Should a Web Designer Ever Provide Discounts?


Among the first things you learn as a freelance web designer is that everybody wants a deal. Whether it’s a new client or an existing one, you’ll receive plenty of requests for discounted pricing. It’s almost as if they mistake a web design firm for a used car lot.

While haggling over price is as old as commerce itself, we still need to make a living. Thus, if we provided a discount every time one was requested, we’d probably starve (or at least be noticeably hungry).

That’s why full price should be the norm for most clients. Doing things this way has a number of benefits. For one, it keeps your bank account in better shape. Then, too it helps with predicting future revenue and also serves as a motivator. A case can also be made that it reduces one’s stress levels, as we’re not sweating in search of that next project.

Still, that doesn’t mean discounting your services is never a good move. There are some scenarios where it might make sense for your business. Here are a few times when a discount should be on the table.

Charity Website Projects

A variety of industries offer discounted services to non-profit organizations. For example, anyone from internet providers to banks provide some money-saving deals for these types of outfits. Some see it as a moral obligation, while others may look at it as a chance to grab some good publicity.

For web designers, especially solo entrepreneurs, it can be a little more complicated. We don’t have the financial resources of bigger companies – deep discounts really can disrupt our revenues.

Therefore, perhaps the larger price cuts should be reserved for organizations who are close to your heart. A local charity with a tight budget is a prime example. That might be, among other things, a food bank, a homeless shelter or an animal rescue.

In those cases, you might find building a website to be a true labor of love. With that, money shouldn’t be the main object.

It is important to stay judicious about who gets those price breaks, however. You don’t want to get into a situation where you’re pouring in hours of work without fair compensation.

A woman holding coins.

Loyal Clients Looking for a Website Redesign

The truly lucky among us will have clients that stick with us for years. Not only are they a pleasure to work with, they also pay on time and make referrals.

These folks are the ones who help to keep your business going. Because of that, they deserve a special place on your client list. They are the VIPs.

Providing a small discount on a website redesign is both good business and a way of saying “thank you”. If they’ve brought you a good bit of revenue over time, any amount you can knock off the price really is worth it.

This helps to continue building good will in your relationship. In turn, you’ll know that you can count on their continued patronage and willingness to spread the good word about your business.

Two people sitting in an office.

During Tough Times

Inevitably, one or more of your clients will go through a difficult time when revenues are down. It could be part of a widespread crisis such as a pandemic, or something much more localized like a fire or bankruptcy.

Whatever the case may be, this might be an appropriate time to provide a discount. Again, it’s about helping to strengthen your relationship and demonstrate that you have your client’s back.

Beyond that, there’s also some practicality involved. If you charge recurring fees for maintenance packages or web hosting, it may be extremely difficult for a client to pay in such dire circumstances. By providing a discount or even breaking things down into multiple invoices, this might make the ultimate difference in whether you get paid.

Of course, this does depend at least somewhat on your past experience with a particular client. If they’re generally on time with payment and great to work with, this makes the decision easier.

A sign that reads "Sorry We're Closed".

When NOT to Discount Your Web Design Services

The scenarios above are the exception. While the subject of discounted pricing will be broached by others, most often it’s better to say “no”.

When it comes to prospective clients, they may be shopping around for the best deal. That’s their prerogative, but web designers will not benefit from any sort of pricing war. Such a race to the bottom will make you regret ever taking on the project to begin with.

Then there are those who boldly proclaim that a discount now carries the promise of “more work” later on. This is truly one of the oldest tricks in the book – don’t give in. Unless some future revenue is guaranteed in writing, you’re unlikely to ever see those brighter days.

Existing clients are a bit more complex. As we mentioned earlier, it’s fine to provide discounts to your VIPs. They’ve more than made up for whatever break you offer.

But some people simply don’t want to pay for anything – and they expect others to bend to their demands. It can actually be the sign of a one-way relationship, where your experience and expertise aren’t being valued. It might be better to see them walk away in an angry heap than to feed their ego.

A woman riding in a car.

Remember: It’s Your Business, Your Decision

The lesson here is that just because someone asks for a discount, it shouldn’t make you more inclined to give one. You might even make the case that the opposite is true.

Those deserving a break include the non-profit organizations doing good or the loyal client who always pays you for your time. Their actions may move you to offer lower pricing without even being asked to do so.

Since it’s your web design business, you get to make those decisions. Choose wisely!