Website Design Proposal: A Beginner’s Guide

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Meredith Smith
Meredith Smith

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Whether you’re a freelance web designer or working in-house, writing a website design proposal can help you maintain alignment. This is your chance to convey existing web design problems and how your project will tackle the challenge.

person writing a website design proposal on a laptop

Your web design proposal creates a single source of truth that lays out everything you hope your project will accomplish. This document also creates a path to follow as you realize your vision.

Below you’ll learn what a website design proposal is, what to include, and best practices than can make your document perfect.

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Table of Contents

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Your website design proposal is not the final business agreement between the two parties. However, this document may act as a benchmark for the project from the first contact to its launch.

If you’re freelancing as a web designer or working in a web design agency, having a pre-made web design proposal template can help streamline your onboarding process with new clients. You can then easily convey the goals and timeline of the project.

What to Include in a Website Design Proposal

Creating a web design proposal template can help streamline your onboarding process. While you might find that you need to add or remove sections from your web design proposal template, you should consider including the following components as a starting point:

Overview

Think of this section as your first impression. You can use this lightweight page to communicate to your client that you have taken their information and are ready to work for them professionally. Consider including:

  • The client’s business name.
  • The client’s point of contact.
  • Your business.
  • Your contact information.
  • Project name.
  • The date when the proposal was submitted.

Again, this document does not act in any legal way between you and the client. However, all this information can help both parties stay on the same page.

Goals

A project goal is what the client hopes the project will accomplish. Likely, the project exists because a problem has arisen for your client. Your goal should solve that problem, whatever it may be. In this section, you can include the following.

  • The client’s problem, for example, could be:
    • Problem #1: The client’s current website is not attracting new visitors at the rate needed for business development.
    • Problem #2: The client’s current website is built on outdated software.
    • Problem #3: The client’s website feels out of step with their current brand, creative, or content strategy.
  • One to three goals, for example:
    • Goal #1: The client wants to increase leads from her website by 20%.
    • Goal #2: The client wants to learn how to maintain the website herself.
    • Goal #3: The client wants to upgrade brand imagery to be standard across all platforms.
  • By and large, align goals to a higher purpose, for example:
    • Goal #1: The client wants to hire more employees.
    • Goal #2: The client wants to drive down overhead to reduce freelancers.
    • Goal #3: The client wants to communicate their brand story across platforms.

Solution

The solution describes how you’ll reach the project's goals and/or solve the problem. If the project's goal is the final destination, then the solution is the route you’ve mapped out to take you from here to there.

In the solution, you’ll want to be very detailed about the processes, tools, and time needed to get there.

  • Steps. Utilize this section to outline the steps you will need to execute this solution. Will you be writing copy? Will you be designing assets? Will you be setting up a server or a newsletter platform?
  • Tools. Take a moment to list out what tools you will use to get the job done. This might be a HubSpot account with hosting, a WordPress theme, or an Adobe Creative Cloud account.
  • Resources. Resources might include any partners you require help from along the way. If you’re working with an agency, this could involve your coworkers who are SEO specialists, copywriters, and marketers. On the client side, this could include product designers or UX folks. Consider anyone whose time might be impacted by the project.
  • Time. Detail the time you think it will take to complete the project. Consider all parts of the project, from the time of your proposal to the finish line, plus any upkeep.

Schedule

It’s a good idea to be upfront about the workflow, and the schedule allows you to get concrete about the steps you outlined in the previous section. For instance, if you’re creating a website for a client, your schedule might look like the following:

Step

Time

Workflow

SEO research

1 Day

Agency (you/your team)

Brand name research

1 Day

Agency

Brand name approval

1 Day

Client

Buy domain name

1 Day

Agency

Create WordPress hosting account

.5 Days

Client

Outline site architecture

1 Day

Agency

Site architecture approval

1-3 Days

Client

Outline landing pages content

1 Day

Agency

Landing pages content approval

1-3 Days

Client

Web content copywriting

2-5 Days

Agency

Web content editing

1-3 Days

Client

Client photoshoot

5-7 Days

Agency + Client

Web content production

5-7 Days

Agency

Web content production QA + testing

5-7 Days

Agency + Client

… and so forth.

You can also include deadlines or a project plan, such as a waterfall diagram, to show how the workflow impacts each team.

Quote

Working with your business manager and the client’s budget in mind, calculate the hours of work involved based on your rates. Then, provide the client with a detailed quote so they can determine whether or not it aligns with their ROI.

Your quote should include all work involved on your or your agency’s side.

Project/Service

Time

Quote

Domain setup

2 hours @ $65/hr

$130

WordPress development

24 hours @ $65/hr

$1,560

Content production — five pages and three landing pages

8 hours @ $35/hr

$280

Content production — on-page SEO strategy

8 hours @ $35/hr

$280

Total

 

$2,250

 

If your client is working with other photographers, designers, or writers, only include what work you or your agency will do for this project. You may need to add a little overhead to your hourly rate to make your own ROI worth it. That is perfectly acceptable.

You have costs to consider, beyond time, including:

  • Office space rent.
  • Hiring partners or subcontractors.
  • Electricity bills.
  • Internet bills.
  • Adobe subscription service.
  • And more.

Your quotes to your clients should help you cover all of these costs within reason.

Terms

Your terms include how and when you want to be paid, as well as how and when you will deliver the work to your client.

Typical terms for freelancers are what are called “net15” or “net30.” Smaller projects can be paid out 15 days after completion, while larger projects may need 30 days after completion for total remittance.

You will probably already be set up to send invoices to clients ahead of sending them a proposal, but if this is your first time, you can use HubSpot’s invoice template generator.

Call-to-Action

At the end of the day, the web design proposal must sway the client to do business with you. That’s why some designers and agencies include a CTA with their proposals. For instance, you might include:

  • A link to an e-sign document to start the work.
  • A link to pay the down payment on the project.
  • A link to a menu of other goods or services that you offer.

Coverage

At the start of any project, include all coverage and points of contact. Especially if this is a new client, they might not know that you won’t be handling the design yourself or that you farm out photography.

If you want them to be able to reach any partners that you work with, include the information here. Likewise, if you plan to be out of the office during the project schedule, include any backup contacts to reference in your absence.

Contact Information

Include your direct line of contact as well as the billing address for your freelance business or agency. Don’t assume the client knows what it is!

Tips and Best Practices: How to Write a Website Design Proposal

1. Use standardized pricing structures to guide your quote.

Do your industry research and see how much competitors charge for similar services. You can raise or lower your rates based on your level of experience, the location of your business, and more.

Make your pricing easy to find on your customer-facing website. Create buckets for each type of service line, such as a five-page website, branding and design, and SEO audits. Be transparent about this pricing with any potential clients from the beginning.

You can add a la carte items to your website design proposal as needed, but having this in place will set you up for success. You won’t constantly reinvent the wheel for every new project.

2. Be upfront with your client about who is doing the work.

If you need to hire help, include the cost in your quote. If you need the client to acquire resources, ask at the start of the project.

Don’t assume the client knows to hire photographers for a roster photoshoot, for instance. They may expect you to drive all aspects of the project.

3. Gather all of the information you need upfront.

At the start of your project, create an onboarding survey for your clients. This is your opportunity to ask for contact information, branding assets, style guides, company values, and more. Gather all of the information you need in order to accurately write your website design proposal.

On a similar note, even if you’ve worked with this client in the past, it’s a good idea to create a kickoff meeting to scope the project with all key parties involved.

Writing Your Proposal

Creating a website design proposal is an easy way to show clients that you’re ready to show up and do the work. Having a template that you can use, as well as your routine best practices, will help you create a new website design proposal for every client whose business you earn.

You’ll then be able to move forward with your web design project, armed with the confidence that everyone is on the same page.

website proposal template

Topics: Website Design

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