top of page

How to create a successful website design proposal

Follow this end-to-end guide to win your next client with a compelling website design proposal.

Illustration by Ashger Zamana.

Profile picture of Aaron Gelbman

5.7.2024

14 min read

Every web design business has the potential for success, whether that means growing its earnings, client roster or portfolio. As long as you have a steady flow of new projects, all of this is within reach. But to win those new design projects and clients, you first have to win the pitch.


Creating a persuasive web design proposal can help you demonstrate why you’re the right professional for the job. Get the proposal right, and you’re that much closer to your next signed contract. 


Below, we take you through everything you need to know about writing a thorough web design proposal that will resonate with your could-be client. Plus, you’ll hear from Tiereny Allen-Green, founder of Scopetheory, a design and consulting agency that has been creating winning web design proposals for more than a decade.


Create an account on Wix Studio, the web creation platform for designers and agencies.



Why do I need to create a web design proposal? 


A web design proposal is a document that presents a designer’s or agency’s credentials and expertise to win a new client’s project. Before jumping into any new web design project, a client needs to find a designer or agency whose services match the project’s needs. But keep in mind that a client is likely going to receive many proposals and only pick one. Your proposal needs to therefore make a strong first impression and display your commitment to quality work and client service. “Don’t confuse your proposal with a portfolio,” advises Allen-Green. “Our most successful proposals were simple black text on white pages.”


Think of your proposal as a project plan, which helps to:


  • Clarify project objectives and align both parties from the outset on what you’ll help the client achieve.


  • Outline the scope of work, namely which activities and deliverables are or aren’t included, and thus avoid “scope creep” that introduces unexpected deliverables and costs.


  • Detail the design process, offering transparency into how you work to foster trust and credibility with the client, while also differentiating your process from that of competing proposals.


  • Establish timelines and deadlines so that both you and the client know when to fulfill your responsibilities as needed for the project to succeed.


  • Provide an accurate quote that fits your client’s budget and ensures that you’re fairly compensated for your services.


  • Act as a legal document so that, in case of disputes, your proposal can protect you by serving as evidence of agreed-upon terms.


A well-crafted website design proposal can be the deciding factor between winning a new client or watching them go to a competitor. “When you’re talking about five to six figure projects, the proposal is critical,” explains Allen-Green. “It very accurately shows what we [at Scopetheory] bring to the table value-wise. For [the client], it provides a level of assurance to see in writing what they receive so they can be sound on the investment they are about to make.” 



Graphic of a quote pulled from this article by agency founder Tiereny Allen-Green, saying, "Don't confuse your proposal with a portfolio. Our most successful proposals were simple black text on white pages."


How to create a website design proposal: the 3 main stages


The perfect website design proposal doesn’t just rely on great writing. It also hinges on how it’s presented to—and ultimately approved by—a potential client. Guide yourself through the end-to-end process by moving through these three distinct phases:


01. Research: Gather information and data that will serve as the building blocks for your proposal.


02. Writing: The seven-part formula below provides the structure for your proposal and the recommended content for each section.


03. Presenting: One size does not fit all, and each proposal you create might fit a different presentation method to suit each client and each project.



Graphic that lists the three steps to create a web design proposal: research, writing and presenting.


How to conduct research for your proposal


Research is the critical first phase in which you gather all the necessary information about your client's business, their core values, their target audience and their objectives. This helps tailor your proposal to their unique needs and goals. 


At this stage, you’ll want to read up on your client's industry, competitors and market position. Ask your client questions to understand what they want to achieve with their website, and determine the challenges they’re facing with their current website or online presence.


“We have refined a very methodical intake process that allows us to extract key info and cater each proposal to a very specific set of outcomes for the client,” says Allen-Green. “It makes it almost impossible for them to say ‘no,’ which is why we have an exceptionally high close rate. Because we infuse [the client’s] key wants into the proposals…they’ve already bought in by the end of the intake call. At this point, the proposal is almost like a confirmation or formality.”




7 things to include in your web design proposal


With this information in hand, you can move on to the next step and write the key components of your website design proposal:




Graphic that lists each of the seven components to include in a web design proposal: overview, goals, solution, schedule, quote, terms and call-to-action.


As you’ll see below, a helpful guide throughout this process is to frame each section of your proposal as an answer to a question, such as, “Why?” or “How?”


01. Overview


This first section of your web design proposal should answer the question, “Why?” Why is this client looking for web design services and why are you the right person or team for the job? 


  • Why the client needs web design services can sometimes be more easily articulated when framed as the “problem” or “challenge.” What is the client unable to achieve right now and what is getting in their way?


  • Why you are right for the job should highlight the results you’ve delivered to past clients. Don’t simply focus on the names of companies you’ve worked with or how many sites you’ve made. Describe the impact that your work had on these businesses, such as an increase in site traffic, sales or engagement.


The overview is just an introduction to your agency, so keep it short and treat it like an executive summary that you’ll expand on later in the proposal. Bear in mind that this overview sets the tone for the rest of your proposal, so make sure your positive attitude comes across—clients want to work with a partner that brings the right chemistry and collaboration to the project.


02. Goals


In this section, you are answering the “What?” of the proposal. Whereas in the overview you outlined the client’s problems, here you set a North Star for your project. What does your client want to achieve? What will the client gain from working with you? Below are a few examples of different goals that can all apply to a single project:


  • Marketing: To increase the site’s organic ranking on Google to a top three position


  • Product: To test which product features generate the most site engagement


  • Sales: To increase the amount sold to each customer by 20%


  • Operations: To enable the marketing team to make site content updates without requiring layout changes


Once you’ve completed the project and the new site has been live for some time, these goals can become your KPIs (or key performance indicators). You'll want to measure your progress towards these goals to determine if you’ve achieved them. If yes, then this is a great case study for your portfolio. If not, you have a chance to pivot your strategy to help meet these goals.


Learn more about Wix Studio's marketing integrations with leading analytics tools.


03. Solution


This section addresses the “how.” As Allen-Greene puts it, “Your job in a proposal is to effectively show how you will execute your project and get the client to a desired outcome.” This section should outline two important elements: the process and the deliverables.


  • The process is like your ownable IP. It’s your unique way of working—the steps, tools and people you bring together like no other designer or agency can. As much as we like to feel that we bring a certain magic to the table, your client wants transparency to feel confident that they’re investing in an experienced agency and a reliable process. When writing about your process, be sure to address:

    • Steps: This helps your client understand how each action affects the next step of the project, and what they need to do to keep things moving.

    • Tools: Some clients will request a specific tool—such as a website built specifically on Wix Studio—and others will rely on you to make a recommendation.

    • People: It’s important to outline the owner(s) of each step, especially for your client to know their responsibilities in driving the project to completion. This is also where you introduce your team members and their expertise for the project.


  • The deliverables are the items you will produce and hand over to your client as part of the project. Think of them as all of the items that go into the shopping bag after a purchase. Depending on the nature of your proposal, the deliverables could be delivered in phases—such as at the end of each step—or in one handoff at the end of the project. The deliverables could be for the client’s internal use, such as a strategic positioning presentation, or for the client’s go-to-market needs, like a live website with multiple sub-pages, including all the produced imagery and text.


Don’t over-promise when writing this section. Clients will often refer back to this section to make sure you're on track (and to follow up on anything missing along the way).


Learn more about client management tools on Wix Studio.


04. Schedule


Now you will outline “when” this project is going to start and end, including the project milestones along the way. This is often a balance between when your client needs to go live with their new website—for example, maybe they want to time it with a new product launch—and the time that your team needs to get the work done.


It’s important to outline:


  • Where and how the schedule will be accessed and managed. For example, will you collaborate on an online task management program like Monday.com?


  • Key dates or milestones, including client presentations, client feedback, final approvals and live dates.



Graphic of an example project timeline for a web design project showing the different project phases over an eight week period.


It’s standard to include a clause in this section that warns about the domino effect of missing milestones, such as a delay in receiving client feedback that pushes out subsequent steps. But you should always expect the unexpected and pad your timeline so that both you and your client are working together comfortably.


05. Quote


Finally, you’re ready to address the question of “How much?” There are different approaches on web design pricing, including charging by hour, charging by deliverable and others. Whichever approach you choose, this is the section where you should provide all the details on your team’s project fee, as well as any hard costs specific to the project.


  • The project fee covers the costs of your or your employees’ time to complete the client’s project. For a web design project, this would typically include a designer and a writer, and then depending on the project scope you might include a web developer, an SEO specialist, a video editor or others. Each individual working directly on the project should be listed in this section of the proposal for full transparency.


  • Hard costs relate to expenses outside of your team or agency that are unique to this project. This could include image licensing, domain registration, website plugins, etc. Present these as an itemized list and indicate which of these costs will recur monthly or annually. 



Graphic of an example project quote for a web design project, listing different components of an agency fee and additional costs.


06. Terms


The terms and conditions of your web design proposal must protect both you and your client—not only you. It's good practice to work with a lawyer who specializes in creative or digital agencies, and to establish terms that you can use repeatedly and adapt as needed to each new proposal.


When writing these terms, make sure to highlight:


  • Scope of work: You’ve already listed the deliverables and timing, so here is where you’ll want to mention the implications of additional deliverables or working days, such as additional fees.


  • Revisions policy: Manage the client feedback process, in particular the number of rounds of revisions and how these are communicated to you. For example, require revisions in writing over email to ensure that you have a paper trail of all the client’s requests.


  • Payments: Break down how much of your project fee is due and when. One standard procedure is to receive one payment before the project begins and then a final payment when the project is completed. However, you should also consider that a project might be terminated before completion; stipulate the amount you still require as a “cancel fee,” which will compensate you for finished work (or for any income lost because of projects you turned down during this time). 


Again, these are only a few of the items you want to consider for your terms and conditions, so speak with a legal expert to assist you in the process. 


07. Call-to-action (CTA)


Your potential client has finished reading the web design proposal. Make it clear what should happen next.


  • When do you want a response by? In a designer’s perfect world, the client will immediately tell you if they accept your proposal or not, but this is often not the case. It’s common practice for a proposal to include an expiration date, i.e., that your services and the price quote as included are available and valid only until this specified date. This can create a healthy and professional sense of urgency—if the proposal expires, your team can take on other projects and you are no longer held to your proposal.


  • How does the client confirm? Do you want the client to sign the proposal immediately? Or is sending the proposal the start of a negotiation? Whichever it is, make sure that what you want from the client is obvious and easy—you can include a link to schedule a meeting or for an electronic signature, as examples. You also want it to be easy for the client to reach you, so include any relevant contact details here.


  • Who will take the next step? Even though your proposal is now in the client’s hands, you’ll want to follow up after a few days if they leave you hanging. You can do so gently via an email or phone call reminding them of the confirmation deadline. (Not sure what to do if a client ghosts you? Read these tips to address the problem.)



How to format your website proposal


There are a few different web design proposal formats, each with its own advantages. At Scopetheory, explains Allen-Green, “Our most successful proposals are five simple pages or less (including a cover page), and guide the client through their journey with us, covering key details like deliverables, timing and pricing. Even for us, we don’t particularly focus on deliverables. Instead, we place more emphasis on results and outcomes.” 



Graphic of a quote pulled from the article by agency founder Tiereny Allen-Green, saying, "Our most successful proposals are five simple pages or less, and guide the client through their journey with us, covering key details like deliverables, timing and pricing."


Below are different options, starting with the most simple formats and ending with the most detailed ones.


Outline format


This simple approach presents the proposal as a structured outline, broken down by the sections of your proposal. It provides a clear and concise overview of the proposal's contents, making it easy for clients to read and understand the proposed project plan. This format works best for simple projects; for more complex projects with numerous dependencies and customizations, consider one of the more detailed formats below.


Narrative format


Just like its name, this format is more detailed and structured like a story, covering the client's current situation, challenges, proposed solutions and anticipated outcomes. It's written in a conversational tone, allowing for a more engaging presentation of ideas while still maintaining a professional demeanor. 


Visual presentation format


This format is ideal for showcasing design aesthetics and functionality in a compelling and even interactive manner. More visually rich, this presentation format relies heavily on visual aids like a presentation deck or an interactive landing page. It might include images, graphics or mockups to visually demonstrate the proposed design concepts, UI elements and user flow.  Platforms like Wix Studio make it easy to create low-fidelity designs for visual presentations, thanks to wireframe templates and AI tools that generate responsive layouts and website text.


Technical specification format


The most detailed approach, this format delves into the technical aspects of the proposed website design, detailing specifications such as programming languages, frameworks, content management systems, hosting requirements and security measures. It's geared towards clients who have complex needs—for example, web apps or digital products—or who better understand web development and prefer a more detailed breakdown of the technical implementation. Here you’ll call out any tools or systems you recommend and align with the client before the project kicks off. 


Learn more about Wix Studio’s development tools and capabilities. 



How to present a web design proposal to a client


After all the time you spent crafting a persuasive web design proposal, consider the best way to present it to the client for the most impact. 


In-person


Online meetings are the status quo these days, making in-person meetings much stronger for first impressions. Plus, it’s a great way to immediately assess the chemistry. Meeting in person allows for real-time interaction, clarification of any questions and the opportunity to gauge the client's reactions and feedback.


Online meeting


Since many agencies now work with clients in other states or countries, in-person meetings are not often a practical option. In that case, arrange a video call to present the proposal virtually. This approach still enables a real-time discussion and review of the proposal.


Send the proposal


Sometimes it’s perfectly acceptable to send a proposal over email, either because you have a good history with the client or because you already aligned on the proposal contents in prior conversations. When sending a proposal over email, include a short note about what you’re including, what the client should do and any deadlines—for example, “Attached please find a link to download the web design proposal as well as a link to an interactive prototype. This proposal is valid through the end of the week, so we will follow up with you by then if we haven’t received a response.”  


Even when emailing a proposal, suggest meeting the client face-to-face or scheduling a virtual meeting. It’s a strong gesture that shows your professionalism. 



Graphic of an example email in which an agency emails a web design proposal to a potential client.


Web design proposal templates and tools


Crafting a website design proposal from scratch each time isn’t necessary. The structure of a web design proposal is relatively standard across projects, so using an external template or creating your own template will save you time and effort. 


“Over the years, we’ve refined a pared-back outline that reflects what we discussed in our inquiry call [with the client] but in the client's words, which is incredibly important,” says Allen-Greene. “It also covers all the information a client needs to make an educated decision. We’ve taken this outline and created a template in Canva.”


Building on that point, you also need to consider where you want to create your proposal. You can use various tools to your advantage:


  • Free templates: These can be a good option for freelancers or small agencies who are starting a web design business for the first time. Free templates often cover the basics and easily integrate into platforms like Google Docs and Figma. But don’t forget to customize it if possible with your own branding.


  • Premium templates: For a more polished look and advanced features, premium templates can be worth the investment. They often come with additional support and customization options. PandaDoc and Better Proposals both offer free templates with paid plans that unlock advanced features.


  • Proposal generators: Online tools that help you create proposals by simply inputting your information into a pre-designed format can also be useful. ClientManager and Proposable are two tools that include helpful prompts and sections that ensure you cover all necessary information. 


When using any template or generative tool for the first time, it’s a good idea to run your proposal by a legal professional to make sure it’s legally sound. And remember to personalize a template to each client and their specific needs. This personal touch shows that you're not just using a one-size-fits-all approach but did the research to understand their business and needs.



How to create a proposal for a website redesign 


Not all web design proposals are for entirely new work. Sometimes a business decides to revamp its existing website, and the project could range from a few new page layouts to a full reconstruction. 


First, you’ll determine the scope of the project—during research—before you even start to write it. In the case of a website redesign, be sure to ask your client about any historical website data; this can give you insights into what did or didn’t work well on the previous site, so your proposal will be more informed and relevant.


In the case of a redesign, there are a few unique questions to ask your potential client as you develop your proposal:


  • Why aren’t you working with your previous designer? This will give you clues into what didn’t work with the previous processes or personalities. You’ll want to make sure that you can offer a better experience and solution. 


  • What can’t you do with your existing site? This will tell you how limited or wide the new project will be, whether new plugins could fix certain functional gaps or an entirely new website infrastructure needs to be implemented. Keep in mind that this could include external, site visitor limitations (e.g., poor mobile experience) as well as internal, client-side limitations (e.g., CMS ease-of-use).


  • Is there anything you want to keep? This helps you by creating a focus for your proposal and setting boundaries for your work, whether the client wants to keep all the current branding or all of the current backend systems.


  • Why now? It helps to know the pressures driving your client to act right now. If there is a new brand identity or if the company suffered a data breach, you’ll better understand the urgency or impetus for the project and reflect this in your proposal.


Design a site on Wix Studio and create an account today

RELATED ARTICLES

JOE O CONNOR

Find new ways FWD

Thanks for submitting!

By subscribing, you agree to receive the Wix Studio newsletter and other related content and acknowledge that Wix will treat your personal information in accordance with Wix's Privacy Policy.

Do brilliant work—together

Collaborate and share inspiration with other pros in the Wix Studio community.

Image showing a photo of a young group of professionals on the left and a photo highlighting one professional in a conference setting on the right