What are the most common pricing models? In the majority of design agencies, you would be charged a fixed price, paid upfront or split into two parts, or per-hour charge (time and materials).
Both models have proven efficiency in design-related tasks. We have used them as well at the beginning of our practice. Later, when we started working with SaaS exclusively, we discovered another pricing model: the time-based retainer model.
At Eleken, the pricing is very simple: clients pay a fixed amount every month. We assign each client designer(s) working on their project full-time. Basically, it is a subscription-based product designer.
Most SaaS businesses use a subscription-based model, which means having a recurring monthly (in some cases yearly) income. What we realized from our experience working with SaaS is that this model works best for clients and the design agency as well.
Having a designer working on your project full-time for a fixed monthly fee sounds a lot like… hiring a full-time designer. What is the point of using agency services then?
- Save time. The hiring process is often long, exhausting, and requires a dedicated HR professional. We find you a designer experienced in SaaS and you can start working the next day.
- Save money. You don’t have to care about social security, insurance, work benefits, and all that stuff. We take it off your shoulders.
- Get the best talent. There’s no way to avoid risk during the hiring process. With us, the risk is minimized. We only work with professional UI/UX designers who have experience in SaaS. There are no freelancers. Our designers work in a team, share their work and get advice from colleagues.
- Insurance for any design-related accidents, like a designer quitting for a better offer, the fuss of finding a new employee, and all the other things that might happen. In case our designer quits, we will onboard another qualified professional from our team and provide a seamless transfer that won’t affect your project.
- Flexibility. You can change the size of the team at any moment without the pain of the firing/hiring process.
- Free trial. 3 days of working with our designer on your project. After that, you can decide if you want to proceed or leave. No registration or card required.
That is what you get by paying a monthly subscription at Eleken. But what if the project takes less than a month?
For this, we have weekly sprints. Similar to the monthly subscription, this is a shorter commitment for smaller projects. Also, weekly sprints are perfect at the end of a months-long project when only a few things are left to finish. The next question that might come is:
How do I know how long the work will take?
There is no definite amount of time that is optimal for product design. We can estimate the period of time needed based on our experience, but we strictly follow the pay-per-month rule. Working closely with our designers, clients know perfectly well that things that need to take time, well, take time.
But wait, how do fixed-price agencies know exactly how long it will take and how much it will cost?
The most common formula for calculation is as follows: take an average amount of hours spent on a similar project previously, multiply it by 1,5 (or 2), add all the overhead costs, and there you get it. And if the project requires more iterations than usual, an additional bill is likely to come.
That is what makes design costs often high and unpredictable. However, our monthly charges are not subject to change and are easy to fit into the client's budget.
Often our design process ends up being faster than fixed-price because the team works directly with designers skipping the intermediation through project managers on the agency side. That way, the communication, and feedback are constant and lead to a more productive workflow.
How is the business model connected to design quality?
There’s no discussion about the fact that good design takes time. What some people don’t understand is that user-oriented design takes time again and again. And it’s for good. We believe that design is a process, not an event.
Here is what it means in reality: the initial version of the design turns out great but it is never perfect. We run usability tests and discover space for improvement. We make improvements and test all over again. Each iteration has the potential to make the product more user-friendly.
When the product is launched, we get feedback from a large number of users, which brings out new insights and shows new spaces for improvement. The product is out and running for a while, and then we get information from the support team and see what needs to be changed again.
All these changes do not mean that the initial product was not good in the first place. These updates are not about changing the whole user interface. Still, however slight these changes are, they matter a lot.
When you work with a design agency on a fixed price basis, each of these upgrades would have a new, unpredictable price. What is more important, some of these updates would not even happen because there wouldn’t be a person in your team following the whole process from the design point of view and monitor user feedback design-wise.
At Eleken, you know exactly how much you will pay each month and follow designers’ work constantly. Each iteration is under your control.
That’s a lot said about how we work. Want to see what we actually do? Take a look at our case studies.
Here comes the best part of our pricing model. Like many SaaS companies, we offer a free trial to prospective clients. You can get three days of work with one of our designers for free and then decide if you want to continue. As easy and awesome as it sounds.
Got any other questions?
We’d love to answer them! Please drop us a line.