I have been engaged in discussions for the following design tasks for a UK-based client:

  • Interface design for their software
  • Logo re-design
  • Icon design for their software interface

and since Interface design is something I have not handled previously, I am having a tough time figuring out what to charge the client.

The major variables involved in the interface design engagement that will affect the price are:

  • Design of the main screen of the software [ once that is done, other internal pages will require minor tweaks and re-designs ]
  • Number of all the icons required for tasks [ there are three platforms across which the software is integrated and while there are similar tasks on all three, there are extra/additional functionalities which will require separate icons ]
  • Design of the icons [ one of the platforms on which the software runs has quite a few restrictions in terms of colors, shapes, alignment etc. – which will make it tougher to generate more appealing color schemes. At the same time, I intend to design each icon as a representative of the particular software and/or company – the services they provide/the functionality of the software – so the set of icons will be non-reusable anywhere else ]
  • Other stuff like travel time, learning time [ I need to familiarize myself with their software and the three platforms it uses ], doodle time etc.

I am a member of a couple of great Graphic Design YahooGroups and have posted a request for some clues on what the best way to go about pricing such an design engagement is. I do wish there were some more guidelines on how to set prices for creative work. I fully intend to use whatever I learn in the pricing process and create some kind of a loosely-defined guide to help out other freelancers/self-employed designers when they start out.

Maybe, more than figuring out prices, one needs to start with “What am I charging for?”


After a heated discussion [ an ex-colleague – he’s a Finance guy ] I realized what I’m charging for.
This particular client/company has an excellent piece of software – software that works and is functional. However, in recent years, it hasn’t been doing too well and based on client feedback, the management has realized that clients want it to ‘look better’.

I am of course in the business of making things look better, but in this particular case, I will essentially be assisting the company in business turnaround – I will be assisting them with turning around their product, increasing sales and hence boosting profits.

I will be charging them for business turnaround using design strategy.


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  1. This is always a hard nut to crack. Personally I found a strategy not many in my business (consultancy) use. I had enough of the discussions with clients about extra hours I spent in a project.
    So my hourly rate went up a little and I always work fixed price. Of course when extra work is done because the client rephrases their assignment I will charge for it. But I never charge for work that takes longer because I had to learn more about it, or because I’m a perfectionist and can’t stop tweaking.
    So I guess what I’m trying to say is, you shouldn’t charge for learning. You can up your hourly rate, but learning more about software interface design will pay itself off in the future. In my experience real good interface designers are rare, and the ones I found can charge good hourly rates.

  2. Hi Sanne,

    You have no idea how much I appreciate your post! Thank you so much for stopping by and helping me out. Of course I am not charging them for my learning [ the thing that I have to learn in this case is the programming language they have used for their program – it’s called TAS and is supposed to be almost non-existent – so if I do learn how to design for this particular platform, it is probably only going to be a one off thing – no value addition for me.

    I too prefer to work fixed price – always. This client had asked me for a couple of options on how they could pay since they cannot afford to pay the project price in one go – so it’s fixed price but divided into four easy “installments” 🙂

    I understand when you say “…or because I’m a perfectionist and can’t stop tweaking” – I too am a perfectionist and spend a lot of my supposedly “free” time tweaking till I get it just right. So technically I don’t charge for that now do I!

    Thanks a million Sanne!

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