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Is web design profitable?

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by JFDesign, Jan 7, 2017.

  1. JFDesign

    JFDesign New Member

    Hi

    I'm a self employed graphic designer, with 15 years experience. I work for my own clients and also freelance at design agencies. For my own clients I do a lot of logos, infographics, print design, emails, powerpoint... but I really struggle to win website jobs. The feedback is always that I'm too expensive.

    My estimates are based on the time I expect to spend on briefing, research, meetings, design, amends, coding (outsourced to a dev I know), adding content, content amends, liasing with dev. Ballpark figure for a 5/6 page 'brochure' site would be £3k using a theme as a basis. £4-4.5k designed from scratch.

    Even using a theme as a basis, I still believe some pages need to be custom designed, to ensure clients' content sits well. However – I'm not winning the work, based on my prices.

    Does anyone else experience this? Is it unrealistic for a solo designer to charge £3k plus? For those who win website work, do you go over your estimated hours? Maybe I focus too much on quality over speed?

    FYI I have some websites in my portfolio that I've either designed at agencies or for developers, so I have evidence of my work. I'd really like to have some projects from my own clients too though.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

    Jen
     
  2. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    Of course it's profitable, but like anything it depends on your client base. £3k for a simple site based on a theme does seem high to me. I'd probably charge that for a simple site designed and built from scratch, if it's for a fancy business (i.e. someone that can afford to pay it). For a smaller business, the cost would obviously be a lot less. I tend to host most of my sites myself, and am able to 'throw in' a year's free hosting and email to sweeten the deal. It's nice to get some guaranteed income now and in the foreseeable future.

    I tend to give a quote using 'top-down' pricing, so you start at the top and take things away until you and the client meet at a place you're both comfortable. Originally I tried just sticking to a client's budget to secure work, but clients tend to expect bespoke sites with every feature imaginable for ~£500. You may find a client is happy to leave out a lot of features they originally thought they needed once they realise how much they'll save, and it shouldn't really affect you since it's less work and you should still be making a profit even at half the cost/workload. Sometimes you'll just never find a common ground though, and you'll find a lot of clients simply don't expect bespoke sites to cost so much. Most of the cost often comes from the development side, checking mobile versions, sorting problems, etc etc, and because it's something clients can't actually see they're often left wondering what they're actually paying for. There's times where I've spent a day designing a simple site but 3-4 days implementing features clients request and fallbacks and testing on multiple devices. It's one thing to build a site, but it's another to built it well (hence where 'high' prices come in).

    If you're constantly being told you're prices are too high then either A. they actually are too high for the quality of work you're providing, or B. (and this is much more likely) you're simply targeting the wrong type of client. I know some people have success simply charging a flat fee of around £350 to install Wordpress and a theme, set it up, install and configure necessary plugins and be done with it.

    Try and find out why your prices are too high. Chances are it's because these clients are looking for or expecting something simpler. If that's the case, try and use that to your advantage. Installing Wordpress themes might not exactly be [/FONT]glamorous, but you're selling expertise not a final product, and in a couple of hours have earned more than some designers earn in a day.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
  3. JFDesign

    JFDesign New Member

    Thanks for your reply, Paul. You make some very good points. It could well be that I focus too much on designing an immaculate site, when infact I could dedicate much less time and it would still do the job for the client.

    The idea of just installing the theme is interesting and one I hadn't considered. I could then quote for bolt-on costs to add in their content, to design some header images. It's then their choice if they want me to do that.

    Appreciate your input, it's good to have another perspective.
     

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