Pricing for Client Comprehension

There are as many ways of billing for web consultancy as there are web consultants. But do our clients understand any of it?

Pricing is the freelance web generalist’s bugbear, especially for young people.

A typical kiddie-web-designer pricing strategy is ‘pay by page’, e.g. the wordart-encrusted, table-laid-out (we’ve all been there) prices page says “£50 for each page, £60 if you want to be able to edit it”.

Whilst this is hugely flawed from a technical perspective, it is arguably easier for clients to understand than “£500 an hour” — a page is a unit they are familiar with, but who knows what an hours worth of work look like?

I’ve always tended to quote a flat rate, purely because my clients tend to find it difficult to understand how long anything is going to take, and I have no concrete way of knowing. It’s so much simpler just to say “here’s a price”.

I am currently (September 2012) trialling a slightly modified version of the flat rate system, where I say:

“Each feature or body of work has a base price of £100 which gets multiplied by the ‘scale’ of the site. Yours is about a 2.3, so the price breakdown looks like this:”
Feature Price
IA and Content Strategy £100 × 2.3
Visual Design £100 × 2.3
Development £100 × 2.3
Shop £100 × 2.3
Total: £920

Hopefully this’ll make pricing easier for both myself and my clients. It could be argued that I’m replacing one arbitrary, confusing number with another (the scale) — whether or not this is an issue remains to be seen.

There are plenty of forum topics and so forth about what people charge for web consultancy, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about pricing for client comprehension. Have you done it, how do you do it, is it important?