My approach to new client requests and how best to estimate freelance UX work

Initial communication

Maybe you have reached out to a potential client proposing an offer of work or you have been approached by a client via your website and they’re not quite sure where to start or how long things might take.

Set up a video call

 It’s now your job as a freelance designer to propose a way that you could potentially work together, so start by asking a few questions.

  • Ask for a brief description of the product.
  • Understand the purpose and why it currently exists.
  • What UX problems might the product be facing right now?
  • Understand what other apps or websites that might be relevant for inspiration and context.

 Try and gauge an understanding of their needs and with your knowledge and expertise – propose a potential way forward by sharing your process.

How much might this cost?

Be careful not to dive in and say – what’s you budget, rather than focusing on financial rewards look into the problem they are facing first. I’d recommend giving a fixed price cost and splitting the work into milestones. Set out expectations in a proposal with agreed goals and it’ll be up to you to time manage the deliverables. What the client is buying from you isn’t time but expertise and value.

Pricing work

 Here’s a few tips and rules for fixed price projects

  • Get a deposit.
  • Get a fixed scope.
  • To reduce the price, you must reduce the scope.
  • Don’t use estimated days x day rate = price.
  • Add a minimum 20% contingency.

Advantages for fixed priced work

  • You won’t lose money just because you’re a fast worker
  • The client knows exactly how much the project will cost before you start, giving both of you a sense of confidence
  • The amount of money you earn won’t be capped by how many hours you can work in a day
  • Psychologically, a client is more likely to agree to a project rate of £300 than an hourly rate of £150 for two hours of work, even though the total amount is the same

This way of charging only works when you set a clear scope and you might charge depending on your current circumstances. Have you got a lot on right now? Do you need more work requests, if not then charge more and see what happens?

I’m a big fan of fixed pricing and fixed scope projects. It makes it very clear what I will deliver and means I can plan my tasks and time. It’s better for the client too as they can budget and know how much hiring me will cost.

Matt Isherwood, UX consultant

Here is an interesting article about how to create a UX proposal that wins clients.

Disadvantages for fixed priced work

  • Lack of flexibility. A fixedprice project has a defined scope (requirements)
  • Writing specifications is hard and takes a lot of time.
  • Wasted time negotiating change and being clear about the original scope.

You need to raise your price

Your price tells a lot about your work, expertise, client-to-designer relationship, and value. High prices communicate high respect.

At the end of your career, your work isn’t going to be remembered, your impact on people will be.

Blair Enns

Final thought

A lot of the time in my experience the client comes to me with a problem with no idea how long things are going to take. If they book you for 5 days and the job isn’t complete then they’re left with an unfinished project and have to spend more. If you can put yourself in a position where you can advise and consult with a fixed price the client will more than likely pay a higher fee as they have an understanding of a deliverable and to them that’s more valuable than buying your time.




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