Product Design Cost & How to Maximize Your Investment: Factors That Affect the Prince + A Cost-Effective Solution

Product Design Cost & How to Maximize Your Investment: Factors That Affect the Prince + A Cost-Effective Solution
Article by DesignRush DesignRush
Last Updated: December 16, 2022

Product design plays an integral role in the success of any product launch. It determines how attractive, user-friendly and functional a product is. As a result, companies invest significant resources into designing the best possible outcome. 

But, pinpointing the exact product design cost is not that simple—from materials and quality control to R&D and government regulations—the price varies depending on multiple internal and external factors. 

By considering all of these factors when designing a product, you can have a better indication of how much it will cost to bring your project to life—and that’s what we’re about to discuss. 

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Internal Factors That Affect the Overall Product Design Cost

The product design process includes a lot of steps so it’s no wonder product design costs range from being very inexpensive to astronomically high.

These are some of the internal factors that affect the price:

Complexity 

The complexity of a product affects its design cost significantly as it has to factor in the technical aspects of its construction. 

Designing and manufacturing a complex product requires a greater investment of resources, time and money than creating a basic one. The more intricate the product is, the higher its costs. Additionally, materials used for making such products should be chosen carefully depending on their intended usage as well as budgets set for the production stages. 

Complexity also dictates how much labor would be required for assembly and quality assurance checks. Furthermore, specialized testing may have to be used so that the final product meets customer expectations.

All of this contributes to the overall complexity of the product, making product design costlier when products are complicated in structure and function.

Materials 

Different materials come at different costs, so you have to be mindful of your budget when selecting the right materials for the products. Factor in shipping and handling costs if you’re sourcing these materials from afar. 

Of course, you need to assess the volume (and quality) of the material you’ll require so as not to overspend or underspend on the selection process. 

Ultimately, a successful balance between cost-savings and product quality should be achieved through careful consideration of what type and amount of materials are needed for a given product.

Research & Development 

R&D involves extensive research to understand customer needs, market trends and technological advancement. This leads to high costs for design engineers, software developers and fabrication experts. 

The cost also includes creating a unique design concept and digital model, prototyping, testing for quality control and adjusting any design flaws or issues. 

Additionally, carrying out detailed market research to understand the competitive landscape requires significant funds, which make up part of the overall research and development costs associated with product design.

Broadly speaking, R&D costs include the cost of:

  • Developing and testing new designs, materials and components
  • Researching personnel wages
  • Expenses related to designing, prototyping and patenting
  • Marketing studies or other activities required to assess the potential success of a product 

These costs vary depending on the complexity of the product and must be factored into the overall design budget for successful project management.

Quality Control

Quality control entails ensuring a product meets certain predefined standards in terms of performance, appearance, reliability and safety. 

Quality control typically involves a range of processes such as inspecting different elements of a product—making sure it is fit for purpose—and testing its durability. This will result in additional expenses such as buying equipment and employing skilled personnel to carry out the tasks necessary for quality control. 

However, it’s a step you can’t afford to skip despite the cost if you’re to design a product that meets customer expectations, thus leading to higher sales and profitability. 

If a product does not meet its quality standards, it could lead to customer dissatisfaction and higher return rates which could further drive up costs due to reduced sales revenue. 

Labor 

Labor costs account for a significant portion of the overall product design cost as skilled labor that helps bring the initial design idea to fruition usually comes at a price. 

These costs increase when more complex or customized designs require specialized skills. Talent and experience contribute to the expense, and rates vary depending on region, skill level and complexity of work. 

If you’re thinking of hiring in-house product designers, other labor-related expenses, like employee benefits, might quickly add up. Outsourcing is a great way to save companies money by acquiring lower-cost labor expertise, but we’ll get to that later. 

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External Factors That Affect the Overall Product Design Cost

Numerous external elements influence the overall product design cost and it’s important to understand how each can impact your budget. By knowing this, businesses can plan their budgets better and make informed decisions when designing a new product.

Market Research 

Market research is an essential part of product design as it allows companies to get in touch with customer preferences and tailor their products accordingly. However, market research can be costly and time-consuming, so companies must consider this when calculating the product design cost estimate. 

The cost of market research includes hiring experts to conduct in-depth customer surveys on focus groups, interviews and industry analysis, amongst other activities.

There are also some costs related to purchasing data from third-party vendors and paying for software licenses if needed.

Fortunately, there are resources available to keep market research costs lower such as leveraging internal customer databases or utilizing free survey platforms like SurveyMonkey.  

By taking into account these factors early in product development stages, companies can avoid costly mistakes in design decisions due to a lack of insights into customer preferences and target markets.

Market Research on Consumer Preferences

Companies must consider consumer needs and wants when creating a new product to ensure it will be successful and make a profit. They must also factor in features such as convenience, quality, aesthetics, cost-effectiveness, and other details that could influence consumer buying decisions. 

Hiring suitable personnel to gather data and analyze consumer needs is a must. This way, you can determine consumers’ preferences, their likes and dislikes, and their anticipated use of the products, thus helping in designing and manufacturing a product attractive to users. 

All this takes time but also money to invest into research. Oftentimes, you’ll need to spend more on certain features to create a product that ticks off all the right boxes. 

Competitive Pressure

Companies must remain competitive in their market—they have to strive to create higher-quality products than their competitors at a lower cost and continuously review and modify their product designs. 

If they fail to do so, they may end up pricing themselves out of the market or worse, be unable to compete with rivals’ offerings. This could mean having to invest more in R&D, leading to higher design costs. 

Ultimately, these efforts can put a strain on the design budget and increase the overall cost of product design.

Regulatory & Safety Requirements

Product designers must take into account regulatory and safety requirements when designing a product. Depending on the type of product, they can vary significantly. 

Companies must adhere to the applicable regulations or suffer costly fines and penalties. Furthermore, products not carefully designed can pose a risk to public safety, resulting in losses for any brand associated with them. 

Therefore, regulators and safety requirements should be taken into consideration when designing new products as this will protect both the company and consumers in the long run. Having an expert on board to advise you on all things law-related is costly, but it cannot be overlooked. 

Product Design Cost Estimate

With so many factors that affect the price, product design costs can vary greatly. Generally speaking, simpler product designs will cost less than those that are highly intricate. 

For instance, basic 3D models could cost anywhere from $40 to a few hundred, while a more complex one costs several thousand dollars. CAD drawings, on the other hand, are generally in the $2,000-and-up range and packaging design typically starts at around $500. 

Ultimately, the cost of product design is determined by the type of product you want to create and how much detail goes into it.

Depending on the type of product design, it can cost: 

Project Type 

Hourly Rate 

Per Project 

Concept Design 

From $45 to $105 per hour 

$100.00 and up 

Product Design 

From $45 to $105 per hour 

$100 and up  

Mechanical Design 

From $45 to $125 

$5,000–$10,000 

Industrial Design 

From $45 to $150 

$5,000–$10,000 

Prototyping 

From $50 to $120 

$2,000 and up 

Source: Cad Crowd

As you can tell, you can choose between flat fees and hourly rates. If you have a simple project at hand, opting for hourly payment will help you save a lot. 

However, you need to be extra careful when agreeing to an hourly rate and ensure the designer you hired isn’t clocking in hours without getting any actual work done. Luckily, there are tons of tracking apps to put your mind at ease. 

Why You Should Outsource Product Design

The primary reason business managers choose to outsource today is the chance to focus on core functions, with 65% of them agreeing. 24% of businesses outsource to increase efficiency, while others hire third-party providers to increase expertise and flexibility. 

Likewise, if you choose to outsource product design, you can streamline the creation process and gain access to a new set of skills, resources, and expertise.

Among its other benefits, outsourcing helps:

  • Keep costs down
  • Meet tight deadlines
  • Open doors for innovation
  • Expedite the design process
  • Gain insight into new markets
  • Reduce time-to-market cycles 
  • Promote teamwork and collaboration between designers
  • Improve operational efficiency

It also allows companies to focus on core competencies while bringing in specialized professionals with new perspectives. Additionally, outsourcing gives businesses access to larger talent pools with diverse backgrounds who can deliver high-quality results in a jiffy. 

Product Design Cost: Key Takeaways

Product design is a complex process that requires time, resources and expertise to make sure the end result is successful. The product design cost can vary greatly depending on the scope and complexity of the project, but it’s important to consider all aspects when making your budget decisions. 

By understanding the full cost of product design upfront, you can plan more effectively and make your project successful. 

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