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If you have simply created a design without the customer having approvied it, then you realy are leaving yourself open to this sort of situation.
In most cases an image mockup of the site will be enough to let them see how the site will appear.
What if they don't like the mock up?
Or worse yet, one I've encountered, they bring you a mock up, down to specific colors and fonts, you recreate it precisely, and you get "Sorry, this is just not what we're looking for, we're going with Mr. $20 per hour."
You have to be paid for your time. They've seen your portfolio, they start the fire and ask you to move forward, you need to take a more proactive position on "your time."
Every hour should be billable, but don't do anything they didn't ask for - I.E., they ask to see a design, don't lay out the entire site. Do a comp (mock-up:) a single image loaded on a page representing the basic design. Go from there.
But every cent should be billable to that point. Unless you enjoy working for free.
A grain of advice on this field, it doesn't matter how good your work is, as mentioned, if the customer doesn't like it it may not be an actual issue of "good design." Saying goes, they who have the gold make the rules. I can't count the ugly web sites I've developed over this very point. :-(
but like i said i dont charge for mockups, but when they approve the mockup/layout thats when i require 30% down before moving on and building out the site.
ive had some clients that didnt like some my designs. but guess what...i dont scrap that... because the next client may like that desgin for them...
I know some designers may charge for mockup but i dont.
With many of the designs I've worked with over the years, the bulk of the costs is in mockup. That's where the real talent is at work. And then of course come the production costs afterwards. It can get quite expensive depending on the requirements.
What if they don't like the mock up?
The key is to talk directly with the client, make sure you know exactly what they want. mock-ups are there to basicaly show the client what the design will look like. Canges can be made based on the clients oppinion of the mockup.
Make sure you have approval before you go ahead.
The best design in the world is terrible if it isn't what the client wants.
In other words, sell them on your portfolio in general,the work to do a mockup is paid work and one of the first steps in the design process.
Otherwise you're working for free, and probably the client is scraping your design and getting someone cheap to code it.
Wat u guys have 2 say abt 10% of the total project cost.
With many of the designs I've worked with over the years, the bulk of the costs is in mockup.
This is really the most precarious, and often most time consuming part. I don't think 10% is going to cover your pain. :-) It's more than just a quick sketch, you're thinking through the entire navigation, future expansion, every detail is being considered even if the mock up doesn't "show" it. Basically at this stage you're building the entire site in your mind. After this it's like a coloring book, just fill in the blanks and stay between the lines to make it a reality.
It's often the stage at which a customer will prompt for the most re-do's and wrangle with all the what if's. This stage can be trivial or monumental depending on the customer.
I say hourly rate, stick to your guns. :-)
I get paid to think, to create, for my advice and guidance. The time I spend creating the comps (nothing more than big image files) is creative time and typically consumes about 20-30% of the budget. Anyone can sit down with a copy of Dreamweaver and build a site. What makes a professional different is that we have knowledge, experience, creativity, and we can put them together to produce a quality finished product. Don't give away your time by doing mockups and design comps free.
I have some screenshots of various layouts - and a few pre-fab templates to show clients so they can choose navigation options and media and such.
I also carry a designer's colourway book so they can decide on colours based on their own mood and image.
I charge nothing for the 1 hour consult then a fixed fee for the mock-up. At that point, it is "No signature, no mock-up" I'm afraid. That way they know what they are getting into financially and I can do more or less work on the mock up based on the fee and what time I have.
My problem is that I do the SEO type prep before I build and nobody appreciates how much time that takes. They'd rather have a quick design and pay a fortune for SEO after a year without traffic.