How should I price my website design?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by rydin4lifebass, Dec 4, 2014.

  1. Hi guys...I need a little guidance here. I've been doing some computer repair for friends and family for a few years and started with web design a few months ago as a hobby. Just recently, I was approached by a local business for my first "real" job. Since I've mainly done projects for myself and one for my sister's business, I'm not sure how to price things out. For future updates and maintenance, I'm going to charge an hourly rate and for the domain registration and hosting, I'm going to charge my cost. What I'm not sure about is how to charge for the initial site creation. I'll be using a pre-designed theme but changing a lot of the code and customizing to the business, just using a theme instead of starting 100% from scratch. Do you guys think it would be best to charge a set amount for the home page/creation and then a set dollar amount for each additional page? Is it best to come up with a price I think the site it worth or what I would want to make my time worthwhile? Any suggestions would be appreciated!
  2. 48thStreetCustom


    Nov 30, 2005
    Estimated hrs X hourly rate and then 10-20% to that as unforeseen wiggle room. But don't let them know exactly how you arrived at your price. It's better not to let them know what's in the sausage.

    Specify the amount of revisions they get for that price. Something like "Phase One: Site planning. Phase Two: Initial design. Phase Three: Two rounds of revisions not to exceed 4 hours. Any additional time to be billed at $XX per hour in fifteen minute increments." It will make your client gather their feedback and present it to you all together. Otherwise they will send you a million emails with tinny little changes and eat up all your time. It's easier and quicker to make 10 revisions at once than at 10 different times during the day. You can be flexible and let some things slide if you chose so afterwords, but it's good to have the estimate to go back to if they start sucking your time or you get spec creep. Spec creep is when a job gradually grows from what you originally estimated and you have to stick to your price. One logo design turns into three logos or a 10 page site turns into 20 with dynamic HTML.

    Also list out a schedule. This not only holds you against a deadline, but it also holds them responsible to deliver materials like logos, photos and text at certain dates. If they don't get it to you on time than it will effect your deadline.

    Estimate the job on the high side and if they push back, reduce your deliverables. Say something like "Okay, I can drop the price $XXX by reducing it from three rounds of revisions to two" or "Okay, I can get down to that price by going from 10 pages to 8 pages." It'll make them feel like they haggled you down.

    Don't do any work without a signed contract (which includes your estimated price, list of deliverables and schedule) and a 1/3 or 1/2 deposit. This book has a bunch of estimates and contracts you can use for yourself.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2014
    T2k5 likes this.
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Are you any good? ;)
  4. neckdive


    Oct 11, 2013
    The business advice given above is good but remember you are still learning this and should price according to that. You need the job to increase your pro experience and have the site in your portfolio to help with other jobs. That makes it an investment in building your business.

    Also, those sites you listed are not responsive or have mobile versions specific to certain devices (dictated by user-agent in the code). Professional developers these days are expected to deliver content appropriate to all devices not just desktop. You can charge more but it's an easier sell since people are using mobile as their primary avenue to the web.

    Start coding in php instead of html if you haven't already. It's relatively easy to learn, more dynamic, and can save you a lot of time in the future with updates.
    T2k5 and 48thStreetCustom like this.
  5. Ironbar

    Ironbar Inactive

    Aug 24, 2013
    Tigard, Oregon
    I'm curious to know if you have permission to be using the Minnesota Vikings logos!
  6. tastybasslines

    tastybasslines Inactive

    May 9, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    If you get clients, you should charge a monthly retainer for maintenance. I would not charge hourly. This way you can build a residual base to increase your income.
    48thStreetCustom likes this.
  7. The company I work for is now having their website reconstructed by a large established web design firm. I dropped my jaw when I learned that they are being charged $200 an hour by the web design company. Just sayin.
  8. tastybasslines

    tastybasslines Inactive

    May 9, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    If they can afford that, you probably work for a very large company who doesn't want to trust their work to a little guy. Additionally, they probably need very high end custom work done, perhaps something like a company employee login or portal or some other website infrastructure for purposes other than advertising your company and having a face on the web.
  9. 48thStreetCustom


    Nov 30, 2005
    If that company brought in an outside designer or coder as a consultant to actually do the work (and chances are that they are bringing in someone) firm pays them around $50-$100 per hour. The extra money goes to pay the accounts people who don't actually do the work. All the Roger Sterlings and Don Drappers who's job is getting work for the company.
    Stewie26 likes this.
  10. You are correct. The site requires multiple portals for dealer log in and custom product configurators. With that said, I was still surprised that the billing rate is $200 an hour. They are also using a different code than the old website. If I recall correct, they called it CSS which does not mean anything to me.
  11. My company just had a firm in Pakistan create an eCommerce site. It's basically a large shopping cart with a database that sits behind the scenes with 8 pricing categories across 200+ subscription and single issue offerings. I think the company paid upwards of $30,000 for it in total....BLOWS MY MIND!

    Thanks for the input guys...much appreciated.
  12. Anyway, to answer your question. Since you are just starting out it seems like you should be billing somewhere between $45 to $60 an hour, depending upon local market forces and the sophistication of services provided.
  13. T2k5


    Feb 16, 2011
    Kerava, Finland
    Looking at the sites from a software engineer's point of view, it is immediately evident that you're still learning the basics, so if the people you're working for have any prior experience of hiring web-designers, or have some technical knowledge, I wouldn't expect a deal of the century. I don't mean to discourage you from getting the experience to eventually become a professional, but doing commercial work when you might spend a couple of days figuring out a simple CSS problem, especially when you're doing it as a private contractor, may cause much more significant lost sales in the future. Small businesses are generally much more flexible and understanding, but I would definitely price the initial creation quite low with a fixed price and flexible deadlines, so the customer won't end up pissed off due to an unforeseen complication. I would also definitely build it on a CMS, so making new pages or updating old ones isn't useless manual labor. When your name is on the line, play it safe!

    I would recommend starting with a rough estimate on how long you think it would take you to do the project, then add 50% to that (client-caused overheads + unexpected stuff), and compare it to how quickly an experienced web-designer would do it. I hope you've tracked the time you've spent on your reference projects, since reflecting on what you've previously done is a great tool. If you haven't tracked them, start that habit now, even when you're just doing non-paying stuff. I recommend Toggl (, since it's free and simple.

    As an example, I'll look at the Black Squirrel site. Making something similar, if a bit more sophisticated, as a commissioned project without any CMS (so pure static front-end), with everything made from scratch, the workflow would be something like this:

    1) Get some basic idea of what the client is after (1-2 hours, might not be billable)
    2) Annoying paper-pushing, hopefully ending up in a contract (2-4 hours, might not be billable)
    3) Quick wireframe concept layout in Photoshop/Illustrator/Inkscape/Gimp (30mins - 2 hours if you take customer feedback already)
    4) A more detailed layout concept for customer feedback (1-3 hours, then wait 1-50 days for the customer to give feedback, cycle a couple more layouts and mostly uninformative emails to add 1-6 hours of work depending on the customer; and no, I'm not joking about the 50 days thing)
    5) Create a HTML5-layout from the concept filled with placeholder data, probably using Bootstrap, jQuery, and a gallery plugin (2-5 hours)
    6) Show the site to customer, wait for feedback and actual content (15mins - 2 hours of work / meetings, with 1-50 days of waiting for the content)
    7) Make final adjustments with content provided by customer, onwards to the next project! (30 mins - 2 hours)

    So in total, rounded up and with some added overheads, the project could take anything from 10 to 40 man-hours. A big company would most likely ignore the deal, since tiny projects are a great way to waste money, but a freelancer solo or duo (graphic designer + web developer) would probably charge around $1200 - $3000. Building everything on a CMS with a mostly fitting pre-made template would lower the man-hours considerably, but wouldn't affect the price negatively. If 10 hours under optimal conditions (no hassles from the customer and the original specs are clear) sounds way too quick for you, I would lower the price from that rough estimate quite a bit.

    I recommend messing with the classic LAMP stack (Linux+Apache+MySQL+PHP) and a few different CMS frameworks to build your experience (WordPress and Drupal are easy to learn and decently documented, with loads of plugins). Using Bootstrap with Less will also speed things up considerably; learning ways to save time is essential. There's a ton of stuff you need to be fluent with to work with the efficiency your clients are expecting, so it might also be helpful to specialize purely in the software side, and leave graphics design to a partner.

    Anyway, I hope this wasn't too much of a TL;DR, and wish you luck on your first project! (Always remember the Jumping Frog Fee:
    48thStreetCustom likes this.
  14. viribus

    viribus Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Pacific Northwest
    I never actually learned to play very well
    The state of Oregon could have used your advice when they contracted with Oracle for the failed Cover Oregon AHCA website!
  15. neckdive


    Oct 11, 2013
    That link was genius! I love how he kept calling him the wrong name. Absolutely hysterical.
  16. T2k5 ...I am definitely a beginner here but what about the sites I listed make you say that? Are you looking at just the site or the code behind it? Thanks for your I put, and thanks to everyone
    .much appreciated!
  17. T2k5


    Feb 16, 2011
    Kerava, Finland
    I gave a quick overview of the Vikings site on your other thread, and the issues you have over there are easy to spot on code-level. For instance, invalid element order which is part of the problem you have with the top nav margins, duplicate IDs, using px for everything and generally non-responsive design. Other than that, there are graphical/usability issues like the hover-triggered menus that hide content if you stop mouseovering the container, missing/varying margins, awkwardly stopping background image when viewed on higher resolutions (2560x1440 here), and the fact that the footer floats around when you scroll down the sponsors page. As I recommended on the previous thread, you should definitely start by running all your sites through the W3C validator ( and fixing those errors. I glanced over the contact form and there seems to be no error handling on it, at least as far as the user is concerned.

    There are similar issues on the other sites, but there's no reason to go through them in detail. The wholesale login on the Black Squirrel site is weird though; why require a fake login when it's all done in JS with the username and password showing, and only hides the wholesalecat.pdf?
  18. Thanks for the reply. It's funny that you mentioned the stuff you did because the sites I have up and running were themes / templates that I gathered from the web and nothing that I created from the ground up. I'm really not that creative minded so starting from scratch might not be my cup of tea, but I would like to learn a lot more so I can spot those errors and prevent them from affecting future projects. I'm currently working toward a second Bachelor's Degree in IT (my first is in Business Administration). I originally chose a concentration in information management but just switched to a concentration in Web Development. The only class I've had thus far was an entry level html class so I'm really anxious to get into the core classes and expand my knowledge!
  19. Daniel109

    Daniel109 Guest

    Jun 10, 2014
    New Zealand
    If I were you I would take a few graphic design classes, the sites you have seem to have basic design errors such as typeface, and layout.
    also some basic usability errors that T2k5 mentioned above. If you're serious about web design I highly recommend you read "Don't make me think" by Steve Krug, the revisited edition has an extra chapter on mobile design. It is by far the best web design book I've read, and covers most basic design principals. It's quite a short book, about 200 pages with lots of that taken up by images.