Good questions to ask when approached for a freelance web-development gig?


If someone approaches you expressing interest in having you perform web-development work, what questions should be asked?

Assume you know only the bare-minimum : he/she wants you to develop a website.

What should your first questions be? Should questions about pricing be asked after other details are sorted out, or should pricing be brought up immediately?

Pricing Web Dev Communication

asked Jan 7 '11 at 14:16
Closure Cowboy
128 points

6 Answers


Earlz gives some nice pointers. I would also add a few question on time constraints:

  • does the project need to be live at a specific date? It could be a conference and you'd have to factor in time for Call for Papers and attendees registration
  • how much testing does the client want/can spare? I mean, would you have him/her testing after each iteration of the project or just a final seek-and-fix bug testing on delivery?

This issues will let you provide a better quote since you can better estimate how much time you'll spend on this.

answered Jan 7 '11 at 21:23
704 points
  • Very good points. – Earlz 13 years ago


This almost belongs on Stack Overflow. But I would ask for more details on what they want the website to do, static or dynamic, and if they have any constraints on platform/technologies (for instance, must run on Windows Server 2008 and use SQL Server). If they are not sure on the platforms or technologies make sure to tell them that they will need to pay for hosting.


  1. What does this website need to do?
  2. What is the minimum browser support you need (for instance, if they don't care about IE6, then you can save a lot of time)
  3. What constraints do they have on the platforms/technologies.
  4. Do they have any napkin-and-pencil type sketches of how they think the site should look. (most of the time this is no)
  5. and most importantly, do they have a formal or semi-formal specification of what the website should do. This is important because if they do then this means they probably won't change their mind about things, which means you won't need to recode anything(usually) when you show them your progress.
answered Jan 7 '11 at 14:29
156 points
  • +1 Because this question wasn't relating to code, I figured that it wouldn't quite fit on Stack Overflow . – Closure Cowboy 13 years ago
  • @Closure maybe this could've been on programmers.stackexchange then. I think it fits well here though, it's just that the question is more technical than business like. – Earlz 13 years ago
  • I don't think programmers or stackoverflow fit this question at all. Getting started as a freelance web developer (a one-person startup) is difficult, and this question is one of the first things to master: communication before work begins. +1 for browser support - not all browsers are made equal! :) – Luke Capizano 13 years ago
  • I think this belongs on programmers as well as this site. If they are successful consultants (a one person startup who develops websites for others) they have first-hand experience. If you wanted to start your own online company, programmers would not be as much of a resource. – Jeff O 13 years ago


Regardless of how long the commitment may be, try to define specific tasks and set the expectations straight. Do not get involved in open-ended commitments, unless they pay per hour, which is quite unlikely, to be honest.

answered Jan 8 '11 at 00:32
1,698 points


Find out what their budget is. No point in spending time with them if their budget is 200.00
Note: This is the first area a seasoned professional will cover. Attorney, Accountant, Doctor or any other professional.

Do they have a plan. If the answer is no, unless your in the plan business don't work for them.

The first secret is to know what business to turn away.

answered Jan 9 '11 at 23:51
Rp Joe
149 points


Find out what type of site they want:

  • typical company site
  • high transaction or data entry & retrieval (We want to build a Facebook site for...)
  • commerce site needing multi-payment capabilities
  • Interacts with other sites (scraping, API usage, linking, etc) and will be aggregating large amounts of data

Similar to what NetTecture recommended for platforms, you have to determine if you have enough experience with the type of site they want because you'll have to factor your learning-curve into the billing.

answered Jan 10 '11 at 03:26
Jeff O
6,169 points


  • Nail the platform. If you dont do PHP, and it has to be done in PHP - game over. Unspecified is valid here - means you bring your own proposal.
  • Nail the budget. This is not so much as "negoatiation" but as reality check. If they want a top notch online shop, and you get back "well, around 10.000 USD for everything", you know to just walk away because it is not even realistic enough to negotiate.
  • Nail the scope. A website can be many things.
answered Jan 7 '11 at 21:34
Net Tecture
11 points

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Pricing Web Dev Communication