Flat rate design pricing & publishing prices on a website have always been points of contention in the design community. The arguments for and against.

Friend of The Factor, David Airey, is holding a blog logo design competition over at his new blog Logo Design Love.
No, not the usual design contest nonsense – David has assembled a rather impressive list of judges who will take a gander at blog logos, from 10 categories, and judge the best through a series of heats. LDL is a nifty resource for all matters related to logos, with a ton of articles examples and links. Did notice one thing though – in David’s feature how much for that logo in the window, he opines thusly –

If a logo designer provides a fixed price before researching the project, the reason is due to one of three things:
1. They’re shooting themselves in the foot by under-valuing their expertise
2. They’ll create a poor design by scrimping on the research stage
3. The figure is huge because the designer doesn’t need the business.

As we work with flat rate pricing at The Factory, not sure which of the these we’re guilty of. I’d argue (naturally enough) none, but no matter. Flat rate pricing, in fact publishing ANY pricing, on a design website has always been a point of contention within the design community. And one that I’ve swam upstream against for as long as I remember.

The most commonly asked design website question is “how much?”

The bottom line for flat-rate design is this – if you’re going to market services via the web you’ll need to have some form of quick-to-find rates in place. On the intertoobz, folks are in a rush to find out the nuts-and-bolts of any product and service, and generally speaking the second FAQ about design services is “what’s a good logo worth?” (the first is ‘can you do this’?, more often than not answered by your portfolio). By refusing to list pricing of any sort, you’ll lose a hefty percentage of visitors who can’t be bothered filling out the contact form (regardless of how user-friendly), sending an e-mail or picking up the phone. The interwebs run 24/7, across many time zones, so you run the risk of missing out on overnight, weekend and holiday inquiries, especially when it’s a simple mouse click to find the answer somewhere else.

When many inquiries becomes too many.

For those that do take the time to communicate with you, personalized correspondence is manageable and every project can be tweaked and formulated IF your site is only receiving a few hits a day. Even then, a vast majority of website traffic consists of tire-kickers (folks who are not interested in design services but are ‘curious’), design students and yes, even your competition, eager to find out what the ‘other guys’ are up to. However, once your design site begins to develop search engine traction, and your hits begin to rise, the time taken up answering the ‘how much’ question would quickly overwhelm the finite resources of a one-person shop, or even that of a small studio. Get a decent amount of traffic and dealing with the ‘how much’ question on a personal level is simply not feasible. At least, that was my experience back in the day when we took TLF online back in’96. We had no choice but to develop a series of flat-rate packages in order to ‘cut and paste’ replies into e-mail inquiries. Even that became time prohibitive, so we had to develop an online pricing menu complete with automated project submission forms.

Working out pricing.

In regards to the actual logo design pricing itself, we’ve been able to average the amount of time spent on various types of projects into a series of packages, each with varying degrees of turnaround time, file support and number of revisions we can commit to. When it comes to illustrative logos, we need to restrict these projects to our professional logo packages, in order to cover the extra steps required to develop concept sketches, etc. Naturally, I can only speak for what goes on at The Logo Factory HQ, and while this kind of pricing isn’t for every design shop, it is certainly possible to bill out flat-rate-design without ‘scrimping on the research stage’.