Ask45—Issue No. 1
We’re not sure if it’s the feeling of our new site design or our increased presence on Twitter, but we seem to have more and more people contacting us with questions than ever before.
The questions cover everything from design and development to client management and business ownership. Although we’re extremely busy and it’s hard to give every question the lengthy response it deserves, during a brainstorm session the other day we decided that some questions warranted a more in depth response. Thus, the Ask45 series was born!
Once a month we’ll take a look at all the questions we’ve received and then select a few to answer here on the site. Our hope is that we’ll be able to not only give our opinion on the topic at hand, but also open up the questions to the web community for additional perspective. Every person, firm, client, and project is different. As a result, it’s impossible for us to say what will always work best for you and your situation. We make no claims about having the “right” answers, we’re still learning and growing too, but discussion is always healthy!
Question #1: “How many rounds of design revisions do you typically account for in a proposal?”
There are a couple ways to address this issue in your proposals. One option is to explicitly call out the number of revisions you’ll give the client. After working on several projects, you’ll be able to look at your data to see how many revisions you typically do per comp. If that number averages to say, three rounds per project, you should use that as a starting point in your proposals. Probably the biggest challenge with this approach is figuring out what constitutes a round of revisions, as you and your client might have differing opinions about what constitutes a “round”.
Here’s an example: Your client asks you to change the design from a two column layout to a three column layout. Most people would consider that a round of changes, especially since there would be large layout implications to contend with. Now let’s say a few days later, after delivering the new three column layout, the client wants you to rearrange the sidebar items on that same page? The change might be quick, but since it wasn’t requested with the initial list of changes, is it still considered a round of revisions? If your limit was three rounds and you’ve already used them up, do you veto the sidebar change or request more time be added to the budget? Neither of those scenarios are likely going to make your client happy. So if you’re going to take this approach, be sure that you can effectively communicate to your client what your revision process entails. If there are any questions, address them before you enter into an agreement and start your project. That way you can refer back to that discussion if questions come up after you’ve started.
Over the years, we’ve found that instead of calling out a set number of rounds, it’s better to estimate the number of hours a comp will take to complete, including revisions.
Over the years, we’ve found that instead of calling out a set number of rounds, it’s better to estimate the number of hours a comp will take to complete, including revisions. With this approach, if you estimate that an initial comp will take you 6 hours and revisions will take you roughly 4 hours, you’d indicate that the comp will take you 10 hours from start to finish. In a sense, the total hour count here works in the same way that the number of rounds does in the first approach we discussed. It gives you and the client a cap to work towards, but the advantage is that you don’t have to explain what type of changes make up a round. However, while we do prefer this approach, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to set expectations with your client. You still need to set expectations and do your best to keep revisions to a minimum. It really comes down to effective communication between you and your client and it’s up to you to keep them advised of the current hour count and educate them on what revisions make the most sense.
The bottom line is if you’re having to do round after round of revisions, something is probably wrong. Either you don’t have a firm grasp of what your client is looking for, they’re not communicating requirements properly or are just being extremely picky! At that point you need to isolate the underlying issue and bring it to the client’s attention as soon as possible so that the situation can be resolved before losing the client or your reputation.
Question #2: “When doing a quote for a client, do you disclose your hourly rate?”
We typically base most of our proposals on our hourly rate, even if we’re submitting a proposed budget for an entire project. I wouldn’t say we do many flat fee projects, but whatever price we come up with, it’s always based on how many man hours we estimate the work is going to take us. This allows us to not only come up with a price, but also estimate the project schedule; which is critical when you’re working on multiple projects at once.
When we prepare our proposals, we don’t always disclose the hourly rate up front, but we do show the estimated number of hours per task and the proposed project budget. So even if we don’t have our hourly rate on the proposal, the client can do the math. Of course, we always disclose our hourly rate for consulting projects because that’s typically work done by the hour and the payment rate should be established in the agreement before you start.
This kind of ties back into the first question above, but whether or not you decide to disclose your hourly rate, we feel that it’s a good idea to disclose the number of hours per deliverable in your estimates. That will let the client get a sense for how much work is actually involved, plus it gives you a number to reference when they start requesting more and more deliverables that could potentially push you over budget.
Send us your questions
We hope that this article answered some of the questions you sent us and we’re looking forward to answering more of them in the future. We’re really excited about the new Ask45 series and we hope to receive more of your questions in the coming weeks. Feel free to send us your questions via our contact form, email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send your questions to @45royale on Twitter. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the questions presented today too, so please don’t hesitate to join the conversation!