Why are design fees so high?

As part of our mini-series on hiring a design consultant, Tze quickly talks about the factors that make design fees high and how the design cost compares to the overall cost of bringing a product to market.


  • Design fees are high when the scope for the intended design is not clear
  • A big part of cost comes in when designing for manufacturing and actually bringing the product to market; design cost is much less than this
  • If design is not utilised in the right way from the very beginning, this could have cost implications further down the product development line
  • Paying more for design right from the start can speed up the whole process and ensures that any problems down the line are addressed right from the start

Full Transcript

Usually the design cost is much much less in comparison to the realisation and bringing-to-market cost.

One practical question that clients might have, and that is why are design fees so high?


I think design fees are high when the scope is not clear or when the intent for where design needs to be implemented in the project is not clear.

Design is actually there to help you find opportunities and help you reduce risk, but if you’re not clear about what you want at the start then you run through the design process… the next challenge that you face which actually is the expensive part is making it real, bringing it to market, to do the design for manufacturing, to find the right channels. And I think that’s the part where it’s the pain that hits you later.

Usually the design cost is much much less in comparison to the realisation and bringing-to-market cost and that’s where if you pinch pennies at the front you realise that, hey if I didn’t utilise design in the right way, then it’s going to cost you so much more down the line versus, oh I should have done at the start. It costs a bit more but it speeds up the whole process.

That is one of the big factors which impact price because you can go to a different party who’s not so concerned about what’s going to happen down the line and say, “Sure you want a design, I’ll give it to you, like three designs for 10 bucks a piece.” But then what you’re going to do with that later? What problems it addresses or what problems those designs may result in are just not addressed.

Desiree Lim, Kevin Yeo, Matthew Wong


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