When hiring a UX designer, consider these four factors to get the most out of your money.
User experience (UX) designers are critical for your business because they’re responsible for customer satisfaction, which influences retention. If your UX design is weak, your product will most likely fail.
But hiring a quality UX designer can be hard to navigate, especially with so many factors to consider. It all depends on your business requirements and the details of your project.
For more than seven years, our team at RubyGarage has been developing software and designing products from scratch — that’s a lot of UX design experience! Now, we want to share those insights with you so that you can find a cost-effective solution that fits your needs.
In this article, we’ll shed some light on how much UX design may cost when working with a freelancer or design agency. We’ve evaluated the current market and included key factors that influence the rates of UX designers.
4 Factors to Consider When Choosing a UX Designer
- The project scope will impact the price
- Rates will vary depending on location
- Level of expertise will affect rates
- Freelancers and UX agencies have different benefits
1. The Project Scope Will Impact the Price
Before hiring a UX designer, you’ll have to consider what you actually want to build. Do you want to make a static website, a dynamic layout, or a complex cross-platform ecommerce app? The more complex the interface (e.g., animations and micro-interactions), the more expensive the UX design.
The image below categorizes projects by complexity and assigns an hour equivalent to them.
The figure lists three types of projects:
- Basic projects – These are relatively easy tasks that often don’t take longer than 80 hours. Some examples that fall into this category would be:
- Creating one-page designs
- Handling simple redesigns
- Developing user personas
- Adding basic features and elements for an existing app/site
- Sketching a basic layout for an app or site
- Complicated projects – These projects are more involved and will take upwards of 250 hours. This might entail:
- Designing a custom content management system (CMS) theme
- Improving the UX of an existing product
- Enhacing a responsive design for different devices
- Complex projects – All large projects require long hours of research and hard work. With complex projects, a designer will spend at least 400 hours on average. Samples might include:
- Designing an MVP from scratch
- Custom web design
- Doing a website overhaul, wireframing, prototyping, and testing before launch
The minimum time for a basic design project is about 20 hours. This is what it takes to complete a very small design project or do a brand redesign. If you’re planning a large-scale project with a custom design, it will take far more hours of work as well as revisions.
Besides project type, there are other factors that influence the price such as when the designer joins your project. This can happen at the research, prototyping, visualization, testing, or launch stages. If you hire a designer when half the work is done, the price will be lower.
Functionality also plays an important role. The features a designer adds can be of varying levels of complexity and demand various skills.
2. Rates Will Vary Depending on Location
Location is one of the biggest factors in determining rates. UX designers set their rates based on the local market and their experience.
According to Payscale.com, in the United States a UX designer can expect from $19 to $68 per hour depending on experience (the average rate is $34 per hour).
Let’s compare that to the average UX design rates globally. Using data from UXdesignersalaries.com, we’ve made maps of the average yearly salaries around the world for designers with 0–3 years, 4–7 years, and 8–12 years of experience.
North and South America
The advantages of hiring a UX designer from North and South America are overlapping hours and a common mentality. But their services can be more expensive based on the region.
Take a look at the map below:
UX design in the US is costly, coming in at around $98,000 respectively for 4–7 years of experience. Additionally, US salaries vary greatly depending on the region. Designers in coastal states charge the most due to the higher cost of living. UX designers from the Mid-west and South charge 10% less on average.
Canada comes in second at $59,000 for the same experience. On average, Canadian designers charge almost half the price of their American counterparts.
UX design rates in South America are far more affordable, with Brazil, Chile, and Argentina all falling beneath $26,000 for 4–7 years of experience.
The rates in Europe differ greatly — as you can see from the map, you can find both the cheapest and the most expensive UX designers in these regions.
Overall, European professionals charge approximately the same price for their services (between roughly $60,000–$80,000 for 4–7 years of experience). Ukraine and Poland are the most affordable, going for about $26,00 and $31,000 respectively.
Switzerland is the outlier at $129,238 due to their higher cost of living.
African countries are only starting their IT journey, so rates in these countries are low in comparison to the rest of the world. The chart below samples prices from Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa.
Out of the three, South Africa is quickly gaining expertise in UX design, charging about $48,000 for a seasoned designer.
Asia and Oceania
Asia is a well-known outsourcing destination. A lot of American companies choose Asian developers and designers because of their low rates and big talent pool.
The following chart compares rates from India, China, Japan, Singapore, and Australia.
Within Asia, Japanese designers charge the most at over $86,000 per year for a mid-career UX designer. This is due to the high level of technological development of the country.
Australian salaries have almost reached the American level just under $83,000 for a developer with 4–7 years of experience.
To sum up the section, the average price per hour hardly reaches $60, and the median yearly salary is about $50,000. UX designers from Switzerland, the US, Denmark, and Norway make the most. Meanwhile, you can expect the lowest rates from designers in African countries, India, Brazil, Argentina, and Sri Lanka.
3. Level of Expertise Will Affect Rates
UX design is a complex type of work. A designer has to know a lot about user research, personas, visual design, information architecture, prototyping, cross-platform UX, and more.
That’s a lot of expertise in different fields and must be rewarded accordingly.
Customers can be incredibly demanding in terms of UX design and sometimes want their freelancers to be UX/UI designers and UX developers at the same time. If the candidate has first-class design skills and some basic knowledge of front-end development, they charge more.
The tools of a professional UX designer should include:
- Sketch or Balsamiq for wireframing and visual design
- InVision for UI workflow and visual design
- Flinto for prototyping
- Adobe After Effects for visual design, graphics editing and animations
The more knowledge, skills, and tools that a UX designer possesses, the more they typically charge.
4. Freelancers and UX Agencies Have Different Benefits
Another factor to consider is whether you want to work with a freelancer or an agency. One is not necessarily better than the other — they each have their own advantages.
Freelancers are the cheapest option. Although their hourly rates still vary depending on skill, experience, and location, freelancers still charge less than UX design agencies. That’s because they have less overhead and more comfortable conditions.
Moreover, there is a bigger pool of talent to choose from when looking at freelancers because you can reach any designer from any country.
If you have 1–2 tasks and flexibility is a requirement, opt for freelancers. But be ready to manage them because you’ll have to control the whole process from start to finish.
Agencies, on the other hand, charge more. But they have more to offer. They have broader expertise, can deliver complex solutions faster, and take on management roles. For complicated projects, it’s better to hire a whole team with a streamlined workflow.
UX Design Is an Investment With Future Pay-Offs
UX design is crucial to the success of your project. That’s why you should never pinch pennies when looking for the right UX designer.
Keep in mind that the hourly rates are justified by a set of factors. Rates will change depending on the level of skill involved, the local market rate, and whether you choose to go with a freelancer or agency.
Making a product is always time-consuming and demanding process. But, knowing the factors that influence UX design costs will help you find the perfect candidate while staying within your budget.