Write a Design Proposal: Like Playing Rubik’s Cube

by Ruben 3 Minutes

Rubik’s Cube is a really great puzzle game. If you’re one of the few people in the world who’s not heard of or played Rubik’s Cube, it’s a 3D mechanical puzzle. The six faces of the cube each have nine stickers. Each sticker has a color — there are only six colors, one for each face of the cube. You twist and turn the cube (it has a pivot mechanism) to make each face a solid color.

When you’re writing a web design proposal you’re essentially trying to match up all the colored stickers to turn each face into a solid color.

A great proposal has several important areas (cube faces) it must cover to be successful.

Cube Face: What the Client needs

Finding what the client needs goes way beyond finding out project requirements. You’re looking to find the motivating factor for them wanting to hire someone to build or design a web site.

You only write a web design proposal to get someone’s business. You’re selling someone. You’re going to have one hell of a time selling someone if you don’t know why they’re looking for. Gaining a web presence isn’t a motivation. If that’s all you know then you need to dig deeper.

Why do they want a web presence? How does this fit in their overall strategy to grow their business?

There are always reasons. Even if they’re not entirely valid or realistic, you need to know what they’re thinking.

Once you find out what there reasons are, you’ll have to state them in the proposal. Remind them that you understand what they’re after and that since you understand what they’re looking for, you know how to solve their problem. It’s much easier to do this once you know what they’re after.

Cube Face: Project Requirements

Once you’ve found the client objectives and underlying motives you’re ready to tackle the next “face”. This one has to do with the project itself. This seems pretty obvious, but there’s more that meets the eye here.

So the client wants a brochure style marketing site (hopefully not really like a brochure). One where they can update their own content on. And they don’t have a need to take orders online. Simple, sounds like a they want a content management system. Using an open source CMS, you can have one done in about two weeks right? Not so fast.

Do they need a way for customers to contact them? Maybe a contact form? Do they want a section for company news? FAQ? Do they have multiple locations? A location search? Content search? And what about search engine optimization? Building a site still requires a way to generate traffic.

Say they wanted all of that. Would two weeks be long enough to build that for them? Probably not… now you’re looking at either losing lots of money or having an angry customer because it’s taking longer than expected and it’s going to cost more.

Bottom line, do your homework and ask the right questions regarding project requirements.

Cube Face: Project Pricing

So now you now exactly what they want and how long it’ll take to build. Figuring out the pricing should be cake. Well, sort of. If you take some time and figure out the pricing and work it into the proposal you might not get the sale. Why? Maybe they can’t afford it. So was this just a huge waste of time? Nope, it most likely wasn’t.

Even if they can’t afford everything that they want, they can probably afford what they need. So to figure out project pricing you’ve got to figure out 3 things: what they want, what they need and what sort of budget they’re working with.

This way if the project is over their project range you can start removing features that they don’t necessarily need. When you do this it’s important to make sure they understand that web projects can have multiple “releases”. So a small more affordable release can be done at first. They can then look get feedback from customers, look at traffic statistics and find out what features need to be built next. It’s really a great way of doing things and it makes it easy to play with the pricing so that it fits a client’s budget.

It’s Not All Fun and Games

So is writing a web design proposal as fun as playing Rubik’s Cube? Nope it’s not. But at winning a bid on a project and getting full payment isn’t too bad either. Just remember to solve each proposal area and you’ll be on your way towards a successful sale and project.

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by Ruben
Ruben originally founded proposal software, Bidsketch as a one-person company while working as a software developer for a billion dollar payroll company. Since its early days as a “company of one,” Bidsketch has grown to help over 2,000 paying customers win billions of dollars in new business and save thousands of hours in the process.