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E-mail Templates
E-MAIL TEMPLATES FOR WEB DESIGNERS AND DEVELOPERS
(Navigate tough conversations, reclaim lost time, get back to work, and finally love your inbox again.)
Bea Kylene Jumarang
Prepared for Smashing Magazine
first, a dedication
I dedicate this guide to the larger Smashing Magazine community, as well as the dozens of designers who personally provided their input and help. Being a writer by profession, I never would have succeeded otherwise.
second, a clarification
These templates are for communicating with clients, superiors, teammates and the like. They aren’t the coded ones you folks are used to. Sorry, but I can’t code worth a damn. You can easily customize these e-mails, and they nicely balance firmness with tact, professionalism with friendliness.
third, some gratitude
As I mentioned, thanks to the designers who personally provided input and help. Also, a big load of gratitude to the editors of Smashing Magazine, for providing the platform so I could share this with the world.
and last, a quick note
You can go ahead and share this with anyone whom you think it’ll help. But please, don’t sell it or claim it as your own. This was hard work to put together, and I hope you appreciate and respect that effort.
1 - The dreaded price e-mail
First, try to defer talking about price if you don’t have the full details yet. I do this all the time with prospective writing clients of mine. Say you’ll send them an accurate response if they share some thoughts on what they’re looking for. But if they budge, go ahead and send this. Be done with it.
Subject Line
- Answer to your question on my rates
[Insert client name here.]
My rate varies, depending on the project and its scope. Generally though, my rate is X amount for Y work, just so you have a ballpark idea.
If you’ll send me more details about the kind of work you have in mind, I can send you a more accurate quote. For now though, let’s get back to where we were, regarding Z matter, and we can discuss price when more info is present.
Regards,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
2 - You have questions on the design brief
Trust me, it’s best to get questions ironed out before the project starts. Your client will appreciate your initiative, and your willingness to approach them when help’s really needed. It’s always better to swallow a bit of pride and ask, than to wallow in confusion and cause problems down the road.
Subject Line
- Some questions on the design brief
[Insert client name here.]
I appreciate your quick provision of the design brief. It’s really allowed me to get a good idea of where you want this project to go. I’m excited to start work!
I just have a few questions to clear up before we go full steam ahead.
X question
Y question
Z question
If you could get back to me with your input by [time/date], that’d be great. If you also have things you’d like to discuss, please reach out.
It’s always best if we’re on the same page.
Thanks,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
3 - You are sending the official plan to a new client
To make sure your new client has a good image of you from the outset, show them how professional you are, right from the start. Send them this e-
mail along with the project plan, and they’re sure to love your work ethics.
Subject Line
- Would love your input, project plan attached
[Insert client name here.]
To start, thanks for your vote of trust. I’ll be working hard to make sure you love your decision to work with me - that’s a promise.
Anyhow, I’ve attached the official project plan here, for your input. Below are the main points, in case you don’t have time to read the full plan yet.
Total estimated cost is X dollars
Estimated time is Y amount
Other important point
Other important point
If you could send me your comments by [time/date], I’d appreciate it.
Should you have things you want to discuss, please feel free to reach out. If a meeting’s needed, I’m okay with that as well.
Thanks again for your business, and I look forward to starting work!
Regards,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
4 - The official plan is damn far from your early estimate
There are times when you make an estimate and then send it through e-
mail. If all goes well, this estimate is reflected in the official plan, without very many changes. But for those times when big departures have to be made, take heart. Subject Line - Official project plan - based on recent info
[Insert client name here.]
Two things here.
First, thanks for providing full details regarding the project you want us to work on together. I’ve prepped the project plan based on the info you gave.
The plan’s attached here, for your evaluation.
Second, I’d like to inform you of the revised estimate reflected in the plan. Very briefly - the project will now take X time, for Y cost.
I’m aware this is far from the earlier estimates I talked about with you. I’ve given the official figures a lot of thought, and I believe they’re fair, considering the work to be done on both of our ends.
To close, please send me your feedback on the plan by [time/date].
Then, we can work out an arrangement that’s a win for both of us.
Regards,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
5 - Scope creep is happening but can be accommodated
I’ve yet to see large projects that don’t have scope creep, one way or another. Still, it’s important to manage the creep, quickly and proactively. Otherwise, the project will bloat, and that brings a completely new set of problems.
Subject Line
- A quick note on your new requirements
[Insert client name here.]
Thanks for providing input for the project - I appreciate your direction!
Regarding the changes we talked about, I’m happy to tell you that they can be accommodated. But since they weren’t part of our initial agreement, they’ve caused shifts in the plan for this project.
That revised plan is attached, showing the new timelines and costs associated.
I’d appreciate feedback regarding the attachment by [time/date], so the design work can get back to its usual speed.
Thanks,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
6 - You won’t be able to deliver the design on time
First things first. Problems like this happen, at one point or another. What’s important is that you apologize, don’t try to shirk responsibility, and fix the situation fast. If you do that trio of actions, you’ll be fine most of the time.
Subject Line - Important notice, and an apology
[Insert client name here.]
I’m sure this isn’t the type of e-mail you expected to get from me. Still, I’d like to deal with the facts as they are, and get a solution in place, ASAP.
So here goes - I’m sorry, but the design won’t be delivered on time. There are a couple reasons for this, but rest assured, I take full responsibility.
X reason
Y reason
Z reason
To get the project back on track, I’ve done X action, Y action, and Z action.
I’m also taking steps to ensure that we don’t go through this headache again.
Anyway, if you’d like to discuss the effects of this issue, feel free to reach out.
Regards,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
7 - Dealing with late payments
Thankfully, I’ve not had to send these e-mails often, and usually, my clients really just forgot to deal with my invoice out of busyness. But, if you’re in the unfortunate position of having to collect a really late payment, read on!
Subject Line
- Your payment for X work
[Insert client name here.]
I recently sent you an invoice dated [insert date], for [services you rendered]. The total reflected in the invoice is X amount.
While I’ve worked to standards and delivered on time, the equivalent payment still hasn’t arrived. As per our agreement, the payment terms are below.
[Insert relevant details here, preferably in italics for emphasis.]
Per those terms, the payment ball is clearly in your court. If you’re going through difficulties, let me know, and we’ll work to reach a solution together.
Otherwise, I’ll be expecting your payment by [date], and will be contacting you on [another date] if any issues still come up.
Thanks,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
8 - Discussing other aspects of the site
Design is rarely the only thing site owners have to consider. As the one with the knowledge, it’s best if you can bring related aspects of site performance and usability to the client’s attention. If you do this, you may get not only their respect, but maybe even more dollars out of their wallet.
Subject Line
- Wanted to bring these to your attention
[Insert client name here.]
As you may know, design isn’t the only thing that matters on your website. So, I feel it’s my responsibility to make you aware of other related considerations you may need to think about. They’re listed.
First consideration, e.g. site performance
Second consideration, e.g. usability/functions
Yet another consideration you thought of
The things above all have an impact on your site and the eventual users. They’re important because of X reason, Y reason and Z reason.
Now, I’m bringing these things to your attention so we can act on them promptly. If you’d like to talk about what I’ve shared here, let me know!
Regards,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
9 - Justifying your need for extra hours
As I’ve said before, problems and changes always come up, no matter what project you’re working on. This is yet another template for such instances. This time it’s an e-mail to soften your client’s heart towards extra hours.
Subject Line
- Important project update
[Insert client name here.]
I just wanted to tell you about some important project changes.
Per my most recent check of what still needs to get done, I’ve come to the realization that extra hours are needed, for the reasons below.
First reason, and why the reason matters
Second reason, and why the reason matters
Third reason and so on…
I know this is a surprise, and I would have liked to avoid this. But it’s still my responsibility to keep you in the loop, especially about changes like these.
If you’d like to discuss the new hours, please do reach out. Or, we can meet at [your suggested date/time]. If that slot doesn’t work, let me know what’s most convenient for you.
Thanks,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
10 - No need for extra hours
There are rare occasions when you tell the client you need extra hours, but then suddenly, that isn’t the case anymore. It’s important to be honest on such occasions, and promptly inform the client of the good news.
Subject Line
- Some good news for you
[Insert client name here.]
I recently sent you a [revised plan, e-mail, whatever], indicating the need for X number of extra hours. The reasons for those hours are X, Y and Z.
On a happier note though, I’d like to tell you that those hours are no longer needed. They’ll no longer be billed, and the invoice will reflect that.
For clarity, the total project cost is now X amount.
Everything else remains as is. If you’d like formal documentation to support this change, please let me know and I’ll prepare it.
Thank you,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
11 - You’re declining a project
Oh, it’s a happy day when you have too many projects to accept a new one. In any case, even a declining e-mail can stand as proof of your professionalism, and leave a good impression on someone who may need you in the future.
Subject Line
- Sorry, can’t take your project on
[Insert client name here.]
Thanks for your [inquiry/offer to hire me]. Unfortunately, I have lots on my plate right now. I won’t be able to take you up on your offer. I don’t want to accept and yet commit at less than 100 percent.
For now, I’d like to focus on current projects, but I expect to have a free slot open by X date. Would this work for you?
Regards,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
12 - Stopping work because of delinquent payment
All projects have payment risks built into them. You can ask for deposits upfront to mitigate the risk, but sometimes, you’ll have to stop work and accept the situation. Still, you should tell your client, so it’s clear that you didn’t shirk your responsibilities.
Subject Line
- Will have to stop work until dues are paid
[Insert client name here.]
This is a situation I’d have preferred to avoid, but we both have to deal with the facts as they are. Due to delinquent payment, work on the project will have to stop. This is per the terms of our agreement.
For our relationship’s sake, I’ll just assume the invoice fell through the cracks. I’m sending one later today, and hope for your prompt payment by [date].
I’ll also send a reminder by [another date] if there’s still a problem.
Thanks,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
13 - The client refuses to sign a contract
Contracts, whether they’re in legalese or in plain language, exist to protect you. For that reason, a client’s refusal to sign should throw up a red flag, and you should make it clear you won’t work without the right measures in place.
Subject Line
- I’d like to clarify something
[Insert client name here.]
This is just a quick e-mail about the contract I presented to you. You’ve stated that it’s unnecessary, but I really can’t share that belief with you.
A contract clarifies our shared responsibilities, and is an important safeguard for both of us. It’s an assurance that we’ll both comply with what’s expected of us, within the bounds of our professional relationship.
For that reason, I really won’t work without one. Not only is a contract part of accepted practice, it’s also in line with business sensibilities.
I hope you’ll understand. Should you wish to discontinue because of the contract requirement, please inform me.
Regards,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
14 - You’ll need funds for materials
Some designs require outside material, like stock photography or original artwork. Most contracts have a built-in clause that the client pays for these materials, but it’s always prudent to remind the client of that via e-mail.
Subject Line
- Materials needed for the design
[Insert client name here.]
I’m sending you this to document my request for materials. Specifically, the design requires the following items.
First material, e.g. a stock photograph at X link
Second material, e.g. artwork at Y link
Those listed will be used for [state uses]. The total price for such materials is X amount, broken down as [amount] for the first item, and [amount] for the next item. Per our agreement, the funds for such materials will come from you.
Please reply with your approval, and send the payment over by [date.]
Thanks,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
15 - Your rates are going up
Regularly raising your rates is a normal part of business. This helps protect your margins, and account for things like inflation or higher taxes. Still, higher rates mean disgruntled clients, so it’s best to soften them early to the idea.
Subject Line
- I’ll be raising my rates
[Insert client name here.]
Since your business is extremely important to me, I’d like to personally explain the reasons for my raised rates.
X reason
Y reason
Z reason
As you’re aware, raises like these are an unavoidable part of business. That said, I believe the new rate accurately reflects the equivalent increase in my skills. For example, I’ve recently [write big new achievements].
Anyway, if you have questions or clarifications, let me know. I’ll be happy to talk through any concerns you may have.
Thanks for your time,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
16 - Request for a testimonial
Testimonials are some of the most powerful marketing materials out there. The best can diffuse objections, increase your credibility, and solidify your reputation. So, it’s important to actively gather them when the opportunities present themselves. Don’t let your good work go unnoticed!
Subject Line
- Can I get your approval for this quote?
[Insert client name here.]
Hope I haven’t caught you at a bad time.
Anyway, I’m sure you know how important testimonials are for securing new clients. And since I want to make things super-easy for you, I’ve pre-written one. You’re free to edit it as you like, of course.
[Insert the testimonial you wrote here.]
If the testimonial’s okay, can I get your approval to feature it on my site? Also, if you could send a photo by [time/date], I’d really appreciate it.
Regards,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
17 - Request for a case study
Apart from testimonials or social follower numbers, case studies are another form of marketing. If you put effort into making great case studies, you’ll greatly reduce prospect objections and fears about what you’re offering.
Subject Line
- Can I feature you as a case study on my site?
[Insert client name here.]
The subject line pretty much says everything, but I’d like to ask again. Can I feature you as a case study? I think our project had a lot of highlights, and I’m eager to get the word out about our work together.
Specifically, I plan to dig into these main aspects.
First main aspect you plan to highlight in case study
Second main aspect to highlight
Third aspect and so on…
If being featured is okay with you, can we chat over coffee at [date/time]? Or if that doesn’t work, I’m free on [when you’re free].
Please feel free to suggest a time and day, too.
I look forward to meeting you!
Thanks,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
18 - Referral inquiry
If you do good work, referrals will come of their own accord. But it never hurts to be proactive, so ask your clients if they know people you can help. You get the benefit of their intro, which diffuses some fear on the part of the person you’re contacting.
Subject Line
- Know any people I can help?
[Insert client name here.]
As you probably know, referrals are an important source of customers. So I’d like to check in and ask - do you know people I can help with my skills? If you do, I’ve written an intro e-mail you can send them.
INTRO E-MAIL
Hi [friend’s name]. I’m introducing you to [your name]. [He/she] is the web designer who did my site, and [he/she’s] great. Solid design skills, good work ethics, and very responsive. I think you’d get some benefit from getting in touch with [him/her]. Contact details - [your e-mail, phone, website].
Thanks for your help with this, [client name].
Regards,
[Your name here.]
[Contact details, website.]
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