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  1. #1
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    How many website mockups is enough?

    I normally do 3 different layout mockups per client and am debating whether I should go for just 2 or more than 3. Just curious how many mockups you generally do?

    Have a great weekend!

    Jace

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    SitePoint Wizard bbolte's Avatar
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    i only do what's specified in the project agreement. if i've specified 3, i do 3. if they want more, then we renegotiate.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Evangelist Unit7285's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jace41 View Post
    I normally do 3 different layout mockups per client and am debating whether I should go for just 2 or more than 3. Just curious how many mockups you generally do?
    One mockup is normally enough, produced after detailed discussions with the client about visual appearance, structure, navigation and content.

    I don't offer a choice, and nor do people ask for one. There's no point churning out alternatives just for the sake of it IMO.

    Part of the 'secret' to getting your mockup accepted first time is to explain it at some length to your client using carefully considered words, in the same way that a successful artist or an architect explains their work. It doesn't hurt to go a bit 'arty farty' on the design aspects. You've got to 'sell' your mockup.

    By justifying the concept as a whole, as well as every colour, shape, size, element and object position within it, you pre-empt the kind of thoughtless, impulsive meddling that clients often indulge in if you just show it to them with no explanation. With nothing to fill the big silence they often feel they have to say something, or 'make their mark' on it, and that's when you get all the gormless requests like 'can we make the logo bigger', 'can we see it in red' or 'can we move that down there', etc.

    Of course, if there's a valid reason for making changes that's fine, but when it's a case of someone primping their ego by making a pointless change just for the sake of it, that's just a waste of everyones time.

    By presenting them with a carefully reasoned explanation for the design, and by taking sole possession of the designer's hat, you are effectively giving the typical client the information and justification they need in order to accept the mockup as designed, without frivolous changes.

    This has worked for me for many years. It's been a long time since a client ended up with a design radically different to my initial mockup.


    Paul

  4. #4
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    Totally agree with Paul - if you've done your needs analysis correctly, there's no need for more than one concept (plus, say, 2 revisions to tweak minor stuff). If the client hates your initial concept (never happened to me), then you can offer to do a second one, for additional expense, but I would certainly question the effectiveness of your needs analysis process if you got something so totally wrong your client was forced to demand an additional concept from scratch.

    I mean, if someone says 'I want a site very similar in style to www.... and www.... and this is our logo and these are our company colors, and we definitely don't want x, y and z but we do want a, b and c - exactly how wrong can you get it first time round? Just make sure your needs analysis is asking the right questions.

  5. #5
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    This is so refreshing and exactly what I love about SPF! You go along and think,
    "Am I the only one who works this way?" and then you come here and find out that, more often than not, there are several others who do things the same way as you do. Of course sometimes you find out that your way is out of whack... but then you have the suggestions to change it!

    I agree with Paul and shadowbox. Your clients hire you because they don't know what goes into developing a successful website. If you get answers to the 'right questions' before you begin a project, there's no need to do two, three, or umpteen mock-ups.

    Another point is that, if you have a portfolio, before you accept a project, your prospect has plenty of chance to review your skills, your style, and determine if what you can do will fit their needs.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  6. #6
    SitePoint Evangelist dev_cw's Avatar
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    Good advice. We normally have done 2 presentations, I always thought that we needed to offer options for the client to choose. However, by providing options you are only making the decision making process more challenging for the client (we all know how scary it can be when clients start thinking). Since some people are bound to like one design over the other or parts of a design, we some times end up with a 'frankenstein" made up of parts of one design with parts of the other (I like design one but can you do it with the navigation of design two). I am very glad to see that others think that pitching one design is enough, we will go this way for the next job and see how it goes.
    "You can just hang outside in the sun all day tossing a ball around...
    Or you can sit at your computer and do something that matters."
    - Cartman

  7. #7
    SitePoint Guru dojo's Avatar
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    I don't design more than 1. We have a design and we work on that. I don't like making more since the more you give them the more they want another option. If a client is decided you need 1 design. If not, not even 100 wil make the thing work

  8. #8
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    You know, I used to provide 3 mockups and got endless changes. Now we focus more on discovery and try very hard to determine both what's best and what the client will like. Now we do 1 mockup and minor changes. Anything else is fine, but is charged normal hourly rates (with a few exceptions).

  9. #9
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    The story of the three salesmen...

    OUAT, there were 3 salesmen in a men's clothing store.

    The first salesman, when approached by a customer and asked 'where are the men's dress shirts?', would point to the section of the store and respond 'over there...'

    The second salesman, when approached with the same question, would walk the customer over to men's shirts, and pull out 3 or more of the best sellers, and let the client pick one.

    The third salesman, when asked, would in turn ask the customer a series of questions as they walked together to the right department - 'what kind of occassion?' 'what color is the suit?','what color/pattern is the tie?' etc etc, and would then pick out a shirt that worked for that customer's situation, and say 'this is the perfect shirt for you, here's why... (blah blah) - and will that be cash or credit?'

    Guess which one makes the most sales, and has the highest level of repeat customer satisfaction?

  10. #10
    is craving 'the potato' slayerment's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WithinReach View Post
    OUAT, there were 3 salesmen in a men's clothing store.

    The first salesman, when approached by a customer and asked 'where are the men's dress shirts?', would point to the section of the store and respond 'over there...'

    The second salesman, when approached with the same question, would walk the customer over to men's shirts, and pull out 3 or more of the best sellers, and let the client pick one.

    The third salesman, when asked, would in turn ask the customer a series of questions as they walked together to the right department - 'what kind of occassion?' 'what color is the suit?','what color/pattern is the tie?' etc etc, and would then pick out a shirt that worked for that customer's situation, and say 'this is the perfect shirt for you, here's why... (blah blah) - and will that be cash or credit?'

    Guess which one makes the most sales, and has the highest level of repeat customer satisfaction?
    Dead on! That's all there is to it. Understand what needs to be done and deliver. There is only one correct answer and it's up to the developer to find it and deliver it.

  11. #11
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WithinReach View Post
    OUAT, there were 3 salesmen in a men's clothing store.

    The first salesman, when approached by a customer and asked 'where are the men's dress shirts?', would point to the section of the store and respond 'over there...'

    The second salesman, when approached with the same question, would walk the customer over to men's shirts, and pull out 3 or more of the best sellers, and let the client pick one.

    The third salesman, when asked, would in turn ask the customer a series of questions as they walked together to the right department - 'what kind of occassion?' 'what color is the suit?','what color/pattern is the tie?' etc etc, and would then pick out a shirt that worked for that customer's situation, and say 'this is the perfect shirt for you, here's why... (blah blah) - and will that be cash or credit?'

    Guess which one makes the most sales, and has the highest level of repeat customer satisfaction?
    Probably the first one from my experience in working at a sports shop. The first would get through more customers than the others and would eventually get more commission. Still, a very good point that analysis will drive the design.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Addict SilentBobSC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WithinReach View Post
    OUAT, there were 3 salesmen in a men's clothing store.

    The first salesman, when approached by a customer and asked 'where are the men's dress shirts?', would point to the section of the store and respond 'over there...'

    The second salesman, when approached with the same question, would walk the customer over to men's shirts, and pull out 3 or more of the best sellers, and let the client pick one.

    The third salesman, when asked, would in turn ask the customer a series of questions as they walked together to the right department - 'what kind of occassion?' 'what color is the suit?','what color/pattern is the tie?' etc etc, and would then pick out a shirt that worked for that customer's situation, and say 'this is the perfect shirt for you, here's why... (blah blah) - and will that be cash or credit?'

    Guess which one makes the most sales, and has the highest level of repeat customer satisfaction?
    Couldn't have said it better or agreed more myself...

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by WithinReach View Post
    OUAT, there were 3 salesmen in a men's clothing store.

    The first salesman, when approached by a customer and asked 'where are the men's dress shirts?', would point to the section of the store and respond 'over there...'

    The second salesman, when approached with the same question, would walk the customer over to men's shirts, and pull out 3 or more of the best sellers, and let the client pick one.

    The third salesman, when asked, would in turn ask the customer a series of questions as they walked together to the right department - 'what kind of occassion?' 'what color is the suit?','what color/pattern is the tie?' etc etc, and would then pick out a shirt that worked for that customer's situation, and say 'this is the perfect shirt for you, here's why... (blah blah) - and will that be cash or credit?'

    Guess which one makes the most sales, and has the highest level of repeat customer satisfaction?
    Good analogy.

  14. #14
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    One. Choice is only a hassle for the client and for you.

    Look at it psychologically. When you give a child tons of choices at the store for ice cream, they can sit there for minutes trying to figure out which one (and they usually become ADD later in life). When you just tell a child what kind of ice cream they are going to have, you can move on and get the bread.

    Clients are no different.

  15. #15
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    The more mock-ups you do, the more likely the client is to think that making another one is easy and why are you charging so much. ASK what they want, suggest a few things in discussions, present one mock-up (or perhaps a secondr one that has a nice feature you've always wanted to use) and let them change that. Otherwise you will be changing every part of all your designs so they can see another six versions. Then another six...

    A friend had a client from hell who wanted different versions of every single PART of the page, including altering a bar that was about five pixels high by asking for four of five different shades of blue for the ONE pixel high bottom edge! I told her she had given too many choices on day one. Eventually she had to say good bye to this idiot, and decline the rest of his work (she turned down at least two other sites he had in mind as well, and I'd have been doing some of that work and certainly didn't want to be changing bits non-stop).

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard cranial-bore's Avatar
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    I occasionally do two if they are naturally produced during my own experimentation and working with the design, but more and more I do only one mockup for reasons already mentioned.

    As 37signals say more choice is not always better. As the expert you have to make decisions for your clients.

    Now I have to respond to my clients email as to why the links on my recent mockup don't work....

  17. #17
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    I wouldn't do more than two, because the first one is most likely going to be on the spot especially if the client came to you for you skill and style. The client can then ask for revisions which can be drastic but still use the same template. When they ask for another one it is a lot of work, but when they ask for three? That is too much. If the budget justifies such requests then I would go for the third, but most often clients don't take it into consideration.
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  18. #18
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    I'm doing two mockups

    Over the years I've tried doing various numbers of mockups from 1 to 4. For the last couple of years I've been operating on the two mockup theory. When I do one, I've found that the client will normally accept it but want to make, "just a little change, here and there." After doing solid time tracking on this I realized that such sites actually took longer to complete than if I make the effort to create two designs first.

    When people are offered two noticeably different comps, nine times out of ten they will take one or the other or simply combine elements of the two and not ask for many further refinements.

    And two seems to be the magic number. If the client is offered more - then there seems to be the implication that multiple designs are easy. And jobs end up taking longer.

    The problem is that more than two can throw too many choices out there, actually making any choice harder. Giving your client too many choices is not doing them a favor. If you can come up with two comps that will fill the business needs, look attractive, be accessible and can be made bulletproof in a reasonable amount of time, you've done a lot of work.

    There's an old sales trick called the forced choice. It goes like this: Instead of asking, "When would you like to schedule an appointment?" you say, "Would Tuesday at 10 or Thursday at 2 work better for you?" You have given the person a choice but implicit in the choice is the assumption that they will make an appointment. It seems transparent but it works most of the time. And, people are pleased that you are so flexible and considerate.

    The same psychology works with two comps. You ask, "Which one do you like?"

    Almost every time the client will choose one and be happy with the decision and not want to micro manage the job or make lots of little tweaks.

    I would love the luxury of being able to endlessly tweak sites to make them just so, but in the everyday world of production, most people aren't willing to pay for that. But if they have a choice of comps, even just two, they have a sense of having more input into the process, which helps. Believe me it helps.

    Almost every one comp site I've ever done has ended up taking longer and costing the client more than the estimate. With two comps, I come in on budget very consistently. When I first started out I gave firm bids and ended up eating a lot of un-billable hours. That's what prompted careful job tracking. Now the bid is only an estimate.

    BTW, I'm also very careful in separating out my billable hours into initial production and change orders and always let the client know when a change is not part of the original proposal.

    Of course, there are other variables to consider. How much choice are you willing to give your client, even if they want something you don't? How much are you charging? Can you afford to take the time to truly individualize a site? How much time are you willing to give away? The final little bit of polishing can take incredible amounts of time.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Guru SG1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cranial-bore View Post

    As 37signals say more choice is not always better. As the expert you have to make decisions for your clients.

    Now I have to respond to my clients email as to why the links on my recent mockup don't work....
    can you point me to the 37signals article that says that? i'd love to read it.

    This is a good discussion as I've been pondering this myself. I usually just do one for the client. But I actually thought I was the odd man out because I always thought that most designers give their clients at least two mockups.

    My concern with offering two mockups is that it tends to confuse the client but more importantly, I don't want to have to spend more hours on brainstorming creatively about it as well. I don't consider my creativitity (imagination) as strong as others so that is also my excuse for trying to avoid two or more.

    Most of my clients have been small at this point but I am starting to pick up some bigger clients. I feel that I have to appease these bigger clients by giving at least two mockups. Am I wrong? Anyone here with projects at the $2500 level and up and give at least two mockups? Or is still just one for these clients?

    In an ideal world, I wouldn't mind giving two mockups but I just feel like it is pointless if you can do a proper needs analysis.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Member auroinfo's Avatar
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    Well yes one mock up is normally sufficient. But if the scope of the job is large then you may provide more than one mock up. I normally provide one mock up and in special case i go up to four.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Enthusiast willsmith727's Avatar
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    3 mock-ups for one client - thats a lot of work! Only do that if they've asked for 3, and make sure you charge accordingly.

    We only do one (usually). Before hand we make sure we know what style the client likes, by asking them the classic question. What sites do you like/don't like. If they want changes on the design we've done then we work into it more and develop it. When you get really busy you can't spend time doing each client 3 designs.

    Providing someone with 3 designs is making a lot of work for yourself imo.

  22. #22
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    If the breifing is good enough and you get all the details you require. Then you should be able to hit it in one

    Si

  23. #23
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    You give someone choice and pay the price!
    "oh I like that bit from that one but also like that bit from that one and can I have a scrolling marquee at the top?"
    erm, no - find the requirements, colours, likes and dislikes and design them the best mockup you can based on that. If they hate it, redefine the brief.

    1 client = 1 mockup.
    Mike Swiffin - Community Team Advisor
    Only a woman can read between the lines of a one word answer.....

  24. #24
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    I listen to what the client wants then make something that fits the bill. Only once has a client not liked what Ive produced, and that client turned out to be a **** anyway who mucked me around and I ended the deal early.

    I think if you listen to what they want, advise them to begin with and give them an example you're on the right road. Giving them 3 choices might put them under pressure and they might say "ooh I like number 2 but with this from number 1..." then you do that and "oh but could you do this now..."

    Its always best if they have an idea in mind of things, and I always check for a corp identity and suggest following that plan as its what customers expect. Usually works out nicely in the end.

    R

  25. #25
    Beer Monster -Ox's Avatar
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    I normally get my designer to simply do one, she takes an extensive brief and is very creative and in saying that she normally gets it right the first time, we've only ever had one come back in which case we ended up doing 2 mockups
    My postings are a natural product.
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