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The business of web design

There is an interlocking relationship between the budget of a site and its scope and timeline.

A change in one element will affect at least one of the others.

If you are freelance web designer, you may be dealing with a client directly; if you are working

in an organization, the “client” might be a manager or a different division or department. In

both situations the rules are similar: if the budget, scope, or deadline shifts, it will affect at least

one of the other aspects of the project. After you complete the information architecture phase, it

is quite likely that the client will ask for new features. As the designer, you need to communicate

how this will affect either the budget or the timeline for delivery. In a similar way, if the timeline

for delivery changes and the site needs to be delivered sooner than anticipated, then you need to

either exclude features or change the budget to reflect this.

Ideally, the client will be able to tell you which of these factors is the most important. For

example, if there is a fixed budget for a site and there is absolutely no way the client can exceed

it, then you will have to ensure that features can be completed within the budget.


Issues such as managing projects, legal contracts, and other aspects of web design require

attention. Here are some resources to get you started:


AIGA is an association dedicated to supporting designers. Although it offers memberships, it also

provides non-members access to free resources such as tips on how to create contracts as well as

forms you can use.

Graphic Artists Guild

The Guild has local chapters in many cities. They publish the Graphic Artists Guild’s Handbook of

Pricing & Ethical Guidelines, which can help you determine the appropriate fees for your services and

also provides sample legal forms and tips on how to market yourself.

A List Apart

An invaluable online resource for all things related to web design, this site has articles about

business practices, client management, information architecture, and much more. Each year, the

site also conducts and releases a survey of web designers, which provides useful data about salary

ranges, job titles, and more. Type survey in the search field on their home page to find the most

recent one.

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