How much to charge for designing and building a website is a question that worries beginners and professionals web designers alike.
Prices vary based on employment status, size of the project, and the kind of website being designed. Additionally, a web designer might charge an hourly rate or charge per project.
We will discuss the variables that affect the cost of designing and building a website, and provide you with the information to charge the correct prices for the work you do.
How much do web designers make?
If you’re a web designer working for a company full time, you will be getting a wage, either a monthly or hourly rate. This is different to being a freelance web designer, who charges a set fee.
In the US, web designer salaries range roughly from $40,000 to $87,000 per year, making $20.5 the average hourly rate for a developer’s services.
The total salary consists of many factors, such as bonuses and overtime pay, which largely depends on your employer. Business owners will charge clients more than they pay employees.
Freelance web designers and developers usually don’t get employee benefits. Therefore it’s a good idea to charge a higher hourly rate to make up for the perks employees get for free.
As a freelancer, you have to buy your own computer, as well as software and other tools in which an employee would get free. This initial startup cost will affect how much you charge clients.
Overall, while there are differences between an employed web developer and freelancers, how much you charge clients depends on the level of your experience and the scope of the project.
Misconceptions about freelance web designers
Even though freelancing is becoming more popular, misconceptions about the work are still unavoidable. Keep in mind you also have a say:
- Clients set the price – while it is true that bargaining is a large part of freelance work, most often it is the web designers that decide the cost to design a website.
Even if clients already have a price range in mind, a freelancer can sway how much to charge for their services.
- Different types of projects cost the same price – there will be an average price associated with most website commissions, no matter the line of work.
However, the cost to design a website is impacted by a variety of factors, which we will explore later. Never charge clients too little for a website.
- Clients set the rules of a contract – as with any contract, both web designers and clients need to be involved in deciding the details of a contract to create a website.
All the expenses that may occur along the way, such as revision cost, extra labor help, setup process, and maintenance, should be covered in the contract.
Freelance web designers always have a say in most of those factors.
Despite working independently, freelance web designers still have the right to protect the value of their work.
While website design costs depend on the agreement between the developer and the contractor, the freelancer should always calculate the cost of his services carefully.
Knowing how to sell yourself to clients is important for web designers to learn. Showing your value is how you get clients willing to pay you more for a site.
Most importantly, you also need to remember that freelance web designers charge for solutions to problems, rather than websites themselves. You charge for your time, the website is free.
With the right portfolio and cover letter, a freelancer can convince their clients that their design work is worth the cost and time. How much you can charge depends on how you use your skills.
Technical factors that affect website costs
To make sure you charge for the work that you do accurately, we will explore the external factors that influence the pricing of a web designer’s services.
How complex a project is
The scope of a project that you undertake will directly impact how much to charge for it. The website size, type, and the number of pages it has influence its cost.
A website for a small business, for example, might range anywhere from a single-page website to under 20 pages. The design for these websites might be minimal and easy to implement.
An international company, however, might need a large-scale website with a hundred or more pages. It may also include intricate features, such as a system for content management.
Remember that the more you implement, how much you charge should go up. An eCommerce website with a payment gateway will cost more than a simple portfolio website.
How much time a project takes
Whenever you undertake a project and start deciding how much to charge clients, make sure to take the proposed duration of your work into account before deciding on a salary.
A long-term contract, which might take anywhere from six months to a year, is a more financially stable option for web designers.
However, a short-term contract, usually lasting somewhere between one and six months, could provide for a project with fewer strings attached.
While long-term contracts provide stability, they might land you in unfavorable positions. You’ll learn how to avoid clients that you do not see eye to eye with
On the other hand, you will be much more familiar with keeping up website maintenance, and continuing to build a website that you yourself have designed already.
Remember that it is also easy for web designers to get burned out working on just one website. Taking a series of short projects might help keep the work diverse and interesting.
An ideal short-term project might be developing a small website and concluding the project there.
This will free up time to help more clients than one at a time. This will grow your business and help you charge much more for your hourly rate.
When engaging in a long-term project, it’s a good idea to get one that involves developing a larger website. The more of your time clients use, the better your hourly rates can be.
It’s common for long-term projects to include website maintenance, the further implementation of features or even the development of a new website for clients.
How much help you need
Before signing the contract, make sure to consider whether you need to hire a graphic designer or programmer to help you out with your work. This should change how much you charge.
Make sure you know how you will have to pay them. If it’s per hour, also factor that into your own hourly rate. If you’re paying your salary for a freelancer’s time, you’re working for free.
While you might be familiar with the intricacies of web development, some projects might involve a great deal of aesthetic importance or unfamiliar features.
You will need to outsource a part of your work to other web designers. Unexpected costs like these will increase a website cost, so it’s worth thinking about how to address a problem ahead of time.
How much the website resources cost
The costs of getting a website up and running with all of its intended features should also be included in the contract.
A website will require a domain name, as well as web hosting, which will take the site, costs up, depending on the top-level domain, how long, and choice of the hosting you use.
Additional features such as an SSL certificate, eCommerce integration, and a business email, also have an influence when designing a website cost plan.
Since a web designer will most likely not use a free web development tool such as Zyro, which takes care of those features for you, they will need to add them to a website themselves.
A website domain might cost you anywhere from $0.99/year to $23.99/year, depending on its TLD. Feel free to get an idea of website domain prices with Zyro’s domain lookup tool, which is free to use.
How much website maintenance costs
It’s not enough to build a website – a site must be maintained as well.
Not every contract will include the need to maintain a site yourself after developing it, but it should be taken into account.
If they can get a client to commit to letting them maintain websites long-term, web designers can secure a lot of work on an hourly rate from a single website.
Some hosting options also provide the option for tech support, maintenance services, and monthly updates. Signing up for those should reflect the price for the site development.
The target audiences for your clients
When deciding how much you should charge for a website’s development, make sure to research what your competitors are offering for the same work, as well as your preferred audience.
For web designers, the price for a website can vary significantly depending on your skill and experience.
When it comes to website design, you should only get offers that come from companies capable of affording your hourly rate for your services.
Personal factors that affect website costs
There will also be internal factors that influence the per hour cost of designing a website.
Whether it’s a commute or learning to use a new piece of software, it can all add up to a sum that you don’t want to leave out of the contract.
Remember, your hourly rate should include all the time it takes you for all your work related duties. Don’t just charge a client per hour you spend on their website directly.
Cost of living
It’s important to not sell yourself short, even if the offer appears attractive.
Make sure to consider your expenses for living when calculating the per hour cost of a website project.
While it may not seem like it at first, the conditions of your working environment, as well as the lack of stress from worrying about rent will directly impact the quality and speed of your work.
You will get more done on a website if you get to focus on one thing at a time, and use all your energy one a client’s site.
Whether you’re working from home or renting an office, simple expenses can add up as well.
For a new designer, it might not be exactly clear how to get business expenses covered by a client. However, like anything, over time you’ll get a feeling for how to calculate this.
Electricity, internet access, and other commodities are necessary for you to complete your work and can, therefore, should be taken into account when you’re deciding on your per hour rate.
Sometimes, a particular website contract might involve a fair amount of travel.
Whether you need to attend a meeting or speak to the client one on one, it’s only fair for you to calculate the expenses of your travels and add them to your overall website pricing.
Hardware and software
In this line of work, the importance for you to use up-to-date hardware and software cannot be overstated.
A mid-to-high range laptop costing you anywhere from $400 to $2000 or more. Software doesn’t fall far behind, especially if you need to get applications to use for graphic design.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that one thing a client is not responsible for is buying you a new computer. The upkeep for your equipment should be taken into account.
Level of experience
Lastly, whenever considering a per hour price range for your website work, remember to always evaluate your own skills as a web developer.
A great portfolio, degree, as well as years of experience can all work in your favor when securing work that pays well.
However, even if you’re designing a website for the first time, you need to charge a per hour rate that reflects what your costs are like.
How to charge clients
While there are a lot of salary options when it comes to freelance and employed website work, we will look at the three most popular options and explore a few pros and cons for each one.
1. Hourly rate
A web developer might sign a contract for a website project in which they will charge their client per hour. This provides clarity for the customer, as well as stability for the site developer.
- Clarity – this kind of charging method will provide the client with a way to easily track a web developer’s progress. In this instance, a developer must provide constant updates as to what they’re working on.
- A lower chance of overcharging or undercharging – since a developer will be paid for every hour that they work on a website for, everyone can be sure that there were no mistakes when it comes to a final sum.
- Supervision – with this method, it is much more important for a client to want to know how a developer is doing. Some customers might take this too far and start managing every step of the web designers working on their website.
- Risk of selling yourself short – while you will get paid for every hour you’ve committed to the website, the final product might still be better than a competitor’s. If you’re considering hourly rates, remember to evaluate your time properly.
2. Monthly rate
Somewhere between an hourly rate and a flat rate, there is the option of charging your client per month for work on a website.
This works most efficiently for long-term contracts.
It assumes that you will either undertake a large project that will require several months to complete, or keep conducting website maintenance.
While other options remain more popular, charging per month is still worth considering.
- Stability – providing even more of a stable income than getting paid per hour, a monthly rate makes sure you always know about your budget ahead of time.
- Familiarity – since you will be working on websites you will get accustomed to, keeping up maintenance and expanding them will be much easier.
- Commitment – while hourly and flat rates usually end when websites are complete, a monthly rate implies that you will have to commit to developing them a longer time.
- Need for experience – as the least popular option, charging your client per month assumes a level of experience and skill. Since a customer is putting money upfront for a longer amount of time, great websites are expected.
3. Flat rate
The most simple and the most efficient method of payment when it comes to developing websites, flat rates vary as much as hourly and monthly rates.
With the average website cost for small businesses ranging somewhere between $3000 and $6000, websites for larger companies can go up to $15,000 for a site and more.
- Ease of transaction – neither you nor your client has to worry about calculating rates. It’s all about the end product and how many websites end up being worth. A simple one-time payment will save you and your customers from headaches.
- No overmanagement – as a web developer charging a flat rate, your project is your project. You can take an easy or difficult route as long as you deliver websites by the deadline.
- Lack of trust – as a beginner in web development, it might be difficult to sell yourself without a credible portfolio. Most clients will feel much safer when they can check in on the progress and pay accordingly.
How to design website cost contracts
A contract is absolutely necessary while designing websites freelance. It protects your work and time, taking care if a dispute arises with your client in the future.
Furthermore, having a contract set and ready before accepting or proposing a project will not only make you look more professional but also make your freelancing process that much faster.
The elements you need to include in a contract are:
- Contact information – while this might seem self-explanatory, exchanging business contacts between the developer and the client is absolutely necessary. This will help immensely whenever you or your customer need to talk about anything related to the project.
- Scope of work – in order to protect both parties from abuse, the responsibilities, milestones and due dates that the developer is expected to follow should be clearly defined in a contract.
- Terms of agreement – in case the contract requires modification, you should always set down the agreed terms so that they wouldn’t come into question later.
- Working hours and availability – to separate work and personal life, as well as avoid working overtime for no additional pay, remember to set a limit on the time that you will be available to work as a web developer.
- Terms of payment – it is important to determine the invoicing procedure, the price of your services and any precautionary measures that would be taken in case something goes wrong.
Pricing for websites recap
As we’ve gone over the many different aspects of freelance web development and website design, we can look back at what is most important.
Whether you’re intending to charge per project or per hour, the final cost largely depends on a variety of factors. These range from the size and length of the project to your personal skill.
A web developer should always protect their time and work by preparing a well-defined contract that would cover both personal and technical costs.
Lastly, there is no direct question as to how much you should charge for a website. However, we hope we’ve given you the information to calculate your rate accurately and without any doubt.