Back when I started my design career (i.e., actually getting paid for my work), I would almost always present a client with three design concepts – be it for the web or print. I honestly can’t remember where I learned that, but it was industry standard. Every designer I knew did that. I’m pretty sure many still do. But it’s not something my team and I do any longer. In fact I haven’t taken that approach in at least five years.
The idea of presenting more than one design concept to a client is great, in theory. It gives options – different well-thought-out solutions to the same problem(s). And despite the designer knowing in their gut which one is best, all three are presented anyway, only to have the client choose the weakest one (which is usually the one the designer put together at the last minute to meet the design presentation milestone). Or worse, the client picks one and asks the designer to combine elements from the other two into the one they picked, ignoring the fact that each one is a different solution (i.e., “frankensteining”).
It can get ugly pretty quickly. I mean, who ever said Frankenstein was attractive, except maybe his bride? Joking and aesthetics aside, presenting multiple concepts is a practice that has worked for many designers and agencies. That doesn’t make it the best process though, nor the most efficient time or money-wise.