Working for yourself as an independent service provider or freelancer can be an exciting step in a web developer’s career, but many would say one of the biggest downsides is suddenly having to spend so much of your time handling paperwork and client communications.
There are tools that can help freelancers with many of the more complicated management tasks, but client communication often needs a more personal touch. Writing a solid website proposal will not only help you to land the projects you’re really excited about, but it will make sure you and the client are on the same page from day one, avoiding frustrating miscommunications along the way.
Know the goals your website proposal needs to serve
A website proposal serves multiple purposes, and you need it to be clear and concise. Focus on the goals your proposal serves in order to write one effectively:
It is a reference for important information
A website proposal should make all of the relevant information quick and easy to access. Clients should be able to get your contact info or identify which project your proposal references at a glance. You would be amazed at how frequently professional proposals are sent missing key information (like names, contact information, or dates). It’s also an easy place for clients to reference specific information, such as the timeline, during the course of the project.
It makes sure everyone is on the same page
You may feel like the information you include in your project proposal is repetitive. You likely have already had a discussion about what the client is looking for and what you’ll be able to do for them.
The purpose of writing that information into a proposal is to demonstrate to the client you’ve heard and understood their needs thoroughly enough for them to trust your approach. Having everything in writing will avoid miscommunications.
It gives you an opportunity to sell your skills
Your proposal is also your final opportunity to demonstrate your value to a client. An easy-to-read, aesthetic, and convincing proposal shows off the skills and judgment you’ll bring to their project. Clients are looking for attention to detail and will evaluate your proposal for its form as well as its content.
It is a website proposal, not a contract
A contract outlines concrete commitments and compensation and comes with a legal obligation. A project proposal is intended to sell your services by demonstrating to clients you understand and are able to serve their needs. Though they overlap — both will discuss deliverables, timetables, and compensation — they ultimately serve different purposes.
Lay out your proposal in clearly defined sections
Format your website proposal in clearly identified sections. It should be easy for a client to flip through and quickly find the information they’re looking for. In most cases, proposals should include the following information:
Basic information about you, your client, and the project should be easily accessible on your cover page. Think of it as a cheat sheet with contact information. You can feature your logo or a relevant graphic. Make it eye-catching, and avoid including too much information.
The cover page should consist of:
- Your logo
- The date
- The name of the project
- Your name and contact information
- The client’s name and contact information
The problem statement is the why of the project. You should outline the problem you’ll be solving for your client or the opportunity your project will help them fulfill. This section will demonstrate to your client that you’ve listened carefully to them and understand their needs.
Make sure you outline not only what they need but why they need it. If you’re making a website for a local cafe, for example, you might specify that they’re hoping to grow their clientele beyond current foot traffic. They may need a website that’s search-friendly and shows their food and seating options in order to appeal to the local university students.
Outline exactly how the project you’re proposing will solve your client’s problem and benefit their business. A tip for writing an effective solution section — write as if you’re a member of their team convincing the decision-makers at their company to invest in the project. Use the company’s own language and framing to align with their approach and list specific benefits the project will bring to their company. Draw a direct line between your project’s features and outcomes, such as increased brand awareness, sales, or conversion.
If you’re trying to convince a client to try a new platform or migrate their site, you can use Webflow Pitch to help make the case for you and provide further information.
Deliverables/Overview of the project
List clear deliverables to give both parties a clear understanding of what is (and isn’t) included in the project. This is the area you want to get very specific about. You can set clear boundaries from the beginning by outlining the exact scope of the project. Specify the number of revisions you’ll complete for the client and the process for receiving feedback.
Your deliverables list needs to include the essential elements of the website build and any additional parts of the project such as SEO work, setting up an online payment portal, or creating a blog. If you’re setting up your client with a no-code platform like Webflow, you can add a lot of value to your proposal by listing pages that can be templatized and offering basic training to their marketing team. Often the best way to do that training is just sending over a quick video of the process the marketing team can use as a reference.
The cost of the project is often the first thing your client will flip to when they receive your proposal. Make it clear and straightforward. The project budget should already have been discussed with the client, so the final ticket price shouldn’t come as a surprise for them.
Break down the major elements of your project and the overall cost of each piece. This could include the cost of setting up the online store, design work, or creating the more complex custom-coded elements your client needs. Keep in mind that you don’t need to justify your rate — just give an overview of the cost of the project elements. Resist itemizing too granularly — it may just confuse your clients.
If your client hasn’t fully decided the scope of the project they want, this is the place to pitch packages, such as comparing a full website redesign vs. a refresh.
Specify the timeline for the project. Give yourself a little padding for unexpected roadblocks. Make sure to include very specific windows for client feedback and revisions to avoid the project dragging on, and build in time for testing. Agree on a website launch date, and make that the north star for the overall project timeline.
Timelines to include:
- Discovery and strategy
- Testing and QA
- Website launch date
Call to action
Close the deal! Conclude your proposal with a brief and encouraging call to action and an easy way for your client to accept the project. You want to avoid the client having to search for your contact info or any burdensome tasks, like printing and signing a document, which might slow down or get in the way of getting the project confirmed.
If you’ve sent a PDF, enable digital signing. If you’ve created a website, include an “Accept Project” button. Make it easy and exciting for the client to get the project started.
Choose a format for your website proposal
Once you have written out the core text of your proposal, choose a format to deliver it to your client. You want to show off your creative eye while still clearly communicating the key information your client will need to make a decision. Whatever format you ultimately send, it can be a good idea to include an additional simple, downloadable PDF of the text. This ensures the client has easy access if they need to quickly reference the information in your proposal.
A PDF is the most traditional format for a project proposal. It has the benefit of being easy to access, easy to share, and easy to include illustrations and images in. You could opt to use a cloud-based program instead, but make sure your file is edit-locked (like a PDF) so the information in it can’t be accidentally altered or deleted.
Some businesses will want you to present your proposal in a meeting. A presentation format can also be a helpful format for clients who aren't especially technology literate and may need some additional hand-holding through the proposal process. Build a slideshow you can use to visually support your presentation and is also complete and self-contained enough to be sent to the client to refer back to afterward.
Your area of expertise is web development — why not make the proposal a web page? You can create a proposal site template with a no-code platform like Webflow in order to make new proposals quickly whenever they’re needed. You can also keep the proposal site confidential and secure by password protecting the page.
A proposal-as-website has the benefit of showing off your skills and giving you the opportunity to add life to your proposal with visuals and animations.
These four designers have made template sites that can be cloned as a great jumping off point for making your own.
Make a client dashboard
Memberstack created this incredible client dashboard template that not only serves as a proposal, but includes useful additions like a site asset gallery, downloadable documents, and illustrative charts! It can also be used as a dashboard to communicate information to the client throughout the development process. This template also includes a secure login page for your client.
Mimic a traditional document layout
Aaron Cougle’s proposal template mimics the form of a PDF rather than feeling like an interactive site using animations and other features. This gives the template a professional feel which could be ideal for more traditional clients or larger companies. This template also includes a useful breakdown of fees when giving clients multiple project options.
Tailor your proposal to the project type
Sidney Ottelohé has made templates for specifically either a Website Redesign Proposal or an eCommerce Proposal. This template uses engaging interaction illustrations, feeling fresh and contemporary. It is clear and easy to navigate, giving a potential client all the information they need to move forward with your project.
Make it easy to move forward with the project
Erendi Rani’s template makes it easy for clients to sign on to your project and it includes a place for them to leave questions or comments. This is a great example of an effective call to action.
Make a website proposal template for yourself
Most of the proposals you send during your career will contain similar elements. You can reuse layouts and even entire pages. Save yourself time and energy by making yourself a template you can customize for each new client.
If you’re using a PDF program to write your proposals, take an extra moment to create a templated master proposal for your own use. Keep your template, as well as current and past proposals, in an organized, accessible place for easy reference. If you’ve chosen to make a proposal site in Webflow, you can easily clone your project to create as many unique proposals as you need.
You can change your starting template over time to suit your needs more specifically. You may find you take on specific types of projects more frequently that have elements you want to add to the template. You may also find that certain approaches to pitching work better or worse for your target client. Use your proposal template to improve your website proposals over time, and keep landing on the types of projects you love doing.
Your logo here
[your contact info]
[their contact info]
Detail the problem your proposal will be solving or the opportunity your approach will help your client attain.
Detail the project you will be completing for the client and how that project will solve their problem.
Pages that will be included in your website:
Features that will address your needs:
Here are the specific business benefits this project will bring your company and how.
- List each specific deliverable in the project
- Elaborate on what is included in the deliverable
- For example:
- 2 rounds of revisions
- Search engine optimization
- A webshop and payment portal
Here is our proposed schedule for the site launch, including revisions and testing.
Beta site delivered
Website Launch Date
Number of days or Target date
Here is our price quote for the name of this project for their company name to be paid in this time frame.
Total Project Cost: $
This is the eye-catching call to action!
This is how you can initiate the name of this project!
[PDF e-signature here]
Contact [your name] at [your contact info] to discuss the project.