This article explains how to write a good design proposal and why it is essential for you as a designer to develop, pitch, and present your design proposal using user research.
🎨 A design proposal is a document outlining the approach to a design project
📃 A design proposal outlines the scope of the projects, budget, deadlines and deliverables
💡 Clients ask for design proposals to evaluate what value a designer brings to the project and chose a designer that will be a perfect fit
🧠 A design proposal is a chance for a designer to show their skills and expertise
👥 User research is an important part of the design proposal because it makes sure the product you are designing is in line with the users’ need and expectations
🐝 You can conduct simple user research easily and for free with user research tools like UXtweak
Table of contents
What is a design proposal and why do you need one?
A design proposal is a written statement or set of slides outlining your strategy for a design project. Design proposals are typically requested by clients, as it is a way to assess the value that a designer is offering for a project.
Think of a design proposal as a walk-through guide for your client to see how you approach a design problem. After getting the client’s attention, you can present the design proposal and walk them through your thought processes to create the perfect solution. It gives them a clear idea of what you want to build from the beginning.
However, design proposals don’t have to be just for clients. They are also helpful when you need to convince other designers and engineers that your solution is the right one.
Framing your project or website design proposal properly is vital to the design process. It helps to control the project scope and set realistic expectations for you and your client by ensuring that you’re all on the same page. So, prior to making a design proposal always have conversations with your client about the timeline, budget, and overall project details.
Why do clients ask for proposals?
When clients request design proposals, they use this to evaluate your offer against those of other designers to determine which designer is the most appropriate fit for the job. A proposal assists you in communicating your ideas and building on client feedback. You can develop a solid initial idea of what you want to create from the beginning.
A well-designed proposal outlines your plan of action for the clients and explains how your suggested solution will meet their goals. It enables you to convey your qualifications for the position and demonstrate the value you bring to the table.
A graphic design proposal is also beneficiary for the designer not only to the client. If a client changes certain deadlines or suddenly starts demanding more work than you agreed on you can fall back on the design proposal and use it as a reference point to negotiate.
Here’s why you need a captivating design proposal
A great design proposal allows you to:
- Demonstrate that you’re user-focused and customer-centric
- Showcase your knowledge, expertise, and capability in solving business problems
- Set yourself apart from others and show that you are ready to give your best to the project
- Align with the client and establish clear communication
- Define tasks, responsibilities as well as deadlines and fees
Why you should include user research in your design proposal
Paul Boag UX design leader
A good proposal is as much about design as it is about research. In order to stand out as a designer, produce a well-researched design proposal that is thought through. The quality of a design proposal depends on how you understand the users whom you are trying to create a product for – and the best way to do this is through user research.
User research helps you justify design decisions, accelerate validation, and streamline efficient product development. It also uncovers any underlying problems and generates ideas we might not have thought of while being an essential component of any great product.
The most successful creative work is grounded in research. Good design doesn’t happen on a whim. It’s not just a gut call or a thought experiment – it’s an outcome of learning from and listening to real users.
User research helps designers understand their design and how to create the best possible solution. For in-depth knowledge of UX research, check out our beginner-friendly guide UX Research Basics.
The design proposal checklist
When creating your design proposal, always keep in mind both your interests and those of your client.
Here are some topics your design proposal should include:
Keep it basic, concise, and clear because the cover page of your design proposal serves as the audience’s first introduction to your concept. Your cover is the first thing anybody will see; this is why you need a compelling, impactful visual design that distinguishes you from other designers.
Add a project summary based on your conversations with the client. Make sure you use and understand the client’s terms to prevent misunderstandings. If their project description is unclear, you might want to ask for clarification before creating the proposal.
It should be quantifiable and clearly stated (e.g., create a design prototype of an app for therapists). Whatever the goal is, ensure that you and the client agree on what is most important if a project has multiple objectives.
Describe how your experience qualifies you as the ideal candidate for their design assignment. Make a good case to the customer for why they should hire you. It is most likely that they’ve previously seen your work.
So in your proposal, answer these questions: What motivates you to work on it? How do your qualifications and prior work experience make you the ideal candidate for their company? You should include testimonials and your past work as well.
Clearly state the details of what you will be able to design for the client within the limits of this project and budget. For example, you might be required to create a new brand identity for a small company, and therefore you must define the details of what you’ll be doing.
Setting the scope in the design proposal helps to create reasonable expectations.
Prices and Fee
For many freelancers and junior designers, this can be the most challenging aspect when creating a proposal. It can be extremely distressing to worry whether your potential client would be willing to pay the fees you propose or whether they’ll discourage them.
Regardless of these fears, you must set a realistic price and be firm. Adding this aspect to your proposal is essential and creates space for managing unforeseen expenses or delays.
Terms and Conditions
As apparent as it may seem, many designers forget to include this. Before you start working on this project, it will help to get all the details out there. Make sure that the legal details are spelled out clearly.
Of course, make sure that you include your number, email, or any other contact details so that they have a way to reach you if needed.
Design proposal template
There are several design proposal templates online that you can use to make the process easier. You can use them as inspirations or fully rely on them, it is up to you.
Impress your client even more
User research is crucial to the design process because, without it, it would be tough to create digital products that address the needs and problems of users. The success of your client ultimately rests on the success of their product’s users. Therefore, spending time on user research and early usability testing is crucial.
Gaining your client’s trust begins with a well-written proposal. The next step is to contact your client a few days after submitting your design proposal to see whether they have any questions regarding what you’ve offered.
You’ll most likely be presenting your proposal through email, so clarify all details. Call attention to any critical information and let your client know when you’ll be able to start working on the design project. Good luck!
Create a free account at UXtweak and make sure your design proposals never lack user research!