Should Website Budgets be Required Info
A while back I got asked for my thoughts on whether having a field for Budget on your websites contact form was a good idea or not. The indecision stemmed from the fear of scaring away potential clients versus the crap information clients might actually list in this form field. It is something I have been conscious of for a long time, I have a Budget field on my contact form and it is a required field. Do you?
Not that long ago my good friend Elliot decided to amend his contact page with the note that:
“In most circumstances, I’m unable to take on projects with a budget lower than £5000.”
This of course wasn’t the first time someone had listed a minimum figure but it continues to generate some interesting discussion on the topic. Very few freelancers, small businesses or big agencies list their prices and it’s probably the most secretive aspect of our otherwise very open industry. Some sites do list rough pricing guides, like Elliot does, some offer drop-down options with ranges of budgets to select from, and some don’t require this information up front at all which I find rather worrying.
I think the Budget field is the most clearly identifiable sign of whether a potential client has truly and completely thought through what they want done and the possibility of having you work on it with them.
The clients that fill in this field with an actual amount, or even a rough estimate of what they expect it will cost them are the best clients to have. They have clearly gone to the trouble to evaluate what they need done, who they want to do it and how much they have to spend on it. Of course, you need to make sure to discuss the scope of their project in detail with them, but actual numbers in this field make for happy days. These are the clients you want to be working with.
“Negotiable” or “You tell me!” means an extra round of discussion to coax their likely budget out of them and even then you will likely have a client that has little concept of the work they want done and what it will truly cost them. A simple solution is to respond with your rates and await the inevitable non-response.
At the end of the day I don’t think there is a right answer, should you display your rates, offer a multiple choice of possible budget ranges or simply leave it open to interpretation? I don’t know. But either way, you should definitely include a Budget field on your form as it’s a sure fire way to find out if the potential client has a $500 budget that you can’t work with, $15,000 budget that you can consider or whether you are going to have to dedicate your unpaid time in finding this information out.