Your guide to creating a website design pitch that’ll wow your SMB clientsBy Lawrence Dy
It doesn’t matter how talented you are, without a strong pitch, prospective clients may never give you the opportunity to showcase your skills. A thoughtful design pitch shows your SMB clients that you understand their needs, have the skills to design a great website and have the professionalism to deliver on time and within their budget.
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In this article, we’ll dig into the essential elements of a website design pitch that will help you wow your prospects through every stage of the design process.
Table of Contents
- The importance of a strong design pitch
- What clients look for in a design pitch
- Preparing for the design pitch
- Important things to include in your design pitch
- Tips for presenting your design pitch
- How to follow up with your client after the pitch
- Frequently asked questions
The importance of a strong design pitch
While it’s important to have a design pitch deck that focuses on closing their business, it’s even more important to focus on showcasing your design skills rather than simply telling a client what you can do for them.
Provides proof of concept
Remember, your pitch deck is a conversation starter, not a closer. You don’t need to address every single element of the design process within the pitch. The pitch should show that you understand your prospect’s objectives, give them a sense of your design abilities, and provide insight into your communication style so they can get an idea of what it will be like working with you.
Demonstrates return-on-investment (ROI)
Showcase the strategy behind your concepts and back them up with proof (case studies) that they will offer your client a return on their investment (ROI). A strong pitch will open the door to further conversations about the project so you and the client can determine whether working together will be a good fit.
What clients look for in a design pitch
Your pitch deck aims to prove to your client that you understand their needs and have the skills to deliver a web design that will support their business goals. Including the following elements will instill your client’s confidence in you and help you land their business.
1. A customized approach
Clients want to see that you’ve taken the time to research their business and industry and understand their goals and pain points. Even if you use some of the same design elements and characteristics across each site you build, clients want to see that it’s purposeful and unique to them.
For example, you wouldn’t want to propose advanced ecommerce features for a non-ecommerce website focused on events promotion. Your pitch deck should make it clear you’re creating a customized website solution for them. Show how your recommended design will meet the unique needs of their business.
2. Visual appeal
Since design is a visual field, bringing your pitch deck to life with compelling visuals will demonstrate your talent while communicating essential information to help clients see that you’re the right fit for the job. A drab presentation deck won’t do your design skills justice, so create a visually appealing deck to help your client see your creativity and talent at work.
Even though the design direction may change once your proposal is accepted, creating something visually compelling will make your presentation memorable and give your client a taste of what you’re capable of. Using visuals like charts and graphs, as well as data points, illustrates that you understand your client and their industry and demonstrates the value of your work.
3. A good user experience
A beautiful website is worthless if it’s not easy to navigate or use. Your pitch should highlight that you think through the user experience in tandem with your design choices. Show how you’ve accounted for digital accessibility, steps you’ll take to ensure the site is mobile responsive, incorporating empty state pages, and any other features you think would improve the overall user experience. Emphasize how your design will make it easy for website visitors to find what they need on the site.
Show off your design strategy skills by including advice related to website functionality within your proposal. Your client may have a good idea of what they want their site to do, but you are the one with the expertise to find the most effective ways to achieve those goals.
Think through the client’s service offerings and the customer journey in relation to these things. Then, look for ways to boost web functionality so their site does more heavy lifting.
Sometimes, incorporating automation, adding resource pages, or embedding widgets like Google Maps can make a website a more robust tool for visitors. Automating things like appointment setting or creating a FAQ page with answers to common questions can reduce the workload for a business’s customer support team and free up their time for bigger projects.
6. Return on investment
As mentioned earlier, clients want to invest in a product that will move their business forward, which is why it’s crucial that your design proposal addresses their top pain points. They may know that they need a website, but it’s up to you to develop a site that will solve their problems. Including some helpful statistics on web development projects or case studies from past clients will help your prospects see that working with you will lead to a return on investment.
7. Production timelines
Including a production timeline within your pitch is a great way to manage your client’s expectations. This shows them that you have a clear roadmap to developing and delivering the project and helps them see the phases of the project. Timelines also help illustrate the complexity of a project, as some clients may have a tendency to overlook how involved it may be.
Preparing for the design pitch
Creating a pitch that resonates with your prospective clients requires some serious thought. Here’s what you need to consider when creating a pitch deck that knocks their socks off.
1. Research the client and their needs
The most impactful pitch will show that you understand your client's pain points and can create solutions for them. Spend some time learning about their business and studying their current website (if they have one). Think about the ways you could improve and optimize it to be more effective and provide a better user experience. Does the branding feel dated? Are there pages missing that could enhance the browsing experience? Are there elements you could include that bring their brand to life more?
Ask your prospects questions
Speak with your potential client about their current website and the ways in which they’d like to see it improve. Ask them about their business goals for the future, and consider ways you can position the site to support them. Research their top competitors to get an understanding of how other organizations position themselves in the industry. What can you do to set your client apart?
Brainstorm solutions they might have in mind
Your client’s list of needs and wants for their website is just a starting point. There are likely aspects of the design they are overlooking. There may even be simpler solutions than what your client requests. Showcase your expertise by developing a design pitch that addresses both their perceived and unperceived needs.
2. Defining the client’s goals and scope
Before creating your pitch deck, you must understand the client’s goals and the scope of the work required to meet them. Your client’s goals are the central thesis of your design project. Everything you do within the project should be in support of these goals.
Once you’re clear on what your client is trying to achieve, you can determine the scope of work required to create a website that supports them. Often, clients will have a laundry list of requests for a website design project, but ultimately many of them won’t serve their goals. You must sift through their needs and requests and identify what needs to be included in the project scope.
You should also define what aspects of the project you and your team are responsible for and which parts require contributions from other departments. Your design team may be working hand-in-hand with a copywriter or an in-house designer. Ensure your proposal details the specific pieces of the project that your team will be handling, and highlight any responsibilities that may need to be outsourced. This will help you and your client budget for the project accurately.
3. Understanding the project timeline and budget
Aligning your design pitch with your client’s budget and timeline is key to ensuring you deliver a product that suits their needs. While it’s easy for web design projects to expand, clients often have a long list of “nice to have” features they’d like to add. However, it may not seem realistic to include all these in a project with a tight deadline.
In the same way, you must ensure the client how much time you need to complete the project. Think through each component of the project and establish a timeline that you can incorporate into the proposal. The project may have several phases, with touchpoints from different stakeholders. Each of these needs to be considered when developing a project timeline.
The same goes for the project budget. You should have a general idea of your client’s budget before you begin developing your proposal. As you analyze your client’s needs, goals, and timeline, consider what you can create to address these needs to fit within their proposed budget and timeline. In some cases, you may need to streamline your proposal to meet a demand for quick turnaround. In others, it may make sense to request a higher budget to accommodate a more robust design.
Important things to include in your design pitch
Your design proposal should incorporate all the information you gathered in the last step and synthesize it into an easy-to-understand, compelling presentation. Here are some tips on what to include and how to present the information in your pitch.
Insight into the design process
Pulling back the curtain on your design process helps clients see how much thought and strategy you have incorporated into your pitch. Doing so can help you justify higher costs, as clients don’t always realize how much time and effort is required to execute even the simplest designs. Insight into your process also helps clients see what informs your choices.
Provide evidence to back up your design methods
When you showcase how your designs are informed by competitors, trends, industry standards, and web design best practices, it’s easier for clients to see why you’ve made the choices you’ve made. This can be especially helpful if you’re looking for ways to create something subversive that breaks trends. If you’re making bold design choices, understanding where you gathered inspiration may help your client back them more confidently.
Keep clients aligned and informed
In some cases, this insight can help you push back against client demands that may not serve the project well. For instance, if they want the site to incorporate the color blue, but all of their competitors also use that color, you could use that information as a reason to push the design in a different direction to help set them apart.
Explain important design decisions in layman's terms
Creating an incredible design is one thing, but if your client doesn’t understand the strategy behind your work, your ideas may not resonate with them. This is especially crucial when discussing the technical aspects of your design proposal.
So, instead of using terms like “empty state pages,” explain what these pages are: error pages that appear when a link is broken or incorrect. Before presenting your proposal, go through and flag any terms that may be too technical for the average person to understand and think about how to explain them in a simpler way.
Create mockups and prototypes to illustrate design concepts
Design is visual, so don’t hesitate to create mockups of some of your proposed concepts. Even if they’re just early prototypes, it gives your client something concrete to consider and respond to. Their reactions to these designs will help you refine them as you move forward.
The more you can do to bring your concepts to life, the easier it will be for a client to imagine what the end result will look like. Not only will this help manage or steer their expectations, but it shows that you’ve put deep thought and effort into your pitch and instills their confidence in your abilities.
Tips for presenting your design pitch
A thoughtful pitch desk will make a great impression, but it won’t sell your web design services on its own. The ways you conduct yourself within the presentation, your client engagement, and your follow-up strategy are all important for closing the deal. Here are some tips for nailing your presentation.
1. Keeping professional
A professional appearance and conduct are essential for having clients take your pitch seriously. Try to get a feel for the company culture ahead of your presentation so you can select an outfit that’s in line with the office dress code.
Here are some additional tips to keep in mind to ensure your pitch stays professional:
- Be prepared. Ideally, you’ll have key points from your pitch deck memorized, so you won’t be relying on notes the entire time. This will help you appear prepared and confident throughout the meeting.
- Stick to the script. Stay on track and avoid going off on tangents during the presentation. It’s easy to fall into a rabbit hole of discussing minute details of the project, but ultimately, this may distract from the overall presentation and disrupt the flow. Instead, move through your pitch and dig into the details later on.
- Leave room for responses. In the technical sections of your pitch, pause for questions and take time to clarify anything that may have been confusing to your audience.
Remember, your professionalism shouldn’t end as soon as you walk out the door of the meeting. Remain professional throughout every interaction with the client, from emails and phone calls to future meetings.
2. Techniques for engaging with the client
Even though you’re leading a presentation, the experience should leave room for interaction with the client. Look for opportunities throughout your pitch to make the experience more engaging for the client.
- Use visual aids and demonstrations during technical sections of your proposal.
- Incorporating stories from past projects or proposing use-case scenarios can help bring your ideas to life in a dynamic and engaging way.
Stay attuned to your audience's behavior, too. Ask them if they have questions, make room for open discussions, and show empathy when they express concerns. This engagement from your client can help you better understand their goals and pain points, so you can address them in your follow-up communications.
3. Addressing potential objections and concerns
Anticipating concerns and objections from your client will make you look more prepared and strengthen your pitch delivery. Ahead of your design presentation, consider potential objections your client may have and form thoughtful responses.
- Bring evidence to support your design methodology. Whenever possible, lean on case studies, statistics, and other evidence to support your design proposal. You may even want to develop a few alternative solutions to counter potential concerns and injections.
- Don’t become frustrated or defensive if a client brings forward objections. This is a natural part of the process, and often it simply requires some thoughtful reassurance on your part that your proposal will support their needs. Other times, you may need to adjust the design proposal to accommodate their budget or timeline restrictions.
- Remain positive and professional through these interactions. Take a solutions-oriented approach, and remember these objections are completely normal and not a reflection of your skills or the quality of your presentation. Thoughtfully navigating these objections can help you close the deal.
How to follow up with your client after the pitch
Following up after a pitch is a great way to demonstrate your professionalism and remind your prospective client about your communication style. Continuing communication after the pitch reminds the client that you’re invested in the opportunity and gives them a chance to ask any follow-up questions they may have.
Once your pitch has been accepted, follow up promptly with a contract to finalize the agreement. After the contract is signed, send your client the following:
- An onboarding email with information around how to communicate with you,
- An updated project timeline, and
- Instructions for any next steps they must complete to get the project started.
- Respond to any communication promptly and politely so your client feels valued and respected.
Frequently asked questions
What is a design pitch?
A design pitch is a presentation that a web designer gives to a prospective client, outlining the design concepts, strategy, and timeline of a proposed web design project. Often the pitch is conducted in person and accompanied by a slide deck containing mockups and data to support the design choices.
What are 5 key elements of a design pitch?
Key elements of a design pitch include insight into the design process and strategy, design mockups, case studies and examples of past work, a project timeline, and a proposed budget.