Do you do mock-ups before being hired?


I’m relatively new to freelancing and I just wanted to get some feedback and opinions on whether other designers spend time on mock-ups before being hired.

I just had a situation where I put quite a bit of time into creating 5 different web page mock-ups for a prospective client then she decided another designer gave her something closer to her “vision”. I’m sure with time I could have given her what she was looking for but it felt like a giant waste of time.

I’m curious as to how others approach this…



I let my portfolio speak for me. Then I provide two or three custom mockups for each proposal. I normally set a timer ( for an hour then how ever much I can get done in that amount of time I present to the client. An hour worth of work isn’t too big of a commitment to try to gain a job. Also ask them in the beginning to create a brief for the site. What they want to accomplish. What they want the pages to be. Have them show you some sites that they like - their competitions site.


I never do mockups. Being primarily a writer, its like giving something away entirely free and I’m a business, not a charity. I have enough time in to have a very large portfolio. If that’s not good enough for a prospect, it sends a red flag to me.

Even for design, I send prospects to look at my sites and my work online. Then they can decide if I’m up to the challenge.

Welcome to Sitepoint Helikopter!

That’s called “spec work” and something of a hot topic, as you’ve found out you can spend a lot of time and effort for no reward. Most freelancers and agencies that I know of won’t entertain spec work, me included.

I will not work on spec because of a few reasons:

1. You are producing work for a client that you may not be paid for
Any time you spend on designs (even an hour) is an hour of work you may never be paid for. While it may not seem like a big deal for one client, if you add it up over time, that’s a lot of time that could have been better spent on billable hours

2. You are opening yourself up for your designs / ideas to be taken
While you are somewhat protected from them taking your designs and using them exactly, who is to say they don’t just take the basic ideas you came up with and hire someone else to create something based off it? They will design it from scratch and would you be willing to try to fight for that in court? Probably not.

3. If they are looking for spec work, they still want quality
Think about why a company would want to have you produce some work for them. It is to gauge how well you could envision what they want and produce the end result. If you provide them with a quick / rough idea, they may feel that you are the best for the job since it’s not a polished design they instantly like. Also, determining a company’s new design concept is not a quick process, determining the best navigation and layout is all part of what would sell the client on the idea. Taking the time to do it right is only something to really focus on AFTER the contract is signed.

If a company simply wants to see what type of work I can produce, that is what my portfolio is for. If they cannot judge based on my previous work, then most likely the process is going to be taxing from start to finish and I will probably pass on the project anyway.

That is just my opinion at least. :wink:

I’m a client and I love, love, love to take your ideas and use them. Sometimes they lead to me giving work, sometimes they don’t, but I file them all in my head and while I would never use a concept identically, I’m not going to ignore good stuff either. Seriously, I have no issue admitting this, it’s part of the game and especially so in larger projects where you get big bids, big ideas – so if you’re willing to give up more than I expect and turn over tangible results, I’ll take them. There are times when this may be a good idea, but being asked to it is rarely one of them.

You aren’t here to help give me anything for free, so why would you do it? Is it possible you’ll lose a few projects because you say no? Sure, but you’ll also save yourself time and heartache. The bidding process isn’t a guarentee – someone may have 1, 2, 3 or even 10 other vendors in the process and while your comp could kill, someone else’s prices, or experience, or attitude may be what wins.

Don’t assume you have to show an example if asked. It’s perfectly acceptable to kick back and talk about this. If they run enough said. If they make a great case, well, you can always discuss it, or offer to sell them the comps at a low rate and get paid for your time.

Save the ‘give’ to discussion and past examples unless you really feel it’s going to help and you haven’t been asked (I’ve had this done and it has helped, but again, it’s not a ‘lock’).

Thanks for all the replies. I greatly appreciate it.
I guess I have my answer now!:slight_smile:

Just adding to the above, there is only ONE occasion where I would consider doing some spec work for free is if it’s for a well known and well established business that is offering me a potentially huge contract. In that case if it may clinch the deal it may prove well just to throw in a mock-up to secure the position. It’s unlikely to happen often but if it’s something you really want to be apart of, giving away something for free can occasionally have a good return on investment. :slight_smile: