3 Things You Need Before Hiring a Designer

I’ve been working with clients for over a decade. In that time, I’ve found that there are three things I’m always asking my potential clients for. If you want to make the process of hiring a designer easier, you should have these three things ready before you talk to them about your project.

1. Have a budget

I know a lot of people new to product design don’t know what a reasonable budget is. That is totally fine! I get a lot of potential clients asking me ‘how much does this cost’? Well, there is no simple answer. The amount of money you put in is directly associated with what you get out of it. But only to a certain point. I can spend 30 hours and get a quick product design done, and I’ve done it. A lot of other designers have too. Or, I can spend 1000 hours and have an amazing design solution that wins awards. If I asked a room of people, many would go for the cheapest design possible, but is that what you really want? When hiring a designer you should know at least your ideal and reasonable budget.

The average product design, start to finish, is an 80-200-hour process depending on the product. And no, that doesn’t include vehicle sized products. Average hourly rates range from $80-$250 an hour. This depends on how much experience the designer has, the industry, and if it’s an agency. Keep in mind, top agencies run more around $500-$1000 an hour. As a design firm, we like to work on a by project rate as it keeps things simple and up front for our clients. An average project is about $50,000 for a full design, concept to manufacturing packet. So be upfront about what you expect in price and timeline. If it’s not the right fit for us, we’ll tell you.

2. Know your why

So, you have a great product idea, or even a better idea for an existing product. But why? Why are you creating this product, what problem does it solve, how does it help people? If your first answer is ‘because I’d use it’, then we should do some market research to make sure. Working with startups and entrepreneurs a lot, I’ve come across some amazing ideas that almost no one would use. Knowing your why helps us to tell your story through the product. People get behind products that have a great story and makes their life easier.

3. Know your market

If you haven’t done your own market research, a good designer will offer to do that for you. We’ll put together things like a market strategy, SWOT analysis, and information on your competition’s products. But whether we do it or you do it, you should at least have a basic understanding of who you are marketing the product to. It guides us if we do the research, and it helps us with the design of the product. You might have an awesome product idea, but maybe it works for two very different markets, like babies and seniors! Look at diapers. While both age groups use it, the product is designed and marketed differently for each user. Knowing who we are designing for, their budget, lifestyle, and age to name a few metrics, helps us create a product they will use, and you can sell successfully.

Last thoughts

Some of you might notice that I didn’t say have an idea anywhere in there. Most people think that they need to have a product idea before they talk to a designer. That isn’t the case with great designers. When hiring a designer, make sure they can do the type of design process you need. They should be able to start with the problem and create a solution with a product if you are not bringing them a product idea.

We design to solve the problem, fixing a pain point in someone’s life. Maybe that pain point is not hearing the best audio possible, or maybe it’s not wanting to cobble together your own product, or maybe it’s a problem you see frequently for people you interact with. Industrial Design is about solving problems, and we’re happy to work with you whether you have a product idea, or just want to solve a problem but don’t have any idea how to.

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