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View Full Version : My new web design service [critique]




Butters
May 4, 2006, 02:16 PM
I very recently bought some webspace and set up a website where I plan to design and host relatively small websites for people.

I was wondering what you guys here think of it, assuming some of you will have had more experience in this area than myself..
Jaded-design.com (http://www.jaded-design.com)

I'd appreciate any comments, suggestions or whatever about either the service/pricing or the layout
thanks!



dornoforpyros
May 4, 2006, 02:45 PM
80 quid for unlimited pages? Umm, your pricing is very, very low. Too low actually.

Also I find white text on a black page to be a very poor design choice.

But on the plus side, the graphics, although spares, are well done. The buttons are clean & pleasing. The buckets are easy to read and pleasing to the eyes.

So I guess I'd say reconsider your pricing model, I'm guessing your a student looking for freelance work? My suggestion would be set yourself an hourly rate for clients as oppose to "package A cost X-Amount". Clients do prefer a package price, but giving them a flat rate pretty much guarantees you'll end up working for free by the time they get done with all their "small changes"

Although the design itself is lacking your graphic work is of decent quality, and everyone's gotta start somewhere. So I imagine in a year or so you'll come into your own and start producing some very compelling & professional work.


Hope you find this helpful

Butters
May 4, 2006, 03:05 PM
80 quid for unlimited pages? Umm, your pricing is very, very low. Too low actually.

Also I find white text on a black page to be a very poor design choice.

But on the plus side, the graphics, although spares, are well done. The buttons are clean & pleasing. The buckets are easy to read and pleasing to the eyes.

So I guess I'd say reconsider your pricing model, I'm guessing your a student looking for freelance work? My suggestion would be set yourself an hourly rate for clients as oppose to "package A cost X-Amount". Clients do prefer a package price, but giving them a flat rate pretty much guarantees you'll end up working for free by the time they get done with all their "small changes"

Although the design itself is lacking your graphic work is of decent quality, and everyone's gotta start somewhere. So I imagine in a year or so you'll come into your own and start producing some very compelling & professional work.


Hope you find this helpful

Very helpful thanks.

Yeah you're right I'm a student and the reason I've chosen this pricing model is simply because it's the way I'm used to working. I understand the hourly pay model may be a better choice as opposed to the flat rate but I'm not sure it suits the way I work.
I tend to do my work whenever I've got spare time and not in particular time frames.. also how does the client even know how much time you've spent working? I'm a little confused there.

Plus a one-off payment would appeal to me more as a buyer.


At the moment I don't intend to get "big" or do work that is worth more than about £80 IMO it's just a hobby that I'd like a bit of cash for.. for instance if a big company were to ask me to do work I would probably reject the offer as I don't think I'm ready or willing to take on that kind of task. Where as with a local band, photographer or artist etc. I'd be happy to work

And maybe instead of unlimited pages I could change it 20 pages or something.. that way nobody will be able to take advantage of the fact that if they wanted they could get a million pages lol.

As far as the design goes.. I suppose white on black is just my style I use it for a lot of things I don't consider it to be bad infact I always though it was more readable than black on white, was i wrong?

Thanks again for your suggestions I'll bare them all in mind

crees!
May 4, 2006, 03:08 PM
I was in the same boat as you. I would do websites for cheap or free. Mainly for non-profit organizations or for bands. Now I'm out of school and realize time is money eventhough I have a full time job. I charge hourly because I know how projects can get out of hand. One thing you must have is a solid contract that your clients sign. You don't want them to be able to drag you through the mud beyond the scope of the project. It's hard, but don't under sell yourself when you charge. Some people (friends, referals) I give a discount to but I write up what it would cost normally. Don't forget to charge for webspace and mark that up as well. Plus when updates are going to be made to the sites who's gonna do it? You, them, how? There are LOTs of questions you need to ask yourself and to them. Just don't sell yourself short and you'll be fine. If you can hook yourself with a reseller account from a webhost even better.

crees!
May 4, 2006, 03:12 PM
Yeah you're right I'm a student and the reason I've chosen this pricing model is simply because it's the way I'm used to working. I understand the hourly pay model may be a better choice as opposed to the flat rate but I'm not sure it suits the way I work.
I tend to do my work whenever I've got spare time and not in particular time frames.. also how does the client even know how much time you've spent working? I'm a little confused there.

Plus a one-off payment would appeal to me more as a buyer.

What you need to do is track all your time. If you work on for something for 30 minutes write that down. You need to have a realistic idea of how long it takes you to do a site so when a prospective client approaches you and says, "I want this type of site and it done by this date." You'll know to tell them whether that is or isn't enough time for you to complete it.

When I charge I usually do 3 payments. 1/2 up front, 1/4 after the design has been approved, and the final 1/4 when the site is complete and right before I upload it to their server. Before uploading to their server I use my personal space to host the site development.

Butters
May 4, 2006, 03:16 PM
What you need to do is track all your time. If you work on for something for 30 minutes write that down. You need to have a realistic idea of how long it takes you to do a site so when a prospective client approaches you and says, "I want this type of site and it done by this date." You'll know to tell them whether that is or isn't enough time for you to complete it.

When I charge I usually do 3 payments. 1/2 up front, 1/4 after the design has been approved, and the final 1/4 when the site is complete and right before I upload it to their server. Before uploading to their server I use my personal space to host the site development.

Thanks for the suggestions. It's interesting to hear how professionals work.

I will definately start tracking how long things take me.

Butters
May 4, 2006, 03:18 PM
I was in the same boat as you. I would do websites for cheap or free. Mainly for non-profit organizations or for bands. Now I'm out of school and realize time is money eventhough I have a full time job. I charge hourly because I know how projects can get out of hand. One thing you must have is a solid contract that your clients sign. You don't want them to be able to drag you through the mud beyond the scope of the project. It's hard, but don't under sell yourself when you charge. Some people (friends, referals) I give a discount to but I write up what it would cost normally. Don't forget to charge for webspace and mark that up as well. Plus when updates are going to be made to the sites who's gonna do it? You, them, how? There are LOTs of questions you need to ask yourself and to them. Just don't sell yourself short and you'll be fine. If you can hook yourself with a reseller account from a webhost even better.

At the moment I'm just trying to get a bit of work like you probably were and I assumed starting off very very affordable was the way to go as I am still in school and not really in desperate need of cash.

Maybe increasing prices or working hourly may not be a bad idea though, thanks

dornoforpyros
May 4, 2006, 03:19 PM
As far as the design goes.. I suppose white on black is just my style I use it for a lot of things I don't consider it to be bad infact I always though it was more readable than black on white, was i wrong?



Yeah it is more readable and was even recommended...back in 1996 when people were running 800 x 600 monitors with 32 colors :p

Because of that it just always looks really dated to me, but it's just more a personal pet peeve of mine more than anything. If your comfortable with it then go ahead and use it, but I think after time you'll notice other color pallets can be more appealing.

I hope I'm not coming across as too rude, I'm just more or less trying to convey some of the things I've learned from the mistakes I was making when I first started out.

Butters
May 4, 2006, 03:23 PM
Yeah it is more readable and was even recommended...back in 1996 when people were running 800 x 600 monitors with 32 colors :p

Because of that it just always looks really dated to me, but it's just more a personal pet peeve of mine more than anything. If your comfortable with it then go ahead and use it, but I think after time you'll notice other color pallets can be more appealing.

I hope I'm not coming across as too rude, I'm just more or less trying to convey some of the things I've learned from the mistakes I was making when I first started out.

No not rude at all very helpful infact I appreciate it :) and to be fair it probably won't be long before I decide to redesign and move away from the whole black thing (especially now) I was starting to get a little bored of it as it was

Butters
May 4, 2006, 03:30 PM
Plus when updates are going to be made to the sites who's gonna do it? You, them, how?.

I figured I'd do it for them unless they had knowledge of ftp then they could have the ftp info and do it themselves.. is this a bad move?
I couldn't think of any better ways of doing it.

crees!
May 4, 2006, 03:37 PM
I figured I'd do it for them unless they had knowledge of ftp then they could have the ftp info and do it themselves.. is this a bad move?
I couldn't think of any better ways of doing it.

Check out Macromedia Contribute.
http://www.adobe.com/products/contribute/

PS - If others know of programs similar to Contribute I'd like to get your feedback on them. Not to hijack your thread Butters :D

Butters
May 4, 2006, 03:42 PM
Check out Macromedia Contribute.
http://www.adobe.com/products/contribute/

PS - If others know of programs similar to Contribute I'd like to get your feedback on them. Not to hijack your thread Butters :D

I'll look into that thanks

Yeah feel free to give feedback on alternatives I'm interested too now

crees!
May 4, 2006, 03:52 PM
I'll look into that thanks

Yeah feel free to give feedback on alternatives I'm interested too now

Contribute is pretty easy. Your clients navigate to the page they want just like in a browser then they click a button to edit that page, Contribute downloads that page and puts it in editing mode. Pretty much like Dreamweaver but only in Design view. Nice, clean and simple from my experience.

Butters
May 4, 2006, 04:00 PM
Contribute is pretty easy. Your clients navigate to the page they want just like in a browser then they click a button to edit that page, Contribute downloads that page and puts it in editing mode. Pretty much like Dreamweaver but only in Design view. Nice, clean and simple from my experience.

Yeah I downloaded the trial, nice n easy I like it :) Can't believe I didn't already know of it

thejadedmonkey
May 4, 2006, 04:36 PM
I figured I'd do it for them unless they had knowledge of ftp then they could have the ftp info and do it themselves.. is this a bad move?
I couldn't think of any better ways of doing it.
Make a generic PHP backend, that's what I do. Then your user can update the page whenever, and you can charge more for pages they can update on the fly.

Les Kern
May 4, 2006, 08:22 PM
I REALLY like your work. I'm a "fan" of "black" or neutral colors...
You sites are easy to follow, and logical.
I think you price is too darned low. I used to design sites and charged 1/5th what other area web developers did. I was accused of "whoring" myself, and depressing prices. Time IS money, and though I like doing it just becasue I liked doing it was no reason to undercut other folks doing it for a living. Consider that.
(STILL like your work though)

Butters
May 5, 2006, 02:13 AM
I REALLY like your work. I'm a "fan" of "black" or neutral colors...
You sites are easy to follow, and logical.
I think you price is too darned low. I used to design sites and charged 1/5th what other area web developers did. I was accused of "whoring" myself, and depressing prices. Time IS money, and though I like doing it just becasue I liked doing it was no reason to undercut other folks doing it for a living. Consider that.
(STILL like your work though)

Thanks
whoring lol, never thought of it that way but I guess you're right.

AppleMatt
May 5, 2006, 06:23 AM
Make sure you define what 'Class A' buys exactly, for example you've put blogs, galleries etc. I'd remove the et-cetera and say 'you get this and this.'

AppleMatt

DavidLeblond
May 5, 2006, 06:31 AM
Here is the app I use for tracking my time, I like it a lot:

http://www.slooz.com/trinkets.php?proj=timetracker

Anyway, if you work hourly its important to be good at estimating. That way the client will know about how much it'll cost beforehand.

mnkeybsness
May 5, 2006, 09:47 AM
It is very hard to decide on pricing schemes. I have the same feelings as some others: your prices are much too low. For us Americans, he's charging roughly $150USD for the "Class A" package.

Always, always, always charge an hourly rate. Clients can be very abusive and may take advantage of you if they find you in the least bit vulnerable. My recommendation for how to charge is as follows:

First, volunteer for some open-source projects at Source Forge's Help Wanted System (http://sourceforge.net/people/?category_id=16). Open source projects almost always have no money involved but can generate a LOT of exposure. Make sure to get the project to credit you on their site.

From this experience you should get a few things: the first being an understanding of working with a client and a great knowledge of how you work. You should keep track of how long it takes (actual work time) for you to get projects done. Keep track of what takes how long (EX: 4 icons took 2 hours, basic HTML layout took 6 hours, etc).

Lastly, from volunteering for open source and showing how awesome your work is, since you remembered to get yourself credit on their site and/or in their project, clients will come to you.

At this point, you have the client send you a message asking for a quote on their project. Talk it out and take detailed notes of what they need. Since by now you have a general idea of how long it takes you to get each service you offer done, you can get back to them within a day to let them know how many hours it will take at your hourly rate. You can also give them a completion date if they haven't given you one.

Since you should really be able to give an accurate quote, it's okay to ask for "good faith" money (down payment) at 10-25% of what you quoted. When the client already has money invested, they will be less likely to run away and not pay you in the end.

Make sure that you are available and responsive to your clients. Always respond as promptly as possible. Coming from a fellow student, make sure they know that you are still in school and this is your side business. You have other priorities, but you will do everything you can to make sure that they are your priority just below school.

I could probably go on with this for a long time. I just wanted to outline the basics. Everyone works differently, but this is the method that was recommended to me and what I generally use, depending on the client.

Butters
May 5, 2006, 09:54 AM
Here is the app I use for tracking my time, I like it a lot:

http://www.slooz.com/trinkets.php?proj=timetracker

Anyway, if you work hourly its important to be good at estimating. That way the client will know about how much it'll cost beforehand.

Thanks, yeah i like it to very basic and easy to use

EDIT: out of interest how much would people here charge for the service I'm offering?

mnkeybsness
May 5, 2006, 10:15 AM
out of interest how much would people here charge for the service I'm offering?

The basic, standard rate these days with most professionals is around $50USD (27 British Pounds) per hour. When I started, I was charging $30USD (16 Pounds) per hour.

dornoforpyros
May 5, 2006, 10:39 AM
Admittedly this guy is talking about people doing freelance as the majority/all of their income, but this is still a good read:
The Secret to Small Business Success (http://www.firewheeldesign.com/sparkplug/2006/March/the_secret_to_small_business_success.php)

SC68Cal
May 5, 2006, 04:25 PM
Nice graphics

Seasought
May 5, 2006, 05:04 PM
Admittedly this guy is talking about people doing freelance as the majority/all of their income, but this is still a good read:
The Secret to Small Business Success (http://www.firewheeldesign.com/sparkplug/2006/March/the_secret_to_small_business_success.php)

Good info, helps keep things in perspective. Thanks.

Butters
May 6, 2006, 04:52 AM
Thanks again to everybody who offerered some sort of advice or information. It's all been very helpful!

Les Kern
May 6, 2006, 02:19 PM
The basic, standard rate these days with most professionals is around $50USD (27 British Pounds) per hour. When I started, I was charging $30USD (16 Pounds) per hour.

In this area, Central Illinois, the rate is 120 an hour. That's TOP notch. Other smaller firms or individuals charge no less than 50.

Yvan256
May 6, 2006, 05:52 PM
Just a little friendly tip (http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jaded-design.com%2F)...

Bad code usually end up in browser problems.

panoz7
May 6, 2006, 06:14 PM
Just a little friendly tip (http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jaded-design.com%2F)...

Bad code usually end up in browser problems.

That thing is really annoying. I ran a site I made with it and it came up with 40 errors. Most of them were missing alt tags in the images (compeltly useless considering how the site works... and just a waste of code), missing height tags in tables and cells (once again, often worthless if not neccessary) and missing </br> tags. None of these have ever given me a single issue. Just for some persepective MR has 44 errors, apple has 8 erros, CNN has 35 errors, and interestingly the only site I found that could pass validation (beyond the validator itself of course) was microsoft.

My point... worry about developing your design skills and building up a portfolio before you start worrying about small coding errors that won't really hurt much. Test out the site on multiple os's with different browsers.

I'm a student too. I went through your situation a few summers ago. I've learned alot and I"m just now redesigning my home page to reflect that. I've got another thread somewhere around here critiquing that design. Take a look at comment :) ... anyway, here's what I suggest: Don't sell your self short. You'll never get the kind of clients you want. Generally people who are only willing to pay $150 (sorry... I'm too lazy to convert that to pounds) for a site are just going to be a pain. They don't respect how much work actually goes into a site. I think you are going to be limiting yourself to those kind of people.... those who respect design and understand that coding and building a website is not as easy as clicking and moving stuff around are going to see your prices and assume that they're going to get what they pay for. Which at those prices, shouldn't be too much.

I generally charge about $50 an hour. I think that's fair for a student. I'm in the same situation as you in that I don't like to keep track of how long I work. Alot of my time spent working on a clients page goes into just playing around and trying to teach my self new things. I don't like punishing my client for that. I usually look at the site ahead of time, estimate how many hours I think it would take me of straight work, and give them a quote. Don't veer from that price just because it takes you longer to do the site... stick by your estimate unless there demands change. If suddenly they want an entirelly different site with all sorts of extra stuff give them a new quote and make sure to explain how much extra work its going to be. See if they really want it.

Ok... I could go on and on. If you've got any questions feel free to PM or email me.

Butters
May 6, 2006, 06:30 PM
Just a little friendly tip (http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jaded-design.com%2F)...

Bad code usually end up in browser problems.

"This Page Is Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional!"

:p thanks

Butters
May 7, 2006, 05:40 AM
Ok people thanks to all the advice I've recieved here

I've raised my prices to what I think is fair and also still very very affordable, I don't feel comfortable doing the per hour thing so Instead I'm doing the this is my estimate for the entire project and the actual price depends on the complexity of the project.

I've validated my pages and made minor tweaks to the text and the packages here n there to refine my pricing model.

Now all i need is to get some interest :)

once again, thanks to everybody.

savar
May 7, 2006, 01:36 PM
I tend to do my work whenever I've got spare time and not in particular time frames.. also how does the client even know how much time you've spent working? I'm a little confused there.

I'm not a designer, but I think your site looks nice. It loads pretty quickly and the navigation is good. My one complaint: I hate it when I'm hovering over a link and the destination doesn't show up in the status bar. I assume you used JavaScript to blank that out?

In response to the payment issue, the client doesn't know how many hours you actually worked. Yes, it does seem like a stupid system; it can be and is frequently abused. But by far, the majority of "consulting" work in this world is done on a hourly basis than by flat-fee.

If you really want to do flat-fee, this will probably appeal to customers, but you have to make sure you get very specific requirements about what they want, and get them in writing before you start doing any work or accept any payment. Those requirements basically become your contract. Anything nebulous in the contract terms is just a loophole for the client to change their mind and make you do extra work at no cost.

I work professionally as a consultant billing an hourly rate, and I also work in my free time as a free-lance consultant billing at flat-rates. They can both be very profitable, and which one you go with depends on the client and the project. I recommend you leaving your billing options open.

dpaanlka
May 7, 2006, 01:40 PM
Anything nebulous in the contract terms is just a loophole for the client to change their mind and make you do extra work at no cost.

Very very very very very very good piece of advice. Had that happen to me several times.

Did this entire site myself: http://www.annabskincare.com/

Was supposed to be a "few" pages... ended up mushrooming into a huge project that took months.

Although, to be fair, I am proud of it.

Butters
May 7, 2006, 03:17 PM
Yeah I like the idea of having a contract which clients need to agree too