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  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lira
    Indeed, however most people wouldn't expect this before we show us this different perspective.

    There are people who barely know what they want - how can we expect them to know "how" they want it done?
    That's our job. It's not just to design cool looking sites, but to know what kind of sites to design for our clients. It's true, it takes a while to really build trust but once you have it, you won't wonder where your next project is coming from. I get more business from referrals than I can usually handle.

    Most people say they want a website, but in reality they want results. They just think a website will deliver those results. Unfortunatelly though, most designers just give them a website. They end up frustrated and confused, because they thought they were hiring a professional to help them increase sales, market their business, even reduce customer service costs. Each client has a different opinion of how the website will help them, but they usually can't articulate this to a designer because of their lack of technical knowledge.

    It's our job to consult with them and determine exactly what they want/need from a website. Sure you can just do spec work, creating exactly what they tell you, but in the end they will be very dissapointed that it hasn't helped (or maybe it has hurt) theit business. Think of long flash introductions, animated GIF images all over the homepage, etc. Clients can want some pretty amazing things... just because they don't know any better.

    We're just as much trainers as designers/developers.

    If you just want to design, and nothing else, go work for a development firm that is big enough to employ both consultants and designers. Then design to your heart's content, without worrying about the consulting. Until then, remember that your clients are really asking you for consulting just as much as desing - even without knowing it.

  2. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower
    Instead of just asking how much, also ask how many hours the professional estimates it will take to complete your project.
    Well, I must say that doesn't sit too well with me. Why should it matter how long it takes me to complete the job? The way I see it, if someone asks me to create a design for them, I say 'That will cost £xxxx'. At this point, they can either say

    'No way'
    or
    'Yes, I'm prepared to pay that'.

    If they say yes, I go away and create the design. It doesn't matter if it takes me 10 hours or 10 minutes to complete the job, what does matter is that design is delivered on time and created to the specification the client requested - and of course that I get paid the amount that we both agreed to.

    I really do not see why any professional should account for their time if they adopt a fixed-price quote system. This is a particular bug bear of mine as I am currently negotiating on a very large contract and the company is insisting on a fixed price quote, yet keep wanting me to account for evey minute I estimate each block of functionality will take me. No dice, you can't have it both ways; you want the security of knowing exactly how much this project will cost you, and at the same time you hate the idea of paying me more if I work slowly - fine, here's how much it will cost - the rest is none of your concern as long as I deliver the solution to the constraints as agreed.

  3. #28
    SitePoint Addict jessebhunt's Avatar
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    If they say yes, I go away and create the design. It doesn't matter if it takes me 10 hours or 10 minutes to complete the job, what does matter is that design is delivered on time and created to the specification the client requested - and of course that I get paid the amount that we both agreed to.
    I agree. I wouldn't like it if a customer started quizing me on production time either.

    For one thing, I outsource alot of my work, so it would be hard to give them an honest answer. Furthermore, it's really none of their business. (obviously, I wouldn't tell them that though!)



    Regarding the larger discussion (of pricing,) I think ALOT depends on who your target market is.

    Obviously, if you're selling your work to local businesses, you should probably be able to charge more than if your selling work to other designers that are outsourcing on SP.

    Likewise, if your target audience is Fortune 500 companies, your prices will be much higher than if your target audience is small, local businesses.
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  4. #29
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    $700 is small change. Most of the designs I have had to pay for are in the $15k range.

  5. #30
    Mongols of the world, unite! Lira's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by beley
    That's our job. It's not just to design cool looking sites, but to know what kind of sites to design for our clients.
    I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. However, my point was: most amateurs are not aware of this and most clients aren't expecting this either - unfortunately, what should be mandatory has become an "extra".
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  6. #31
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    Clients may not expect it, but they do expect the results this type of consultative process produces. Just give them a website and they'll usually be calling in a year asking why it didn't do X, Y or Z for them.

    And yes, most amateurs don't have a clue about this, because they moved from creating websites for themselves to creating them for other people. It took me a while to learn the process myself - but I think it's imperative for anything other than a 3 page brochure site (which I see no point in anyway).

  7. #32
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox
    Well, I must say that doesn't sit too well with me. Why should it matter how long it takes me to complete the job? The way I see it, if someone asks me to create a design for them, I say 'That will cost £xxxx'. At this point, they can either say

    'No way'
    or
    'Yes, I'm prepared to pay that'.

    If they say yes, I go away and create the design. It doesn't matter if it takes me 10 hours or 10 minutes to complete the job, what does matter is that design is delivered on time and created to the specification the client requested - and of course that I get paid the amount that we both agreed to.

    I really do not see why any professional should account for their time if they adopt a fixed-price quote system. This is a particular bug bear of mine as I am currently negotiating on a very large contract and the company is insisting on a fixed price quote, yet keep wanting me to account for evey minute I estimate each block of functionality will take me. No dice, you can't have it both ways; you want the security of knowing exactly how much this project will cost you, and at the same time you hate the idea of paying me more if I work slowly - fine, here's how much it will cost - the rest is none of your concern as long as I deliver the solution to the constraints as agreed.

    Not all designers do adopt a fixed-price quote system. I have seen many posts in this forum of those who bill hourly. If you are going to bill me hourly, then I believe I have a right to know what you expect as an hourly wage.

    Just as clients can't have it "both ways" neither can designers. Clients need a way to find out what is fair value. Although it maybe sounded that way, I wasn't suggesting a "down to the minute" approach.

    If the design is delivered "on time" that must mean that you work within time constraints. I am sure that as a consultant you furnish your clients with a detailed proposal. From that a client should be able to tell whether he believes what you propose is both fair, complete-able within his time frame, and in line with his budget.

    If you send your vehicle in to be serviced, you generally get an estimate. If the garage says that an oil-change will cost $300 in labor, I do imagine most of us would move on.

    As has been posted here, it is the ambiguous designer who causes the problems in the market; those that say "sure, I can build your site for $xxx" and don't give the client a clue as to what they'll get for their money.

    In another example, a friend recently hired an attorney with a $7500.00 retainer. The guy thought the fee was for one court appearance (pretty spendy!) until the lawyer explained that it was for the whole case from start to finish and explained to him some of the major issues that might be involved. Although the attorney didn't give an exact time line, his client did get an understanding of what he would get for what he paid. I think that anyone wanting a web design deserves at least the same courtesy.
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  8. #33
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    There's a big difference in delivering work within an acceptable time frame (i.e. agreed completion date) and a client asking me how long it will physically take me to carry out the work, in hours.

    Sure, if hourly billing is requested, then obviously having to account for the time taken is part of the deal. But I don't think that's what we are talking about here. We're talking about designers who have quoted a fixed price of $700 for a design. I also may have misinterpreted your previous post, but I thought you were suggesting that even in a fixed price quote, clients should ask how long the work was going to take, so that they could gauge how 'fair' the quote was - I find that completely at odds with the whole concept of fixed price quoting.

    From that a client should be able to tell whether he believes what you propose is both fair, complete-able within his time frame, and in line with his budget.
    In this case in order to satisfy the clients needs, surely I must agree that I can deliver the work on time, to their required spec and for a total cost that they find acceptable? The client shouldn't care if I wave a magic wand that creates the completed work in 3 seconds flat, this is immaterial, because I'm the one with the skill, experience and know-how to make everything happen exactly as required, and that's what they are paying me for.

    I'm not talking about being vague here either. The client can still get a detailed proposal - in this proposal they will get a breakdown of the work to be completed, perhaps into blocks of functionality, and each block is given a price - not in terms of hours, but in terms of flat costs for that spec.

    Just as clients can't have it "both ways" neither can designers. Clients need a way to find out what is fair value
    I don't think offering fixed price quotes is a case of designers having it both ways. By offering a fixed price, I have to spend a lot more time creating a proposal to ensure I cover all bases with respect to scope creep and vague specs and it's a lot more likely that I'll end up doing more work than expected in a fixed price project ('Oh, I expected that to include....I do think you should perform that as part of the costs...').

    And for the client, what could be fairer than me telling him at the very start of matters, exactly how much his project will cost? Sure, there are benefits for me, in particular with respect to me charging by value and possibly getting paid th equivalent of 30 hours billable time while only performing 30 minutes work (I wish) - but on the whole I think it's the client who gets the best deal and in the end, it's entirely up to them whether or not they proceed with me - if they don't think I provide the value to justify my costs, they can bugger off to my competitor and live to regret their money pinching ways later....

  9. #34
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox
    I don't think offering fixed price quotes is a case of designers having it both ways. By offering a fixed price, I have to spend a lot more time creating a proposal to ensure I cover all bases with respect to scope creep and vague specs and it's a lot more likely that I'll end up doing more work than expected in a fixed price project ('Oh, I expected that to include....I do think you should perform that as part of the costs...').
    Okay shadowbox, I do see your point and I guess I jumped the gun with my response. In re-reading what I wrote I was wrong and that was BAD ADVICE so don't listen to me Antonbomb22 !!!!!

    However, I still believe that when someone ballparks a figure like $725, the client's best strategy is to request (and be ready to pay for) a detailed quote of the work that will be done and the time it will take to deliver the project.

    Too often I read in these forums from both sides that a price was agreed upon and clients are reluctant to pay for the final product (or service) because they don't get what they believe is fair value.

    Any amount may be small change to one party and a small fortune to the other, still whether you're a minnow or a big fish, you still need to watch out for the sharks (both providers and clients). To me, disclosure is a good safety net for both parties.
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  10. #35
    SitePoint Wizard LiquidReflex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower
    However, I still believe that when someone ballparks a figure like $725, the client's best strategy is to request (and be ready to pay for) a detailed quote of the work that will be done and the time it will take to deliver the project.
    I can't speak for everyone here but I'm assuming that when an actual proposal is drawn up (one that includes a contract to be signed) that some details would be included ... just not every single little detail. When I produce an estimate/quote, the only prices shown is the final number. In my head, I know if they were to remove feature X, then I'd knock the price down by $Y, but they don't need to know that right on the contract. In the same way, the only times I give are milestone dates. When the project starts, when each milestone will be met and a completion date.

    For example, if I quoted out an estimate for a re-design of a website that only involved a new layout / graphic treatment, there really wouldn't be much detail to go into. I wouldn't list each bit exactly since that really isn't necessary:

    0.5 hour sketching ideas = $x
    2 hours graphic creation = $y
    2 hours CSS template setup = $z
    etc.

    However, if I were quoting out a more advanced site that involved multiple different processes, I would probably separate them out (but without exact time for each or price):

    Quote: $XX,XXX.00

    Includes:
    Graphic re-design and layout
    Custom CMS (content management system)
    Forum installation and customization
    Search Engine Submission & Optimization
    etc.

    You want to give the client something that shows that they are getting X, Y & Z for their money, but exacts are not necessary. Of course no client wants to get a $1k invoice for a "new look", because that's ambiguous. However, if it was for a re-design for improved accessibility, standardization, search engine optimization and navigation, there are benefits that are directly related to that price. That is what the client wants to see and is as much detail as they need to see. If they ask for more specific than that, most likely they are very controlling and you wouldn't want to work with them in the first place ... thus I'd refuse and move on to the next prospect.

    That's what I'd do a least.
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  11. #36
    SitePoint Addict jessebhunt's Avatar
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    If they ask for more specific than that, most likely they are very controlling and you wouldn't want to work with them in the first place ... thus I'd refuse and move on to the next prospect.
    Wow... that seems pretty harsh.

    Some people are more inquisitive than others. It's just the way they are. I don't think it's fair to stereotype them all as being overly controlling.

    I can't imagine cutting a potential customer loose just because they asked questions about the specifics of what they should expect to receive.

    I do agree, however, that very controlling personalities might not make the best customers.

    I'm just not sure that inquisitive and controlling are synonymous.
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  12. #37
    SitePoint Guru El Camino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Egor
    Try rentacoder or something. They'll do it for $15.00 (without knowing the project details!).


    Other competitors include companies like wsiwebresource.com who franchise salesmen locally (wsicorporate.com) , sell using the "Internet Solutions Lifecycle" and outsource the work to India.

  13. #38
    SitePoint Wizard LiquidReflex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jessebhunt
    Wow... that seems pretty harsh.

    Some people are more inquisitive than others. It's just the way they are. I don't think it's fair to stereotype them all as being overly controlling.

    I can't imagine cutting a potential customer loose just because they asked questions about the specifics of what they should expect to receive.
    It may be harsh, but speaking from experience, it's shown to be true many times over.

    I'm not saying that any prospective client that asks for a detailed estimate I walk away from instantly, but if they receive MY detailed list (as I posted earlier) and still want more details, specifically times and costs for everything, then yes, I do think they are asking for a bit much. Perhaps controlling isn't the best word, but they are definitely being very picky on knowing exactly what you're doing, how long it takes and why it costs what it costs.

    If you bring your car in for a multi-point inspection, and they tell you that it will be $100 to do it ... wouldn't a sheet telling you the items they're checking suffice? Or would you insist on a detailed list saying how long the mechanic would spend on each and how much of the $100 was toward it? Do you need to know that 2 minutes costing you $1.13 was using to check your tires? No. The only reason you would need to know that is if you thought you were being gouged on part of it and are planning on disputing one of the times/charges.

    I just don't want to work with a client that has to second-guess my honesty on how I came up with the cost and how much time it's going to take me. Simple as that. I'm not saying you have to do the same, but since I've had some clients from hell because of this very issue, I've decided to be more selective in who I work with. Sometimes, your first instinct about a client is correct. If I get the feeling that there could be issues after signing on the project, I'd rather avoid them altogether than try to figure out a way to work through it.

    Not everyone is like me though.
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  14. #39
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    Kevin makes some very good points. It's hard to turn away work, but eventually every one of us should do it. Knowing when to turn away business is one of the hardest things to do... but once you figure it out you will be one step above the competition.

    There are clients out there that are just hard to deal with. They miss their deadlines but expect you to make yours; they nitpick on every little line item of the invoice; they even try to get additional features added without adding to the price.

    Learning to pick these clients out, and not do business with them, will allow you to move on to more productive, and profitable clients.

  15. #40
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    ehm, the thead starter is talking about a dumb vbulletin Skin!!!

    I asked designers about CHANGING the standard template (colors ect., no 3D just plain 2D) and still get offers about $600! This is just ridiculous.

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nero2
    ehm, the thead starter is talking about a dumb vbulletin Skin!!!

    I asked designers about CHANGING the standard template (colors ect., no 3D just plain 2D) and still get offers about $600! This is just ridiculous.
    Well do it yourself then if it's just a few colour changes.

    You should probably make it very clear that all you need the designer to do, is log into the admin panel and change colours, I assume you don't want logo's, headers, etc changed, as that is more than just "changing the colours".

    Changing colours via the admin panel is so easy, that most designers would usually assume that you are after something a little more complex.

    Be aware, that a lot of the gradients, buttons, icons, etc require to ALL be manually edited and when someone throws around the famous "oh i just want the colours changed", it's about the equivilant of saying "oh thanks for building my house, I just want it moved a few metres to the left", easy to say, not so easy to do.

  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nero2
    ehm, the thead starter is talking about a dumb vbulletin Skin!!!

    I asked designers about CHANGING the standard template (colors ect., no 3D just plain 2D) and still get offers about $600! This is just ridiculous.
    Says you, the person who obviously cannot do it himself. So surely in this situation, a web developer represents an expert who can do a (dumb) job you are incapable of doing. Expertise comes at a price, buddy.

    I believe I've gone through this before, but here we go again:

    $600 = approx 1 days fees for a good web developer. From the moment you ring that guy up, you are on the clock.

    Phone call/email to discuss services: 30 minutes
    Gathering spec, sorting out initial payment: 1 hour
    Creating design concept to ensure it meets your requirements: 2 hours
    Getting your approval, emails, phone calls etc: 30 mins
    Hard coding the template: 2 hours
    Uploading to a test server for your approval: 1 hour
    Transfer of final files to you or your web server: 1 hour
    Billing, paying in money, admin etc: 1 hour.

    I make that around 9 hours of that person's life. It could be less, it could be more, but you should catch my drift.

  18. #43
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox

    I make that around 9 hours of that person's life. It could be less, it could be more, but you should catch my drift.

    Priceless!
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    :-)) I think i ask just the wrong ppl. Your draft is a good example for inefficient and unproductive use of time.

  20. #45
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nero2
    :-)) I think i ask just the wrong ppl. Your draft is a good example for inefficient and unproductive use of time.
    No, that draft is an example of how any organized web development agency would charge you. Businesses have this thing called overhead that they need to cover and web dev agencies are no exception. Also, if you're not the expert on the subject and you're deferring to someone else, you don't have much room in telling them how to charge you/run their business (see my plumber example earlier in the thread).

  21. #46
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    but an "Agency" was not asked for a vBulletin Skin by the Thread Starter.
    Are freelancers charging Agency Fees?? lol

  22. #47
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    Nero2 - could you let us know what you think is an acceptable price to charge for a custom modification of a VBulletin skin? With that info, we would have a better idea of the kind of level of service you should be getting form your freelancer/agency/teenager on his lunch break

    As to inefficient use of time, well this my friend is the real world where professionals do things properly, and this takes time - i.e. we don't just say

    'Yeh, I'll make a skin for ya - in red you say? Cool man, I'll knock something up when I get the chance. Yeah, yeah, don't worry, you'll like it, trust me....'

    When someone approaches a professional, be it an agency or a freelancer, they should be getting spec gathering processes, concepts, approvals, rounds of revisions, testing, final approvals, support, guarantees etc. Going to some faceless username on a rentacoder type site is not going to get you much of that.

    Pay poxy fees, get poxy work and poxy service. But if your web site is poxy anyway, you're laughing - a match made in heaven - so in this case, you are probably asking the wrong people for advice because most of us here don't deal with poxy.

  23. #48
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    I can see both sides of this issue.

    For one, I consider $700 to be reasonable, but I know you can get an equivalent done for $200.

    For two, everyone who says people who charge less produce lower quality needs a good swift kick in the butt. Try not to be so arrogant. The fact is that someone in India, or the Phillipines, or Eastern Europe might be as smart as you, they might be as artistic as you, they just have a lower cost of living, don't denigrate their work.

    Third, the mentality that web developers and programmers deserve rates like $150 an hour is what forces people to look elsewhere. $150 an hour might be fine when hiring a business with office expenses, receptionists (with health insurance), etc. For a single person thats way too much. Thats at the high end for a doctor's office visit even, and do you know how much x-ray machines cost? You can do web design with probably only $2000 worth of equipment and software.

    $50 an hour even for a single person in this field is a lot when you consider the education required and the sheer number of people who can do it. But at $50 an hour $700 would give you 14 hours of work. Work, not forum posting, not messing around on the PC and coding a little every 5 minutes, real work. Tell me someone couldn't provide a vbulletin skin in 14 hours of actual work?

    People who charge more get away with doing so on the value aspect of the website. They sell themselves as the best, they have clients who want the best and are willing to pay for the piece of mind of thinking they have the best, and to be coddled of course. IT doesn't matter if the person is really the best, all that matters is the client's perception of it. It doesn't make their work better, it just makes their wallet fatter.
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  24. #49
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    I don't think bringing in the use of (relative) low cost labour from India or Eastern Europe is fair in this discussion, it's not comparing like-for-like; as you say, the standard of living in these countries is different and hence makes comparision null and void - within India I'm sure there are comparable gaps in pricing depending on the developer you go to.

    I also was in no way suggesting that work from India was poxy just because it is cheap, I was assuming that the comparisons being made here were being made between developers at least based in the same country, and hence the difference in quotes would have to be based on elements such as quality of work, quality of service, percieved value etc, and not because the average national weekly wage is 10p in one of the countries giving the quote.

  25. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox

    When someone approaches a professional, be it an agency or a freelancer, they should be getting spec gathering processes, concepts, approvals, rounds of revisions, testing, final approvals, support, guarantees etc. Going to some faceless username on a rentacoder type site is not going to get you much of that.
    Again, the topic starter is not talking about a Web 2.0 Business Project but a Skin for a private Forum.

    Instead of writing emails with $700 offers these Freelancers should say "Sorry, you have a private project, you´re not my target group"


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