So you finally took the plunge. You studied like crazy, gained a lot of work experience, crafted a stunning portfolio and began to offer your services as a web designer, but the clients aren’t quite lining up yet and a lot of the ones that do contact you end up walking away – often citing a nephew who can do the job for free – while you’re left wondering why you didn’t study accounting like your parents suggested.

While the situation may seem daunting, it doesn’t mean it’s time to shelve away your laptop and uninstall SublimeText. Even the most talented of web designers need to market themselves sometimes if they want to keep the work flowing in, and offering fixed-price web design packages is one of the easiest ways to bring in new customers.

However, this marketing strategy should not be put into action without forethought. A poorly-conceived list of packages – promising lots of features and enticingly low prices – could have you drowning in a sea of bad projects. You need to sit down and ask yourself, is this the right move for my business?

3 Reasons to Offer Web Design Packages

1. Removing Budgetary Doubts From the Equation

While big companies and people familiar with the intricacies of web design may understand the need for consultations before settling on a price for your work, a lot of customers with simpler needs get cold feet when they start imagining gigantic bills they can’t make heads nor tail of; they’re simply accustomed to seeing prices up front in big, bold letters.

Clear packages and pricing can help dispel a lot of the doubts customers have. They’ve essentially wandered into your restaurant – either through word or mouth or simply by chance – and it’s your job to hand them a menu and make sure they know what the best options are.

2. They Help You Weed Out the “Tire Kickers”

In car salesman lingo, a tire kicker is the kind of guy who comes around the lot often but never commits to any purchase and will happily take over your day with endless questions and low-ball offers.

Every web designer will have a tale or ten about these kinds of customers: it could be the guy who thinks he’s on the verge of founding the next Facebook – but all he’s got is $50 in his pocket – and you should be thankful for the opportunity to get in on the ground floor, or perhaps the small store owner who’s always asking you questions about your rates and keeps claiming he’ll contact you eventually, but “now is not the right time”.

Customers who are serious about their projects can appreciate being told exactly what their options are and what they’re paying for, which brings us to the next point.

3. Well-Defined Packages Help You Save Time and Money

Put a bunch of freelance web designers in a room and ask them what the most difficult part  about dealing with clients is, and nine out of ten will tell you it always comes down to prices and expectations. Customers want to get the most bang for their buck (understandably) and will often ask for the Taj Majal on a tin house budget (not so easy to stomach); that’s where clear payment structures come to your aid.

A well-defined package will let the client know exactly what his money is buying: a set number of pages, responsive web design, mailing list setup, shopping carts, SEO, logo design – you name it. You need to think in general terms in order to achieve this; what do most clients really need to get their websites going? Every feature not included in the client’s chosen package should be paid as an extra and you should inform your customers about that fact before getting down to work in order to avoid misunderstandings down the road.

Less haggling about extras translates into more time actually working and clients with more realistic expectations about the scope of their projects.

3 Reasons Not To Offer Web Design Packages

1. Some Projects Require Custom Solutions

There’s no way around this one – certain projects simply can’t be shoehorned into a pre-made package with a set budget. Maybe the client is worried about scalability, insists on using a custom CMS (heaven forbid!), absolutely needs their site to be compatible with Internet Explorer 4, 5 and 6, or just wants everything to be ready five minutes after he’s signed the contract; either way, you certainly can’t afford to charge such projects the same prices as those clients who simply want a nice five-page brochure site.

While packages may bring in a constant influx of new customers, you still need to be open to private in-depth consultations for clients whose projects will require special attention.

2. Dealing With Custom Cases That Want Package Rates

If you’ve been working in web design for more than five minutes, you’ll be well-versed in the art of patiently explaining to clients exactly why their project costs what it does. That conversation usually goes a lot like this: “My going rate is $x per hour/day and I estimate this project should take y amount of time considering the features you want me to implement”. Some haggling may occur afterwards and a few clients will simply decide to walk away; that’s all business as usual.

However, throwing fixed prices into the mix will potentially prompt clients who need custom solutions to question why they’re not getting the same deals as everyone else. While a skilled developer can easily spot the nuances that differentiate each project, it’s important to remember that a lot of the people you’ll be dealing with don’t have the skillset to do so and will need to be guided through the pre-development stage.

3. Deceptively Complex Projects May Slip Through

While thousands of hours of web development experience may have honed your senses until you’re able to spot a poorly optimized website a mile away, eventually everyone slips up and accepts a project that just doesn’t seem that hard, only to discover how incredibly wrong they were when it’s too late to back out or renegotiate their rates.

This is doubly troublesome if the project in question is one of your package offerings, since they’re presumably priced just high enough to pay for your expertise, but still look like bargains to attract a wider variety of customers. Since packages are usually paid upfront – aside from extras – once the development is underway you might find yourself turning away more profitable work until you manage to crawl your way to the finish line.

Examples of Web Design Packages in the Wild

3 Reasons to Offer Web Design Packages mid article

Below you will find two detailed examples that showcase real web design package offerings. We will go over each of them and analyze whether or not they’re well conceived, in order to provide you with a starting point should you be interested in putting together your own.

(For the sake of privacy, we won’t be mentioning the names of the companies that offer each package.)

Behind door number one we’ve got a small company that offers three different web design packages as well as custom consultations. Their three tiers are as follows:

1. Starter Website from $1,599

    • Custom design including one revision after delivery
    • Five pages (+ $75 for each additional page)
    • Responsive web design, optimized for both mobile and tablets
    • One email contact form (+ $75 for each additional form)
    • Homepage slideshow with 6 pictures ($150 extra)
    • Photo gallery with up to 24 pictures ($125 extra)
    • Shopping cart (not included)
    • Additional features upon request after consultation

2. Business Website from $2,899

    • Custom design including two revision after delivery
    • 15 website pages
    • Custom CMS
    • Responsive web design, optimized for both mobile and tablets.
    • One email contact form (+ $50 for each additional form).
    • Homepage slideshow with 6 pictures
    • Photo galleries
    • Shopping cart (+ $350 and an additional $25 per product)
    • Additional features upon request after consultation

3. E-Commerce Website starting at $8,599

    • Custom design including two revisions after delivery
    • 20 website pages
    • Custom CMS
    • Responsive web design, optimized for both mobile and tablets.
    • One email contact form (+ $50 for each additional form).
    • Homepage slideshow with 6 pictures
    • Photo galleries
    • Shopping cart, payment processor and shipping integration included
    • Additional features upon request after consultation

The above is a great example of a solid suite of web design packages. Let’s go over the reasons why:

  • The company offers a small but comprehensive choice of tiers, making it easier for customers to pick which one suits them better.
  • Popular extras are ear-marked right from the get go, removing doubts.
  • The number of included pages is featured prominently.
  • The basic tier makes a point of mentioning a feature that is not included within that package, which encourages customers to consider the successive – and more expensive – ones, which naturally yield greater returns to the business.
  • Explicitly says that additional features can be added only after consultations, making it easy to determine which clients would be more suited to fully custom solutions.

Behind door number two there’s a prominent company that’s dedicated to providing hosting services but also offers customers web design solutions in two tiers:

1. Standard Website at $799

    • A dedicated design coordinator
    • A premium template from their collection
    • Use of their custom CMS
    • Up to 10 pages of content (additional pages can be purchased)
    • Two revisions after delivery

2. E-Commerce Website at $1,099

    • A dedicated design coordinator
    • A premium template from their collection
    • Use of their custom CMS
    • Up to 10 pages of content (additional pages can be purchased)
    • Up to 10 products added to your shop (additional product pages can be purchased)
    • Integration of major payment and shipping methods
    • Two revisions after delivery

Since this company’s main source of income is in another field, they offer web design packages as an afterthought in order to entice more sign-ups to their hosting packages. While they might not be a terrible choice for someone who just wants to get their site up and running as quickly as possible, they’re not a particularly good example to follow when it comes to crafting a good design package due to the following reasons:

  • Both tiers are too general and barely list any of the features that are included in the prices.
  • While a couple of extras are mentioned, their prices are nowhere to be seen.
  • There’s no mention at all about consultations for additional features, which could confuse customers who don’t exactly know what they want.

Summary

Web design packages aren’t a good fit for every agency or freelance developer out there, but if you can handle the influx of clients and don’t mind the potential downsides, they might just be the thing you need to boost your business.

If you do decide to go down this route, keep in mind that you need to put some real effort into narrowing down which kinds of clients you want to target with your packages, the optimal price points for each one, defining the extras, etc., and when in doubt, it’s always safer to be as detailed as humanly possible.

Remember each new satisfied customer will be sure to talk you up to his or her friends, who might just end up fattening your client roster as well. If you think this might be a good fit for your business, there’s no better time than now to get started.

Images by Bloomua / shutterstock.com

Do you think web design packages are a viable business strategy? Let us know in the comments!


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