5 Elements of a Persuasive Web Design Estimate

So you took the time to send a web design estimate but didn’t get the project.

They said they just didn’t have the budget for it. You know they liked your work, or else they wouldn’t have contacted you for an estimate in the first place.

But is it really just the price that they didn’t like?

You know you’re not going to get any real answers from them. So there goes another lead that probably was never going to turn into a client.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. In fact, this happens a lot. Too much, maybe.

You know you do quality work and your pricing is more than fair (maybe even lower than it should be). So if it’s not pricing, then what’s the problem with your estimates?

Well, I’m going to show you how five tweaks to your estimates can increase your chances of getting these client projects.

Focus on the Business Results

The biggest problem with estimates that don’t win clients is that they aren’t written persuasively. What you probably have is a list of services with prices like an invoice.

Like this:

But listing your services like this makes them a commodity, and easier for your clients to do some comparison shopping.

Instead, you need to frame your services in a persuasive way that shows your clients exactly why they want a new website design and that you’re the perfect person to create it for them.

When talking to your client, make sure you ask them questions about why they want a new website design.

Your conversation should be something like:

Client: We need a new website redesign
You: And why do you think you need this redesign?
Client: We’re hoping that it will increase traffic and sales.
You: What do you think is the biggest challenge right now?
Client: We just don’t see a lot of leads coming through. A new design that helps us qualify leads and gain more of them would be great.


So when you’re writing up the estimate for this client, keep their business’ needs in mind. Instead of calling your service “Marketing Website Redesign,” call the project “Increasing Leads through a Marketing Website Redesign.”

Not only will your clients be thrilled that you know what they want, but this will give you the knowledge of what needs to be the focus within the project itself.

Bundle Your Pricing

Now that you know what to call your services, you’re going to need to change your pricing layout.

Instead of showing each individual service and the hourly rate, use bundled pricing. Bundled pricing packages all of your services into one solution with one price. Like this:

So instead of line items that are commodities, you have a tailored, personalized solution for your client. This clearly states how your services will help solve their company’s problem and doesn’t make it easy for them to shop around to other designers.

Bundled pricing is key for persuasive fees that will make your clients say yes.

Only Show Totals

Along with bundling your services, you should also only show the total price for your entire solution.

Instead of this:

You want it to look like this:

This is better than an invoice style for two reasons. One, as we discussed, because it doesn’t let your solution be compared to others. And two, because you want to keep your clients focused on results, not on hours.

While your clients are certainly interested in how long a project will take, it’s better to tell them what your solution will do for their business. With individual services and fees listed, this changes their focus from value to time. And if your clients don’t like the amount of time it’s going to take, they will go to another designer who can complete the project faster.

Give Them Choices

In addition to your original solution, you should offer your clients a couple more options. With more than one option, this changes the estimate from a yes or no decision into a choice of service level. Your clients could purchase the original, basic solution, or they could select an enhanced, premium version.

Make sure that your options are extensions and not add-ons. So for the original example of doing a marketing website redesign, natural up-sells would be these:

Note that the extension options are also bundled and feature one single price.

Here’s another example if you ran a social media service. Your basic solution is to manage your client’s Twitter account. An enhanced option would be to manage the Twitter account and get 1,000 followers per month. The premium option would be to manage the account, get the 1,000 followers, and get 10 influencers per month.

The best part about adding options? If you add the right up-sells, you could earn up to 30% more per client.

Just make sure that you don’t give your clients too many options. When presented with more than one or two extra extensions, your clients could get overwhelmed and choose to abandon your estimate.

Include a Call to Action

At the bottom of your estimate you need to tell your clients exactly what to do next. Without giving them exact steps to take, you can draw out the process and potential lose your client.

Label the section clearly with a subheading like “Next Steps.” Underneath, list what actions you would like them to take. This is the section where deposits and other things you need to get started should be clearly indicated.

A great call to action looks like this:

Next Steps

To proceed with this project, [Your client’s name here] is required to take the following steps:

1. Accept the estimate as is or discuss desired changes. Please note that changes to the project can be made at any time, but additional charges may apply.
2. Finalize and sign contract.
3. Submit initial payment of 50% of total project fee.

Once these steps have been completed, we will begin with a meeting to introduce relevant personnel and begin preliminary activities.

Your call to action must be clear, easy to understand, and above all, make it easy for your client to say yes. Too many steps can make your next steps unclear, which you definitely don’t want.

How it All Comes Together

Now that you’ve made your way through these elements of persuasive web design estimates, let’s recap:

  • Focus on what value your services will provide.
  • Change the name of your service to show your clients that you are focused on their needs.
  • Bundle your services into one detailed solution with one single price.
  • Offer a couple extensions of your solution to give your clients a choice.
  • Provide a clear call to action with easy steps for them to take.

Have you tried any of these strategies in your estimates? What elements have you found to work really well your web design estimates?

About the Author:

Ruben Gamez (@bidsketch) is the founder of Bidsketch, a web app that helps freelancers create professional looking proposals and in minutes. he’s also the author of a free guide that teaches freelancers how to get more clients with a perfect proposal.

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15 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • Dainis Graveris, October 30, 2012

    Oh I guess my ipad corrected me quite wrong, Ruben – yet again, very unique article from you, I am glad you are using your knowledge,experience and sharing it! It’s those simple things which make much better conversions. It’s good to share it between community because generally designers aren’t such great marketers and it’s how that’s supposed to be.

    If you are the best at one kind of trade you need to stick with it. If you are good at everything you’re good at nothing.

  • Danish Graveris, October 28, 2012

    Awesome post Ruben, glad to see you really invested time in this one sharing your experience as well :) didn’t think there is so big deal about estimates,, enjoyed!

  • Casey Dennison, October 18, 2012

    You know what? I wrote up my very first proposal for my girlfriends step mother, and I did the complete opposite of what you have stated here. She never contacted me back. Lol It’s all about learning, I suppose. Luckily, I work a day job.

  • shane, October 12, 2012

    Delighted to have come across this article! I’ve been given poor advice it seems and have just recently started giving detailed cost breakdowns to potential clients which I didn’t feel right about. Gonna change back!!

  • Roberto, October 11, 2012

    Really helpful article. I actually use most this except for the Call of Action. I think I will add it to my proposals.

    Thanks a lot!

  • Tina, October 11, 2012

    Great article. I found this very helpful. Thank you.

  • George, October 11, 2012

    Very good advice, thanks a lot for that. I especially like the part about bundling your offer to avoid “comparison shopping”.All of this makes perfect sense, but sometimes you just need someone to write it down for you because you won’t figure it out alone.

  • X Studios, October 10, 2012

    Good advice. Focusing on what sets you apart from other providers is crucial. So many clients like to go straight to the bottom line and use it as a basis of comparison.

  • WAY FRESH, October 10, 2012

    Suberb article Ruben. When I read the summary on the intro page it was just like reading about our own web design company as we have the exact same problems.

    Definitely going to try some of those ideas you have mentioned especially focussing on the business results. As designers and developers we tend to get too hung up on the “how is to going to look and work” aspects when we need to tell the client what they are really getting out of it. ie new business.


  • Maneet Puri, October 9, 2012

    Fantastic Ruben! There are ‘n’ ways using which you can present things to your clients but we should go for the most effective one that makes things easier. Your strategy of presenting a total is brilliant, but some clients ask for a break down in order to be sure of their future investments. I make sure that I understand my client to the best before carrying on with the estimates and proposing solutions.

  • Diana Ratliff Web Design, October 8, 2012

    Great article – I especially like the way this approach positions you as not “merely” a designer but a marketer. With the emergence of so many website builders, themes, temples, etc – just about anyone CAN put up a website these days.

    But your approach reinforces my own opinion that you need more than technical skills these days, and that customers should EXPECT more than just technical skills, when hiring a web designer. Someone with online marketing expertise should definitely tout the advantage of working with them.

  • Pixel Creative, October 7, 2012

    Superb article. Definitely helped me.

  • Robert, October 6, 2012

    Not breaking down your process is one of the best advice I have ever read. It makes clients more focused instead of comparing our price with other providers :)

  • Ruben, October 5, 2012

    Thanks Rob! Most people that I’ve talked to that have moved to just doing totals for estimates have also seen better results so it’s good to hear.

  • Rob Cubbon, October 5, 2012

    Absolutely brilliant! I’ve found that only putting totals not breaking down the items is best for an estimate. I think the calls to action are a really good idea.