If you’re a designer that does client work for businesses—especially if you do branding—you probably offer web design as a part of your suite of services (and if you don’t, you know you should).
However, you don’t enjoy the actual website building process…especially when your platform of choice can’t easily replicate your mockups or doesn’t include some fancy behavior your client has to have. Since the thought of spending hours in code makes your skin crawl, a web developer is an essential part of your website-building equation.
Still, as much as you love your developer and can’t bear the thought of doing business without her…the standard way web development projects are handled can really be a thorn in your side.
Hourly pricing can make creating an estimate for your client nearly impossible and can quickly blow a project’s budget. Fixed pricing isn’t perfect, either: those projects are notoriously inflexible and you constantly wonder if things are or aren’t included in the project’s scope.
But, what if I told you there was a better way?
What if you could work with your developer without the extra overhead and headaches that normally tag along?
I’m not just yanking your chain. There really is a better way to work with your developer than per-project or on hourly pricing.
So, what’s the secret? Development on retainer.
What the heck is development on retainer?
Development on retainer is pretty much what it sounds like: recurring access to your developer’s services for a set price. It’s similar to monthly “box” subscriptions like Birchbox and Dollar Shave Club (shoutout fellow DSC members!), or software-as-a-service offerings like Adobe Creative Cloud and Freshbooks.
The subscription model has exploded in the consumer and technology arenas, but has been slower to catch on for service-based businesses. Soon, though, you’ll be seeing more and more service providers embrace the subscription model…and they should! There are numerous benefits for both the client and the service provider.
4 ways development on retainer can make your life as a designer easier
#1: It saves you time.
Imagine being able to get all the time you spend negotiating and arranging development projects back. No more constant negotiations, back and forth emails, signing fifty different contracts or invoices filling your inbox.
What kind of impact could that have on your business?
With development on retainer, you can get that time back. After the initial conversation with your developer about your needs and the setup of your retainer agreement, you’re pretty much done.
#2: It gives you peace of mind and stability.
Do you ever find yourself bouncing from one developer to the next over and over because your favorite can’t fit you into her schedule? Do you feel like you never get up to speed with one developer before you have to move onto the next because of hit-or-miss availability?
Spotty schedules are a non-issue with development on retainer. You always know you’ll have the same time available with your developer every month, so you can breathe a little easier when the next website project comes along.
#3: It’s more flexible.
When you need to make changes to a client site, do you secretly dread it because it costs you more than you originally planned?
If changes are out of scope or if your project is hourly, you can bet on your costs increasing.
With development on retainer, you can choose what your developer works on without worrying about being penalized with higher rates. If you need more or less work done in any certain month, you may be free to adjust your retainer agreement as well, or some of your unused time may be able to “roll over.”
#4: It saves you money.
You’ll automatically be saving money when you’re able to reduce your overhead by cutting out the constant back-and-forth of contracts and invoices. On top of that, some developers will offer you a better rate than usual since they’ll have a recurring source of revenue from you.
Less hassle + more savings = win!
With those big benefits, you can guarantee that more designers will be asking their developers to consider retainer work if they don’t offer it already.
If your favorite web dev hasn’t mentioned retainer work as a possibility, ask her and see what she thinks! There’s no harm in broaching the subject, and it just might be the key to a smoother website creation process for your business.
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