Should You Include Solutions or Mockups in Your Proposal?

Published September 30, 2016 by Jane Portman

How do you win the heart of a new client? Should you do free work to quickly illustrate your skills? Here’s a question from Tiffany Teng, a UI/UX designer based in Malaysia and Singapore:

“In order to win a client project, would you recommend us to include mockups (proposed solutions) in the proposal? And why?”

Dear Tiffany, thanks for raising this important problem! Answering your question in a single line: definitely not. And here’s why.

First, you undermine the value of your work by including a large chunk of it for free.

Second, you’re running ahead of the bus with the proposed solutions. This is even more important, especially if you try to use “eye candy” (high-fidelity mockups) to win the heart of your client.

Your suggested mockups will be pretty. And you do have solutions lined up in your imagination as soon as you look at the task. (I know, we’re all like that!) But there’s no way you can propose the best solution without research and time investment! UI/UX design is a slow process when the following things happen in rounds:

I totally understand the desire to show your skill right away, but please restrain yourself and reserve the solution (and the eye candy) for the next steps. Then you can use pretty visual presentation to “sell” the legit paid work.

It took me years to understand the benefits of this slow, trust-building process with research and wireframes. If you listen to this podcast episode with Liam Sarsfield, you’ll see that he’s even more ahead in this game.

What can you do instead to show off your skills?

All these assets are evergreen and will help you attract multiple new projects, instead of doing free work for each client. Inbound leads are much “warmer” and don’t need any “conquering” at all.

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