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How Do You Draft a Successful Design Proposal?

Design Proposal

If you want to succeed – and make tons of money – as a web or graphic designer or even a developer, it will significantly depend on your ability to draft design proposals. This is what seasoned creatives do from time to time, and they will be the first to tell you that a well-constructed design proposal can make you stand out from the crowd.

But before we go on, what exactly is a design proposal? Why is it so important to draft a design proposal?

What is a Design Proposal?

In simple language, a design proposal is a document that highlights what you intend to do for your client.  A design proposal is not a pitch, and this is why veteran creatives will tell you not to send one without conversing with your client first. This will help you to uncover the business objective of what the client wants you to do. And so, after having a good conversation with the client – either in person or over the phone – the document you send over is the design proposal. In most cases in the design universe, it is common for clients to reach out to several service providers in a bid to get an excellent fit for the project they have in mind. Design proposals are what these potential clients use to gauge or estimate whether or not they should go with a particular vendor.

The Importance of a Design Proposal

So, is that all? But a design portfolio should be able to take care of that, shouldn’t it?

A potential client should be able to gauge your capability to handle their project when they take a look at your design proposal, shouldn’t they? This is perhaps one of the first questions that may have popped into your mind. But the truth is that design proposals do much more than show your creative talents and skills to a potential client. The next time you draft a design proposal, you need to have it in the back of your mind that the document is helping to sell you as a developer or designer. A well-written design proposal gives a solid and clear presentation of the solutions you have in mind that will address whatever issues the client has in mind. The document also showcases the benefits your client stands to enjoy from every one of the proposed solutions you are bringing to the table.

Secondly, well-structured design proposals are crucial to the bidding process as it gives you the outstanding opportunity to convey to the client that you are the best fit for the design project by providing beautiful sample designs of both your proposed concepts or ideas as well as testimonials from previous satisfied clients.

Why will a Client Ask for a Design Proposal?

Well, it should be obvious by now; clients ask for design proposals because they have multiple options to choose from. Of course, you are not the only one who is capable of doing the job. And even if you have the most outstanding design samples or aesthetics, savvy clients will still want to compare your offer with others. It may really have nothing to do with the cost of carrying out the service as sometimes, the best fit does not necessarily mean it is the least expensive. However, the only way to beat your competition is to draft an incredibly outstanding design proposal. You need to, first of all, know that you can do the job exceptionally well, and then communicate that fact much better than others.

And make sure you appear as the least risky option as well; it doesn’t even matter if you are a bit more expensive; if you can do these, you have won the heart of your client!

How to Draft a Design Proposal

The first thing you need to do before putting pen to paper or clacking away at your computer keyboard is to carry out extensive research about your client’s company. This is highly crucial as not all your potential clients will readily supply the information you need to prepare a comprehensive design proposal. Next, you need to research the target market of your client. You may need to create the ideal customer avatar that your client is trying to reach. When you do this, you will be able to create an effective strategy that you will proffer in the design proposal. Drafting a design proposal can be done in two different ways: the first is to start everything from scratch. But this is usually time-consuming, especially if you are a newbie and just starting in the design industry.

The second way to go about creating a design proposal is by making use of a template. You can use a design proposal template as a guide as the best ones out there are created by seasoned professionals who have years of submitting proposals – and winning many bids – under their belt. You can download ready-made design templates online or use the following design proposal online tools or software to create yours:

  • PandaDoc
  • Proposify
  • Bidsketch
  • NiftyQuoter, etc.

Some come with limited free trials, while others are on monthly paid plans.

Elements of a Strong Design Proposal

The following are the elements that a design proposal should entail:

1. Problem Statement: This is where you let your potential clients know that you fully understand their problems or concerns.

2. The Solution: And this is where you let your clients know what you can bring to the table to alleviate those concerns within a short period.

3. Benefits: So, why should they hire your services? This is where you table the benefits they will enjoy when they invest in your services.

4. Cost: The first three steps, when executed correctly, will help you to justify the amount it will cost to provide your services to your prospective clients.

5. Call to Action: This is where you outline the steps that you want your potential clients to take after they have decided to work with you. This may involve:

  • Accepting your design proposal as discussed
  • Finalizing and signing the contract
  • Sending the agreed initial payment


Creative entrepreneurs get to do the work they love; however, to get work consistently, you need to master some aspects such as drafting successful design proposals.