy users are more likely to become loyal customers.
  2. Reduced Development Costs: While you might assume that prioritizing users increases costs, the opposite is often true. Identifying and addressing user issues early in the design process can prevent costly changes and rework during development.
  3. Faster Time to Market: UCD streamlines the design process by focusing on what matters most to users. This efficiency can lead to quicker product development and a competitive edge.
  4. Better ROI: A UCD approach increases the likelihood of your product meeting its intended goals and generating a positive return on investment. It minimizes the risk of launching a product that needs to be improved.

UCD should be a standard practice for all design agencies, so it shouldn't significantly affect the cost of your project. Ensure that UCD principles are integrated into the process when evaluating design proposals. This will ensure you deliver a product that meets your business objectives and your users enjoy.

UCD is important, and AirBNB exemplifies why

When you visit a travel website to book a weekend getaway, you'll likely have different experiences. You need help finding the information you need on one site, and the booking process feels like a maze.

On the other hand, everything flows smoothly, from finding accommodations to completing your reservation - such as booking with Airbnb.

The difference between these two scenarios lies in UCD. It's the difference between frustration and satisfaction. It ensures the website is intuitive, making it easy to navigate, find information, and confidently make bookings.


This guide provides insights into product design costs, from influencing factors to pricing structures. For a tailored design cost estimate, click the "Get Started" button in the top right. Your journey to exceptional product design begins here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does product design cost?

Product design costs can vary significantly depending on the product's complexity and the team's size, with average prices ranging from $3,000 to $100,000+.

How much should a design cost?

The cost of a design project depends on the experience level of the designer; beginner designers typically charge between $15 and $50 per hour, while more experienced designers may charge $50 to $150 per hour.

How can I ensure high-quality product design with a limited budget?

To ensure high-quality product design with a limited budget, practice budget management, rethink the design, use cheaper materials, buy in bulk, and monitor competitors.

What are the risks typically associated with product design?

Product design carries risks such as delays, cost increases, poor design, or not meeting user needs. Additionally, product design is associated with disruptive new technologies and strategic risks related to industry, technology, brand, competitor, and customer factors.

What are some examples of successful product designs and their associated costs?

Notable examples of successful product designs include the Cupholder, Swingline stapler, Fitbit, Anglepoise Lamp, and Automatic Transmission, with costs varying depending on complexity and production scale.

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