July 27, 2023

Alternatives to Upwork for Hiring Product Designers – 8 Best Toptal Competitors in 2023

As businesses in the digital age continually strive for top-notch product design, platforms like Upwork have become popular resources for hiring talented designers. However, there might be instances when you're looking for alternatives, whether it's for more specialized talent pools, different pricing models, or domain-focused platforms. We're here to help you navigate this complex landscape by providing an overview of the top competitors to Upwork, including Versatile, a promising newcomer.

1. Versatile

Versatile is swiftly making a name for itself by providing the best product designers, specializing in numerous design areas.


  • An exclusive pool of top 1% designers specialized in numerous design areas.
  • Provides detailed designer reports, showcasing vital variables to judge a product designer's capabilities.
  • Guarantees a platform-designer match within 48 hours, with the option to replace the designer within the first 10 days at no extra cost.
  • Handles the administrative tasks, including payments, NDAs, and agreements.
  • Both the founders have worked in product design teams, and understand the niche. 


  • Premium quality might come at a higher price.
  • May not suit businesses seeking low-budget design solutions.

2. Toptal

Toptal is known for connecting businesses with the top 3% of freelancers, including product designers.


  • Rigorous screening process ensuring high-quality designers.
  • Flexibility with different types of engagements.


  • Higher prices due to elite talent.
  • The platform’s tight control over interactions may be restrictive for some.

3. Freelancer

Freelancer offers access to millions of experts in various fields, including product design.


  • Large variety of designers with different specializations.
  • Competitive pricing due to its bidding system.


  • The vast number of freelancers can make the selection process overwhelming.
  • Variable quality with a need for thorough vetting.

4. Fiverr

Fiverr provides freelance services across many disciplines, including product design, with a unique pricing structure.


  • Fixed price packages make budgeting easy.
  • Extensive range of designers at various price points.


  • Quality can significantly vary.
  • Limited interaction with the designer before the project starts.

5. Dribbble

Dribbble is a platform for designers and creatives that also allows businesses to hire talent.


  • A community of high-quality designers.
  • Direct interaction with designers.


  • No built-in project management or payment tools.
  • More suitable for one-off projects rather than long-term collaborations.

6. Behance

Behance is an Adobe-owned creative network allowing creatives to showcase their work and businesses to hire them.


  • High-quality designers with Adobe's reputation behind them.
  • Ability to view extensive portfolios before hiring.


  • Not specifically focused on product design.
  • No built-in project management or payment features.

7. DesignHire

DesignHire is a platform dedicated solely to hiring design professionals, ensuring a high level of expertise.


  • Focused solely on design roles.
  • Facilitates direct contact with designers.


  • Smaller pool of designers compared to other platforms.
  • Limited features for project management.

8. 99designs

99designs is a unique platform where you can host design contests or hire individual designers.


  • Variety of designers and design styles.
  • Contest feature allows for multiple design options.


  • Can be more expensive than other platforms.
  • Limited control over the design process when using the contest feature.


Black box' platforms like Versatile offer significant advantages over traditional freelance marketplaces when hiring product designers. You input your requirement, the platform's experts match you with a suitable designer, you interview them, and then get started on your project. This model eliminates the need for time-consuming candidate vetting, significantly speeding up the hiring process.

In conclusion, while Upwork remains a strong option for hiring product designers, a host of alternatives, each with their unique strengths and weaknesses, cater to various needs and preferences. Versatile stands out if you prioritize quick access to top-tier talent, reduced hiring hassle, and specialized expertise. As always, carefully research each platform to ensure it aligns with your business goals and budget.