Finishing billing for a fairly complex project on a deadline, we started to mentally review how the project had played out – specifically, how we had initially kept close to our budget plan, only to throw it out of the window during the final days towards launch. As a designer and developer, we realized that this is what oftentimes happens, when you’re in a time-crunch, and things need to get done. This is when I came across an article by fellow designer Andy Rutledge on pricing projects.
In his blog entry, Andy mentioned that “pricing for services is one of the vital realms where design professionals do not often possess significant skill. And this is a shame because price estimation skill is often directly tied to a designer’s ability to keep clients happy and derive a sense of satisfaction from the work; important stuff.” True, but even if you have significant skills in this realm, it all depends on your client.
As Andy staked out, every designer
likes loves the following kind of client:
- She is the single point of contact for the project and the sole stakeholder, likely being the owner of the company or the CEO of the startup.
- She has an easygoing personality.
- She communicates well; she articulates her ideas clearly.
- She has a concrete idea of what she wants and needs from you for the project.
- She wants to leave the process definition up to you
- She wants to leave the fundamental design decisions up to you
- She has no pre-determined design or layout ideas
- She has a clear idea of her brand and can easily describe its characteristics to you.
Yet, not many projects play out like this – things get complicated by a host of factors, among them:
- Client Team is a committee or there are layers of bureaucracy involved in approvals
- Client has strong ideas for the layout or design
- Client is not sure what they need and/or knows little about the target audience
- Client cannot clearly and concisely describe their brand to you
- Client is not sure how the application should work or what all the components should be
While Andy suggested to price accordingly at the outset, we discussed another solution that keeps the client’s interest first: Why not price a project with a base price, and give the client an upfront assessment how projects tend to end up over the initial budget?
- Designs get changed during the implementation phase: way after everyone agreed on a design,
- Writing copy turns out to be harder than expected: Faced with a deadline, the client elects to [a] hire a professional copywriter (not cheap indeed!), [b] continues to write content and outsources other mundane task to designer, or [c] changes the deadline.