Design Pickle Vs DarkRoast Design – Which one is best for you?

The world is changing, and so is the way we work. Nowadays, we’re expected to get more done, in less time, with less money. At the same time, remote work and distributed teams are becoming the new norm. As a result, more and more marketing professionals and business owners are turning to “Unlimited Graphic Design” services as their go-to solution for their ongoing creative needs, as opposed to hiring a full-time graphic designer. If you’re at all familiar with this type of service, then you are probably familiar with Design Pickle. They are the current heavyweight champion of Unlimited Graphic Design and the service to which our own (DarkRoast Design) is often compared. Their ads are just about everywhere, and with over 4,000 clients, their success proves that there is a serious demand for this type of service.

So we wanted to offer a closer look at how the two services compare — most importantly, we’re going to figure out which is best suited to your needs.

What exactly is “Unlimited Graphic Design”?

The short answer is, it’s a subscription-based approach to graphic design services, which simplifies the entire process of working with a graphic designer. In the past, budgets would have to be set and terms agreed on for every aspect of the job. The simplified subscription approach gave birth to the concept of “Graphic Design on Demand”; essentially, what you need done, done when you need it. This makes everyone’s life easier ― both the client and the designer. As a result, it allows companies like ours to offer you access to world-class designers in a way that is faster, easier, and more affordable than what a more traditional agency or freelancer can offer.

Because we know people are busier than ever these days and you may only have another minute to take in all the details here, we’re going to go ahead and give you the final answer first; then, for those who want a more in-depth explanation, you can read on to discover how we arrived at it.

Design Pickle vs Darkroast: which one is best for you?

If you’re a new small business or self-employed on a budget, looking for the cheapest possible solution for unlimited graphic design, and not too concerned about the quality of work and service you get – and you also don’t mind working with a less experienced designer overseas and in another time zone – then Design Pickle is a great fit for you, and you’ll likely be very satisfied with your experience with them.

However, if you run an established business or are part of a high-performing marketing team, value personal service and professional, agency-quality work by a professional designer in North America, and are willing to invest a little more money, then DarkRoast Design may be the better fit for you and your business.

Essentially, DarkRoast is the Design Pickle for Professionals.

Now, for anyone interested in how we arrived at that conclusion, here’s a deeper dive into the specifics of how the two services compare:

Comparison points

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Service
  • Location
  • What You Get
  • Assigned Designer
  • Team Collaboration
  • Project Management


Price is the first thing most people mention when it comes to Unlimited Graphic Design and that’s the biggest change when comparing Design Pickle & DarkRoast in 2022. At $995 USD/month, Design Pickle is now only slightly cheaper than DarkRoast, which costs $1199 USD ($1399 CAD). However, even though on the surface the two services may seem comparably priced, the overall experience you get from both is drastically different. For $995 with Design Pickle, you must choose which type of design work you want done (Graphic Design, Presentation Design, or Illustration). With DarkRoast’s slightly higher $1199 price point, all 3 design types (plus many more) are included.


design pickle vs quality

Quality is, to a degree, subjective, so we encourage you to compare portfolios and make your decision based on that comparison. However, in the opinion of someone who assesses graphic design work for a living, I would categorize the quality of Design Pickle as average at best. In order to sustain a price point of $995/month, Design Pickle uses less-experienced graphic designers, whose work is unlikely to blow you away. The quality of work from DarkRoast, in contrast, is guaranteed to be professional standard. DarkRoast only uses in-house, experienced professional graphic designers in Canada. All DarkRoast designers have formal training in graphic design or art in the form of, at a minimum, a three-year degree, and all have at least five to ten years of working experience; the price point is a little higher, but in exchange, you get the quality of work you would expect from a high-end creative agency, without the matching price tag.


design pickle vs alternative service

The overall quality of service you can expect from Design Pickle and DarkRoast is going to be drastically different as well. If you read any Design Pickle reviews, you will see that after quality work, service in the form of project management, technical support, and general support are the second most criticized aspects of their service. As can be expected from a low-cost solution with 4,000+ customers, customer support typically comes in the form of support tickets and emails, for which it can take a couple of days to get a response. If you’re concerned with price alone and are looking for the cheapest possible solution, which Design Pickle is, you cannot also expect world-class service.

In contrast, DarkRoast’s additional monthly expense is clearly reflected in the quality of service. With fewer than 100 clients, DarkRoast offers each individual client a truly personalized, world-class customer experience. All DarkRoast clients have direct access to support and project management staff whenever they need them through their dedicated app, which is exactly why DarkRoast is the trusted design solution of professional marketers.


Design Pickle Alternative Canada

This is another factor that may not be considered by the average user but that has a significant impact on both price and quality. Both companies offer “unlimited graphic design” at strikingly low prices, especially compared to the average cost of graphic design services in the US. This is because both companies employ graphic designers outside of the US; in the case of Design Pickle, although the company is based in the US, most of their design staff is based in the Philippines, with the remainder of the staff based in other areas outside North America. DarkRoast is based in Canada and employs only in-house designers in Canada, which means there are no language or cultural barriers between our designers and our North American clients.

Time zone and working hours are also important factors to consider. When working with Design Pickle and designers based in the Philippines, real-time communication and collaboration is difficult, as there is a 10- to 12-hour time difference in your workdays. In comparison, since DarkRoast’s designers are in Canada and distributed across Pacific and Eastern time zones, your designer will have the same working hours as you and will be available to communicate in real-time all day, every day, when you need them.

What you get

design pickle alternative what you get

With both Design Pickle and DarkRoast, you are not limited to the number of projects or revisions you can request. However, with Design Pickle, there are limitations on the types of projects you can ask your designer to work on. In 2021 Design Pickle altered their pricing structure and separated the most common types of design work that most marketers request on a daily basis into their own separate plans. This means that if a project request doesn’t fall in the design category of the plan you’re subscribed to, you are required to sign up (and pay for) a completely different plan.

With DarkRoast, all of these included in 1 simple plan. No added fees or upselling.

Assigned Designer

Another less obvious distinction between the two services that makes a huge difference in the quality of their work is how they handle assigned designers. With Design Pickle, you’re assigned a random designer from the start, who will work on all your projects. This will be the only designer who works on your projects, so your turnaround times are subject to their workload, and you’re limited to their particular skillset. Also, it is common for Design Pickle clients to have their primary designer switched out for other designers over time. If you’ve worked with graphic designers in the past, you may know the setback this can create. It takes time for a designer to really understand your brand and expectations, and every time you get assigned a new designer, that process starts all over.

At DarkRoast, you get assigned a specific designer who is the perfect fit for your brand, industry, and needs. You’ll work with the same designer indefinitely so that you can develop a relationship with them, and they can develop an intimate understanding of your brand and your expectations. However, with DarkRoast, you also have access to a team of world-class designers when you need them. It’s possible for your primary designer to be sick, on vacation, or just have a lot of work to do in a little time. In those situations, additional DarkRoast designers can pitch in on your projects to make sure there is no downtime. Also, there may be situations where you can benefit from working with an expert in a particular type of design, like illustrations for photo editing ― for those projects we have internal specialists who can help out your primary designer to ensure you get the best quality work every time. 

Team Collaboration

design pickle alternative for teams

As mentioned, Design Pickle is a good choice for those who are self-employed or sole proprietors of businesses with fewer than five people. Because Design Pickle only allows one person to access your account and designer, team collaboration is not an option, and only one person will be able to start and manage design projects.

However, larger teams will likely have multiple people who will need access to your graphic designer to create and collaborate on projects. This is where DarkRoast excels, as our service was specially designed with teams in mind. With a DarkRoast Design account, there is no limit to the number of team members who can access the account and work with the designer. The DarkRoast project management system, which we’ll look at in the next section, also has built-in features to allow for effective team collaboration and communication if needed.

Project Management

design pickle competitor

Both Design Pickle and DarkRoast Digital offer their own custom-built Request Management App that is the primary tool for managing projects and communication. Both systems are innovative and easy to use. They have both been engineered to streamline the request and project management process, saving everyone time and money. With both systems, you can create and organize requests, communicate with your designers, manage and organize files, and more. The only major difference between the two systems is that Design Pickle’s was made for single users, while the DarkRoast Request Management System was made for both individual users and teams.

A lot has changed when looking at Unlimited Graphic Design in 2022. While price is the first thing most people jump to, there are a lot of additional factors you need to consider:

  • What kind of quality are you realistically expecting based on the price you’re paying?
  • Is having your designer work in the same timezone and have the same hours as you important?
  • How many projects are looking to work on at once?
  • How many people on your team could benefit from having a dedicated designer always available to them?

Based on these questions that marketers ask themselves every day, DarkRoast Design checks all the boxes.

Their team of experienced senior-level designers and versatility when it comes to working on all sorts of different design projects at once makes them the clear-cut winner for serious marketers and growing brands.