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.
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 with the perfect solution. After getting the client’s attention, you can present the design proposal and walk them through your thought processes. It gives them a clear idea of what you want to build from the beginning.
Design proposals aren’t just for clients. They are helpful when you also need to convince other designers, engineers, and clients that your solution is the right one.
Framing your 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, 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.
When you start a new project, the client or company usually knows what they want to create. The project can be motivated by a successful competitor or it could be a completely new idea they would like to bring to life.
Having complete background information on the target users, business, and resources is a significant boost. This information should be compiled into one copy and presented concisely with all the most relevant information so that your client can easily digest your findings.
Here’s why you need a captivating design proposal
A good proposal is as much about design as it is about research. It helps show your confidence to your clients and creates a sense of importance for the brand and your business. So, in order to make a strong impression, include user research in your proposal. This is an essential step in creating a product people will love to use.
Some clients may think of it as something expensive and unnecessary, but a good designer knows that thorough research can be conducted on a budget, especially with the help of research tools like UXtweak.
As a designer, set yourself apart by demonstrating that you’re user-focused and customer-centric. This will allow you to verify your knowledge, expertise, and capability in solving business problems. It also gives you leverage above your competitors and shows that you are ready to give your best to the project.
Why you should include user research in your design proposal
“To be a great designer, you need to look a little deeper into how people think and act.” – Paul Boag.
Research is the backbone of captivating design proposals. In order to stand out as a designer, produce a research proposal that is thought through and caters to user needs.
User research helps you justify design decisions, accelerate validation, including 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 and from listening to real users.
A good 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 designers understand their design and how to create the best possible solution. For in-depth knowledge on 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, impacting 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 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 those costs or whether they’ll discourage them.
Regardless of these fears, you must set a realistic price and be firm. Adding this aspect to your pricing is essential and creates space for 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.
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!
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