Two names dominate the unlimited graphic design space – Penji and Design Pickle. Design Pickle vs Penji, which is the better service for you? We signed up for both companies and see who offers a better service, so you don’t have to.
Unlimited graphic design companies are a new breed of services that are gaining popularity in the last few years (see the complete list of unlimited graphic design companies). Their promise is simple, you pay a flat monthly rate and get unlimited design projects for the month.
No hiring, no HR, no interviews, and absolutely no managing on your part. Just submit the designs, and the company will find the best designer for you and take care of the rest. Sounds too good to be true? We did an in-depth review of Penji and Design Pickle (coming soon) to see if the promise is real, and the promise holds up.
Today, we’ll see which of these two unlimited graphic design service providers offer the best value for your money. For our comparison review, we’re going to look into the following criteria: Speed, Quality, Communications, Ease of use, and Value.
DESIGN PICKLE VS PENJI – QUICK SUMMARY
This is a rather long and extensive review. So if you don’t want to go through everything, here’s the TL;DR
- We signed up for both Penji and Design Pickle’s $399 plan to see which company provided a better service and experience.
- Pricing differences: Penji’s pricing included more design types. Design Pickle didn’t include Logos, complex infographics, and presentations.
- Custom Illustrations: Included with Penji’s Team ($499) and Agency ($899) plan. Design Pickle charges $499 add-on on top of your existing plan.
- Quality test: Both companies received the same four projects with the same exact wording, attachments, etc.
- Design Pickle won “Versus” blog Featured Image
- Penji won Facebook Cover Image For Digital Pub, Print Magazine Cover Re-Design, and Content Infographic Re-Design.
- Creativity & details: Penji’s designs were more creative and got the small details
- Customer support: Design Pickle had more responsive support and online knowledgebase. Penji’s account manager was more responsive and proactively emailed us.
- Turnaround: Both companies delivered 2-3 drafts within 24 hours. Revisions were also speedy. Design Pickle took 12 – 24 hours for revisions, while Penji usually turnaround revisions the same day.
- Platform & Integrations: Both had intuitive and easy-to-use platforms. Design Pickle had more integrations. Penji’s slack integration was difficult to use and requires dev help.
Choosing between Design Pickle and Penji, the winner is Penji in several categories. Design Pickle did win in a few categories. However, Penji won in the major categories that mattered. Penji’s design quality, attention to detail, and creativeness tends to be superior.
Penji offers better value by covering more design categories. Penjis’ design team was also more responsive and felt like working with people instead of processes and canned responses.
Design Pickle was excellent in terms of their processes and operations. However, that shows in the design output and communication. Everything felt more mechanical, robotic, and templated.
Penji promo code
If you want to give them a try, use this Penji promo code “OMDVP25” to get 25% off your 1st month.
Design Pickle’s promo code
DESIGN PICKLE VS PENJI FULL REVIEW
Although both companies offer the same services, their pricing model is very different. Design Pickle separates their plans into Pro and Standard. Standard starts at $399/month and you’ll be working with a Philippine designer for next-day turnaround.
Meanwhile, the $995 lets you work with the designer via Slack for real-time communication and same-day delivery. You also get advanced infographics, animated GIFS, and Powerpoint designs for the Pro plan.
Penji’s pricing, on the other hand, has three tiers. Penji’s low plan is ironically called its “Pro” plan. At $399/mo it costs the same as Design Pickle’s Standard plan and appears to offer the same level of design service. Design Pickle offers Zapier integrations. Although Penji doesn’t offer Zapier integrations, they have an Invite feature that lets you add more than one user to the account. I personally find that very useful.
For this review, we chose to sign up for the $399 Standard plan from Design Pickle vs $399 Pro plan from Penji. Here’s a chart to compare the two plans side by side.
DESIGN PICKLE VS PENJI $399 PLAN COMPARISON
The pricing page alone doesn’t tell the whole story. We want to know exactly what each plan offers and what you get in terms of design offerings for $399/month. After digging around their websites and asking their support chat, we uncovered more details each plan has to offer. Here’s a chart we made to showcase all of the hidden features and important benefits included with the $399 plan from each company.
There’s a number of differences between the two Company’s offerings for their base $399 plans that you need to be aware of.
# Of Designers
This is how many designers you’ll be working with essentially. Design Pickle’s pricing plans indicate that they will assign 1 designer to you and be working with just that designer. Meanwhile, Penji doesn’t assign you to any designer until you actually create a project. When you create a project, they will assign you to the best available designer for that type of project.
Penji’s support team told me they utilize this method of assigning to make sure we only work with designers who are actually good at the type of design we’re requesting. I’ll have to give a point to Penji for this one.
Design Pickle explicitly stated that they only offer Logo design for their Pro plan ($995/m). Penji’s pricing page doesn’t explicitly state it, but their customer support confirmed that they include logos for all plans.
Neither company offers custom illustrations as a part of their $399 plan. However how they incorporate it is uniquely different. Penji packaged Custom Illustration in their Team ($499) and Agency ($899) plans.
Design Pickle doesn’t include Custom Illustration in their Pro plan ($995). To get Custom Illustrations, you will need to pay an extra $499 add-on every month that you need an illustrator.
Design Pickle vs Penji: Here’s what it will cost you to get custom illustrations with each company.
Penji: Team plan $499 / month (includes Custom Illustrations)
Design Pickle: Pro plan $399 + $499 Custom Illustration add-on = $898 / month
It costs quite a bit more to get custom illustration with Design Pickle. If you rarely need custom illustrations, this won’t be an issue. But if custom illustration is a big part of your design needs, you might need to look closely at this.
1. REGISTRATION AND ONBOARDING
Design Pickle vs Penji’s registration process was both smooth and efficient. I didn’t feel either one asked too many questions or complicated things. Penji allows you to sign up for any plan you want right away. Meanwhile, Design Pickle only lets you sign up for the Standard plan. To register for the Pro ($995) plan, you need to schedule a demo
Design Pickle versus Penji’s Onboarding
After I signed up for their services, both led me straight into their online portal right away. I was able to create my first project almost immediately. There wasn’t actually a “Welcome” email with Design Pickle, which was strange, I figured they’d send me something. I did get a handful of emails, one of which was a brilliantly created video that showed me how to write a better project description. The video was quite long, but it was polished, well written, and hilarious. I love that about their company.
Penji was very conservative with their onboarding. I received an official “Welcome to Penji” email with essential information, which was nice. Then the next day I received an email from someone named Charmaine from their company. It wasn’t a templated or auto-responder email, it was my account manager emailing asking how I was doing. I liked that.
2. CREATING DESIGN PROJECTS
Now for the real question – who provides better quality designs? All the features, bells, and whistles are pointless if the company can’t turnaround quality designs for you.
We created three test projects and posted them to Penji and Design Pickle. To make sure everything was fair, we submitted all projects with the exact same description and attachments. We even went as far as giving them the same exact feedback on each of the drafts.
Here are the test projects:
- Facebook Cover Image For Digital Pub
- Print Magazine Cover Re-Design
- Content Infographic Re-Design
- “Versus” blog Featured Image
As a digital publication, we work with design agencies and freelancers to get our design work done. These projects are taken directly from our queue. We chose these projects specifically because they all require different skills to complete and will give us an idea of how versatile each company is.
3. TURNAROUND TIME
We submitted the four projects to both Penji and Design Pickle respectively. Both the drafts and revisions were quick by both companies.
We received drafts for 2 out of 4 projects back the next day. This was very fast – much faster than any of the freelancers we’ve hired. One of the projects didn’t receive submissions because my designer had a question that needed a response, which was understandable.
Upon submitting revisions, I started to see delays. Even when I submitted simple revisions, it seems to always take 24 hours no matter how small or big the revisions were.
We received drafts for 3 out of the 4 projects back from Penji within 24 hours. Just as fast as Design Pickle. My designer also asked a question about one of the projects, but she skipped that one and worked on the 4th project instead of waiting for my response.
Revisions were usually done the same day. And I noticed that if my designer isn’t online, my account manager would assign another designer to quickly jump in and make the revisions.
In terms of turnaround time, Penji is the faster company. Both companies were fantastically speedy with delivery and I can’t say I was disappointed with either company. However, Penji was able to deliver fast revisions, especially simple ones much quicker. And that’s important because waiting 24 hours for a fix on a small grammatical error is frustrating.
4. DESIGN QUALITY
Now for the ultimate reveal. Design Pickle vs Penji, which company produced better quality design? See for yourself.
“Versus” blog Featured Image
This was a fairly simple blog graphic request. We write a lot of comparison articles and wanted a featured image that we can use as a template and swap out names of products or companies we’re comparing.
Design Pickle: My designer’s name was Arvin. It took us several revisions to get to the final product, and overall it’s very close to what I had envisioned. 8/10
Penji: My designer’s name was Kenny. It also took several revisions, however, I can’t say I was pleased with the final product. It felt like Kenny was just following literal instructions and nothing more after the 2nd revisions. I give this project 5/10.
Facebook Cover Image For Digital Pub
One of our publishing partner Consumer’s Guide needed a new Facebook cover photo. This was a fairly simple design request, with the exception that you have to check out the website and understand what the company does in order to create a banner. I gave special instructions such as …use the Logo in the design and showcase what the publication does on the cover image.
Design Pickle: Given I was impressed with Arvin on the 1st project, I was thoroughly disappointed with this one. I don’t think the designer ever went to the website to review the publication at all. Just a glance would’ve helped. This looks like 6 random images from Pexel or Unsplash stitched together. 3/10
Penji: Rowell (a different designer) was assigned to this project, and it seemed like he took the time to review the website before designing. I didn’t even know, but apparently there was a new logo on the website that I wasn’t aware of. Rowell took the time to ask for the new logo. The end result was beautiful and our friends over at Consumer’s Guide loved it. 9/10
Print Magazine Cover Re-Design
By far one of the most important projects for us. We’re both a digital and a print publication and this spring we’re releasing another edition of Owner’s Mag. The designers are tasked to design the actual cover for Owner’s Mag second edition print magazine. All instructions, copy, and even past designs were given. The cover needed to look professional, refined, and most importantly highlight the Coronavirus Pandemic. I also asked for this to design in Photoshop.
Design Pickle: I was assigned to Alyssa randomly, and wasn’t sure why. The first draft was atrociously bad and she gave me Adobe Illustrator files instead of Photoshop like I had requested. Arvin (my main designer) was quickly re-assigned to fix the design. Several drafts later, it’s just nowhere near the level of polish and professionalism that we needed. I gave instructions to “Highlight the Coronavirus” section. My designer proceeded to make the texts CORONAVIRUS texts bigger. Quality rating: 3/10.
Penji: Billie was assigned to this project. The first several drafts were simply amazing. It was clear to me that Billie has designed plenty of magazine covers before as she knew where to place things and how to organize content blocks on a cover. It took a few revisions to be perfect, but I was happy from the beginning.
What I was most impressed with was how she clever highlighted the “Coronavirus” section. I was speechless at the final product. I showed the design to my editor and they couldn’t believe it didn’t come from one of the design agencies we hired. Of all the designs we submitted, the quality and level of creativity in this design far exceeded our expectations. And this is the design we will likely be going with for our print edition. Quality rating: 10/10
Content Infographic Re-Design
Infographics are some of the most challenging and difficult designs to get right. We’ve hired a lot of people to design infographics for us, and it’s hard to find someone good who understands how to design infographics. Infographics need to be entertaining to look at. And they also need to present statistics and numbers in a creative and meaningful way that’s easy to read and digest. We weren’t sure how either Design Pickle or Penji would fare in this. If anything, we expected both companies to do poorly.
Design Pickle: Arvin did follow instructions, however, there was no creativity in the design. It’s just left and right blocks of texts and icons. The icons were all of the different stylings, clearly from different designers on Freepik or another free resource site. And there’s just no creativity in this design. It looks boring, bland, and the numbers are just displayed. It’s hard looking at this design and imagining a lot of thought went into it.
I have to be fair and say that it’s not a bad design, but it’s not an infographic. Not even close. And this isn’t something we can use to publish for our audience. Design quality: 4/10
Penji: I was assigned another designer from the beginning, but requested for Billie given how impressive her Magazine cover design was. The result – absolutely breath-taking. The gradient is beautiful and easy to look at. Each item from 1 – 8 was organized and flow gracefully down the page.
Each icon makes sense with its content block. And the way the 55%, and 78% statistic was intelligent and meaningful. All of the content seems like they fit and flow together. This infographic design is on the same level of professionalism and detail that we’re used to from working with design agencies in our city. Design quality: 10/10
5. ATTENTION TO DETAILS
Both designers from Penji and Design Pickle were fantastic individuals to work with and we don’t have complaints with either Arvin or Billie. However, designers from Penji seem to pay more close attention to the details of the designs. In several designs, if you inspect closely, you can see how much attention Penji designers put into all the little details.
There was a lot of little errors from Design Pickle’s submission. The woman in the pink shirt icon is duplicated in two of the graphics. The 78% graphic didn’t make any sense and you can’t see the tiny icons inside of the icon.
The other thing that bothered us was the use of colors. The design on the left had poor color choices for the background colors. The light-blue is used twice, and they connect and bleed into each other (1 and 7). Penji’s design on the right had colors that complement one another and just overall looks more professional.
Creativity is a difficult thing to measure and ask for. It’s easy to tell your designer to “be creative” with the design, but it’s almost impossible to pinpoint. Creativity is one of those things where you just have to trust that your designer has.
My experience working with Design Pickle vs working with Penji was polarizing. Despite giving the same instructions and feedback word for word, the outcome was completely different. Design Pickle’s designers were great at following detailed instructions and almost too good to the point where they didn’t put in their own creativity.
For the Magazine cover design, I gave the following instructions
- Have stock images of people moving and working in the background to show movement
- Make Product Review and Exclusive sections stand out
- The major headline is “Coronavirus Pandemic Explained”. Make this the most prominent element on the page
As you can see from the image above, the two designers both had a different creative vision for how to make the Coronavirus section stand out. To us, Penji’s vision was more creative and impactful.
Both Design Pickle and Penji have their own dedicated platform, which is both a good and a bad thing. We personally prefer if their designer just joins our platform and works with our team on Asana or Trello. But we understand their business model can’t allow for that kind of personalization.
Both platforms were super easy to use and I have very little complaints. They’re not complex platforms and are both seamless enough that you won’t need any complicated tutorials or share-screen walk-through to get the hang of.
I didn’t like how Design Pickle’s platform constantly tries to sell me their CEO’s content. The platform tries too hard to get me to click on links to his podcasts, webinars, etc. and I was more annoyed than appreciative.
Penji’s platform is cleaner, less bulky, and didn’t try to sell me anything. And that, I appreciated. I get that Design Pickle wants to get more clicks and signups for their CEO’s webinars, but there are better ways to do that.
One of the things I love about Design Pickle is its abundance of integrations thanks to Zapier. Although I haven’t used it myself, my co-workers swear by it and have used Zapier integrations with other software. I don’t know how their Slack integration works because we signed up for the Standard plan, but I have a feeling it’s not actually an integration, but more so someone joining our slack team and working with us. And that’s a great thing.
Penji didn’t have Zapier integration, instead, they have Slack Integration API. It was a bit complicated and required our developer to actually setup with our Slack. Definitely not user-friendly or intuitive. This point goes to Design Pickle.
Communication is VERY important in graphic design. Both companies did an exceptional job communicating within all of the design projects. Despite not being able to meet or talk to any of the designers and having everything be done online, communication always felt responsive and tight with both companies.
The one thing I like about Penji was that my account manager was very active in communicating with me. I believe I also had an account manager for Design Pickle, but I can’t even remember their name since they rarely contacted me except when I wanted to cancel.
My account manager, Charmaine, emailed me right after I signed up and personally contacted me when she saw that I wasn’t happy with some of the revisions. That’s an extra layer of care that Penji gave that was missing from Design Pickle. And to me, it made a huge difference in my overall satisfaction.
Design Pickle vs Penji’s customer support. Both companies provided top-notch customer support and both were very responsive to my needs.
Design Pickle shined in two major areas when it comes to their support. They use Intercom for live chat and during most day-time hours someone was available to answer me. They also have a knowledge base where you can look up commonly asked questions, although I’m not sure how useful this would be since this is a service and not a complex SaaS software. Regardless, it was a nice thing to have just in case.
Penji’s customer support was also excellent as my account manager was a real person who constantly checks on my projects and contacts me proactively whenever there was an issue. I really liked the human element that Penji always seems to provide. The downside is that there’s no live chat. And whenever I needed help, the chat interface of Penji just sends an email out to my account manager.
Overall, both companies were great. Design Pickle responds faster and has more online help resources. Penji, on the other hand, has a very active account manager who proactively emails me.
OUR FINAL VERDICT
Choosing a winner is difficult as both companies are great in their own respective ways. Both have been around for several years, however, I believe Design Pickle has been around longer. Both provide a great experience and I can’t say I’m upset or disappointed with either service. But there are many areas where one outshines the other.
Design quality – Penji
Of the four projects, Design Pickle won 1/4. Penji won the remaining 3/4. The clear winner in terms of design quality goes to Penji. From our experience, the design quality, creativity, and attention to detail were better with Penji than with Design Pickle.
Turnaround time – Tie
Design Pickle vs Penji in turnaround is a complete tie. Both were exceptionally fast with their initial drafts and also revisions. Design Pickle lagged a bit and usually took 12 – 24 hours to complete revisions, but my designer turned around more drafts than Penji.
Penji even though turned over fewer initial drafts, the designs were higher quality and revisions were usually the same day. Both providers were incredibly fast by any standards, therefore we call this one a tie.
Attention to detail – Penji
Penji outright wins in this category. In just about every design submission we received, our designer from Penji seems to pay closer attention to the little details than their counterpart at Design Pickle.
Creativity – Penji
Design Pickle vs Penji’s creative output is actually a close one. Arvin from Design Pickle was great at the Versus blog graphics. It was so creative that we’re using it for this specific review. However, Arvin and the other designers assigned to me seemed to stumble at more complex projects such as the infographic and Magazine cover.
Penji designers tend to ask me more questions and submit more drafts for me to choose from. You can see from the designs above, submissions from Penji generally appear more refined, creative, and artistic.
Overall, Penji wins at the creative output.
Design Pickle vs Penji – the winner has been decided. It’s Penji. Both companies are exceptional, however, we chose Penji for the following reasons:
- Penji offered more value for the same price
- Better quality design, attention to detail, and creativity
- Felt like I was working with real people more than processes and automation
This certainly doesn’t mean that Design Pickle doesn’t have good designers. We acknowledge that luck could play a role. Perhaps Arvin from Design Pickle wasn’t the best pick for us. And perhaps we got paired with the best designer on Penji. Who knows. But factoring in multiple criteria and testing various types of design projects, we concluded that Penji gave us a better experience and proved to be a better value.
Depop: Etsy’s $1.6B Ticket to Access Gen Z’s Market
Depop is the home to progressive and diverse finds when it comes to fashion. However, is that why Etsy bought it for a dazzling price of $1.625 billion? Perhaps it’s one of the reasons, but that’s not the end of the story. It all comes down to the target market.
Depop and Gen Z
If you’re wondering what Depop is and why on earth it’s worth more than $1.6 billion, then you’re not alone. To give you a quick overview, Depop is a startup eCommerce marketplace for fashion. It’s a place where people can buy, sell and discover unique items. Let’s say if Instagram and eBay had a baby, it’s probably similar to Depop.
Depop makes it its mission to provide a “community-powered” fashion ecosystem to its consumers. It’s a brand that is kind to people and much kinder to the planet. Aside from being an online eCommerce site, it has become a community. It managed to evolve into having a community that’s creative, diverse, inclusive, and progressive.
The fashion eCommerce has over 26 million registered users hailing from 147 countries. It’s a marketplace where 90% of active users are under the age of 26. So yes, the majority are Gen Z’s. The most popular categories found on the website are vintage, one-of-a-kind clothes, Y2K, and streetwear.
Etsy, for $1.6 billion, gambled on the booming market for second-hand goods. Not only that, it gained access to Depop’s young and fashion-conscious audience. This scenario is an excellent example of how much brands are willing to pay to enter the Gen Z market.
Why is Gen Z’s Market important?
Currently, Millennials and Gen Z’s dominate the rank if we’re talking about online consumers. Although Millennials now sit at the throne as the most extensive consumer base, change is inevitable. As Gen Z’s grows old, they will slowly surpass millennials as the largest consumer base. By 2026, it’s expected that Gen Z will entirely surpass millennials.
Aside from its huge market base, Gen Z’s are considered ethnically diverse consumers. Also, they’re the most educated generation which explains why they always doubt brands. Gen Z values authenticity, transparency, and being unique. It’s the generation where they’ll research everything about your business before purchasing.
It makes sense why $1.6 billion is spent to acquire an active marketplace with existing Gen Z users. Let’s take it as a shortcut to access the soon-to-be primary consumers of the world quickly. Aside from their extreme distrust of unknown brands, Gen Z’s are known to value brands that show authenticity.
So now, it’s obvious why brands go through extreme lengths to secure their market base for the long run.
Depop’s Business Worth
So far, it’s clear why Etsy bought Depop, especially if we emphasize the percentage of Gen Z users on the website. But it’s not enough to measure the scale of Depop’s business worth.
Here are two key factors that can show at what level Depop’s is worth:
- Gross Platform Spend, 2020’s Revenue
In 2020, Depop earned $650 million and $70 million, respectively, each increasing over 100% year-over-year.
- Gross Platform Spend Trend, Historical
From 2017 to 2020, Depop’s gross market sales grew at an 80% annual growth rate.
From the 2020s 70 million revenue, Depop is valued at 23.2 times compared to the previous year’s top line. It’s notable how Etsy sees Depop as a high-growth “SaaS business” instead of a consumer marketplace.
Depop and Etsy
The majority of younger shoppers have been maneuvering the shift of resale on a broader note. Besides, according to GlobalData PL, 40% of shoppers under 24-years old have been buying second-hand fashion. This study explains why Depop, where they can resell unique items, is popular with Gen Z’s.
Meanwhile, Etsy is widely known as a marketplace for handmade goods where you can buy vintage items. According to CEO Josh Silverman, the transaction is a way to deepen their connection with the younger generation. The company had $1.8 billion in cash, investments, equivalents, and balance sheet. It also had an undrawn $200 million revolving credit facility last March.
Although Etsy has acquired Depop, the current chief exec of Depop is encouraged to continue running the marketplace. As for Etsy, it will remain in London and will continue its operations as a stand-alone marketplace.
Penji Review: How unlimited is it REALLY? (+25% Promo Code)
Move over Fiverr. Unlimited graphic design services are the newest alternative to hiring a graphic designer. But, these services bring up many questions. For example: How unlimited is unlimited graphic design?
We tried out one of the top services: Penji.
Like many of their counterparts, Penji offers graphic design work on a monthly subscription. We put their promise of fast turnaround, high-quality, and affordability to the test.
You can submit as many design projects as you want via their online portal, and they’ll complete your requests one at a time until your queue is complete. This type of service promises to be a great added resource for teams to improve productivity.
Does it sound too good to be true? We thought so too. So, we signed up to see for ourselves.
This article was updated on June, 2021.
As with any service, there are pros and cons. To help with your graphic design hiring decision, we decided to condense what we found in a bulleted list below. Here’s a quick summary of our review of Penji’s unlimited graphic design service.
(Still wondering what “unlimited graphic design” is? We explain what it is here.)
- Easy and quick to create design projects
- Storage for all my requested designs
- VERY fast turnaround on most projects. I expected just 1 draft in 24 hours but instead received 3 drafts. Revisions were sometimes completed the same day I submitted them.
- Helpful features such as a revision tool, ability to invite team members, brand profile, and more
- Upbeat and direct communication from everyone I interact with
- A dedicated and responsive account manager who replies within a few hours
- Can’t call or talk to designers
- Best if you have design projects ready to submit
- Not available as an app
Penji’s “unlimited” design model is a great choice if you have the right expectations going in. The service is affordable for growing businesses and their output is reliable. However, if you’re expecting to be on-call or face-to-face with your designer, this type of service is not for you.
Compared to designing yourself, hiring freelancers, or using Fiverr, Penji is a much better service and value by a long shot. Their team of designers lived up to the promise and exceeded my expectations.
Thinking of trying Penji out for yourself? Here’s a special promo code for Owner’s Mag readers:
Use the Penji promo code “OWNER25” to get 25% off your 1st month.
PENJI FULL REVIEW
We put Penji to the test by signing up, requesting a design, and examining the results. Here’s how it went.
We get it. You want to know how it went without reading all the mumbo jumbo.
All four projects were completed within two weeks and I was impressed with how they all turned out. If I had paid hourly or per project, these would’ve easily cost me well above $1200+ to get done, and probably taken weeks.
With Penji, it took just a few days and I paid a fraction of what I would’ve paid elsewhere. Definitely impressed with both the turnaround, quality, communication, and value this startup has to offer.
But Penji isn’t without its flaws. The service definitely isn’t for everybody.
Who would benefit:
- business owners
- creatives with consistent design needs
If you don’t have a consistent need, the bill will start racking up after a couple of months and you won’t see the value in the subscription.
However, if you do happen to fit their target demographic, then there’s no better alternative out there. The speed and quality of their work easily rival other services I’d ever used. For $399 per month, this is an absolute steal.
What I Did Step by Step
Now, if you want to get into the meat of how it went, keep on reading for every detail of how I got from the sign up screen to the final project.
Signing Up For Penji
Signing up for Penji was a relatively quick and painless process. All of my questions were answered in less than 5 minutes by customer support via Intercom and another 2 minutes to complete the checkout process.
Communication with Penji’s Support Team
How fast and reliable a company’s support team is before you are an active customer is a reflection of what’s to come. If they’re unresponsive now, it will only get worse once I’m a customer. I reached out to Penji’s customer support team via their Intercom chat popup and got a response within 30 seconds, which is pretty good. I asked basic questions and the agent seemed knowledgeable.
Communication as a Customer
All communication is done online through Penji’s proprietary online portal. That includes revisions, feedback, and answering any questions my designers may have.
Communication with Your Designers
Penji assigned me 1 designer, Billie, and communication with her was easy. If you have used any messaging platforms like Slack, Facebook Messenger, or Discord, you’d be familiar with this form of communication.
Billie was responsive, attentive, and always seemed to have a positive attitude no matter how demanding my requests were. She had many questions about the projects, which I tried my best to answer as a customer. Though the back and forth took longer than I wanted, I realized she was just being thorough to get the design done right, which I appreciate.
Communication with Your Account Managers
They assigned me an Account Manager, Charmaine, who was very quick whenever I needed something. It usually takes just a few hours for me to get a reply via email from her. When I had an issue with one of the projects, she quickly stepped in and helped resolve the situation.
1. Choose the Right Package
All the packages are laid out with monthly, quarterly, and yearly pricing. Starting at $399 per month for the Pro plan, you’ll be able to make unlimited graphic design requests with a 24-48 hour turnaround. As your design needs grow, you’ll have the Team and Agency packages to choose from.
The form is straightforward and easy to fill out. Checking out was a breeze and took about 2 minutes.
3. Submit a Design Project
Clicking on the “+ Create new project” button, I’m presented with a visual chart of all the design categories they offer. They offer an extensive selection of options and even the ability to request a custom project.
4. Fill Out the Request Form
Next, I filled out a short form detailing what I wanted them to design. For those of you who hate long forms, this one from Penji is easy to follow and doesn’t ask too many questions. Most of the questions are actually optional so you can be as descriptive or non-descriptive as you like.
My test projects
As a digital publisher, we produce content on a daily basis and always have a need for on-brand graphic design. I created several projects to test how well-rounded Penji is and how they handle both simple and complex requests. A simple banner should be difficult, but can they handle a complex infographic with lots of texts and imagery?
Here are my test projects:
- Blog Graphic: Best DSLR Camera Equipment For Beginners
- Custom Illustration: Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy
- Facebook Post: Isometric Tech Gadget Graphic
- Magazine Print Cover (Owner’s Magazine’s 2020 May Edition
Despite creating four projects, the entire process was quick and smooth. It only took a few minutes to create them and their internal platform was lightning fast. At this pace, I can see myself submitting multiple projects on their platform with ease.
I expected at least one draft the next day. What I didn’t expect were three drafts ready for review. To give you a comparison, most freelancers and design firms we’ve hired take several days to submit just one draft.
The designs were surprisingly good considering that it’s the first draft AND they had a 24-hour turnaround. After reviewing, I realized how they did it. Every project had a different designer. I wasn’t assigned just one designer. It was like having my very own virtual design team.
4. Requesting Revisions
Though the designs were good, I still needed a few revisions. The drafts were turned around usually the same day or by the next day. Their support agent actually told me it will take 24 hours to turn around revisions. The revisions that took 24 hours were typically much more involved.
Overall, revisions were quick. Most came back within a few hours after I submitted them.
My one gripe would be that I prefer to have some sort of real-time chat with my designer or at least have a Zoom call. That’s one thing I like about working with my freelancers. Whenever they were online, we could just have a back and forth conversation to get the revisions across. I can’t do that with Penji.
Built-in Revision Tool
Penji has a built-in revision tool that lets me click anywhere on the design to leave a revision. I found this incredibly useful as it enables me to pin-point what I want to change.
It took about 1 week to go back and forth with revisions and edits for all 4 design projects. At the end of the week, I received the final drafts for all three. Here are the results of the three test projects.
1. Blog Graphic: Best DSLR Camera Equipment For Beginners
This far exceeded my expectations and will more than do for the blog I’m writing about DSLR camera equipment. I think most designers would probably just stop with 1-2 icons and graphics for this design. My designer decided to add the tripod, three lenses, drone, backpack, and a whole entire stage lighting kit.
I didn’t ask for those, but I’m impressed with the quality of the design. No revisions needed. I approved this project on the first try.
2. Custom Illustration: Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy
For this project, I asked my designer Kei to do a custom illustration of a man vacuuming his floor. He actually drew it up and sent me a rough sketch first before he started coloring it in. That was an extra layer of care and attention to detail I wasn’t expecting. Needless to say, I approved of his drawing and he delivered this draft the next day.
Everything in this graphic was hand-drawn and then colored digitally. Like the first project, I couldn’t think of any revisions except asking him to put the texts “Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy” on the graphic.
He went the extra mile and designed the text to fit the graphics. See for yourself above. It’s details like these that I would have had to harass my freelancer and he would try to nickel and dime me for every revision. Great work Kei!
3. Facebook Post: Isometric Tech Gadget Graphic
My designer Jave’s first draft amazed me because of how much detail he put into this project. I had asked for an isometric graphic with various tech products laid out on an isometric glass plane. I honestly thought my description may have been a bit too vague, but he understood my vision even better than I did.
4. Magazine Print Cover (Owner’s Magazine’s 2020 May Edition)
My designer Billie gave me 3 versions of the magazine cover. I don’t like version 1 at all. It looks too templated. I personally like version 2 and 3 and left revision notes accordingly. The coronavirus image was entirely her idea and I love it.
This project took a bit longer than the others because my designer Billie had questions and we had a lot of back and forth. I didn’t mind at all since she was asking good questions that I should’ve included in my design request. Overall, I appreciated the extra time she took to understand me and the project better.
About three days later, I received another draft which blew everything before it out of the water.
Reviews From Other Sources
Because you may not take our word for it, here are some of the most recent reviews from other sources:
Disclaimer: we receive an affiliate commission when the Penji promo code is used, however, the review is based on our experience.
Graphic Design Tips You Need to Know
If you’re not putting enough effort into your visual branding, there’s a chance your brand would be defunct in a few year’s time. Sounds harsh? Well, think about this – research by Kinesis says 75 percent of consumers judged a brand’s credibility based on website design. That being said, it’s vital to know the best graphic design tips to keep your business afloat and thriving.
Stick to a Color Scheme
This is one of the most crucial marketing graphic design tips pros swear by. To create a strong visual branding, you need to pick a color palette and stick to it. Resist the urge to overload your scheme with too many hues. Otherwise, you risk making your visual look amateurish and tacky.
If you’re having trouble picking a color scheme, consider color psychology. According to this field of study, colors can invoke moods or emotions. For instance, red signifies passion while blue channels peace and calm. Make sure to pick a hue that expresses your brand identity or what you want your audience to feel when engaging with your brand.
Use Fonts Wisely
Choosing fonts wisely is one of the graphic design techniques that separates pros from newbies. Without a doubt, one could get excited scrolling down a long list of new and cool fonts. However, too many fonts or using styles that clash against each other can wreak havoc on the visual. The rule of thumb is to never use more than three fonts in one design.
Also, if you’re combining two fonts in one copy, they need to have contrasting differences. For instance, using one serif and one sans serif font is a go-to trick for many pros.
Negative Space is Your Friend
Negative space pertains to the blank area in the design that surrounds the text or image. One of the best graphic design tips for beginners is to embrace negative space and not crowd every pixel with a design element.
But what exactly does negative space contribute to a design? For one, it offers a break to viewers, helping them absorb info better. In addition to that, it also brings the viewer’s attention to the crucial parts of the design. That said, not using negative space enough or having too little of it can result in a visual that’s too “noisy” for the eyes.
Ask Help from a Pro
Sure, you can take a pseudo crash course of all of the graphic design hacks out there. But if you don’t have the patience to actually put them into practice, then they won’t help your brand in any way.
If you’d rather focus your energies on other facets of the business, then it’s best to hire a pro to handle the creative work for you. Reputably designers know graphic design best practices by heart, and they can save you a lot of time, money, and effort.
In the end, it’s not about how beautiful or trendy your graphic designs are. Instead, it’s all about making sure that your visual assets reflect your brand values and let them shine through in every design.