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How long should a design take?

You want to hire a graphic designer or creative agency to complete a project, and you’re wondering – how long should a design take? You might have already received a quote or an estimate, and you want to make sure it’s reasonable. How do you gauge if a design estimate makes sense? How fast should a graphic designer work?

In this article, we’ll show you how graphic design costs are estimated. This will differ among creative agencies and designers of course, but generally, here’s what gets considered in an estimate for graphic design. 

How prepared is your content?

If you’ve put in the work to prepare a project, the designer’s job becomes easier. Rather than spending time researching, the designer can spend time executing.

For example, we wouldn’t need to do much to prepare if you approached us with a complete creative brief describing the target audience, the goal of the design, the intended usage, and the written copy or text to include. On the other hand, if all you have is an idea and need everything else planned out and created, you’ll likely receive a higher quote. There’s more for the designer to do in order to get the design from a concept to the finish line.

The more thorough you are in your request, the easier it is to get it right on the first draft. If you’re fully set on the details and have all the content written, revisions will likely be minimal. But if you’re unsure of what you’re going for, it can take some time and lots of iterations to get to where you want to be. If a designer or agency anticipates this, it can land you with a higher estimate. 

Questions we might ask:

  • Do you have high res logos ready for use? 
  • Do you have a brand guide showing fonts, colors, and styles? 
  • Is there a complete creative brief with ample direction, or do we need to spend time researching how to approach the project for the best results?
  • Do you have all the copy written and in a usable format like a Word doc?
  • Have you collected all the images you need to include?

Design time

This is the most straightforward piece of an estimate. How long will a design take to produce? Design time means time spent actively designing or creating, and can vary from person to person or agency to agency. One person may be able to do something in 30 minutes, while it takes a less experienced designer a couple hours for the same task. If you’re approaching a seasoned designer or a creative agency, you will typically get quoted for the average, industry standard time required to complete a task. 

Sample design times:

(these are just ballpark figures to help you gauge what’s normal for standard projects with no unusual requirements and a couple rounds of minimal revisions)

banner print design set
  • Business cards: 1-3 hours
  • Double sided flyer: 3-5 hours
  • Logo design: 10-30 hours
  • Postcard: 2-4 hours
  • Banner: 6-10 hours
  • Pocket folder: 4-6 hours
  • Click ad set: 3-4 hours

Other factors

Additional assets

If you don’t have all the images or assets you need to finish a design, you may see this factored into the estimate or final invoice. A respectable designer or agency will only purchase assets for you with permission, and will certainly not spring the charge on you in the final invoice. At Clever Tiger, we have access to a huge amount of stock images, graphic elements, fonts, and other assets, all licensed for commercial use. We cover the costs of buying these assets for you, so you never have to pay for additional stock images or any other creative assets.

Turnaround time

If a designer or agency will have to push back other projects to complete yours first, you can expect to pay more for the privilege of “cutting in line.” As the buyer, you need to make sure that this rush fee is reasonable, and makes sense for the speed of service you’re asking for. 

Add-on services

Adding on copywriting, photography, or any other service outside the scope of a design project will contribute to the estimate. 

So, how long should a design take?


Overhead + Research/Prep Time + Design Time + Revision Time + Fees/Add-Ons

Sample formula for calculating graphic design project estimate

Questions to ask up front

Here are some questions to ask your designer or agency before the project gets going, possibly even before you ask for an estimate.

  • Can you provide a report of how billable time was spent with my invoice? 
  • How do you charge for additional assets like stock photography? 
  • What happens if the project takes longer than estimated? What if it takes less time?
  • What should I provide to make sure the designer has everything they need? 
  • Can we set due dates for each stage (first draft, revision, approvals, etc.)?

Now that you have a better idea of what factors into a graphic design estimate, you’ll be able to evaluate the quotes you receive to see if you’re getting fair, transparent pricing.

Want a graphic design quote from us? Start here.

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