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Mockups considered free, or just the price of doing business?



4:05 pm on Feb 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

On to my next website, and this time I'm carefully tracking time for tasks. Ya, first time I've done this in 10 years building websites. I think that's the main reason I'm still a part timer.

But anyway, I took the text from existing home page and properly formatted it, made new banner/header, background image, cleaned jagged edges from logo, and introduced a different better nav bar (non-functional).

All PS work and layout totaled 5 hours. This is just a mockup, that I will probably allow upt to 3 design modifications (on my end 3 changes at 2-3 hours a piece). So I could possibly have 14 hours just into the mockup. At $10 an hour that's a precious $140, but obviously the customer won't want to pay for the parts they aren't going to be using.

So, do you write off the time spent on mockups?


8:17 pm on Feb 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

For the last few years there have been loads of easy options for putting a DIY website online. I thought this would eventually affect my ability to earn a living but the bottom line is that I am now in my ninth year of doing this and busier than I have ever been...

There are free and/or low cost options for just about everything. Why use an attorney when you can write a will or contract with free/cheap software? Why hire an accountant when you can use Quickbooks?

Well, you get what you pay for, don't you...

"The defendent who represents himself has a fool for an attorney"

Interestingly, I have been involved in a series of emails this morning that may end up with me firing a long time client. Seems they have a new person heading up Marketing who wants me to be a simple coder. Problem is, I can see this one shaping up as a setup to be blamed for the failure of their "promotions". I have no problem whatsoever working coraboratively, but it chaffs more than a bit to be micro-managed by someone who knows not what they speak of.

Will see if higher-ups have more sense, but I am not feeling particularly optimistic right now :(


12:35 am on Feb 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Ballpoint pen mockups are free. Nothing else should be.


2:55 pm on Mar 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

rocknbil worded his response perfectly. Definately follow this advice.


4:32 pm on Mar 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Just a thought, let's say you have a picky customer. Your doing logo/branding and site design as part of the service package. What if you just don't get it. What if you can't nail what they want. As a freelancer, you can't provide the branding expertise that an agency with many heads knocking together can.

Ok, so now you've done 5 logo mockups, three site layouts, customer is not happy with anything. You can't charge the customer if all you've done is piss them off, and if you have it in a contract that they must pay you, any reference you get from that customer is not going to be good - if they don't sue you.

This I think is the reason we have $60 template sites, Istock getting into logos, etc. With my above example, customer may be in for $1000 worth of hourly work and will walk away pissed off, no website or logo, with nothing but a $1000 dent in their pocket. And, will have to find someone else and do it all over again.

Ya, we do this to ourselves...


5:02 pm on Mar 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Again, there are two ways to look at it: either your work is uninspired / low grade, or the customer is picky.

For scenario a & b:

a) you keep trying until you deliver something that is good enough to satisfy the client. Communicate the issues that you are facing as soon as you notice them. You also make sure that they clearly express and that you understand their needs.

b) you agree -prior to starting the job- to a set number of deliverables, hours, etc.. When that goal is met your job is done and you either walk away, or write a new contract.

Edit /add: that's why in an agency you separate the task of acquisition and design... The account manager is more or less detached from the actual performance of the contract. "Sorry but our designers need more time, please write a new check."


7:06 pm on Mar 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

What if you just don't get it. What if you can't nail what they want.

I have had this happen **many** times, especially in design. With programming, it's much more quantifiable, black and white, no gray areas (which is why I like doing it over design. :-) )

With design, you can argue over a good or ugly shade of green ad nauseum; color and "design" are subject to one thing and one thing only: "I don't know art, but I know what I like." Even when you try to politely convince them who has the degree in art/design and who doesn't. :-P

I've had customers come to me with sketched mockups, compete with Pantone color swatches. (<lol>, Pantone is print technology but "bless their heart" for the effort.) Designed it to spec, precisely what they mocked up, validated in all browsers . . . and answered with "we're going to have so-and-so design it, this just isn't what we want." (But it IS what you SAID you wanted!)

The bottom line, and answer to your question above: you should still be paid for your time. I look at these as "we're both better off." Like a failed relationship, nothing is gained by trying to force it along, all that does is build frustration and bad mojo for both parties.

I've even had these "ex" customers come back for different work, based on the professionalism exhibited in "letting go." So it all works, I think.

or the customer is picky.

Most of the time it has nothing to do with picky. The whole visual aspect is highly subjective, see "I don't know art" above.


2:55 am on Mar 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I haven't even read all of the replies . . . but what are you thinking? $500 is too much for a web site? Seriously?

Go pick up a phone book, flip through it, and then call your local ad rep to see what an ad would cost you PER MONTH.

We aren't talking about a $500 haircut, we are talking about a marketing tool that has the potential to generate thousands of dollars of business for your client month after month, year after year.

How much is that worth to them?

Having said that, I think web development now is not so much about the physical tasks, but being able to guide your clients in the right directions and set something up for them that will be successful.

It's not just about slapping pages up on the web. They can go to Weebly and get a free site or GoDaddy or Vistaprint and pay $4 a month.

But are those sites going to get them anywhere. If even one of their competitors has the slightest clue, the answer is NO!

They are not just paying you to put pages up on the web for them, they are paying for your expertise.

As to your original question, I don't do mockups for free. I don't start until we have an agreed upon contract and a detailed spec with a deposit down. The mockups are factored into the cost of a custom web site.


2:59 am on Mar 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

By the way . . . 14 year old BABYSITTERS charge $10 an hour in my area.

It's sadly true, and I have a hard time finding them even at that.


4:18 am on Mar 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

These are kind of the points hinted at throughout the thread.

You're in a global marketplace now, and additionally, one of anonymity. Many of these clients don't understand the technology, but what they do understand is "lowest price."

Hit up a few of the freelance sites out there, see what a majority of $500 projects are being bid for . . . and won. You will be shocked.

You still need an edge to compete at "decent wages."
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