Working out project costs


Hi All,

I've been working in this industry for a good few years now but still find it difficult to cost each job and the questions to ask clients beforehand.

Most clients like to know a pretty accurate cost, although this can change depending on what they give us and what extras they ask for.

Does anyone have or use a kind of 'ready reckoner' of questions to break down a design project?

You know, things such as "are you providing all the photos?", "will you be providing the text in a Word document?" and "are you going to be awkward every step of the way?".

Your experiences would be great.


Graeme :icon_biggrin:
Hopefully you should know the kind of questions you need to ask to extract a brief from a client that says there isn't one?
These questions (in the briefing of a logo for example) should always uncover whether the client is looking to use just type or whether they're looking at type plus a marque or some form of bespoke illustration. Ask them for logos that they do like the style of or that reflect the market they want to be in. This gives you an idea of their level of taste/sophistication/design awareness. Some are just 'clip art' clients....
You can then quote accordingly.

Re. Photography.
Questions: 'Is it supplied, do you want me to look for stock options for you to choose from, are you going to arrange a shoot? Oh, you don't want photography at all? Are you sure? It's quite a big brochure for just text. Oh you like white space, great typography?'

Once you know these, you can quote for the time/experience required to achieve them. In the case of buying stock photography, it's best to say that you (designer) might suggest a particular photograph as part of the concept presentation but if the client approves the use of it, then the client will need to pay for the purchase/license of the image and this is not included in your design fee.

In a nutshell, quote for the things you can handle and simply highlight anything else as being either outside of your skillset or that you can only quote on when you get to that stage of the project.
(Clients always love the expensive £2k+ image from Getty, but don't want to pay and have to settle for the £25 istockphoto ones...again, you need to 'manage' their expectation. Ask them the question.)

If the client doesn't have a clue, then your quote needs to build in time to handle them. If they're very direct and have clear brief, then this can work in their favour as you can keep the price keen, do the job and move on.

Some good advice there.

One of the biggest problems I have is when a client wants a concrete price up front so that they can build it in to their project budget. Even though I tell them that this is based on what they've told me and that things can and will change, they still find it difficult to accept extra costs when they completely deviate from the initial brief.

One client who in all fairness, does give us a fair bit of other work, asked for a set price for a project which we gave him based on quite a standard brief. It dragged on for months with hundreds of wee changes which in the end, didn't resemble the initial requirement at all.

I suppose a lot comes down to individual clients, and I'm sure we all have the same kind of experiences.

Graeme :icon_biggrin: