How to Make a Convincing Website Design Proposal

When you’re pumped up about a potential web design project, your first instinct is probably to go all-out on your pitch and present the most exciting, eye-popping, avante-garde ideas to your client. Your first thought would be to impress. That would be correct, but only to an extent.

Your top-level skills are an advantage when you’re trying to attract potential clients for website design. However, being good at this job will not guarantee that you will get the job every time. What you need is a memorable, well-thought-out, and value-laden proposal that details the merits of your web design services.

A well-structured plan that radiates confidence and knowledge of the craft and the industry—this is the kind of proposal that impresses clients who want to outsource web design to professionals.  

So how do you put together a memorable and convincing web design proposal that makes potential clients choose you as their website designer? We can name five elements that, by our experience, can increase your chances of winning a contract.

But first…

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Make the Most of Your Initial Consultation

You can’t write an effective proposal if you haven’t talked to the client. Well, technically, you can…but it will likely be a generic proposal. Templates have their uses, but we advise against using one when you’re trying to win over a new client. The competition for web design services is tougher now; it won’t improve your chances if you come across as “just like everyone else” to prospective clients.

To increase your chances of being chosen, you have to show that you fully understand the client’s needs and, more importantly, have a sound solution (or two) to address them. So, schedule a first meeting with the client and invite them to talk about their short- and long-term business goals, recurring problems, and so forth.

Essential Elements of a Web Design Proposal

Now for the meat of the matter. You’d want to convey the essential parts of the proposal to your prospect first. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Consider to whom you’re presenting your web design services. If they’re business people or executives who consider time as currency, give them the key points right away. They will be most concerned about your solutions and the price, so offer these at the beginning of your proposal.
  • Keep it brief and straightforward. Business owners and marketing executives don’t have time to read proposals that are several pages long.
  • Your proposal doesn’t have to include actual designs yet. Unless you’re ok with giving away your services for free, you shouldn’t jump into giving your plans. You’re only required to start creating designs after the client has signed a contract agreeing to your terms as a service provider (i.e., the client must pay the installment of your total fee first before you provide an initial design).

Below are the key elements of a web design proposal:

  1. Overview

The overview is essentially a recap of the points you covered during your first consultation with the client. If you had already agreed on anything during that first phone call or meeting, i.e., a ballpark price estimate, the general needs that must be addressed, the goals they want to achieve through website design/redesign, mention them in the overview.

Recapping the important points of that first meeting is one way to show that you pay attention to the client. Communicate as best as you can how well you understand their business, their goals, and that you want to help them achieve their target business milestones and goals.

  1. Personal Bio

This is an optional section, and you can make this as short as necessary. A brief personal bio is helpful if you’re pitching to a client for the first time. They don’t know who you are, and they probably haven’t seen your portfolio yet. They’re most likely checking out other companies and service providers, as well: it wouldn’t hurt to put your best foot forward by telling them relevant facts about yourself.

Give a brief account of your credentials and professional experience, especially any previous work you’ve done in the client’s industry. Provide a link to your online portfolio to keep your bio short. You can also talk about how excited you are to design their website because you’ve long admired the company, for example, or that you’re a big fan of their products and services, which is why you have a lot of exciting ideas to show the client.

Treat your bio the same way you would a cover letter for a job application. Show your best qualities — especially those that are relevant to the project. Avoid sounding too “salesy” (it’s better to let your work speak for itself).

  1. Problem and Solution

Some suggest including the problem in the overview, and that could work too. What’s important is stating the client’s problems briefly and concisely. This tells them that you have a full understanding of their situation, making it easier to earn their confidence.

Present the solutions you’re proposing and explain briefly why implementing them would be the best course of action. Focus on how your solutions will positively impact the client’s business. For example, you can explain how redesigning their e-commerce pages will increase online sales and revenue and reduce cart abandonment rates. Or you can point out that they’re failing to tap a huge revenue potential from mobile audiences because their website is not optimized for smaller screens.

Stating the problem and the proposed solutions will serve as a guide for the project’s scope. You can avoid scope creep later on because you clearly outlined the objectives and solutions.

  1. Pricing

Let’s be honest: while you’re trying your best to impress prospects with your portfolio, they’re probably more interested in how much you will charge them if they were to hire you. Price is a significant element—arguably the most crucial aspect—of a web design proposal. Their concern is not always about getting the cheapest rates, but rather the best value for their money. But be forewarned; there will be clients who want to secure your best offer at the lowest possible price.

Here are our tips on how you can present your fee structure:

  • As always, keep it simple. You don’t need to give tables of itemized “services” and their corresponding prices (e.g., Home Page for $2,500, e-Commerce page template for $1,500, Logo for $1,000). This is just the proposal, after all. You can give the details later if they ask for it. However, you should know that providing such detailed breakdowns of your services can open you up for a conversation about cutting costs wherever possible.
  • Instead of itemized services, offer three or four packages to choose from. Doing so will accomplish the following:
    • You’re letting the customer choose the price range they can afford.
    • You can set reasonable limitations to the services you provide. The most affordable package will be more limited, while the most expensive package will have more inclusions.
    • You can offer an upsell with your most expensive package. Suggest relevant services the client hasn’t thought about yet but will make them think, “We need this, too!”

A reminder: clients don’t like it when they get a bill with inclusions that aren’t stated in the proposal. So when you give a price, you should already factor in your taxes, markup, the rates of a third-party service provider you work with (e.g., a professional photographer), and any software/hardware you need to buy to deliver the output the client wants.

  1. The Next Steps: Process, Schedule, and Deliverables

Make it super easy for your prospects to decide to hire you. At this point, you’ve already presented the essentials (you’ve identified the problems that your services can solve, the goals you can help them accomplish, and your rates), so what’s left to do is give a call to action, then lay out what’s next if the client hires you.

You can include the following details in your client’s roadmap:

  • How much they need to pay for the first installment so that you can get started
  • What happens next after the contract signing and first payment (e.g., schedule the second meeting, which will now focus on website structure and design)
  • An overview of the schedule you have in mind (e.g., number of weeks for each stage of the web design process, like the first proposal, second to third iteration, staging, and launch)
  • A short, bulleted list of what you need from the client (e.g., high-resolution copies of any branding elements they want to preserve)
  • A short, bulleted list of your conditions (e.g., additional services and revision requests that are more than the number allotted in your packages will merit extra service fees)
  • A link where they can digitally sign the contract (adding this option removes the obstacle of having to print, sign, and deliver the documents back and forth)

Oh, and we didn’t stress it enough: give a clear call to action in your web design proposal. It doesn’t have to be exclusive to this section; you can add one in your bio and the pricing section, as well.

Final Touches

You only have one chance to make an excellent first impression, so you have to make it count.

  • Make an impact with your proposal from the cover page by adding style elements that are uniquely yours. Simple and tasteful additions, like a logo bearing your initials and your brand’s colors, make it clear to clients that they will do business with a professional.
  • Choose clean, professional-looking fonts and avoid the generic, overused ones.
  • Proofread your proposal, and don’t let even a single typo slip through.

May this guide help you make a web design proposal that will win you your next big client. Good luck!

About the Author

Wordable Team
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