Design Pickle likes to think of themselves as the big daddy of graphic design subscription services. They inspired many of their competitors, and they say that their wealth of experience is what sets them apart.
But when you really compare Design Pickle side-by-side with other services, how does it stack up? Here’s our comprehensive review of Design Pickle.
A brief history of Design Pickle
Indeed, Design Pickle is one of the earliest adopters of the unlimited graphic design service model. It was founded way back in 2015 by Arizona consultant Russ Perry, who was looking for a way to streamline his clients’ high-demand requests.
Design Pickle began as a 15-person team in Scottsdale (where the company is still based), but 7 years later, they employ designers and team members from all over the world. Some of the places they call home include the Philippines, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Vietnam, India, and Indonesia.
What’s with the pickle?
I was honestly a little disappointed to learn that there’s no particular story behind the company’s pickle mascot. As I learned during a demo call, the pickle was doodled on a napkin during a brainstorming session between Perry and his wife.
Interestingly, though, the pickle actually predates the company’s unlimited model. Design Pickle was the name of a design agency Perry founded a few years earlier.
How unlimited is Design Pickle? (scope, limits, turnaround time) - 5/5
It’s the first thing you see when you load Design Pickle’s website: Unlimited Graphic Design.
Indeed, Design Pickle is a classic example of the unlimited graphic design model. For a fixed monthly rate, you can request any number of designs and often expect turnaround within a day.
Scope of services
Design Pickle offers a thorough range of design options, including but not limited to:
- Email templates
- Event graphics
- Book covers
- Print materials
- Social media graphics
- Digital ads
- Photo editing
- Brand identity
- Light web design
Practically everything under the graphic design umbrella can be found among Design Pickle’s options. Non-design services you may need, such as coding and copywriting, won’t be offered, nor will 3D graphics.
Supported file types included PDF, JPG, PNG, EPS, SVG, GIF, PPT, MOV, MP4, and Canva files (no motion graphics). They also offer source files in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or InDesign.
How long does a design take?
As always, you can’t 100% guarantee that a design will be done in a set timeframe. However, Design Pickle promises same-day turnaround on their Pro and Premium and 1-2 day turnaround on their standard plan. And in my experience, they delivered on this promise.
Even on a standard Graphics plan, I received same-day results on all my revisions and initial drafts within a day of my request.
Needless to say, this varies depending on what you request. As the Design Pickle Help Center notes, the more complex a design, the longer it may take to complete, with motion graphics, presentations, and multi-page designs taking the longest. You can always ask your designer for a time estimate when you first submit your request.
Are there any other limits to Design Pickle’s service?
Even though I tested out Design Pickle’s lowest plan, I was impressed with the scope of options I had at my disposal. While there are some features that you can’t get on the Graphics plan—motion graphics, presentations, Slack integration, Canva delivery—they don’t hold these limits over your head or try to push you to upgrade.
Some credit Design Pickle with originating the unlimited design model, so it’s no surprise that their service is exemplary. More than just having few limits, it feels unlimited, even on the strictest plan.
Design Pickle value (pricing, design package, refunds) - 4/5
Design Pickle has three plans available:
- Graphics: $499/mo. Includes graphic design and illustration options. 1-2 day turnaround.
- Graphics Pro: $995/mo. Includes graphic design, illustration, and presentation design options. Same-day turnaround, dedicated designers and onboarding manager, Slack integration, and Spanish-speaking designers available.
- Graphics Premium: $1695/mo. Includes all features of Pro tier as well as motion graphics and Canva file delivery.
Enterprise customers with over 100 employees can contact Design Pickle about creating a bespoke Team plan to meet their needs.
What’s included in a Design Pickle package?
On a basic Graphics plan, you’ll only be able to communicate with your designer through the in-app chat. Pro and Premium users can contact their designers in real time through Slack or connect with an onboarding manager at any time.
The service offers unlimited revisions, aided by its handy click-and-drag revision tool. You can request whichever file types you want included from a checklist that includes (for graphics) JPG, PNG, PDF, Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign files, as well as the native source file.
You may also expect multiple variants on each design and revision request. They don’t state explicitly how many variations to expect, and it certainly varies based on the type of project. But for a singular graphic, I regularly received 3 or more versions to choose from.
Does Design Pickle offer refunds?
In general? No. Unlike many competitors, Design Pickle does not currently have a money back guarantee or free trial period.
They do, however, offer a 14-day Customer Satisfaction period during which quarterly and annual subscribers can receive a full refund upon request when they cancel the service. This is effectively a money back guarantee for certain users, but they’re careful to avoid advertising it as such.
Design Pickle’s $499/mo entry-level plan is a solid deal, cheaper than many competitors. The real-time dedication offered by the Pro plan also justifies its higher price. The $1695/mo Premium plan, however, doesn’t feel necessary—unless you really need motion graphics.
For standard subscribers, they don’t always offer the most hands-on experience. They do, however, offer a solid package, with the ability to receive a wide variety of variations and file types upon request.
While the lack of a money back guarantee is understandable, it does put Design Pickle slightly below its competitors in terms of value.
Design Pickle user experience (signing up, dashboard, features) - 4/5
How do you sign up for Design Pickle?
Design Pickle recommends you participate in a demo before signing up. When you’re ready, however, the initial sign-up process is simple. The form only asks for your name and email, along with a password and an optional space for your business name. You can make the process even quicker by signing up with Facebook, Google, or LinkedIn.
This page is a little deceptive, however; they’ll ask you to fill out more information later. Before you submit a request, you’ll have to finish your profile, which requires some unusual information including your company role, phone number, and t-shirt size.
One neat element of Design Pickle’s dashboard is that it feels like… well, a dashboard. The page contains windows that may remind you of the widgets on your phone’s home screen, although they’re actually static elements. It may not be useful, but it’s more engaging than the mostly-blank page you’ll find on some other services.
These faux-widgets also contain useful information: your drafts, requests in progress, and the latest updates from your queue.
Beyond that, here’s a rundown of the other tabs you can access from the Design Pickle web app.
While you can review request updates on the dashboard, this tab contains all your requests—active ones, drafts, and completed ones you’ve archived. One of Design Pickle’s most useful features is how easy it is to access drafts and revisit old requests.
Like many design services, Design Pickle lets you log brand identities so that designers have an easier time making branded materials. More interesting, however, is the “Sample brands” feature, which auto-generates brands you can use for inspiration.
Here, you can access and change details about your account, your personal profile, your team, and your notification settings. You can have up to 10 users on your account at three levels:
- Admins, who can change account information, create requests, and modify users.
- Organizers, who can create requests and modify users.
- Members, who can’t make changes to the account but can request designs.
This tab is where you’ll go to cancel, change or modify your plan.
This menu includes a number of resources for answering any questions or concerns you may have. You can contact customer support, view information on request types and recent updates, navigate to the help center, or check the system status if you’re having technical difficulties.
This option takes you to FreshStock, Design Pickle’s stock asset and graphic library. You can use these resources for inspiration, or even include them in your design request.
Web app features
Design Pickle has some unique functionality that puts it ahead of other graphic design services. The widgets on the dashboard are engaging, although they’re more flash than substance (and the boxy design is a little dated).
Some of the most impressive features on Design Pickle’s web app include the sample brands feature, the accessible stock library, the drag-and-drop revision tool, and the easy access to drafts and completed tasks. I also think the three different types of users are a clever inclusion.
Where it falls short is in avenues for communication, which we’ll explore more thoroughly in the next section. Clearly, the idea is for Pro and Premium users to have more access to the Design Pickle team. However, the in-app chat you use to communicate with your designer is visually clunky and easy to miss.
Speaking of easy to miss, I’ve never had a harder time finding the download button. To save your designs, you’ll want to look for a small gray folder icon next to the title of each file when you open them.
Design Pickle communication (customer support, designer chat, cancellation) - 2/5
In terms of communication, I got off to a rocky start with Design Pickle. After requesting a demo call on Tuesday, I didn’t receive a link to actually set up a call until the following Monday.
In the meantime, I was bombarded with wry, self-aware video ads from Design Pickle, which were cute and clever at first but added to the frustration of not getting a response. One video said something to the effect of “The reason you’re seeing this ad is because you haven’t signed up for a demo yet. What are you waiting for?”
Once I actually got the demo, things moved quite a bit quicker. Revisions and answers were fairly quick, and they expressed understanding during the cancellation process.
As mentioned above, Design Pickle has a number of customer support options, including a live chat function. I tested out this function and got a response 10 minutes later, which is more time than someone typically spends on a website, but not bad.
On average, I received 2-3 emails per day from Design Pickle. There’s a daily update on your queue, plus email notifications for any chat from customer service or your designer, and marketing emails every couple of days. You can opt out of all of these.
Additional customer support features, such as account managers and Slack integration, are available for Pro and Premium subscribers. For standard users, support is there if you need them, but access is fairly limited.
Chat with designers
Similarly, users on the simple Graphics plan can only talk to designers through the in-app chat. This is pretty standard for a graphic design service. The chat itself works just fine, but it feels a bit isolated in the web app’s design.
One more attractive feature is the click-and-drag comment option for designs. Once you get a design, you can draw a box around something to pinpoint what you want revised. I sort of thought this would be a flashy, useless feature, but I ended up making use of it almost instantly when I received my first drafts.
Pro and Premium users can talk to their designers more directly. On a standard plan, you can’t really communicate with them mid-process. Again, this is a fairly standard thing, and I wouldn’t even mention it if I didn’t feel like there were lapses in communication between me and my designer.
For one reason or another, I often felt that what was delivered was a few inches short of what I wanted. We’ll get to the designs, but in terms of communication, you as the user have to do most of the heavy lifting.
Canceling your subscription
As you might expect, Design Pickle does what they can to persuade you not to cancel. First, they invite you to schedule a customer support chat. Next, as you’re filling out the brief cancellation form, you’ll get a pop-up asking you to take a break, during which you’d pay $14.99/mo to not use the service.
Once you fill out the form, you’re asked to type the word “CONFIRM” as a final confirmation. Despite all these hoops, I didn’t find the cancellation process too annoying. I got the sense that they’d be eager to have me back if I ever wanted to return.
I also had a breezy time taking advantage of the Customer Satisfaction period. I emailed the representative with whom I had my initial demo call, and he processed the refund within a day.
All in all, Design Pickle definitely seems to strive for great communication, but they haven’t quite cracked the code. There’s a tricky balance between too much and too little, and I always felt like I was teetering on the edge of one or the other.
Design Pickle designs - 3/5
When you request a design from Design Pickle, you’re first asked to create a title that includes a few words on what you’re designing. In my case, I named the request “Fantastick logo illustration.”
The design form includes an extensive drop-down list of design types. Other sections include dimensions, formats (you can select as many as you want), description, and supporting materials such as graphics to include, inspiration, and FreshStock stock elements.
It’s a fairly do-it-yourself form. The description section encourages you to break down your design request line-by-line. This promotes a more in-depth explanation of your needs, but also leaves a lot to the user’s imagination.
I requested a logo for a fantasy-themed live event. I asked for an illustrated text logo with a woodsy texture surrounded by mystical plant life.
The initial designs, pictured above, included a few variations on that. I thought they were impressive, but didn’t really convey the fantasy element I tried to emphasize in my description.
My designer offered three variations of my logo for each edit. As per my request, each design was presented against two backgrounds: a simple gradient and a transparent one.
The first revision included the more fantastical flowers, but also had a bubble effect over the text that I didn’t care for. I asked for those to be removed and the next day, reaching the end of my Customer Satisfaction period, I marked the task as complete.
I know that creating illustrated typography isn’t the easiest thing to do, and I’m quite impressed with what my designer was able to turn around within a day. Still, contrary to what I was sold on in the demo call, I did feel that I was losing a degree of quality from this quick turnaround.
For instance, consider the amorphous green background on option #2, or the shoddy silhouette at the bottom of #1 and #3. I feel like I wouldn’t accept these if they came from a design that took more than a day.
Moreover, I definitely made an effort to emphasize fantasy in my description, and I’m not sure that it carried over to the initial result. The final illustrations are fairly high-quality, but each step of the process felt hurried.
Final thoughts on Design Pickle
What sets Design Pickle apart from other design services?
When I asked a representative this question, he mostly emphasized their experience. As pioneers of the unlimited design model, they have the history to know what works.
In reality, being the first also means you’re a little bit like everyone else. Design Pickle’s most distinctive features are its click-and-drag revision tool, thoughtful dashboard, and vast library of Zapier integrations. You can use these to directly connect your Design Pickle account to Asana, Basecamp, Google Drive, Wordpress, and thousands more.
Who is Design Pickle best for?
Design Pickle delivers on the basic promise of an unlimited service. Their turnaround is fast and they can design almost anything. The catch, however, is a slight deficit in quality and creativity. You won’t have much say over the design process.
If your primary concern is getting a higher volume of designs quickly at a simple price, go for Design Pickle. If you want more care and attention to go into your design, other services can give you a better deal.
Design Pickle pros and cons
- Quick turnaround (often within 1 day)
- Multiple design options
- Unlimited requests and revisions
- Solid price
- Click-and-drag revision tool
- Mixed design quality
- Communication issues
- Boxy web app design
- Limited refund policy
How unlimited is it?: Design Pickle offers everything you’d expect from an unlimited graphic design service. For a fixed monthly rate, you get unlimited requests and revisions. Turnaround times are often less than a day (even on the lowest-cost plan) and they cover the entire alphabet of graphic design. 5/5
Value: Even on the standard Graphics plan, you get access to an impressive range of designs, with lenient options for different variations and file formats. I received multiple options for each design delivery. While many competitors have a refund policy or trial period to sweeten the deal, Design Pickle still offers bang for your buck. 4/5
User experience: Design Pickle’s dashboard has a boxy but fairly useful design. The sign-up process is straightforward, but you’ll have to answer additional questions before you submit a design. All in all, it’s a smooth experience, with unique features like a revision tool, stock library, and sample brand generator. Zapier allows for thousands of integrations, but you might have to go digging for them. 4/5
Communication: This is the primary area where Design Pickle falters. My interactions with designers and support were all great, but the platform doesn’t make it easy. I waited almost a week for a response to my demo request, got nowhere with the live chat, and had limited access to my designer. Pro and Premium users get more access, but a focus on output might still leave you missing out. 2/5
Designs: If you ask for it explicitly, you’ll get it, and fast. But don’t expect a superb level of creativity or attention to detail on the part of the designer. I’ve seen other services do a better job of making your project seem like a priority. While I can’t say the same about Design Pickle, their designers certainly have the talent to make it possible. 3/5
Overall score: 3.6/5