Looking for a professional designer is similar to choosing a gadget. You browse websites, compare the rates and check the skills. And while hiring creators on freelance websites is still common, turning to sites like Penji is much smarter
At Awesomic, we love to analyze our colleagues and rivals, and this is what this Penji review is all about. We will examine the platform’s core features, see what it can offer, and present you with 7 Penji alternatives to help you choose the one that suits you best. So, get cozy, and let’s dive in.
Penji is an on-demand design platform where you can create graphic design and projects for a fixed fee per month. The company promises you’ll get unlimited designs per month, and we examined whether this statement is true.
The CEO of Penji Khai Tran and CMO Johnathan Grzybowski launched the platform in April 2017. It quickly became a space where companies could hire a designer without spending hours looking and screening a suitable candidate.
Nowadays, Penji is still mainly focused on small to medium businesses and startups. Moreover, if you run a nonprofit company, you can apply for Penji’s Community program and get your marketing kit for only $1.
Since we’re coming at this Penji review from the point of view of a regular user, let’s examine the platform’s workflow. The onboarding is pretty straightforward, but it has a few caveats. Once you sign up and enter your Penji.com dashboard, you need to follow four steps:
At this stage, you create a job listing and include any important details. If you need visuals for multiple projects, Penji allows you to create a folder for each of them. In this case, you will have everything stored in one place for future projects.
Once everything’s set up, the Penji app will place all your requests in a queue. It looks like the «unlimited» possibilities of the service are a gimmick: you can only work on 1 or 2 tasks per day and hence, place a finite amount of requests per month.
Once you’ve posted a task, the algorithm will match you with a professional from the Penji design pool. Penji claims to hire only 2% of the experts who pass their tests. However, many users mention the need to switch designers during the working process.
To minimize any issues, Penji connects you with a dedicated account manager to solve any problems, starting from a Team plan. Still, you have to be ready this extends overall working time and makes you explain your idea to a new creator.
Penji ensures that you get your first design drafts in 24-48 hours for projects like flyers, merch, or logo design. More complex designs, such as app layout, landing page, multipage booklets, etc., may take more time (up to 72 hours).
Be prepared that a designer might not get your idea right for the first time, as it often happens. So your first project might require more revisions and clarification while designers get used to your style.
Penji transfers ownership of the final designs to you like most platforms. Also, the platform keeps the visuals in your online cabinet, so you can quickly access them from the dashboard.
Note that not all types of files are available. For example, the Penji design pool doesn’t work with Sketch or Figma. It does all the prototyping in Adobe Suite, so make sure it’s convenient for you. Plus, there might be problems with creating a design in other languages, especially when choosing a font.
If you look at the Penji blog, you can see there is a separate page dedicated to the types of designs you can get on this platform. We’ve examined this extensive list closer and noticed that most of them fall in one of the following categories. So, let’s look at each of them for our Penji review.
This category is the most prominent in the Penji design list. Its candidates can create for you the following designs:
Note that most Penji graphic design requests take 2-3 rounds of revisions, so you can expect these designs to be done in 6-7 business days.
Penji designers will work on your merchandise, stationery, corporate branding kits, and other stuff in this category. If you’re looking for a striking shirt or hoodie design, Penji workers can present you with concepts or improve your current ones.
Penji designs for a branding kit or corporate stationery will take you 2-3 weeks to be completed and polished. If you need them to be done sooner, your only option will be purchasing the most pricey Agency subscription, which allows you to work with 2 designers.
Web designers at Penji can develop responsive interfaces, templates, and wireframes for your website. They can also choose readable font pairs, tweak colors and improve the flow of your existing website.
However, the platform states that they mainly work with websites made with builders like Wix, Squarespace, or Shopify. This means that the final design of your blog or shop will be rather generic. Moreover, it won’t be optimized for SEO, which is crucial for new businesses.
Penji app designers can create wireframes and prototypes, so you can see how your app works in real-time. Also, they can apply UX tests to wireframes to ensure an optimal website workflow.
Like with web designs, Penji app developers only present you with the light version of the design, which might need some revisions when the programmer starts working on it. This, in turn, will make you use the platform for longer than you’ve initially planned.
Penji designers can create custom graphics from scratch, such as illustrations, mascots, concepts for Instagram and Facebook posts, icons, designs for email funnels, etc.
However, we didn’t find any relevant cases for email template designs in Penji's portfolio. Makes you wonder whether it’s an unpopular request or the company doesn’t want to share bad results.
The Penji design team offers services for creating a presentation or other POS materials and visuals for your brand. However, we didn’t find examples of this category either, so we can only assume the level of the final designs.
Penji.com states that they don’t work on animation, motion graphics, and 3D modeling. So, if your business requires animated and interactive elements, it’s better to look for a platform that packs these features.
The cheapest Penji payment plan offers only services related to graphic design. So, if you need a branding kit, a logo, or presentation materials, this package is for you.
Pro subscription is great for new brands or those who need to work on small design tasks. However, even a tiny startup might need a website, an app, or infographics to illustrate a case study.
Unfortunately, you cannot purchase these services separately, so your only option is to scale to a pricier tier. Plus, a Pro package doesn’t offer an account manager, which means you have to solve any issues via the Penji customer service number.
Penji’s Team package is $100 more expensive than the Pro and is the most popular among businesses mainly present online. For this price, you get all the Pro features along with some extras:
Additionally, the platform assigns you an account manager. This person can help you switch to a new candidate from the Penji design pool if the current one doesn’t click with your vision.
The most expensive Penji payment plan, Agency, is great for those with large loads of tasks or who need the work done as soon as possible. This plan provides you with two designers, so you’ll get twice as much work done in the day.
Also, the Agency allows you to add up to 10 team members. This means that at least someone can always monitor the progress on the job and deliver feedback, which speeds up the flow.
At Awesomic, we believe that you should be able to explore our design services before you buy them. That’s why we offer you the opportunity to try our platform for only $7/week.
Also, regardless of the subscription plan you choose, we assign you a Customer Success Manager. You can talk to them and ask to switch designers, or resolve any issues that might appear along the way.
Book our demo mode now and enjoy the cozy workflow we’ve created for you.
Who can give you the honest Penji review if not its former clients? So, we checked Trustpilot, G2, and reviews on Google maps and prepared the summary of clients’ opinions.
At first glance, Penji.com leaves an overwhelmingly positive impression. Both Trustpilot and G2 give it 4.8 stars out of 5, and Google’s rating is 4.9 of 5 stars. So, let’s see what makes Penji great:
Many users praise Penji for clear and fast communication. They say that the platform managers are incredibly friendly and quick to respond. Also, the customer service staff is easy to reach out to and helps to solve any misunderstandings along the way.
The second thing many users notice is the fast-paced process of creating designs at Penji. Daily updates and quick revisions help clients to move through their projects faster and avoid missed deadlines.
Users appreciate the diversity of the Penji design pool and the ability to create different types of visuals, from a shirt design to the illustration for an Instagram post. Some clients also enjoy built-in Penji features, such as a revision tool.
However, despite mainly positive reviews on the Penji website, the platform has a few drawbacks, which you need to be aware of:
When placing a graphic design request, you are invited to provide examples of styles you like. However, some designers might understand them too literally. Sometimes, users even mention that Penji designers copy their reference design and send it as a draft.
Some clients end up disappointed with the Penji design team because the designer fails to transfer the client’s idea into visuals. Clarifying everything through the chat takes a lot of time. As a result, you might get your first concepts in 3-4 days instead of an advertised 24-hour turnaround.
Penji hires designers and creators mainly from the Philippines, 13 hours ahead of the USA. This means your designer will send you a draft while you sleep, or you have to stay awake until late hours.
As we mentioned before, Penji creates a queue of your design requests, so you can only work with one or two tasks per day. However, some people still fall into the promise of «unlimited» designs and end up frustrated.
To create this Penji review, we spent hours researching and exploring the platform. We also saw what the clients and designers who worked with Penji.com have to say. So, here’s a wrap-up of pros and cons based on the info we got.
The Penji design team can cover your needs in most graphic design and branding projects, including some specific requests like car vehicle wraps or tattoo design.
If you’re having some problems with setting up your dashboard or finding a designer, Penji’s staff is available for any questions 24/7.
One of the Penji values is supporting those who help others. So if you own a nonprofit or a direct impact organization, you can apply for the Penji program and get your designs for $1.
Penji dashboard features many built-in tools and has an onboarding demo guide to help you set up your first request.
The platform has a selection of stock graphics, templates, and other elements, which you can use for graphic design, branding, or ads.
Penji info states that they don’t offer any of these services. So if your project involves animated elements or 3D design, it’s better to look on other platforms.
Penji web designers don’t create a layout from scratch. Instead, they use pre-made templates from Wix and Squarespace, so don’t expect unique designs from them.
Most of the Penji designers are from the Philippines, 13 hours ahead of the USA. Such difference in time zones results in poorer communication and more revisions.
If you’re a «try before you buy» person, you can rely only on Penji.com 's 15-day refund guarantee. You still have to pay the total price before you experience the service.
The cancellation process happens through email, and you might wait for 5-7 business days for customer service to respond.
Penji offers you web and graphic design services, fast turnaround times, and reasonable monthly prices. So, why do you need to look for alternatives? Well, because Penji doesn’t include high-demand services like animation or motion graphics. Also, the quality of their designs may drop over time.
Of course, you can hire an animator on freelance websites, but do you really want to go through hours of screening? Other platforms have everything figured out for you. That’s why we picked the 7 best alternatives to Penji, so you can compare and choose the best one.
Awesomic is one of the youngest Penji alternatives, but it’s a worthy rival in the industry. Since its launch in 2019, the platform has completed more than 6,000 tasks for clients and helped more than 900 businesses.
The platform offers various design services: from basics like graphic design, UI\UX design, and logo design to unique creators like marketing designers, product designers, brand strategists, and product designers.
Awesomic has the fastest turnaround times: less than 24 hours for first design drafts. Plus, it uses AI algorithms to match you with a perfect candidate, so you can start working right away.
Another of the well-known Penji alternatives is Design Pickle: more than 1 million requests completed since its launch in 2015. Design Pickle has two pricing plans, Scale and Pro, and offers its customers the choice to focus on four types of design:
The platform mentions that motion graphics and presentation materials are available only as a part of the Pro plan. But if you open the scope of services, you’ll notice that the Scale plan is available as well, just with minimal functions.
99designs offers a lot of services, just like Penji, except it mainly focuses on graphic design essentials: logo, brand identity, merch, packaging, illustrations, etc.
The thing that differentiates 99Designs from other sites like Penji is that it offers you the option to create design contests. There are four tiers with a fixed price for each: Bronze, Gold, Silver, and Platinum.
Along with that, 99Designs is a good portfolio website. Here, you can browse through candidates and see what they’re capable of and whether their vision will work for you.
Like Penji, ManyPixels launched in 2017 and quickly passed the mark of more than 1,000 happy customers. The platform focuses mainly on graphic design services: logo design, brand identity, merchandise, custom illustrations, and posts for Facebook and Instagram.
What sets ManyPixels apart from other sites like Penji is its minimal web design services. For example, they only provide you with wireframes based on an existing website layout and don’t create new ones from scratch.
Another great performer among the Penji alternatives is Pebbled. This design subscription website focuses on two things: graphic design and websites. You can create banners, landing pages, logos, flyers, email funnels, branding kits, etc.
Also, Pebbled is a good pick for business owners with a strict budget. Its Core design subscription starts from $99 per month, and the Enterprise will cost you $599. But let’s be honest: can you get a professional brand design for $99? Most likely not.
Additionally, users mention that the platform has a slower turnaround time than other sites like Penji. Plus, the designers often don’t get the idea right for the first time, so there are many revision cycles.
Flocksy differs from other sites like Penji by providing not only design services. Here, you can also hire a copywriting team or work with video editors and voice over actors.
As for the design services, Flocksy offers three main directions: graphic design, web design, and custom illustrations. The quality of designs is pretty high, but a lot of users mention slower turnaround times as one of the weak points.
And the final pick for this Penji review and its alternatives is Kimp. It provides customers with two subscription plans: Graphic ($499/month) and Video ($599/month). Or, you can stack them together for $900 per month.
What sets Kimp apart from other sites like Penji is that it assigns two designers to work for you. Thus, you’ll get double output on your project. However, the turnaround times are still much slower than on other subscription platforms.
Overall, Penji is a decent platform where you can hire graphic design, web design, and branding experts. It will be great for small businesses, start-ups, or local initiatives. Plus, Penji features good pricing packages, which you can scale as your business grows.
However, as we saw in this review, Penji.com lacks a few things. Its designs fluctuate in quality, revisions start to take longer over time and aren’t really unlimited. That’s why people turn to other subscription platforms.
For this review, we picked 7 sites like Penji and examined them, so you can see if any of them is worth your time and money. And if you want to trust your own judgment, it’s better to pick a platform that offers a safe way to explore its possibilities. For example, you can try Awesomic trial period for $7 and make up your mind. How’s that sounds?