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What does design cost? What does no design cost?


What does design cost? What does no design cost?

These and 6 other regularly asked questions (FAQ) are always of great interest to our customers and clients.

  1. What does design cost?
  2. -> What rights do I have to the design as the client?
  3. -> What risks does the designer bear?
  4. -> How can the quality of design performance be measured?
  5. -> Who does a design agency work for?
  6. -> How does a design project work?
  7. -> How do I start a design project?

What does design cost?

Auch wenn sich Generationen von Designern bereits in etwas anderer Form zu dieser Frage geäußert haben, z.B.: Was kostet kein Design? oder – Gutes Design ist letztlich preiswerter als schlechtes Design! – verstehen wir, dass die meisten Auftraggeber die Honorarfrage als wesentliches Kriterium ansehen. Auch wenn die positive Wirkung und der herausragende Nutzen und Wert von Design inzwischen hunderttausendfach bewiesen wurde, viele Auftraggeber sind sich in der Honorarfrage nicht sicher.

Start with the right understanding

‍Theterm "design" is quite ambiguous and so the same misunderstandings arise time and again. Does it mean aesthetic design or, as is common in the English-speaking world, technical development? People often speak of "a design" as if it were an object that can be seen independently of the product. With this idea, products are developed to market readiness without designer involvement and then a form is hastily imposed at the end. That's not how we work.

Our understanding of design is process-oriented. It means the step-by-step development from the idea to series production in a systematic, interdisciplinary process with engineers, marketeers, usability and clinical experts and, depending on the task, a number of other disciplines. In this process, we as designers take responsibility for the user experience, which includes aesthetics, originality, usability, functionality and quality appeal. This is how we lay the foundations for a high level of user acceptance in the market. With this definition in mind, let's take a closer look at the topic of costs...

Complexity as a cost factor

‍Itgoes without saying that more complexity also means more effort. A higher number of individual parts, more variants, a larger number of competitors to consider, a large development team, many different stakeholders, the number of meetings required - all of this leads to more complexity and therefore to greater effort and higher design fees.

Simplicity as a cost factor

"You should always simplify everything as much as possible. And not a bit further." This beautiful quote from Albert Einstein characterizes another challenge when estimating the effort involved in design work. Simplification in form, operation, production - all hallmarks of outstanding design, but unfortunately also accompanied by increased effort. Simplification is hard work. It is hard work that you often don't see in the result - because it seems so simple and obvious. It's counterintuitive, but simplification costs...

Security as a cost factor

‍Thedependence on security and effort also does not seem quite so obvious. It becomes clearer when we look at the goal of design development, namely success on the market. Success must be secured as far as possible. Even if this will never be 100% successful, detailed analysis and research, careful consideration of variants and alternatives, as well as thorough verification using simulations, models and prototypes help to achieve a high level of certainty. Indirectly, the creativity factor is also taken into account here, because the newer and more creative a design solution is, the more this new approach must be tested and validated.

In short, the costs rise with it:

  • the complexity of the task
  • the degree of simplification
  • the safety requirement
  • the degree of creativity and innovation

What does design cost?

‍Althoughclients always like to have a preliminary estimate as a "rough house number", please be prepared for the fact that this wish often cannot be fulfilled in the first meeting. However, it is still possible to provide relatively accurate fee examples using comparative projects. We even go one step further and list the most frequently requested design services in a list of services. However, only the individual quote, which you can expect from design professionals within one to two weeks, is completely accurate.

What is a bill of quantities?

Viele Designagenturen sind sehr reserviert, wenn es um das Thema Kosten und Honorare geht. Es gibt aber auch eine wachsende Zahl an Agenturen, die inzwischen transparenter mit ihrem Angebot und mit entsprechenden Preisbeispielen umgehen. Ein Leistungsverzeichnis ist vergleichbar mit einer Speisekarte. Es soll einen guten Überblick geben, die Preiskategorien erkennen lassen und letztlich auch Lust aufs Probieren machen. In unserem Leistungsverzeichnis z.B. finden Sie eine Vielzahl bewährter Designprozesse, die wie in einem Baukastensystem aufeinander abgestimmt sind. Die einzelnen Module lassen sich also miteinander kombinieren. Hier finden Sie auch Informationen über Stunden- und Tagessätze, die zur Angebots-Kalkulation herangezogen werden.

Fixed price, target price or hourly basis

‍Inmost cases, a basic exchange of information will be possible at short notice, on the basis of which a customer-specific offer or cost estimate can be made. Depending on how clear and plannable your task is, the designer can commit to a fixed price. If the objectives and specifications of the project are insufficiently defined at the time of the quotation, a short analysis phase or feasibility study is recommended in any case. This protects both sides from a risky or overly rough calculation. In the case of large projects with several project phases, only the first step is usually quoted as a binding offer, with the remaining phases given as a rough guide price. An agreement on an hourly basis, i.e. without a completed service description, is rather rare.

Design seems expensive - how can costs be reduced?

‍Whencomparing prices, you can often find significant differences between the individual providers, even for an identical request. Rarely are the price differences solely due to the hourly rates of the providers, unless professionals are compared with amateurs. The difference usually lies in the different assessment of the complexity and security requirements of the specific task - ultimately a question of risk for both sides if, for example, a complex task is classified as too simple. The only thing that helps here is a careful examination of the initial situation and a detailed discussion about the necessity of customer requirements or service components that can be provided more cost-effectively in-house, for example.

Discount & Co?

Trotzdem gibt es einige Möglichkeiten für den Designer, auf die Budgetvorstellungen des Kunden einzugehen. Wenn die Zusammenarbeit für mehr als ein kurzes Projekt vereinbart wird, kann man meist einen angemessenen Mengenrabatt oder im Hinblick auf eine dauerhafte Auslastung einen Retainer-Rabatt aushandeln. Einige Designbüros, vorwiegend im Grafikbereich, splitten die Vergütung in Aufwandshonorar und Nutzungshonorar, wie z.B. vom Berufsverband AGD empfohlen. Hier kann man bei einer beschränkten Nutzung auch von einem kleinen Nutzungshonorar ausgehen.

Designkosten sind kein einfaches Thema, es gibt verschiedene Wege zum Ziel. Fragen Sie uns, wenn Sie Ihr Projekt im Vorfeld kostenmäßig besser einschätzen möchten.

Weiterführende Links:
VDID: Beratung zu Designverträgen

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