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How do I sell my designs? I'm in a fix

Selling web designs



5:11 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

This is my first job.

I am trying to sell my web designs to a person that has shown interest in my work.
The problem is that he wants a working demo of the site.

I am worried that if i make a working demo, he'd steal the source.
therefore, I gave him a very watermarked jpeg of the render of the site.

He said that there were ways and means to protect the source of the site in asp.(Client is an asp developer).

I am a php inclined developer.
There are no ways that I know of to copy-protect the site design.
Disabling javascript Rt-clicking is really silly. Anyone with a little experience can get around that.
Watermarking all the images in the page also makes no sense.
'Coz the source will always be there. Anyone can take the source and steal it.

What do I do?
I dont want to lose the client and I also dont want to lose my code.

Are there any suggestions.
How do the pro's go about doing the work.

My understanding is that, first a Photoshop render is done and a jpeg/gif of that render is sent to the client.

If the client shows interest, the PSD is given to him.
That is IMO 50% of the work.

If the client is still interested, then the coding part comes next.

Please someone help me.

Also thanks in advance


5:21 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)



5:24 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Screen shots of what?

I didnt follow you.
you'd like screen shots of what.

Could you please elaborate.


EDIT: I re read my message.
I hope I dont sound arrogant or anything.
I really need help and that's the only reason that i may come off like that.

[edited by: aditya_t90 at 5:31 pm (utc) on Jan. 25, 2010]


5:30 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator engine is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Yeah, wyweb means, take an image of the design and turn it into a jpg. That way they can see the design without the code. Simply, load the web page on your screen, and, if on a PC hit Print Scrn. Past it into a picture editor and save it to HD. E-mail the image.


5:35 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I designed the site in Photoshop and then sent the JPG of the PSD.

I hope i dont sound cocky but isint a PSD to JPG as good as a screenshot?
It's my first time, so i am very nervous :p lol

EDIT: I know how to take a screenshot lol but what use is it, if I code the site and send a screenshot of the same, if I can send the PSD to JPG itself?

[edited by: aditya_t90 at 5:37 pm (utc) on Jan. 25, 2010]


5:36 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Screenshot of finished work.

No code involved...

If you're that paranoid, get a contract drawn up. Notarized.

Protect yourself.

[edited by: httpwebwitch at 6:12 pm (utc) on Jan. 25, 2010]
[edit reason] tone [/edit]


5:38 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Or mock ups.. doesn't have to be finished work. All it has to do is show the client what you've got going and there are numerous ways to do this without surrendering code...


5:39 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Ok i'll do as you have told me.

I'll make the stuff and code it.
then I'll send him the screenie of the finished work.

Please dont get angry with me.


EDIT: I have told the person that this is the way that people work here.
They send mockups, jpgs/screenshots,gif, etc.


5:44 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

If you show him the URL of the site, he can see it in action. Since it's programmed in PHP, he can't get the actual code unless he has FTP access to your server (which you NEVER give a prospective client). Sure, he could copy the rendered HTML source, but that's not going to give him the internal programming logic (in PHP).


5:58 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Sounds like he wants to see a page render in his browser, and he wants you to work on spec.

A bad mix...

You are working for a promise, which is a quick way to go broke. Get a contract. Require 30-50% up front. Get another 25-30% when you show him a working version of the site for approval. Get the rest at the time of transfer.

If the client is unwilling to pay up front for work to be performed, fire the client.

What professionals besides web designers perform work for no pay? I mean really, even if I want a simple logo I have to pay the graphic designer up front and then get 3-5 mockups to proceed with.

If the client balks, you might refer him to no-spec.com, though if you have to go that far you would probably be better off firing the client.


6:08 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


I really like what you had to say

I honestly can say that I agree a lot with what NO!SPEC says.

If we come to a standstill, then i'd have to point him to nospec.

Then if nothing works, I :hopefully not: will as you put it, have to fire the client.

But I also feel that my business has not reached the level at which I can afford to fire/act tough with clients.

On the other hand, I do consider my work to be of superior quality.
I devote a lot of time and hard work and love to the creative aspect of the site.
I dont want someone to go steal all my hard work.

The initial part is always the hardest lol


6:09 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rocknbil is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Agreed, you sound new at this, lots of good advice here, I'll offer up a little more. Whether it's good or not is for you to decide.

Take a second and ask yourself this: how did you learn what you know about page coding? Besides any courses or other tuition, you learned a great deal about it by viewing source code yourself, and building your knowledge on what others have done.

My point is you need to lose the fear of someone stealing your code. There will be nothing new there, it's how you've arranged it that makes it "yours."

Second, this approach will build many barriers between you and the client, and already possibly has. As mentioned, if you have a formal agreement, and trust each other, it's all good, but if you don't have any trust, you shouldn't be doing business together.

The comments about protecting the code with ASP - I simply cannot imagine. If it renders in a browser, I can see it. Something smells a bit funny there.


6:11 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator httpwebwitch is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

This is my opinion, honed by way too many years of freelancing, and many mistakes:

Do not create a working demo of the site before you've got a signed contract. Even a screen design is risky - they could take your design and walk it off to another developer. Get a contract signed FIRST. Always first.

If you allow a client to ask for piles of work while they're *thinking* about hiring you, you're probably going to get hosed.
(that's Canadian slang... for getting ripped off, taken advantage of)

Here's the flow you should strive for.

1) initial meeting with client. talk about their needs.
2) define the scope of the project. Figure out how much work is involved. you might produce "Napkin drawings", but no digital work yet
3) prepare an estimate. figure out how much money you'll charge.
4) deliver the estimate, and get the client to sign a contract promising to pay that.

* at this point, you have already invested a lot of time, but no billable "work" has been done, and you don't know if you'll be paid. This is part of the cost and risk of freelancing

once the contract is signed...

5) work on the project
6) iterations of design, coding, etc. Communication with the client, with progress updates.
7) Finish the job, deliver the goods, then send invoice
8) get paid

There are lots of possible variations and flexibility this flow, but generally you should be paid or have a contract ensuring future payment before you draw a single pixel.

Be strong in your negotiation and don't be afraid to tell the client "how it's done" - your web design company is your business, not theirs. You make the rules and set the prices. They buy from you (or not...), according to the way you work. And the way you work should be one that doesn't get you hosed. There I used that word again...

oh, and BTW you never need to apologize for asking a question. Ever!

Welcome to WebmasterWorld!


6:25 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

But I also feel that my business has not reached the level at which I can afford to fire/act tough with clients.

Then it is not a business.

If you do spec work and don't get paid, then you will have used up time (a non-renewable resource) that you could have used either making money or doing something fun and rewarding (or better yet, both!).

Just say no!

If you want my work then you need to pay.

Long term, proven clients may be deserving of different treatment. I have two. One gets a monthly invoice. The other, who I have worked with for 10 years or so, has an annual project (an event) and I get paid at the completion of the project. Both have proven themselves to be reliable clients over the years.


6:28 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

So many words of encouragement and advice.
Thanks guys.
I hope everything works out in the end.

PS. special thanks to httpwebwitch.
I was trying to find some Canadian lingo to thank you with. I found a lot of french. I dont speak french :( So in English Thank you very much.


10:27 pm on Jan 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I usually pay for a mockup psd and then have that converted to html as another project. When working on the mockup project I only ever get sent jpegs until the design is accepted, then I make payment for the actual psd.

None of this begins until the contract is in place - dont provide any new work during pre-sales unless you need to , use existing work.

If working demo is needed, quote for a proof of concept, deliver as a series of jpeg 'walk-throughs' with text descriptions of the process.


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