Project estimates are difficult to create. Because no two websites are the same, web designers need to understand the specific needs of clients. That requires a lot of frequent digging.
It involves asking many inquisitive questions about what the client hopes to accomplish. From there, it’s time to research competitors and the technologies that will power the website.
And am the keyword, because the estimation process will take up a lot of it. That may be a big deal if you finally book the project. But if not, it can feel like a huge waste.
That’s why some web designers have switched to potential clients to cut out project estimates. In some ways, it goes against the grain of the industry norm. But it might make a lot of sense in some cases.
Should you start cutting out estimates? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of doing so.
Websites Are More Complex; So Are Estimates
Building a modern website requires a lot of moving parts. And we’re not talking about animation (although that’s a nice touch). No, we are talking about the various pieces that make up a website.
Consider content management systems (CMS), static site generators, themes, and plugins. And that’s just scratching the surface. A website may need to interface with various third-party APIs and cloud services.
Finding out how this all fits together is a challenge. This is especially difficult if you have not worked with a particular technology before.
When all this is squared, you will need to think about the actual design parts and materials. Taken together, these are not small tasks.
Even more difficult is determining the exact price for these various components. There is nothing simple about this process.
How to Charge Designers More Project Estimates
The more project estimates you create over time, the more likely you are to get stuck in practice. You can put in a lot of work, with only a potential client saying “Thank you, but no thanks.” The feeling that you are giving up your valuable time can be awful.
A few things get in the way of this work:
1. More Enthusiasm, Less Offense
Part of the challenge of writing proposals is that they are time consuming. So, you may start to feel guilty when it takes you away from your paid work. There is a certain pressure to return to the other projects on your plate.
Paying a fee eliminates (or greatly reduces) this pressure. You can now take proper care of the task without worrying so much about the other things you have to do.
This also gives you the freedom to dig deeper into the needs of the project than you might otherwise. Theoretically, you are less likely to lose those small details that could affect the overall cost. That’s best for both you and your client.
2. Filters Less Desirable Clients
Have you ever felt compelled to provide an estimate for a project you are not interested in? That is perhaps the greatest waste of time.
The fact that you are charging your time as a reseller will work for some clients (more on this in a minute). Especially those with very low budgets and those who do not value your expertise.
In the meantime, clients who don’t mind paying for excellent service probably won’t charge your fee.
Determining a Fair Price for Estimates
It’s important to strike a balance between getting fair compensation and helping potential clients see the value. Price for project estimates is too high and the value proposition is a hard sell.
There are many ways to calculate price. For example, you could go with a standard hourly rate and charge based on the actual time spent researching, striking and discussing the project. But the downside is uncertainty.
A flat fee may be more desirable, as all parties will be on the same page from the beginning. The challenge is to determine a price that you will cover in most cases.
Here’s a possible solution: Look back at some recent projects and think about the time you put into them. Try to find the median time spent and the charge based on that.
Let’s say you charge $ 50 an hour, and it generally takes you about two hours to create a project estimate. Using this formula, the flat fee would be $ 100.
If that’s not the best thing for your business, then don’t be afraid to be creative in how you structure things. Just remember that simple is often better.
Depending on your situation, there may be some disadvantages to charging website estimates. Perhaps the biggest thing is that you run the risk of project failure.
Certainly some clients will be turned off by paying an estimate. As we mentioned, this can help you remove the unusable weeds. But there may be times when a legitimately interesting project slips through your fingers.
Much also depends on your typical customers. If you focus on smaller projects, then a significant portion of a client ‘s budget could be spent on an estimate. While you may be able to apply some or all of your fees to the actual project, there is still a risk.
In addition, this practice may not be a good fit for those who are just starting out in web design. When your business is one of the most vulnerable, it is not advisable to limit your possibilities. In general, it is a better bet to wait until you have an established market presence. That’s when you can be a little more selective.
So while this may seem like a no – brainer, there are some important considerations. Implementing such a policy can have unintended consequences.
Regardless of the Task, Your Time Is Valuable
The promise of “free estimates” is common in many industries. And while that can attract potential clients, it can also be abusive. A long hard process means the time taken away from other important tasks.
For freelancers, this can be draining – both financially and mentally. You might be excited that people are interested in hiring you. On the other hand, you are sacrificing time to pay customers to serve those who did not pay you anything.
One way to offset some of the value you place on the table is to charge for project estimates. It means that they will not be disturbed by free people or people who are not serious about their project. And it compensates you for the time you put in.
It is only possible to determine whether it is very suitable for your business or not. But it is worth pondering.