Web & Interactive Design Rates
Finding the perfect price
You'll find that there is no "set" rate for web or multimedia projects, honestly, each project should be reviewed on a project by project basis and priced accordingly. Ultimately it all boils down to the amount of time it will take to complete the project and how much you are "worth", which is based upon your knowledge and experience. There are many factors to take into consideration that will affect pricing of a project. On average there's a huge range for pricing a Flash or web site project, often times you'll find the magic number between $50-150 per hour. More complex projects involving in depth programming could cost even more. Again, this depends upon the your knowledge, experience, complexity of the project, as well as the amount of technical programming that would be required. Generally, it's wiser not to offer an hourly rate but instead sit down and plan out how long you anticipate all parts of the project to take and then come up with a set price for the project. When pricing a project factor the following into the project time:
- Client meetings and all methods of contact. This may includes phone calls, emails, faxes, or actual meetings.
- Research. This includes design research as well as researching the client and their competitors.
- Gathering all content for the project. This should be the easiest step in the process, however, it is often the most difficult. It's important you gather as much information as possible early. Don't be surprised to encounter clients who don't have their act together. It's important to put forth an effort to request the information needed for the project, but at the same time the client must have a level of responsibility and be involved in the project's completion.
- Planning. This involved rough drafts, story boards, flow charts and site maps. The better plans you have for how the project will function early in the project the better.
- Initial Design. It's important that you present a client initial design concepts. It's wise to show a client 2-3 uniquely different concepts. This is the time to impress your client and sell them with your design skills. The initial design should look almost identical to what the final project would look like, it just is not in a functional form. Not only is this the time to convince a client of your skill level, but it's likely if you impress a client they will speak highly of you to others. Before you start with the development always ensure the client has approved the design. It's wise to have an approval in written form, either by signing an approval form or receipt of an email can be deemed as an adequate approval. Nothing is worse than having a project drag on and on because a client feels they can make change after change. An approval in written form can offer you a valid reason for charging additional if you have went above and beyond what is outlined in your contract.
- Development. This involves actual production of the project so that it is in a functional form.
- Reviews. Reviews should happen after the initial design and as needed in the development process. Reviews are an important part of the process, it allows the client to be involved in the production of the project.
- Testing. Yes, don't forget how much time you'll be testing your project. According the Web Standards Project, testing is said to consume about 25% of a web designers time. Web designers struggle to ensure web sites function on multiple internet browsers, often times work arounds (additional programming) are required. Factored into this time is also informing clients of and educating clients of technical issues involved. According to Macromedia's article "Actionscript 2.0 Best Practices", you should anticipate to spend approximately 80% of your time testing and debugging Flash projects.
- Revisions. It's important that you factor in minor revisions and ensure this is adequately documented in a contract. Generally clients should expect approximately 2-3 revisions to a design. Once they have approved the design, approximately 2-3 minor revisions to the functional project is acceptable. It needs to be very clear to the client that there are only a set number of revisions, any additional changes should incur additional fees, otherwise the client will lose value for your time. It's always wise to include in the contract that if the project goes over reasonable time limitations or other circumstances increase the time it takes to produce the project (beyond your control) that the client may incur an additional fee if necessary.
- Final Approval. Once the project is complete make sure you get a final approval in written format to document the project's completion.
There's got to be more, right?
Now of course there's much more that goes into pricing a project. The clearer the objectives in the beginning the more accurately you can estimate your price. And that is exactly what you should provide, an "estimate". Often times clients come back with multiple upon multiple revisions, and also think they know what they want but because they don't know Flash or web design all that well they often can't communicate their objectives very clearly. So, it is suggested that you sit down and plan out every aspect of the project and clarify the vast number of variables a project could have. Here are just a few considerations that should be stressed:
- Design. Color scheme, typography, images, organization. If you provide yourself adequate time to plan your clients visions for the project the easier the design and development process will be.
- Images. Will the client provide? Will any stock photography be included? If so, who will purchase? If you purchase, make sure you factor this into the price.
- Navigation. How complex? Things such as drop down, pull out, or animated navigations take longer to develop.
- Actionscript. Things such as interactivity (more than just buttons navigating), preloaders, externally loading files (to save file size) all add to
- Animation. Clarify the complexity of all things they want animated or transitioned throughout the flash project. Consider the complexity as well as the duration of animation.
- Forms. Will there be any forms? If so, how complex? How much validation is needed?
- Sounds. If required where will they be obtained from? Royalty free? Recorded in a Studio, if so factor in audio editing time? If sounds must be purchased ensure it is factored into the estimate.
- Video. Factor in any additional video production, editing, or optimization required.
- Web hosting. Also with many web projects you have to establish whether or not you will be responsible for setting up any domain or hosting information, as well as emails, etc. A lot of the time clients have no clue about this info and will pay you for assistance with this. So this also should be factored into the time if needed.
- Server side scripting, databases, ecommerce, and CMS (Content Management systems) If needed factor this into the price, if you are not technically capable of meeting the needs of a client it might be wise to contract this aspect of a project out or discuss how you can meet the clients needs.
How do I write a contract?
Nothing is more fearful for a designer than legal terminology. Unfortunately, it's a necessity to use a contract. A contract can not only protect you legally but it helps justify expectations for both you and the client. Here are just a few resources to help you in creating a contract:
Do you have any more information to help me learn more about pricing a project?
Absolutely. There are plenty of resources on the web to assist in justifying how you should price your projects, here are just a few: