If you’re a freelance web designer, you’ve probably received a vague email enquiry asking for a quote. The email is usually short on detail, high on expectation and ends with the most beloved of questions: How Much Does Web Design Cost?
The usual response: it depends!
It’s a common frustration for freelance web designers. But it doesn’t have to be. Let us explain.
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The question itself is fine. Most often, the email enquiry lacks detail, making it difficult to estimate the work. You can’t price a project if you don’t know the project details.
You’re going to have questions. You can ask these questions in an email, but in our experience, clients rarely respond as thoroughly as we like. So, get your prospective client on a call if you can.
A call allows you to get the details you need straight away. When clients are talking freely, they’re likely to drop in useful information that might be overlooked in an email. Only when you know the scope of the project can you accurately price the work.
A call is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your value, too.
Show Me The Money
Your response to “How much does a website cost?” It might be “what is the budget?”. It’s a legitimate response, but clients may rail against this.
A client might misinterpret this as an attempt to extract every penny from them: “If I tell you my budget is £10,000, won’t you just quote £9,999?”
Though this may be true of some designers, what you’re trying to do is get a sense of how much they have to spend so you can quote appropriately.
Case in point: your recommendations for implementing a website on a £3,000 budget are likely to be different than if the client revealed they had allocated £30,000 to the project.
Paul Boag said it best:
“Keeping your budget secret means we have to guess how much you want to pay for design. It makes no sense because the winner isn’t the best designer, but the person who guesses closest to the figure you had in mind. That or the person who charges the least.”Paul Boag – boagworld.com
Reluctance to reveal a budget upfront isn’t limited to smaller projects or clients who lack experience commissioning website work. It’s a web designer’s job, as a professional, to highlight the benefits of being transparent about budgets.
A better question would be: “Tell me your budget, and I’ll suggest an appropriate solution”. Rephrasing questions like this demonstrates to the client that you’re thinking about the best outcome for the project rather than prioritising your bottom line.
Any Enquiry is an Opportunity
Every enquiry is an opportunity for freelance designers. When you’re dealing with design on a daily basis, it’s easy to underestimate a client’s knowledge. After all, how often is it that a client commissions a new website design?
When a web designer receives a “how much for a website?” request, it’s up to them as a professional to ask the right questions and guide the client through the process.
we’ve heard of designers ignoring vague requests on the assumption that the work is low budget or a bad fit. If someone has taken the time to get in touch with you, they deserve a reply.
It takes a couple of minutes to respond to an enquiry. If you include a minimum project fee in your first response, you’ll quickly get an idea of whether the client’s budget is appropriate for you.
Replying to a potential client will pan out in a few ways:
- You find out the client is not a good fit, move on!.
- The client doesn’t have a budget yet, but will get back to you when they do.
- You win the job.
Either way, you’ve not spent long responding and could end up with a new client.
So, how should you handle vague client requests?
Here are our top tips:
1) Always respond! Each new business enquiry as an opportunity.
2) In your first response, mention the minimum project fee and offer to schedule a call if the fee meets their expectations.
3) Prepare a list of questions that you can ask prospective clients (put those questions in a scoping document).
4) Explain the value of being upfront about budgets. If the client is still reluctant, try Dan Mall’s method.
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We hope this has helped in answering the question of How Much Does Web Design Cost? It’s impossible to give a quote without understanding the scope of the work. Asking questions will help in finding out the the relevant information and what is required.
It’s also understandable that a new business may not know what they want, so always have a bottom-line / base project fee that you can give them.
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