Free Mockups in Your Pitch?

There’s always that push and pull between the client’s need to get the best value and hire the most effective designers for their budget weighed up against a design firm’s need to stay in business. From the designer’s perspective you want the job, and in lean times I mean you ‘really’ want the job, but can you afford to do free work that will probably not pay off? This discussion was put up over at sitepoint a few weeks ago where Andrew Neitlich remarked that designers should be willing to provide free mockups when going for a contract.

Andrew’s follow up article outlines the Conclusion to the saga of the freelancers who submitted the free mockups - in short he hired a friend instead who reviewed the mockups and submitted an improved version. I guess its neither right nor wrong in the real world of business but its probably not best practise.

Jeffrey Zeldman’s article Don’t Design on Spec actually sums up the ‘not on your life’ argument. Its bad practise, unsafe for both parties and you have to wonder how many free mockups you will be able to submit and not be hired for jobs before you go broke and have to put off employees or start stacking shelves in the supermarket.

The temptation will always be there if you’re desperate for work, especially as a freelancer, but isn’t it better to offer clients the best solution?

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