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How to Create a Winning Design Proposal

How to Create a Winning Design Proposal

Getting More Clients

If you are still sending custom quotes to your potential customers to win new projects, you're wasting your time. Write a design proposal template instead. A design proposal tells to your future client not only how much the work will cost, but it also offers a detailed description of the project, all in a standardized way you can rinse and reuse.

Many designers choose the short method. Instead of writing a design proposal they simply send an estimate (what is probably what your future client ask you). Although that is what your client wants to know is not the only information you should give him if you really want to get the project.

If you only send the client a price, the client will probably see the design project as an expense rather than an opportunity to make their business grow.

There is of course no exact recipe to write a design proposal, but there are some things you should consider (like keeping the proposal short and well designed) and sections you should include on all of them.

Define the Problem

This could be one of the hardest parts of the proposal to write because the client might not know how to explain exactly what the problem is or simply because he feels that it is not a good idea to share the company´s problems with you. It will be your task to investigate further and find out what is the real problem so you can find the best solution for it. When you first talk with your potential client be a good listener and let him talk as long as it takes, this will be your big chance to collect as much information as possible and define what the real problem is, and don’t be afraid to ask, relevant questions are important and should be made to propose to your client the best solution.

Solution Proposal

Now that you know what the exact problem is you have to let your potential client know how you will solve it. This is an essential part of the proposal and you must let the client know how you will meet their needs.

Make a description of the process so the client knows what to expect, an estimated timeline and workflow. Avoid mentioning dates because the starting date of a project frequently changes, but if you are 100% sure that the project will start on time you should also avoid using exact dates because you never know if you will be the one starting late, so a good idea is to leave room and include 1-2 extra days per milestone.

Remember to keep it professional and besides describing the solution tell your future client how your solution will (for example) increase their brand visibility, boost their sales or even lower their costs.


If defining the problem was the hardest part to write the pricing will be the hardest part for the client. But with the problem found and the solution proposed, by making all the pricing information easy to read it will be easier for the client to accept the price. Do not make a long list with all the price details mentioning every single item, but instead try to group them.

Let´s see an example of pricing for a hypothetical work:

The Wrong Way

  • CMS Installation $350
  • Website Design $550
  • Responsive $150
  • Online Store $350
  • Multilanguage $125
  • Sitemap $50
  • Homepage + 9 pages $750
  • Blog $175
  • SEO Optimization $200
  • Facebook Integration $50
  • Twitter Integration $50
  • Instagram Integration $50
  • G+ Integration $50
  • Total Cost $2.900

The Right Way

  • Custom Website Design $1575
  • Content Creation $925
  • Visibility in Search Results $200
  • Social Media $ 200
  • Total Cost $ 2.900

On those cases where you are handling a very large project, you may want to include payment per milestones which will help your client to see the progress.

Next Steps

This could also be called the ‘Call to Action’ section. Here is where you outline what the client has to do next if he accepts the proposal and want to start the project. The terms of course will vary depending on each designer needs, but it may include things like upfront payments, how many revisions are allowed, how many days after the project proposal is accepted the work will begin, etc.

Some Final Notes

Now that you have finished writing your design proposal you have to think about how you will send it. Besides (or instead of) sending the proposal as a regular PDF file attachment, you may want to make it available online because you can’t control where your proposal is opened, but you can control how it will look like on the web.



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