Design Factsheets

When it comes to design, as with other professional services, you tend to get what you pay for. It is important to remember that design is not a commodity bought off the shelf. A design project with specific business objectives will contribute to the personality and future of your business. Effective design, and its use in controlling your company image, can also positively influence customers’ perceptions of your company.

There are two different considerations when looking at the quotes. The first is whether or not the quotes you are given represent good value in your local market. The best way to be sure of this is to ask three companies to provide a quote and view the average (mean) price as the going rate.

Business Value

The second consideration is whether the price you are paying represents good business value. If you are expecting a healthy increase in profits as the result of a design project, then ensure you have put enough money into your budget for your initial outlay. The budget – the amount you pay for the design expertise – should reflect the return on investment you expect from the design project. Bear in mind, also, the intrinsic benefit when assessing a project’s worth: fewer customer complaints, fewer returned orders and less work from warranty repairs. Don’t select or dismiss a company based on price alone. Keep in touch with any consultancy you really like – you may well be able to negotiate on cost.


The relationship you have with your designer is key to the success of the project. The key to this relationship is open communication, so ask all of the questions that occur to you, however trivial they might seem. You must also make a commitment to give the designer as much of your time as they need. To avoid any misunderstandings, ensure that all discussions of costs – and what they will involve or exclude – take place before the start of the project. The Design Business Association categorises design costs in the following way:

  • Design fees
    Quoted in advance and usually related to the amount of time a consultancy will spend on a project. They are usually charged at a daily rate and will also include account-handling fees.
  • Expenses
    Costs such as travel and accommodation incurred by the consultancy in connection with the job.
  • Implementation costs
    Payment for materials and services used to complete the project. These could include printing, and costs from suppliers like photographers or shop fitters. You should check to see if a handling charge will be added to these costs. Ask the designer to always keep you informed about any costs they incur that are above the costs defined in the quotation.

You can use design to improve your business through the products and services you offer, and you can double its effectiveness by planning for and using design strategically. By thinking the big design picture, rather than focussing on one single product, you can link all of the parts of your company that benefit from design and create a powerful business response that is irresistible to your customers.

For design advice in your region contact your local Business Link and visit the Design Council website. Also, take a look at the factsheets covering: choosing a designer.

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