Web Design Contracts, Pricing & Estimates

Most designers and developers do not know how much they should be charging for any given project. Oh, sure – they usually charge what “seems” like a high enough fee to generally cover what the project entails – however – this kind of guesswork leads to two equally painful problems.

  • You underbid the project because you did not account for each and every task.
  • You overbid the project – which hurts you in the long run with any given client.

Underbidding includes such overlooked items as: The time spent FTP files and synching with their current website or server; moving applications or components that require extensive testing and permissions; “face time” and other required meetings with the client, or even training and documentation requirements. Training and Documentation should not be thought as a trivial matter. Most developers and designers miss this one requirement and when the client wants to be trained on the software, open source or application you just built – they find themselves forced with either providing a hastily put together document – or spending unbilled time providing screenshots, walkthroughs and other documentation.

I do not know about you – but any time we need to travel to a client for training will wipe a minimum of 1/2 to 1 full day just getting to them and back again. You should set these expectations in the proposal and contracting process with your clients. We specify a $500 1/2 day and $800 full-day rate for onsite training and custom documentation. It encourages the right kind of clients and discourages the ones who do not understand the value of training and documentation.

Overbidding is equally dangerous. Sure, you may get more money from a client who doesn’t question your estimates – however – you are doing a great disservice to them by not accurately knowing how much to charge them for web development and design. We’ve forged a trust relationship with our clients that allows us to:

  1. Estimate the project.
  2. Propose a budget.
  3. Identify items that can be estimated as fixed costs to the client.
  4. Identify the items that may need a range, such as complicated programming tasks or research items we do not feel comfortable doing a fixed bid on.
  5. Billing against these estimates with real accounts of the tasks & hours taken to accomplish them.

Often the projects wil come under budget (because we are good at what we do) – and the billing comes out less for our clients. That is 100% win-win from our perspective.

Some developers and designers see that as an opportunity to make some extra cash.

We see that as an opportunity to show our value to our clients. That is usually the difference between a “Professional” and “Moonlighter”.

If you have accurate estimating – such as using the Web Design & Development Estimating Spreadsheets from Proposal Kit – then you should always know how much to charge for any given job you do.

If you have Web Design Job Costing – meaning you are tracking expenses and hourly time per project and actually comparing it to your quote – then you should always know when you are making or losing money as a web developer, designer, artist and so forth.

A professional makes money every time because of accuate pricing, tracking and contracts that do not hurt them. If you have need of such – you should take a good look at Proposal Kit Pro 11.0 for Web Developers and Designers.