I'm a freelance user experience (UX) designer, and I'm about to productize one of my service offerings. The service is a usability evaluation of clients' websites. It is designed with two kinds of clients in mind: those who want to redesign their website now (as a preliminary step) and those who want to just see how well their website is doing.
I'm not yet sure how many usability evaluations I could accommodate per year or what the demand is. For this discussion, let's suppose I'll do one per month, alongside my design services.
Since my prospects vary greatly in size and budget, I want to offer this service in different tiers. On the higher tiers, I want to use third-party tools to give clients a deeper evaluation of their website. The highest tier, or an alternative service (I haven't decided yet) would also involve my checking a client's website, as well as the website of one of their competitors. (Here is another vendor which does competitive evaluations on a much larger and deeper scale.)
One of the third-party software products I would be using has a freemium model. The lower-end usability evaluations would employ its free version. The higher-end usability evaluations (which would cost around $3500-4000 at present) would be using the paid version of the tool, which provides more features and analyzes sites more deeply. I have not bought this tool yet because no clients have asked me to use it yet.
The paid version of the tool costs about $500. Based on where my business is right now (recovering from having done a substantial amount of work for free), this isn't a trivial cost. But using this tool in my more in-depth evaluations would give me a nice advantage over my competitors, for clients willing to pay for more labor from me. (My competitors work in a related industry but a different field. There is some overlap between their fields and mine.)
How would you handle the cost of this tool?
- Charge $500 to every client who wants me to use it, since no clients have asked for it yet?
- Charge $500 to only the first client who wants me to use it, and then other clients who want it later don't have to pay for this?
- Charge a percentage of $500 to all clients who want me to use it, to amortize its cost? (If so, what's a good amount to charge?)
- Raise my hourly rate for all services? (This may be hard. Clients in my industry may resist paying the higher rates of UX designers already. They are used to web designers, who are on average less expensive.)
- Another approach?