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How Much Should a Web Design Cost?

The almighty dollar

Every week, I get emails from potential clients who all want to know one thing: How much for a design?

Nine times out of ten, my answer causes them to run for the hills. Scary thing is, based on industry buzz, my prices could actually be considered totally reasonable by comparison. Don’t believe me? Well, today you get the whole scoop—my prices, their prices, and my always-priceless editorial commentary on the subject :-)

My Prices

For the sake of argument, I’m going to constrain today’s post to blog design only.

When people email me and ask for a quote, I always follow the same process. I visit their current site and determine the following:

  • The current CMS platform (WordPress, MovableType, Drupal, etc.)
  • The scope of the site – how many unique styling elements will be required for specialty pages?
  • The perceived complexity of the re-design. Does this person want a graphical masterpiece with all kinds of bells and whistles?

Generally speaking, there’s not a whole lot of variance in these areas from blog to blog, so after checking out the site in question, I usually have a good idea of how much to charge. Now, to answer the question you all want to hear…How much is all this gonna run ya?

At this time, blog designs start at $1500. This price is for a blog that has minimal graphical complexity, no customized icons, and no logo production. What you do get at this price is rock-solid, hand-crafted, browser-tested CSS, XHTML, and simple (but striking) graphic design.

In most cases, bells and whistles like plugin support, unique page designs, and extra graphics push the price up into the $1800-$2000 range. From there, the price is largely dictated by page-specific CSS/XHTML production and custom graphic design. It’s totally conceivable that a pimped out blog could run as much as $3000. Rest assured, though, that it would be totally badass, and the recipient of the design would receive mad props for having such a killer online abode.

Their Prices

Based on my experience, I have reason to believe that about 90% of you who just saw my prices thought, “Gosh, that’s awfully expensive!”

Well, you’re right, but actually, you’re wrong too.

You’re right because $1800 is a decent chunk of change – for an individual. You’re wrong because companies throw this kind of bread around all the time. They do so because they understand that crafting a brand holds a value that is oftentimes hard to measure in dollars and cents alone. On top of that, companies typically have a monetary objective behind the launch of a new design, so to them, there’s a foreseeable payoff. Individuals, on the other hand, are oftentimes unable to see things in such a positive light. Let’s face it – most people don’t make a sustainable (or even decent) income off of their blog.

Everybody wants a killer design, especially after seeing one that they lust over. Problem is, nobody wants to pay for it.

At this year’s SXSW, I attended a very informative roundtable discussion that focused on – what else? – blog design. Naturally, the hottest topic of discussion was pricing, and the panelists freely gave out information regarding not only their prices, but also some info regarding industry pricing trends.

For instance, The Blog Studio charges $3000-$5000 for a blog design. Some people thought this was quite high, but Peter (who runs TBS) was cool enough to break things down into their individual elements to explain pricing more thoroughly. It’s been nearly three months since SXSW, so I’ll try and rehash things as best I can here. The major elements of blog design include:

  • Graphical comps produced in Photoshop
  • Graphical splicing for optimal CSS/XHTML structure
  • CSS/XHTML production in standards-compliant fashion
  • Unique CSS/XHTML adaptation to CMS platform of choice
  • Bell-and-whistle functionality to meet client requirements

All of the steps highlighted above require a certain degree of expertise to be completed in professional fashion. Unfortunately, people who want designs are oftentimes unfamiliar with the amount of knowledge required to pull all this off in seamless fashion. Sometimes I think people see a design and think it’s all just a matter of applying a “look” to stuff that’s already there. In reality, that’s basically what’s going on. In practice, however, things are intensely more complicated.

And this is why you hire a professional.

Another person on the panel at the SXSW design discussion was the female member of a husband and wife design team. While I don’t remember her name, I certainly remember what she said about blog pricing. $2500 and up, and this “just really begins to cover the actual time investment” required to deliver a complete, robust design.

Want another example? Javier Cabrera, a talented designer who’s responsible for some really great stuff, charges $2500 as a base price.

How’s my $1800 price tag sound now? Looks to me like I need to raise my prices :-)

Watch out for that curveball!

People like surprises. Unfortunately, when those surprises include a hefty price tag, people hate them.

Here’s why professional web designs are the curveballs of the site construction process. Well, hey, let’s look at the process first:

  1. Buy a domain name: $10
  2. Buy a hosting package: $60/yr. with two years prepaid – $120
  3. You set everything up, and then you realize you need a design because your site currently looks like 50,000 others out there. Whoops.

The problem here is that when setting up a new site, newbies often think, “$10 for a domain? Awesome, let’s get started!”

Next, they get hit with the reality of hosting fees, and while they’re a little bummed about having to pre-pay for two years in order to lock in that great price of $5.50/mo., they go ahead and kick down $100-$200 to set up their hosting.

Their tab is already up around $200, and now they’re beginning to wonder if this web stuff is all it’s cracked up to be.

Unfortunately, they get hit with a wicked case of design lust while browsing and getting acquainted with the blogosphere, and now they really want a hot design. “Shouldn’t cost too much, right? After all, look at all those cool designs out there!”

And then BAM! They get slapped with the reality that a wicked design is going to cost them $1500+, and they totally reject the idea, especially since the hosting fees were already a tough pill to swallow.

Talk about your curveballs.

Case study: my clients

My clients all have one thing in common. They have a concrete, business-based reason for hiring me to design them a killer site. Thus far, there have been no exceptions to this rule. All of my clients are doing one of the following:

  • Using their site to sell a product
  • Building a subscription list for marketing purposes
  • Building links and increasing exposure to help with ad/referral conversion

Based on this information, I think it’s fair to conclude that professional designs are really only open to the following people:

  • Those with a plan
  • Those with a lot of money

I never really thought of it this way until this morning, but it’s definitely true. Professional blog designs are a luxury item. Look at it like this: plenty of businesses buy 60″ HD TV’s for their stores and displays, but only individual consumers who have money and really want a big, bad TV would ever actually kick down and buy one.

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775 comments… read them below or add one

Evan June 2, 2006

Some other factors I consider important:

if ($CMS != “Word Press”) { echo “price goes up”; }
If client is a first-timer or micomanagerial type who needs a lot of hand-holding, the price goes up
If the design work is for another designer or firm who can effectively collaborate, the price goes down
Similar to the previous, if the client is someone I’ve successfully worked with in the past, the price goes down

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Ben June 2, 2006

I’ve told you this before, but one thing that I try to do with my pricing is limit the number of clients I have.

While being in school, I don’t have time for 5 or 6 designs a month, or even in 3 months. So I tend to price higher than people expect, because 1 in 10 people think the price is fair and I end up getting one big job that I have time to do (and enjoy doing) rather than 10 little ones that are tedious and time consuming.

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Aaron Brazell June 2, 2006

Well written, Chris, and perfectly understandable. Also the reason you haven’t done my design work. :) No seriously, you might when I have money, but I have to tackle my own stuff for now.

As most people do. And as most people should.

People starting off in blogging really don’t need a professional design. They may want one, but they don’t need one. It’s far more important for a beginner blogger to understand basic building blocks like finding their voice, learning the whole social network of blogging and building their profile and reputation. Even ads aren’t important.

It took me 2 years to get where I am now. But it took me a year and a half to find myself first. Now I’m allowing myself to dream but even now is not the right time.

Of course, I have your email when that time comes. :)

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David Aksaripour June 2, 2006

That post totally rocked. I am actually in the process of launching an entrepreneur blog network and I absolutely knew that paying for a professional design would be needed! No if ands and buts. In the long-run, if you are serious about gaining readership, making money, and really getting your content out there in the best possible fashion, then it’ll always be worth it to pony up the extra cash for a sick design. Think about it, if you’re going to drop $100 bucks a month on a dedicated server (like I do) to host all of your blogs blogs, then its worth dropping $1 – 2.5k on a great design that will really last and really help gain that critical mass of readership — makes perfect economic sense and that’s the most cost effective thing to do..but yeah…many people don’t apply logic to matters such as that and would rather download a played-out theme that million other bloggers are already using… or just sit back and get pissed off by how much it would take to get a “real” design… To each their own, right?

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Tom June 2, 2006

Please enlighten me (and about 10 million others); what exactly does a professionally designed blog have that Blogger doesn’t?

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Canadian September 14, 2012

What does a Porsche do that a Toyota doesn’t?

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JustK September 14, 2012

Pretty Awesome answer.

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Steven Lemon October 5, 2012

Where can a Porsche take you that a Toyota can’t?
Does a blind man judge a woman by her beauty?
Nobody stumbles upon a website. If you are looking for it in the first place, it doesn’t matter what it looks like.

I admit I enjoy going to some sites and listening to nice music or looking at great pictures, but I am alway s brought back to the reality that the highest grossing sites on Earth (Google, Yahoo and Bing) are also the simplest, unadorned, bells and whistle LESS sites on the planet.

If you can get thousands of dollars for designing a site, I would applaud you every chance I got, and if you ever go public, put me down for thousand shares and send me the bill.
I’m serious.

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Rich October 9, 2012

You make the standard pitch to look at the simplicity of Google, Yahoo, and Bing. I have had more than one prospect come to me asking for a FaceBook clone. When I inform them that FaceBook has invested millions into their site development, and they should expect to do the same, their jaws drop. “But it is such a simple looking layout…” I hear. What they don’t see is the custom coded Tornado/Apache web server, the custom written asyncronous AJAX api that interacts with that server, the security redundancy to protect their members’ privacy, the custom scripting language that allows members to create unique experiences while limiting the dangers of allowing full javascript functions, the data management…. and on, and on, and on…. The design, that is just the GUI, and yes, I can make you a site that looks just like FaceBook, Google, Yahoo, Bing or even Craigslist for under $500. However, if you want that site to actually DO SOMETHING, that takes time, talent and an investment.

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^_^ October 11, 2013

hear ye hear ye

Jake October 28, 2012

Hey there Steven. I personally am not a fan of the car car metaphor.

A better one would be comparing taking your car to someone who bought an old car and is fixing it up for fun vs. taking it to a mechanic. Yes, it can get done by both; however, the mechanic has paid thousands to be trained in able to accurately and more effectively fix the car.

The same goes for website design. As a designer who has degrees in photography, web design, graphic design, and business marketing I can tell you that there are major advantages to having your website professionally done instead of using a WordPress template.

For one, I have training and experience in the market that allows me to create the most compelling designs. This means that I know how to use aesthetics, color psychology, and typography to best capture your audience’s attention as well as make them “feel” the way you want them to about your product/company.

Not only that, but with a professional you have the opportunity to completely customize your site instead of having to select from certain options (most of which are poorly designed anyways).

Think about how much a tv commercial costs. You can have a commercial that gets the point across, but will annoy everyone who sees it because of the way it communicates the point (such as political advertisements which are very cheap to produce), or you can choose to spend extra money to make a commercial that is best designed for your particular audience (Superbowl commercials are a good example for this).

Yes, you can pay less and get a somewhat decent website, but in the long run the money you spend on a professionally designed site will increase your profits substantially, making it well worth the extra cash up front.

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Tony November 10, 2013

Who really cares what you’ve been trained to do and how much money you’ve spent. I haven’t been to a single class on web design, yet I make great sights that people awe over. How? Simple… I look at the most effective sites in a particular industry and I “borrow” the best “concepts” from these sites. Copy the best and learn from the rest.

Kane Ford November 21, 2012

“Nobody stumbles upon a website.”

You must be new here.

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Rich October 9, 2012

Obviously, the answer depends upon the person being asked. Each offers distinct advantages and disadvantages depending on the needs or desires of the individual.

The better question is… What does a Porsche or Toyota do that a car built by a guy in his back yard doesn’t?

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MIke June 2, 2006

Hey Tom,

I’m not trying to be an ass, although I excel at it, but if you have to ask that question, well, you really need information other than design info.

Really, Tom, I’m not trying to be smart alecky, but the difference between a professionally designed blog and one on blogger is huge.

Take for instance, the fact that most people would think that any COMPANY that would operate a business blog on a free service like blogger, without even ponying up $10 for their own domain…well., they would be thought of as cheesy, cheap and uninformed.

Same as if they tried to put a double-wide trailer on 5th Avenue, rather than rent one of the brick-faced shops already there.

There’s about 173 reasons why blogger is inferior to WP, and this ain’t the place for that whole discussion, but we all would be glad to try and help you find the info you need to read and make a more informed decision.

Now somebody else jump in and further enlighten Tom.

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Aaron Pratt June 2, 2006

I enjoy Wordpress because I am a cheap a*s and modify others themes to make them my own. In doing so you learned that it is a highly useful program.
BUT if I was looking for a business template, Chris would be the man, his designs are fresh.

About Blogger:

Anyone who is serious about success would not use blogger.

Anyone serious about success would purchase their own domain and IP.

Blogger blogs often get hit with collateral damage in search engines.

The Blogger network is one big bad spammy neighborhood.

Even Matt Cutts from Google suggested getting off it.

Want more? :)

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Ben Wilks June 3, 2006

Nice post Chris, there is a massive difference between a ‘blog design’ and a ‘professional blog design’ and your work speaks for itself.

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totoro June 4, 2006

I’m always interested in the value people are place on design-thanks!

One question-to me, part of the online design experience is “change”, unlike a traditional print run, online stuff needs to change and adapt for the client to stay relevant-that is one advantage to being online. Do you charge a maintenance fee as well? (i’m thinking updated links, etc.) Or do most clients take care of that kind of stuff on their own?

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dotBen June 4, 2006

As someone who has (previously) built templates for CMS’s for a living AND more recently procured templates for blogs/CMS’s, I think you’re prices are pretty reasonable for commercial work (although I’m not familiar with your work – you should link to it in this post for those who are new to you!).

People who think $2000 is too much for a blog template are probably thinking about a personal site, which clearly is not the market you are looking at.

When I started working in the industry I couldn’t believe what people would pay for — but if you are good at what you do and produce good work then it’s a win-win situation.

Keep up the good work, I say!

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Jim Kukral June 5, 2006

Nice disclosure. I think that’s a cheap cost for a pro design really.

When you think about it, really, a custeom and clean design should be 4 times that much.

There’s always the possibility that you’re pricing too low as well, consider that. It’s true, people will pay more for the same work, it’s all about how they consider value. Lots of people think more money, more valuable.

I don’t, but they do.

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Squirrelinabox June 6, 2006

Great post. It’s refreshing to see somebody actually talk about their own pricing AND give specifics.

I do understand why most designers prefer not to publically disclose such information, but it really is nice to see the details once in awhile.

Thanks!

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Peter Flaschner June 6, 2006

Awesome post. Pricing is tricky, no question about it. We arrived at our pricing the hard way: by charging too little to cover our costs, adjusting up, still losing money, then adjusting up again (and again).

The cold hard truth: a ten thousand dollar job takes as much time and work as a two thousand dollar job. To be sure, there are not a lot of ten thousand dollar blog designs out there. But there ARE a lot of blog/website hybrids that fall within that category.

These are not personal sites or professional blogging sites. They’re corporate sites – sites that two or three years ago would have cost thirty thousand dollars to develop. But thanks to the expertise we’ve developed building blogs, we’re able to leverage tools like WordPress and Expression Engine to non-bloggy style sites.

Further to Jim’s point about value above: in addition to the value of our design work, we pro blog design types also offer very valuable advice. Part of what our clients get when they hire us (and I’m sure the same with you) is well rounded expertise in all aspects of blogging. This includes marketing tips and strategies, monetization plans, traffic building strategies, stats analysis training, SEO training, etc etc etc. I’d say that’s as least as valuable as the site itself.

Sorry to hog the comments!

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Joram Oudenaarde June 7, 2006

I think your pricing is pretty acurate. But there are more aspects on pricing then “professional design” only though. Please allow me to explain:

A small 2-man company, just started, want a good website to broaden their horizon. Without a huge amount of money, they try to find a studio that can make this for them. 10 pages, a blog, contactform, above average design (coders are not designers and vise versa right ;) ). You charge them with $1800,- for that website.

Now a huge company comes to you. Million dollar company, with 100′s of employees. If you would offer that same website to them for the same price, they would laugh you in the face and fo to someone who asks $5000,- for that website.

What I’m trying to say is;
- Besides the amount of work, it also depends on the type of client you have. A small bakery will poo his pants when he sees that amount of money, while a company like Shell (for instance) will not take you seriously if you ask “pocketmoney” like that.

But a lot of people (companies as well I may add) don’t know what goes on behind the screens of ány graphical company. All the coding, research of the client, sketches, and perhaps even storyboards… no one sees that you are doing all that work as well. They only see what they want to see: their final product.

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aaron wall June 7, 2006

I bought a design, loved it, and am hounding Chris for another one. And then probably another one. And then…

Sharp. Crisp. Clean. Unique. Those are the words I would use to describe Chris’s designs. I am a big fan.

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Ben Pate June 8, 2006

Thanks for the portfolio.

I personally enjoy the text link ads site and seo book the most.

Well done!

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Paul June 8, 2006

I am curious as to what a blog costing $3000 might look like.

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Paul November 20, 2013

it looks like WordPress with a free theme!

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Chris P. June 8, 2006

I think that both the Copyblogger and SEObook designs, given their intricacies and thoroughness, are worth $2500-$3000.

Granted, these guys didn’t pay that much, but that’s what I really think these designs are worth.

Every element received special attention. It wasn’t as though I just threw a form in with default styling and said “here you go.” Down to the last pixel, every element, typeface, bit of whitespace, and graphical touch was pored over meticulously to achieve the exact look that I was after.

Besides, I bet if you asked these guys what they think their designs are worth, they’d probably agree with me :)

At least I hope they would. Guys? Guys? GUYS!

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Derek Punsalan June 9, 2006

Interesting write-up. I think the greatest misconception that I entertain is that “blog” design is on a lesser scale than that found on a traditional “website”. People don’t understand that they are often one in the same.

I despise individuals who request insanely low prices for designs stating that their project is nothing more than a blog.

That’s what the free mass produced templates are for.

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Deutschland February 28, 2011

That’s exactly it. From a business perspective a blog is only “pr” and does not bring any money at all. For the designer it’s the same amount of work, though…

Excellent post – by the way

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Brian Clark June 9, 2006

Dugg. :)

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John June 9, 2006

One thing I’ve also noticed in my own limited design/coding experience is that higher paying clients often give you less grief: they respect the professionalism more, take your advice more, etc.

Lower paying customers, or charity jobs have always given me the most problems.

(FWIW)

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JLP at AllFinancialMatters June 9, 2006

How does one go about learning website design? I would like to learn but I really don’t know where to start. I feel like I would need to start at the very beginning. Do you guys take classes or college courses?

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Chris P. June 9, 2006

I knew that I wanted to learn more about web design, and I also knew that CSS was the most important thing driving “modern” web design. With that in mind, I went out and bought Stylin’ with CSS by Charles Wyke-Smith, and I read it while I was on vacation (August of last year).

After a month or so, I decided to develop my own site, and everything snowballed from there. When you design your own site, you are introduced to all kinds of coding “scenarios,” and attacking those head-on is a wonderful way to learn design.

On top of that, there are a million and one resources out there to help you along the way. In my mind, it’s just a matter of sitting down for that first time and tinkering.

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Apreche June 9, 2006

WTF? I must be in the wrong business. I design my own sites. Granted, they are not beautiful looking, but they work. The amount of work I had to put into them was maybe $100 worth, maybe. For $1500 you better be giving me some masterpiece. Charging that amount of money might work for now, but it won’t once all the idiots have been fleeced.

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Eric February 9, 2010

I hope, with your attitude, that you enjoy your new job at Walmart. We’ll all be there before the end of 2011.

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brian fidler February 9, 2010

Apreche, you didn’t even design your own site. “Design” means much more than installing a predesigned WordPress theme. If I’m designing a site from scratch for a client and if its going to be using WordPress then I create a new theme from scratch. It’s a much different skillset and amount of work than setting up the DB, ftp’ng the WP files and activating a theme.

I charge $100/hour. Most well thought out designs take at the very minimum 15 to 20 hours to design (which doesn’t include development time) and often much more. This includes time discussing my clients’ needs, understanding what they want/need to accomplish with their site, researching competitive sites, recommending a technology and CMS platform that closely match their needs (of course this requires a great deal of experience and knowledge of the different platforms’ strengths and weaknesses), identifying how they plan to attract traffic to their site, and then spec’ing out their needs in a document/estimate which ensures we have consensus on the final deliverable.

It’s interesting that you point out that you build your own sites. If you had “clients” you’d understand that it’s pretty simple to burn through 15 to 20 hours just in meetings. And yes, I invoice for meetings because my time is billable.

It’s sad that you don’t value your time and the work that you do. Good luck.

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brian fidler February 9, 2010

Oh crap! I just realized you wrote this 3 1/2 years ago! :) I hope you’re listening, I’m curious if you still feel a site design is only worth $100.

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Neill August 12, 2010

I am also reading this post 3+ years later and still think its relevant, and thankfully not yet having to give up my design work to work at wallmart! Web Design is definitely under appreciated, especially here in Montana! Some of my clients find it hard to recognize that a website is a “New Tool”. They hum and Haw over a $1500 price tag and finally get you down to $1000 or less. Then next day, have no problem buying a new tool or truck for their business!

I would say that I spend 5 hours + educating people WHY they need a website, and how it will work for their business….even thou these clients came to me wanting a website.

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Gabriel August 13, 2010

Seems like 2010 is the time for this blog post to make a comeback. I usually don’t read comments but this post is still very relevant, and to see what others are going through now has helped me because I thought I was the only one going through the hassles of clients nagging about the prices for web design. Some clients even want to go as low as $400 – $700 these days. I know we’ve had rough times these days with the whole economy issue but that didn’t change the price of food either. And as both Brian and Neill stated, just meeting with the clients cost enough to boost the price.

Brian, you sound like you have a pretty good portfolio that you are able to bill for meetings. Just the fact that you do says something about your clients status. And that just makes all the difference, clients who appreciate the work behind a site. Or in my case, as we provide full packages to small business for affordable pricing, the time and effort to prepare a full company profile.

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Sebacian July 28, 2011

Here’s the problem with charging a client $1500 – $2000 for a blog design, keeping in mind that such a design takes the same amount of time as a web design, generally 15 – 20 hours, including development time unless you have no imagination or experience:

Brian Fiddler writes, “I charge $100/hour. Most well thought out designs take at the very minimum 15 to 20 hours to design (which doesn’t include development time) and often much more.”

Gabriel follows up with, “Some clients even want to go as low as $400 [$20/hour] – $700 [$35/hour] these days. I know we’ve had rough times these days with the whole economy issue but that didn’t change the price of food either.”

You two acknowledge that clients regard web design, especially blog design, as something that really isn’t that difficult to do for a professional web designer. You acknowledge that the economy isn’t that great. You conclude that it is okay and perfectly reasonable for a professional web designer to charge ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS PER HOUR because, well, the price of food hasn’t gone down.

In what other business are you able to ask for $100 per hour with less than three decades of experience? I am a designer and my clients would shit themselves if I casually asked for anything close to that amount. I have a friend who owns a consulting business, and he makes $80 per hour, what with having been in that business for over twenty-five years.

Seeing as web design has really only been marketable for twenty years, how do you justify belittling the client for not wanting to pay you more than a top-ranking CEO with decades of experience?

It’s pure laziness. No matter what you tell yourself, our job is just not that complicated. $100 an hour–that’s $208,000 a year. Less than four percent of households in the United States earn more than $200,000 per year. Are you crazy? No, I think that you are money-hungry.

If you are charging a client $100/hr for work that you should be able to do without any problems, you are either designing masterpieces, as Apreche said, or you are a con artist.

And I don’t know what grocery store you’re shopping at, but if you need to sell a house a year to feed yourself, you might want to just suck it up and shop at Whole Foods Organic Market.

Stanley December 14, 2011

Sebacian is right. And thats all I will say. Your noses are so far in the air, you dont see the potential clients that you dismiss. Keep it up, its better for the other designers out here.

Thanks.

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Alex February 9, 2012

“you dont see the potential clients that you dismiss.”
That is me. I agree that time should be billable. If the market is that lucrative, then it should be an indicator to the gravity of the industry. Meaning,…pony up and build the website…. But when developers terminate conversations because of a “conference call” and how…. they aspire to bill for their time etc….they need a better way of extracting the information from “prospects” so as to not let the conversation ramble beyond productive useful dialog. I don’t care about the developers making more money that CEO’s because it is a trade. A trade that still needs clients. We are now poised to discuss whether it is a buyers or a sellers market. Obviously at $100 an hour it is a sellers market.

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Ashby June 9, 2006

As a designer, I feel so vindicated. Thanks!

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Peter Flaschner June 9, 2006

I’ve got to jump in again. Remember, when you’re looking at a site that a client paid $3000 for, you are not seeing the consulting, training, and marketing that went into the project.

Most professional designers that I know do more than design a template and walk away.

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Tony Wright June 9, 2006

Your prices seem fair.

When I owned a web development company, we wouldn’t touch a design project for less than $10k. This priced us out of a lot of business, but gave us the luxury of treating our clients REALLY well. We were never lacking for customers.

Think for a moment what the weekly payroll of a 20 person company is. Assuming an average salary of $50k (throw in a bit extra for tax burden and benefits) and they expenses in payroll alone are about $100,000… PER MONTH. $3,000 is a drop in the bucket for a company like that.

Not only are they paying for your time, your training, and your skills– they are also paying for your idle time… As a consultant, 30% of your time is spent on sales, marketing, or just sitting around waiting for clients to get off their butts and give you what they need.

For the author to make a decent living (say $50k per year, after taxes), he’d have to do about 37 $2000 sites per year… That’s a helluva lotta sales (which is why solo consultancies are pretty hard to do).

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Stanley December 14, 2011

What happened to your web development company?

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Anonymous June 9, 2006

pretencious

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nortypig.com June 10, 2006

i think we should discuss pricing more. The extra unseen side of our work in hand holding, sales generation and idle time are highly underappreciated.

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davidsleeps June 10, 2006

ive been building blogs/article posting sites(design+backend) for a few months, and charging not much. ive never known how much to charge (this page has been bloody unreal) and its always taken a while, it would be so much easier just doing the design instead of the whole system! now i know what i will be focusing on. thanks heaps!

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ratbert June 10, 2006

It all depends on what you really want. If all you want some free stock photo cropped and some text logo stuck on it, save yourself money and go buy Photoshop Elements and a book. But if you want every graphical element customized, you need a designer to spend 10-20 hours in Photoshop. That costs money. I think $1500 is low for a full-time professional. I do some design work on the side and I regularly charge that much for a site.

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Jay Goldman June 10, 2006

Thanks for kicking off an excellent conversation Chris! I picked it up via Peter’s great post on the The Blog Studio blog.

We’ve been pondering many of the same issues over at Radiant Core, and your post inspired me to write a lengthy diatribe on the topic: How long is a piece of string and other quantitative quandaries. We don’t do blog template design exclusively so it covers a whole bunch of other topics including an elaboration on how we should all shift our pricing models to Value pricing.

Thoughts?

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Dennis June 10, 2006

Is this world you get what you pay for. But in the web design area people just dont get how much work goes into it. Most people would be willing to pay a plumber $70 and hour to clear a drain and laugh when a comparitive quote is given for a site.

As you said companies are really the only ones that will jump on a quality designer.

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aaron wall June 11, 2006

>The amount of work I had to put into them was maybe $100 worth, maybe. For $1500 you better be giving me some masterpiece. Charging that amount of money might work for now, but it won’t once all the idiots have been fleeced.

Well I am standing in line waiting for Chris to fleece me again. I won’t mind if he gets a bit more this time too.

>pretentious

I think we all need to be at least a bit to be profitable as consultants and service providers.

I think more likely some people are rubbed the wrong way by the clarity and bluntness of Chris’s writing, especially when they couple that with seeing the rapid success he achieved.

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Brooce June 11, 2006

Interesting read but why pay someone $1500 as a starting price for a design when there are equally competent designers in eastern Europe charging a fraction of that price?

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Peter February 17, 2011

Or India.

The answer is, our web design business has taken over two jobs originally awarded to Indian development companies because the client was dissatisfied with the progress and the quality of work being produced. It’s the most expensive couple of thousand bucks you’ll ever save.

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Michael Cintron June 12, 2006

Chris I purchased a print of yours from art.com called “Peaceful Sunset”.
On the upper top right of the photo there is bright line that looks like a defect. Am I correct or is this part of the cloub formation?

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Chris P. June 12, 2006

Michael, you must be talking about another Chris. My artistic skills are pretty much zero.

Oh, and a glaring mistake like a bright line? That’s totally not me. :-)

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reese June 13, 2006

@Brooce
It’s not just about the design (as others have dulely noted).

-communication
-relationship
-value-added services
-long-term help and insight
-marketing advice and objectives addressed specific to the WEST (if that’s where the client is coming from and marketing to)

Making pixels pretty is fairly easy. There’s always people who will make things prettier than I and other designers do. But a lot of people who do competent design work at rock-bottom rates may not be relational, or have marketing expertise, or know the ins and outs of everything from writing strong blog-entry titles to using Feedburner for feeds because of its “bonus” features.

Those of us charging in the $1500-plus range have made it our life’s work to produce not only design, but measurable RESULTS for clients who are looking to acheive specific business goals. Not everyone who proports to crank out a site for $300 can do so or are willing to do so.

I do work for cheaper than $1500. I also greatly clamp down on the “extras” my client gets.

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Josie June 13, 2006

I stopped reading when I saw $1500 because I knew you had to be insane to expect anyone with even an ounce of common sense to pay such a price for basically nothing.Nothing you could possibly create would justify such an inflated price and tacking on hundreds of dollars for plugins that take at best minutes to install is even more of a slap in the face to those of us who have working brains.

:)

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Jonathan Snook June 14, 2006

Josie: are you just baiting for an argument?

It comes down to value and how much your time is worth. I pay people to do things for me that I don’t have the time to do myself or that I don’t want to take the time to learn. Not everybody wants to take the time to learn html, css, php, wordpress, linux, ftp [etc..] just to write and maintain a professional and unique web site. So, they pay others to do it for them. I don’t care if it takes 5 mins or 5 hours, that time is worth money and people deserve to be paid for their time. There’s nothing inflated about it.

Now, if you can do it cheaper and quicker, please get in touch. :)

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Naomi June 14, 2006

I agree with this article 100%. We have recently passed a policy to not work for individuals anymore ourselves. It’s not that we want to refuse anyone, but we have realized that we just can’t provide a practical solution for individuals and make it a win-win situation.

Recently a good musician friend asked us to do a blog design for his new web site. We realized that even if we gave him a discount, it would be something unattainable for him. It was a little uncomfortable to explain this, but eventually he understood.

I think people just don’t realize the amount of time and effort it takes to put together an effective design. Sometimes the most simple designs take the most thought and effort and ends up being the most successful.

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S. Martin June 14, 2006

Interesting article. It is kind of sad that clients feel a blog is less than a web site. CSS and XHTML, PHP, etc. REQUIRE CODING SKILL, coders have ALWAYS received higher pay than basic designers. More and more web designers are not designers, but a hybrid coder/designer who is expected to make something look great and function correctly.

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Hacker Dan June 27, 2006

Your prices are extremely reasonable, based on the quailty of this site’s design.
My (Fortune 500) company just paid $10,000/page for about 5 sample designs and decided not to use any of them. Even this was not considered expensive. Of course, that was a company site, not a “blog”

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jenn.suz.hoy June 28, 2006

S. Martin – you hit the nail on the head there, with the fact that when most people are searching for a “designer”, what they really want is a web production team rolled into on man (or woman). It’s something that, as a designer, I’m learning with during my 9-5 jobs. As well as something I consider when I take on after-hours (or freelance) jobs – am I qualified to do this quote-end-quote “design job” when they really need me + a programmer?

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Tim July 24, 2006

I love to hear people supposedly in the know talk about website design prices. These people that think $1500 for work of this quality is expensive don’t have a clue. $1500 is peanuts.

I’ve run a web design company for 6 years now and we don’t get out of bed for less than $2000 for a very basic site. We’ve not advertised for about 4 years now – work comes through word of mouth and we have orders booked up to 6 months in advance.

The thing is, I don’t even consider us to be especially better than anyone else, it’s just that there is so much work available from businesses.

Personally Chris, I’d double your rate and I’d be willing to bet you get just as much work, if not more.

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Sarah August 3, 2010

Thanks Tim, very well said. I think $1500 is extremely cheap. Especially since, as others have mentioned on here, designers for blogs are usually coders/designers. People just have no idea how much work goes into it if they don’t do it themselves.

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Bonzy August 14, 2006

Looking at your designs makes me feel so inferior (in terms of design). And knowing that you’re living my dream doesn’t make it any better. You’re the best designer there is, man! What’s your secret? Great blog!

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Rico August 23, 2006

At least $1500?

Ok, now I’m really going to learn CSS and improve my HTML.

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Time August 30, 2006

In the end, it comes down to time – people don’t know how long it takes and how much creative effort goes into it.

People will pay $1500 for a nice printer for their business, but when it comes to their online brand – their ONLINE BRAND!!!!! they think “my brother’s, wife’s, uncle’s friend is into IT, and he says he can do me a website for $150″.

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Chris P. September 1, 2006

To think that I wrote a whole post when I could have just said that…

Well put, Time!

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Matt September 15, 2006

Thanks for taking the time to write this, I try to shy away from a lot of web jobs, I prefer print, but this still helps a lot.

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Britgirl September 17, 2006

Great blog, great post. And since I’m using Pressrow on my Wordpress.com blog – great themes. Your designs stand out head and shoulders from the the crowd.

I used to work for a small web design company, with extremely talented designers, IA’s content specialists, you name it, we had it. To prepare quotations and do sales presentations (as well as project manage) I used to cost out the time of everyone for consultation through to design and delivery, and even though we often underpriced ourselves to get the business, it was remarkable the number of people who wanted design for free. In fact they wanted everything for free,even though they often didn’t really know what they were looking for and wanted help with that too.

Obviously we were chasing the wrong customers, those who thought that skill, knowledge and talent come free, gratis and for (almost) nothing.
The good customers, as was noted above, gave us no trouble at all and trusted the knowledge they were buying. For those bleating about the cost of building a professional blog being “expensive” perhaps what you are looking for isn’t a professional designer.The design is actually the outcome of creativty, thought, consultation, planning and a host of other things that you do not necessarily see.

In design, as in most things in life, you get what you pay for. If an entrepreneur or business person feels queasy at investing in a stellar design for their company, I’d really query just how long they expect to remain in business. But that’s just me.

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tweaked October 3, 2006

http://www.oswd.org!!!!

nice article BTW.. heh but this has hundreds/thousands of free templates. :/

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Roxy October 12, 2006

Excellent article, I like it.

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Pixel October 23, 2006

I’ll do the same thing for free

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Brad October 23, 2006

Great post! I think the most frustrating thing about running a web development company is dealing with individuals who don’t understand what it takes to make a great website / blog / design. I will definitely be referring any potential clients we have to your post if they start complaining about the cost of their project. Thanks for taking the time to put this post together and giving some real pricing to compare to. You may want to check out a related blog post on our site at: http://infinitewebdesign.com/journal/clients/archives/2006/10/14/good-design-is-good-business/

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Geo October 23, 2006

I say you raise the price. There is nothing worse then having cheap clients I prefer to have no clients in that situation. Also raise the bar when you select your clients. I normally do businesses that have been established for some time I know what some might think but lessons have taught me to deal only with profesionals who appreciate and understand the work.

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J. Barbosa October 23, 2006

$1,500 is a drop in the bucket. Those that call $1,500 unreasonable have obviously never sat down and hand coded 50 lines of compliant XHTML and 2500 lines of CSS only to replicate the exact template you just took 10 hours to create and prefect in Photoshop/Fireworks.

I charged $1,500 on my last project for a static front page, and a single secondary page. They recieved every pennies worth.

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Sarah August 3, 2010

Thanks for writing this. $1500 for a static front page and a single secondary page sounds reasonable to me if it was well-designed. I think people are absolutely crazy to complain about $1500 for a well-designed site.

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Charles October 23, 2006

Wow! I can’t believe anybody would really pay that much. I’ve done a few sites of my own and I have never hit that price with any of them.

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Kane Ford November 21, 2012

“A few sites”? LOL.

Well that’s why. Get back to us when you’ve spent 15 years doing this and live, eat, and breathe design and development. ;)

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George Huff October 23, 2006

I think pricing is relative to the client. It needs to be treated that way. I am not selling templates that I can charge a flat rate to, I am charging for ideas, creative.

There is no base price for an idea. There are only expectations.

Also to be considered is the amount of value a blog will give back to the person(s) paying for it. Blogs can be more valuable than traditional websites in just about every category. We need to be charging more for them.

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Dave Davis October 23, 2006

Another great article. An issue that most if us face. I think thought that educating the customer on the benefit and the process is key.

All down to valuing the service I guess. Thanks for the article.

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Anonymous October 23, 2006

You say “What you do get at this price is rock-solid, hand-crafted, browser-tested CSS, XHTML, and simple (but striking) graphic design.”

But under FireFox, the Gadzooki and Biziki websites are broken in the left hand column (i.e., incomplete blocks – usually no title and or empty).

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nsharp October 23, 2006

OK, lets take an example of one of your designs:
http://www.biziki.com/

I get 143 validation errors
http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.biziki.com%2F

and the site is broken in IE6 (but hey, who uses IE6 anyway).

So, basically you charged $1800 for that template (after all the rest of the site is wordpress, which is, um, free).

Dude, you rock.

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BobArdKor October 23, 2006

“Professional blog designs are a luxury item.”

I’m gonna quote that. Nice post !

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nsharp October 23, 2006

http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http://www.kentuckyalliance.org/
83 errors..

Did you validate any of these templates? Or is that an optional extra service?

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Chris P. October 23, 2006
  1. Gadzooki and Biziki were two of the first five sites I ever went live with, and I have absolutely no control over the content on either of those sites. It’s highly possible that the new owners have tried to insert elements with widths greater than the sidebar column will allow. Either way, I would be the first to tell you that both of those sites are crap by my standards, mostly because I’ve learned a ton since then.
  2. If you are going to try and be a wise guy, at least leave your URL. Otherwise, you just look like a spineless ass who wants to get in a cheap shot. What have you done besides flap your gums? We’ll never know because you’re Mr. Anonymous!

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Chris P. October 23, 2006

nsharp: My we are cool, aren’t we. News flash — Biziki and Gadzooki were both free.

Oh, and Kentucky Alliance? That was the first commissioned site I ever did. How about checking Pearsonified.com? Or maybe the Cutline theme for WordPress?

At least I shamelessly parade examples of my work. You? On your site, you give no indication of any sort of “job” or “expertise” — instead, you merely choose to come here via Digg and insult designs that are live examples of a learning process.

Look at this site in its current state. Look at Cutline. Look at the progress I’ve made this year.

What have you done?

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Anonydesign October 23, 2006

Think about it – how long does it take to do the work?

A simple, 3-day job, at 8 hours a day, $50 and hour, means 24 hours of time and $1200. Can most people expect to do a well-designed, finished, tested, functional site in three days?

Beyond the blog world, let’s say a Website takes four weeks to design, code, and roll out. With a small team (say 4 people) at the same rate, that’s a cost of $16,000.

I’m not expensive, but I won’t do a week’s work for under $2000 either.

$1500 is quite affordable.

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Alan Gurling October 23, 2006

As a frustrated designer, this post and the comments as well, are fuel for me, to strive to be good enough to be anywhere near what you can do. Excellent post.

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Patrick October 23, 2006

Okay I could honestly be a nagger but here’s my overall problem with this. Most people who want web sites, full blown stuff require more design than some of these bloggs. As a matter of fact two of your blogs are the same with the exception of color which would not require much time so if you charged those two people $1500 each that is a rip off.

At the same time if you are getting paid $1500 more props to you for not doing what so many constantly do which it cut their prices until they bleed. I think web design should be priced reasonable. While $1500 sounds unreasonable when you are explaining your reasons behind it I totally 100% understand. I just wish there wasn’t as many bottom feeders who roam around looking for the cheapest prices.

One does have to wonder if you do this solely as your living and how much you really make in a given year. I know that’s personal and I am sure your not interested in sharing I just find it amazing that someone could live off designing blogs and I’ve yet to see anyone who can.

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Robin 'Roblimo' Miller October 23, 2006

Well… let’s see… my personal site is on WP with the “veryplaintxt” theme, which cost me $0.00 to get and install.

The *professional* sites I work on all day at OSTG are created by two full-time staff designers backed by a group of programmers.

And then, there’s this site — CadeTropicalArt.com — that I whapped up for a neighbor in about an hour with the Sitebuilder utility (from Yahoo). Awful HTML, but it’s all the Web site she needs right now.

Different people (and companies), different needs, different budgets…

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Martin Bland October 23, 2006

The way to do it is to buy a high quality domain for sale or auction at forums like sitepoint or digitalpoint. I got the template .psd for my website, DigitalPortrait.net, for $35. After that I paid $200 to get it coded in PHP. $10 domain + $35 template + $200 coding + free hosting (I’m special) = $245 website creation. You just got to know where to look.

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Patrick October 23, 2006

Martin Bland WTF? The whole point of his article is custom blogs not cookie cutter designs. Had he talks about buying one of the endless psd files that they sell to god knows how many people so your site is unoriginal I am sure your post would’ve made since but you posting how much your cookie cutter site cost you makes none.

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Andy October 23, 2006

Seems to me you only focus on design companies that charge more than you which leads me to believe this is just for getting clients.

If hiring a registered company (paying taxes) and works from an office I would say $1800 as a base rate is reasonable. But when you can easily find people who work at home and don’t pay taxes online $600 – $1000 is a more reasonable price.

Obviously if you chose someone who has completed further education in web design then expect to pay more as you are paying for those years they spent learning.

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Patrick October 23, 2006

Wait Chris. Now you have me scared! I just read what you wrote to Nsharp. which is:

——————————-
nsharp: My we are cool, aren’t we. News flash — Biziki and Gadzooki were both free.

Oh, and Kentucky Alliance? That was the first commissioned site I ever did. How about checking Pearsonified.com? Or maybe the Cutline theme for WordPress?

At least I shamelessly parade examples of my work. You? On your site, you give no indication of any sort of “job” or “expertise” — instead, you merely choose to come here via Digg and insult designs that are live examples of a learning process.

Look at this site in its current state. Look at Cutline. Look at the progress I’ve made this year.
———————————-

But yet you clearly state:
—————————-
Because some people asked for it (and because this site is woefully incomplete when it comes to my portfolio…), here’s a list of some sites that I’ve designed recently:
—————————–

So your like contradicting yourself by saying these are recent sites. Also two of the sites are free and one was the first you ever did? If this is recent and it is then I would think that $1500 for a newbie designer (YOU) is expensive. Just cause you can pick up CSS and design a blog doesn’t give you expert cred.

This blog is just a marketing ploy to make you look like more of a professional which your obviously not. You just started and your attempting to get your name out there by using digg. Not bad.

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monoeject October 23, 2006

The real answer to the question of how a designer should price their design work is simply – “As much as you can get for it”. If you’ve got the portfolio and the reputation to back it up then there is no reason to ask for anything less than the maximum you can get, unless you’re doing charity work or you’re a student or hobbiest. No $number mentioned in this article seems even close to unreasonable to me. Design is not eggs or gasoline… there is no bluebook value, no standard price.

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Markus Diersbock October 23, 2006

The issue is NOT PRICE — it is VALUE, that needs
to be communicated.

If someone says my nephew can do it for $50, they are relating the site to an electronic brochure. Which most people think websites are. They are not.

Depending on the business, websites are the store-front, the sales rep, the store shelves, the company’s face or image. This last one is the most important. Image is everything, it’s the “trust” the customer has in your company in lieu of a physical presence.

Are they willing to let their 15yr old nephew be VP of Marketing? Then why are they entrusting the future of the company on $50?

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monoeject October 23, 2006

Well, if there’s one thing that’s true in this business, it’s that some people (even would-be clients) don’t really place much _value_ in design. You can’t help these people, and shouldn’t try :)

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daelan October 23, 2006

One additional item that needs to be pointed out. When you pay someone to design and build you a website, you aren’t paying them for the 10 or 12 hours they spend building the site, you are paying them for the (in some cases) 5 – 10 years of experience and the design and development expertise that they bring to the table. So yes, of course someone could spend 2 hours with dreamweaver or the yahoo site builder and shit out a website, but building a technically sound and well designed site is not something that just anyone can do.

It takes years and years of constant learning and development to become a professional web designer.

If you look at it from the perspective of the business owner, would you put your companies brand and reputation in the hands of an amateur ? probably not. In this industry, you get what you pay for.

And as far as free open source templates go, the entire essence of design is to communicate a specific message. When i design a website for a client, the clients “message” is what drives the design. Every single pixel is placed with the sole intention of supporting the clients brand and unique selling point. how could a free template possibly compete with that?

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Brandon Riggs October 23, 2006

Excellent Post.

I agree with a lot of comments. Experience is one of the key factors. I like to show examples and explain to the client why design can be so costly. Once they realize how involved design is and how insanely helpful an online presence can be, they’re generally more inclined to spend big bucks. A lot of business people don’t understand whats involved technically and creatively, they just know how to run a business. If someone asked me to rewire a hybrid car I would have no idea how. People have to understand why there are web specialists and how valueable we can be.

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Chris P. October 23, 2006

Patrick: Keep in mind that my “portfolio” list only contains sites that were coded up this year. Also, it should be noted that I’ve only been designing professionally since the middle of December 2005. On top of all that, I’ve stated in a previous comment that I have basically rejected those early designs, but in the interest of full disclosure, I have no problem stating that I am, in fact, responsible for the first iterations of those designs.

Be that as it may, I am supremely confident in my coding skills, and I consider them to be a much stronger asset than my design eye. You will never hear me claim to be anything even remotely approaching an artist, and frankly, I don’t aspire to be one.

I do, however, wish to understand the nature of colors, element interaction, and the ideas and influences of design.

In each project, I try to bring what I’ve learned to the table. Despite the fact that I’ve been doing this for less than a year, I feel as though my current work is worth every penny.

And to be honest, I wouldn’t charge less than $3000 to do a site these days.

So you can say what you like about my experience or expertise, and I’ll be over here fielding emails from prospective clients.

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theMaab October 23, 2006

Very good post to find! I’ve been doing sites for small businesses for several years now, and one of the hardest things in the process for me is the quote.

For me, it seems only 25%-50% of the time am I actually working/coding/designing on the site. The other time is spent on educating, explaining, probing and communicating with the customer to get the answers you need to build the site they need. Most of my customers just know they need a site.

I’ve tried to look at the cost of other things a business would spend money on for advertising and marketing. The Phonebook / Yellow Page Ads. Yellow page ads in my area run at least $1,500 for the year, and that’s the smaller ads.

So considering: yellow page ad is only for the year, a website can do a lot more for your business than a piece of paper and that a phonebook will only reach people in a particular area, I’d say that $1,500 – $2,000 is a decent price over the alternatives.

And even though I have no idea how much effort/time/work is put in to creating and publishing a single yellow page ad, I’m sure it takes way more effort/time/work to create a decent website for a business.

That’s my ‘two sense’. I was glad to see my pricing is not much different than the others mentioned here.

On another note, it would be nice to find a forum/blog type site for individual web designers to talk and discuss these kinds of topics. Not code and design, but the business side of things.

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Dyon October 23, 2006

I agree with Anonydesign at 5:07 pm that 1500 USD for a week work is a normal price.
But I really don’t understand the poster, I’ve really never heard him.
He gives us a bunch of links, which are, in my standards, not really that ‘super’, don’t get me wrong, I like ‘em, but not SUPER.
Then he tells us that of that short list, a couple of them are free (why? I thought you were trying to tell me why you have to be so expensive).
Half of the list is way too old, and then he was a beginner.
The writer of this article is trying to look like a pro, but is actualy just a nice guy who is loving the bloging stuff, creates nice designs which will probably help him in his future.
He is definately not a bigtime designer.

Anyways, prety nice article, no digg

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Koray October 23, 2006

Let’s face it, you don’t NEED to be paying this kind of cash. When you go after an A-list designer, sure, expect to drop serious dough. But I’m sure we all know, A-list designers are NOT the only good designers. They just have had the most exposure.

There are so many really talented designers that aren’t as well known yet, and they charge accordingly. I can get a wonderful fully valid semantic tested design for $800. Plain and simple.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying the high prices are unjustified. If you have taken the time to build your brand, By all means capitalize. But a consumer does not HAVE to pay the price the Big Boys are charging, for the same quality work.

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Chris P. October 23, 2006

Dyon, a comment is worth a thousand diggs :)

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razz October 23, 2006

My word, what a charlatan we have here!

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Dyon October 23, 2006

Chris P.: You’re right ;)
But still it isn’t what I hoped for

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Chris P. October 23, 2006

I agree — my newer stuff is about 1000 times better (it’s not linked to in this post, as the post is from June), and I didn’t intend to come across as the be all, end all authority on design.

Be that as it may, it’s clear from the traction this post has received that design pricing is a hot, hot topic!

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Joe October 23, 2006

Hey,

Your designs are rip offs. You are noting but a copy-cat mate. Your markup is not valid. Stop playing mr. Big Pro Blog designer. First, it’s not professional to talk about prices, second – your work says it all.

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Chris P. October 23, 2006

Joe, so does your link.

Oh wait, that’s not clickable. My bad, bro. I had mistaken you for an Ebert or a Roper; not a spineless prick.

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Anne Organization October 23, 2006

I just put out an RFP for a CMS website design (lots of details to the requirements in the RFP). We don’t want our design to be a standard template.

We got back seven bids:
$1,000
$6,500
$6,500
$8,000
$8,500
$9,000-$15,000 (and point off cause they can’t make a decision!)
$28,000

So, it looks like the sweet spot for the work we want (a little more than a custom blog site, but not that much more) that will be done in Joomla! or Drupal is between $6,500 and $8,500. But some developers out there are clueless as to how to price.

Anne

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Chris P. October 23, 2006

Anne, that’s an excellent comment — probably the most revealing one thus far. I agree with your sweet spot there, and just estimating based on what I know about both Drupal and Joomla!, that’s a pretty reasonable price for a site that gets an expert’s touch.

Thanks again for that enlightening disclosure!

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anada October 23, 2006

In most cases, bells and whistles like plugin support, unique page designs, and extra graphics push the price up into the $1800-$2000 range.

a very nice story telling people for which they worth to pay. i’d ask a big discount on using free wp plugins.

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Bartek October 23, 2006

Excellent article. I’ve never priced blog design. I tend to price a little lower than your average for website design, but still, its usually starting at 1,000. Either way, most people are very happy with the prices. They’re paying for time and people are sometimes so suprised at price because they’re paying ‘so much’ for an abstract thing. Well, you can pretty much price anything as long as you can prove the value to the client.

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New Hampshire (NH) Website Design & Software Development October 23, 2006

I find that if you can prove the value of any website component to your client, you can charge whatever you want within reason. Ideally you would want to sell additional components with the design so it would appear to the client that they are getting more value for their money. Most full website template custom designs that I’ve seen can go for $1000 or more. Like I said, it’s all about value.

Steve – TasenSoftware.com

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Brad October 23, 2006

Wow.

Great article. Can I send some of my potentials clients this? Of, better yet, can I copy it (with attribution) to my blog?

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Chris P. October 24, 2006

Brad, you can link to it, but please don’t copy it. Thanks!

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Foofy October 24, 2006

Holy crap, I’m really getting ripped off!

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Ants October 24, 2006

I like the article.

Following the logic of people who say this is over-pricing, why does a luxury car cost more than a “family” car when the cost of materials can’t be _that_ much more? Are luxury car drivers idiots who have been ripped off?

The key idea is “value added”.

This is a professional service, and what you get from it is greater than the cost of WP (i.e. > gratis).

Don’t get me wrong, some people can knock up great site because they happen to have good IT knowledge and a great eye for design. But these people are very much in the minority, with most people having either one, or none, of these skills.

For this reason there are professional web designers. And following the cost-per-hour break down that Anonydesign did above, quibling over this price would mean a designer struggles to have a decent standard of living and will trasfer to other design or IT related disciplines. It would be the end of professional web design!!! ARGH!

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CGarian October 24, 2006

Great article. The point was made in the comments section about how you can find a lesser-known/hungrier designer to professionally put together a great blog for $800. This is true, but it only proves the point of the OP. You can find an absolute deal for $800, but you still acknowledge that the value of your product is well above it.

Believe it or not – this does not apply only to web design/development, either – most businesses do not go for the lowest quote submitted. If you’re Joe Schmo (or Joe Schmo, LLC) and you want a nice blog, you can get it for cheap/free. If getting from A to B is a fairly simple task and not critical to your business, then a bicycle may do. Otherwise, you may need something on the flip side of transporation-technology.

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yaniv October 24, 2006

do you see real competition from offshore designers ? from you’re posts it seem that there’s almost no competition from offshore ? why ?

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Chris P. October 24, 2006

yaniv: To be perfectly honest, I believe that supply is so far below demand in the design game that competition is not yet a real factor.

At the highest level — perhaps for corporate and big media design — there is much more competition. Web design, on the other hand, is still very much the wild wild west.

What’s more, blog design is even wilder, and I think that people who possess a firm grasp of a CMS, coding skills, and design can easily convert that into a well-paying venture.

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ram October 24, 2006

I think that your pricing is really rather cheap, at the studio I have been working at recently my skills are sold at a starting rate of £50UK+VAT@17.5%/hour – around $110US. (I see dynamic print work jobs go out at £100-150UK/hour).

For $1800US you would only get at most 3 days of my time if I am working in a studio.

If I work on my own on projects I am currently charging £20-50/hour, but I have less overheads as a sole trader than a studio.

To me I would say that creating & configuring blog/templates/graphics/plugins, sending the work back and forth would take a minimum of 1 week, more like 2. Taking this as a baseline this makes your work really rather reasonably priced for a professional job.

Different people for different projects though – I cannot afford to do personal sites, and am not able to build a large business’ site on my own. I sit in the middle ground and build sites for small/medium-sized businesses.

People just need to get the designer/agency who suits their project, support needs & budgets.

If you want a personal site and can’t take the kinds of prices businesses charge the best coices are:

  1. Get a student to do your design for you. You can save a lot of money and they need the exposure & practice.
  2. Get a stock template modified.
  3. Get the work done overseas.

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Dan Zambonini October 24, 2006

I’ve run a web agency for the last 7 years or so, and reckon your prices are excellent value, given the quality. Props for the disclosure.

I wonder if the recent addition of another browser rendering engine (IE7) will force up prices (in the industry) a little, as it’s yet another browser to cross-browser test on…

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Mike Griggs October 24, 2006

I empathise with Chris’s post very closely. The problem is even more acute in the kind of server consulting work that we do, because our end-product is less tangible. Only when things go wrong on installs maintained by “a friend of a friend”, and don’t go wrong on our professional installs, does our time become valuable.

Back on the subject of web design and cost, a good friend of mine works for a large web company here in the UK. They don’t touch any projects under £100,000, and they get huge amount of business.

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MADPHILL October 24, 2006

WELL said! This one’s going in the ole’ memory file for sure!

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Sunil Shibad October 29, 2006

Tom said:

“Please enlighten me (and about 10 million others); what exactly does a professionally designed blog have that Blogger doesn’t? ”

Yes please enlighten me too.

Web designers feel threatened by Blogger, Wordpress or any of the free blogging services.

I am a copywriter by profession and set up a blog because I did not want to call up my web design guys every now and then every time I wanted to share some information or go off on a rant.

When my clients ask me for fees I never try and justify it or break it up.

Either they get it or don’t.

Creativity is subjective.

I have seen terrible graphic design companies being paid loads of money just because they wrap it up in lots of marketing BS.

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Josie Xie October 30, 2006

Wow! And I thought it was one tenth of the price!

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Pozycjonowanie November 2, 2006

Very good resource.

Thanks, i can tell that took effort.

Bookmarked for sure.

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Naina Redhu November 8, 2006

Thanks. Good piece of writing. Much needed. I don’t know anyone who mentions their charges on their website. Brilliant! I hope clients can read this.

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telefoni cellulare sharp November 9, 2006

Thanks. Good piece of writing. Much needed. I don’t know anyone who mentions their charges on their website. Brilliant! I hope clients can read this.

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josoroma November 12, 2006

Hi!
MY question is not about design cost is about content.

For example, using a CMS like joomla, if the site design and initial content is finished, what is the price for adding just only new content, the price of the content is by words and photos in the page? How can i calculate this when the amopunt of data and new pages is unknown?

Thanx in advanced.

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Chris P. November 12, 2006

Josoroma,

I’m not a very good resource for that question because I’ve never actually hired anyone to produce content.

Despite that, I think that the costs would vary based on who you hire and what kind of wages they’re used to. I’ve heard of people outsourcing for like $10 an article, but I’ve also heard of much more expensive prices.

I think you’ll find that just like anything else, you get what you pay for.

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Josoroma November 12, 2006

Thanx Chis.

The client doesnt needs me like an editro exactly, he is going to give me the Word document with onw or two pages of content and two or three pictures. Because of this, i need to calculate some reseanoble price just only for:

#1
Log in inside Joomla CMS

#2
Copy the text from word to notepad and from notepad to joomla. Give some format to the text like tables or list

#3
Resize and upload the 2 or 3 pictures.

Thanks again.

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Chris P. November 12, 2006

Sounds like it should be cheap to me. I’m no pricing expert, so I can’t just drill down on a number for you.

All I can say is, decide what it’s worth to you, and charge at least that much.

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Josoroma November 12, 2006

Here in costa rica is amazing some people charge from $1000 to $1500 just only for a simple design, nothing creative and 6 static pages.

Because of the costa rican market i cant be cheaper than them. But my moral say, dont be a thief.

Maybe im going to charge from $25 to $50 by page.

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Jenki November 15, 2006

Prob is amateurs are out running here there everywhere. They will charge you $50 for a site done in a few hours, and cheapo companies/individuals will definitely accept that. It can look darn pretty, but unlike the professionals, they will most probably not take into consideration what the website is communicating to the visitors, in the use of colours, fonts and so on. These $50 sites are plain, 1-time, amateur-student-who-learnt-a-bit-of-html-and-want-some-pocket-money products. Maybe the professionals should lias with these small-timers; give them the small projects, while the professionals take the big ones, and when small-timers come across some really nice individuals who understands how professional web-designing works, then they can link such individuals back to the professionals; lightening the professionals workload and giving small-timers extra pocket money.

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Sharon November 15, 2006

Since you are not taking any more clients, can you reccomend someone that does great work like you do? When do you think you may take on new clients?

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Massimo November 22, 2006

Wonderful article. It really helps when talking to possible future clients. You have cleared very well the stages of designing a single website.
Just interesting: I know this is your blog. How much would you ask for it if you did it for a client? :)

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Kevin November 23, 2006

I always wondered who designed the SEO BOOK Blog. Now i know! great job!

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snailface November 27, 2006

Jeez Louise, what’s all this hullabloo?

Anyway, I’m writing in cause I was just undercut by half on a proposal for a site with requested features out the yin-yang.

For the life of me I can’t figure out how the guys he chose are going to do it – must be using stock stuff.

Oh well, just goes to show, as its been said many times in these comments, some get it, some don’t.

Hey, while I’m on the subject, anyone have links to good resources on pricing? My paranoia now has me wondering if I should rethink things.

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Julian Samuel November 27, 2006

Hi am thinking on studying website design. I was wondering for a 1st time user when i finish, how much should i start to charge clients for an excellent web page. I like your prices that u gave, $1000 to $5000 price range

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Chris P. November 27, 2006

Snailface — Never worry about what the competition charges. Follow these steps and you’ll have enough clients to pull in rates that really pay the bills:

  • Run a blog that is focused on design and development
  • Improve your skills by designing and coding sample layouts
  • Learn a CMS platform like WordPress inside and out

Within three months, you should begin to receive inquiries about design. From my experiences, you’ll probably land a client at some point who will point you in the direction of more work.

Eventually, you’ll be able to leverage this network into a profitable design firm.

Julian — I wouldn’t charge a dime until I had at least 4 or 5 sample layouts under my belt. You really need to bend and tweak some designs in order to learn the nuances behind topics like:

  • Graphical production and cutting
  • Semantic XTHML
  • Cross-browser CSS

I remember thinking that I knew what was going on after coding for like a month. I look back on those times now, and I can’t believe I charged people back then — man was that shady!

The bottom line is that you need to be absolutely certain that you’re capable of providing a quality product. Once you’ve established that, then you can reasonably charge rates like those I’ve described here.

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Deb November 29, 2006

I am needing professional help on my blog.
Do you have time for fixing it up? I am not looking for alot but I would like a background color and have my pages set up in an order somewhat like yours, posibly with different colors.
Deb

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Josoroma November 30, 2006

Thanks to all your comments and different but similar points of view, now im sure about how to charge about anything, this is the point of view of our team, is in Spanish:

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Josoroma November 30, 2006

Ooops! Here is the link:

Thanks to all your comments and different but similar points of view, now im sure about how to charge about anything, this is the point of view of our team, is in Spanish:

http://www.sukialogic.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9&Itemid=27

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Internetfirma Köln December 2, 2006

Heh, cool Josoroma :)

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Skateboard December 9, 2006

That’s an excellent comment — probably the most revealing one thus far. I agree with your sweet spot there, and just estimating based on what I know about both Drupal and Joomla!, that’s a pretty reasonable price for a site that gets an expert’s touch.

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Marie December 9, 2006

A subtle question.
I guess: The fair price is a competitive price.

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will December 11, 2006

man I really need to up my prices here.. lol one good thing working from New Zealand is the conversion rate. a $2000US project ends up being worth $3000NZ+ its wicked :D
thanks for the article by the way!!

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Sarah December 17, 2006

Great article, Chris!!

Sadly it is true that there are those out there unwilling to pay the 1500$ for a well-made site… a client of mine thought that amount was definitely not worth it! As an ammature web designer myself, I suppose he thinks that I won’t charge anywhere near that price range. Since I’m in desperate need of money I suppose he’s right.

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Pop Stalin Design December 19, 2006

Nice incite Chris. However, what a lot of posters’ seem to be missing is for some of us we make our living off of designing sites because not everyone wants to find a cheap solution or is capable of searching for free templates, etc.

In considering this, there are things like overhead. Pricing projects should be based on what you need to live and make a profit. It seems most people don’t want to take into consideration that web/blog designers do want to be able to pay the bills and go to a movie now and again. Maybe be able to pay their car payment. I find it interesting how many people who contact me want to make money with their business, markup their costs to make a profit but don’t expect the same from creatives.

Lastly, if we’re talking about pricing experience, based on Chris’ costs, I should be charging $10k per project.

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Jordan Greenaway December 21, 2006

Go you!

Brilliant article. I think – unfortunately – some people can’t grasp the skill it takes to design something that makes you go ‘Wow!’ (…and Chris can do that – aren’t I nice).

But the visual itself is only scratching the surface, designers have to think about: SEO, accessibility, cross brower compatibility.

Put it this way – I’d pay $1500 for a professional design if I needed it (…which I don’t). Goddamn! I’d pay a lot more!

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Oldie January 1, 2007

Hi there,
I think thats totally reasonable. Personally i run a mid-size design agency of 14 people which i have developed simply from being a lone freelancer and taking on more and more help (wont say which on for fear of clients spotting this post, its not important anyway). We don’t do a lot of blogs, mainly full site builds based on our own cms architecture. All of our clients are buinesses and we have a policy never to touch anything less than $30,000 simply because once we’re through legal and specifications, project plan etc there have already been 30 man hours on the project, sometimes 50 if we have pitched for the job. We also have to cover the cost of account managing & project managing the process as well as other miscellaneous (i can never spell that word) overheads we have to factor in.
We work it out that 1 hour = $140 apprx. so thats $7000 before the ‘actual’ work has started. We are by no means one of the big 30 kudos agancies and these guys charge MUCH more.
I do remember that when i was freelancing alone i could never have tried to ask for $30k for a couple of weeks work but i suppose that this was because i couldnt attract the bigger clients however, on the flipside you should remind your clients that if they were to go to an agency like ours we wouldnt touch them, and if for some reason we did, we would insist they signed a contract before any investigative meeting and would allow them around 1 day in total, (thats for design, build, css/html coding and changes) for their $1500.
If you have a healthy demand for services then i would second the opinion that you should up the price and only do the jobs that pay really well. This is for two reasons;
Firstly- you will be correctly rewarded for your services and could concentrate on the job instead of trying to make upi the loss by doing a load of other things on the side as i always did.
Secondly- its in your interest to be able to spend as much time as possible doing a good job. This will reflect on your portfolio and so increase further demand, and your appeal to new clients.

The easy way to price your work is simple:
calculate the yearly salary you desire, lets say that in the US this might be $55,000 p/a in the UK this might be £30,000 and in western Europe this would be somthing like 45,000Euros. Secondly (lets just assume that you generally only skin blogs, nothing more intensive), being conservative, work out how many blogs you think you can skin per week, working a solid 10am to 6pm, 5 days per week. Multiply that by 40 (allowing 5 weeks holiday and 7 weeks contingency for dry periods where you should be doing your portfolio). Then you have a figure as to how many blogs you can do per year. Divide your salary by the number of blogs and you have the price you should fairly charge.

CRUCIALLY* DON’T DO THE TYPICAL DESIGNER THING AND OVERESTIMATE YOUR PRODUCTIVITY!

I think you will find that your estimate is close to the mark.

Lastly, there will always be designers who are not in western europe or north america who can afford to do it for less. Its never worth even trying to compete, you cant unless you want to move back into your parents house.

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Hochzeitskleider January 2, 2007

Hi, thank you for starting this public discussion. Most of programmers are doing there calculation based on the strength of the customer, so as a customer you realy dont know, if you are overcarged. But I think the core of the pricing problem is, that customers are willing to pay for work – if the work can be counted in hours – but most customers are not willing to pay for creative work like a great idea, that is reason why internet is not so different than it should be… because copy a design is faster, less hours, less costs… And normaly the customer dont realize, that he get the same that hundrets of other web pages. If you compare it with shops, than you will see, that a lot of shops use OS-Commerce and only a less of them invest money to change the design.. but if you think about the mission of a shop – it should make money!!!! – than it is nearly not to understand why they dont invest, but now you can imagine that much more customers are not willing to invest in the design of a blog, because here the way to make money is much harder compared with a shop…

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helen broker January 17, 2007

Hello Design,
i will like you to build my jewelry website which the name of my company is Helen jewelry store limited for me with 4 pages and 10 images and text includes designs,layout and scanning optimization photo and as for the domain and hosting and the maintenance a cilent of my will handle that okay and hear is a sample for you to check and go to http://www.jeremy-hoye.co.uk okay and is going to be a ststic htlm images okay and i will like you to get back to with a total quote okay mail me am online now.
Best Regards

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Odzihozo January 18, 2007

I want to thank everyone, including the author, for a great post and a fantastic bunch of comments. Thanks for giving me confidence in my decision to become a designer. I’m starting classes next week to earn my degree. My ultimate goal is to design my own site, but I do plan to free-lance to pay the bills before my own site takes off.

I’ve been wondering what to charge, along with many other things. You guys have all been a great help, (even the negative comments are helpful). At 46 years old, I was wondering if I was making the right move.

I have every bit of confidence now that I am.

See you all at my success banquet in a few years! Date, place, and time TBA. You’re all invited to a home cooked meal from chef Odzihozo (if I design even half as good as I cook, the banquet won’t be far in the future). Kegs will be provided! Thanks, and see you all there!

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Josh January 29, 2007

Chris, I really appreciate this article. I just went through a huge blowout with a client who, after the site was built of course, claimed that my prices were horrendous and that the web designers they talked to claimed no site should cost more than 2k!

Anyway, sorry about the rant, it’s refreshing to hear someone be upfront about defending their prices. This article gave me a much needed moral boost, thank you.

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Nick February 5, 2007

I find this kind of funny to be honest. It’s really all relative. If you can find people who will shell out that kind of money, then so be it. To be honest, the designs from all the links I’ve seen posted here and the comments included all seem mediocre at best. And I don’t agree with those who equate quality with money. If someone pays half the price you’ve listed does that mean he’s/she’s getting a less worthy web design? Of course, not.

It is important to note that you do have to consider how much you need in order to have a living as a professional web designer. Unfortunately, this is not important to the client. They’re concerned with their design & image.

But hey, if most are getting 2 grand a pop for average designs someone like myself could do for less only makes my life that much easier :-)

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Chris P. February 5, 2007

Nick — If you’re going to dish out criticism, you may as well have the balls to post your URL so you can fetch a taste of your own medicine.

Turnabout is fair play, you know.

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Nick February 5, 2007

I find it amusing anyone who’s criticized your work you call them a prick or lack “balls”. It’s hard to imagine someone w/that primitive thinking would ever make it as a professional. If you don’t like criticism I’d suggest not publishing your ideas publicly. Additionally, I don’t need to provide a URL to offer criticism of what I think isn’t worth a quarter of the dollar presented here. Sorry, Charlie.

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Chris P. February 5, 2007

Nick — Over 10,000 people use products I’ve created in the past year. I remain completely transparent about my activities on the Web, and I’ve got links on this site to designs that, by my standards today, are quite embarrassing.

However, that’s where I came from, and even the crappiest of those sites represents one of the many stepping stones I’ve crossed along the way.

You, on the other hand, have nothing except a sharp tongue and a smug attitude. If you truly are as clever as you’d have us believe from your comments, then why not leave a URL and show us? All you’re doing is tossing rocks at me from behind a wall! It’s pathetic.

Why waste your time here? Why not hang out on South Beach with ambitious-yet-naïve swimsuit models while you cash in on all your Web design prowess?

You aren’t part of the conversation at all. In fact, you represent nothing more than senseless noise. At the end of the day, I’ll be the one smiling smugly, simply because I’ll be the one with the large and active community of friends, colleagues, and users.

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audriuz February 6, 2007

design = art = priceless..
;)

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Japan Tuning Spoiler February 6, 2007

Very great article!

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CAD Website Design February 6, 2007

Chris,

My name is Jeff Phillips and I own CAD Website Design. I have been struggling with pricing for quite some time now. Often we get the small mom and pops folks that want something for nothing, and we also get large clients that might laugh at us if we quote the same type pricing. I found your article refreshing and the links to other examples worthy of exploring. We design templates with custom photoshop graphics, employ css techniques to optimize the template and integrate the design into various platforms.

I would like to know if you find this pricing model is still accurate, and I will be linking to your blog posting from my blog when I write something similiar for my clients.

Thanks for the article.

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P.Moore February 9, 2007

Over 10,000 people use products I’ve created in the past year. I remain completely transparent about my activities on the Web, and I’ve got links on this site to designs that, by my standards today, are quite embarrassing.

However, that’s where I came from, and even the crappiest of those sites represents one of the many stepping stones I’ve crossed along the way.

You, on the other hand, have nothing except a sharp tongue and a smug attitude. If you truly are as clever as you’d have us believe from your comments, then why not leave a URL and show us? All you’re doing is tossing rocks at me from behind a wall! It’s pathetic.

Thank you for that.

I could not agree with you more.

I’ve been reading you for a long time, Chris. I enjoy most, if not all, of what you write and it has helped me considerably (especially this article).

Potential customers of mine love going ape-sh*t when I give them a quote, but I send them to this post quite frequently to wake them up a bit.

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Chris P. February 9, 2007

P. Moore — Hear hear. Hey man, excellent site you’ve got there, by the way. I dig it!

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kit February 8, 2011

Great post with interesting feedback. I am wondering if you can insert timestamps for comments posted so that readers like myself can better follow the time gap between comments. Cheers!!

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kit February 8, 2011

Actually, there are timestamps but just hidden. I discovered it accidentally while hovering over my name in my comment posted. Anyway, this is a great post

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Nick February 10, 2007

“I’ve got links on this site to designs that, by my standards today, are quite embarrassing.”

Where are the links that hold your high praise?

I figure if you’re going to be a self-proclaimed “web guru” in your About section, then you’d provide a portfolio link of some sort. :-/

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Jan-Frederik February 10, 2007

Great article. For a professional website, 3000 $ is not much – in fact, it is dead cheap. I’ve managed projects where designers with no name or brand charged us for about 9000 $ or more. I’ve seen redesigns of more than 80000 $. So paying 3000$ is worth it.

Yet many out there start a blog – like me – and want to be special. So they need a design. Since they’ve got no profits and all they invest is personal time, 3000 $ is huge. But on the other hand – they’re not the right target group, those people – like me – run for those many free themes.

It would be great to see you themes ajaxified…..

cheers

JF

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Kosmetik February 14, 2007

Very nice page and good articles.

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P.Moore February 22, 2007

P. Moore — Hear hear. Hey man, excellent site you’ve got there, by the way. I dig it!

Thanks a bunch buddy. It looks like I’m headed your route pretty soon (i.e. taking my degree and starting to work for myself). I cannot deal with jerk bosses, which I’m sure you’ve had to deal with before.

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Sun February 26, 2007

I totally agree with you. The problem as I see it, is that most internet users are computer illiterate. I work in IT and 98.5% of the time people call in a problem it’s because their computer isn’t plugged into the socket.

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echthaarteile February 27, 2007

well, i think $1500 is a fair price if the desinger is competent and has a good reputation. Never forget there will be alway someone with just a little less experience who will do it for less but in the end you as customer will pay more because your nerves get ruined…!

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fab March 6, 2007

Geez, im a student freelancer, my prices are around 1000/2000 $ for entire website -.-
Clients are like sharks for me, so difficult talking prices, the worst step of a project :(

Take a look at this book : “Web Redesign 2.0 : Workflow that works” might be usefull ^^

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Porstmann April 16, 2007

In Europe the costs are much smaller for web designs. Nobody pays more than 500 EUR (approx.: US$ 670)

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Respiro, the logo designer April 18, 2007

I think that a good designer has to be paid. Our clients receives more than some design files, they receive the result of our inspiration.

…and the inspiration’s not cheap!

Respiro
http://www.RespiroMedia.com

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mark marchus April 19, 2007

Chris -
How do we do business. I want you to design a product blog. I like your samples. Where are you? I’m in Vancouver, WA. Do we talk
by phone? I think it would be impossible for me to do this all via
email. Let me know via email if you’re available.
Mark

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Matt Keegan April 20, 2007

Thanks for telling it like it is. I repeated some of your points in my article, “$1500 And Upwards For Your Blog Design. I’m too cheap to pay out (at this time) but when I do, I’ll shoot for the high quality work and pay the price.

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Joelle April 25, 2007

I believe I was on that panel you attended. :) The husband and wife team you were thinking of are Susie and Travis from Hop Studios.

Thanks for this article. It’s amazing how many people think that gnomes are responsible for great design on the internet.

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Shelly April 25, 2007

I haven’t been able to read through *all* of the comments here, but I have to say *great* article.

I started out doing web design at the age of 19 (I won’t say how long ago that was, but I remember using AOL *before* it was known as “AOL”!). By the time I was 24, I had people asking me left and right to design sites for them – which I did. For free. I never believed you could get paid for it.

Here it is, so many years later, and I’m still getting paid to do it. I’ve moved from doing regular static sites to…well I’ll just say I haven’t done a flat site like that in about 3 years.

I’ve gone from freebie static sites to having people seek me out for my expertise in customization and implementation with other sides of their businesses – such as shopping carts and podcasts, and I’ve even spoken at a couple of podcasting expos on how to use and implement WordPress. I’ve gone from a wannabe to someone who’s an ::gasp!:: expert!

And still, I am told by many many people that I charge far less than I should be. The prices you are listing here are the ballpark of what I charge. So it’s nice to feel vindicated – knowing someone else who does what I do charges about the same. (You and I need to raise our prices, apparently – I know I’ve been told this about 30 times in the last two weeks!)

And for the record, just because it uses a blogging tool does not mean it’s a blog. I’ve had *several* clients who use WordPress, but do not want to blog at all.

To those who have said “I do this for free” – you are devaluing yourselves. Yes, I did it too. It was a passion. But when I found out I could actually make money at it, I was amazed. And I’m to the point now where most people thing I don’t charge *enough* for what I do. And it’s *still* a passion for me. (I mean, take a look at my site – it sucks right now – I’ve been trying to update it for 2 years, but haven’t had the chance to, because I’m too busy. Regardless of how badly my own site sucks – why do we never have time for ourselves? – people keep hiring me because my work and my reputation stands for itself. I’m so busy I can’t even take time out to make my own site look good – but I *still get paid*! It’s shocking.)

And the people who understand that a good site design costs *at least* this much are the clients you want to have anyway. They’re so much easier to work with, because they understand that it’s not something you just slap up on a page in two minutes. The most amazing thing to me is that people who *expect* it to be cheap also expect the entire world to be hand-delivered on a silver platter for $30 (and in under a week), and are angry when it is not. Working with professionals is awesome, and getting compensated justly is even better!

Anyway, *great* post. I love it, and this site is definitely getting bookmarked.

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Reynan May 3, 2007

Hi Sir,

I highly appreciate this post, and I was just wondering if you could give an estimate on this design that I did if you we’re the one who did this. http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/54396668/

what I will be doing in this design is all in the front-end graphics, slicing, XHTML or HTML4 semantic coding, css and not the integration of the static page to the Wordpress Blog Engine just the static front-end. I’m just doing this because I really need money.. believe it or not this will only cost $250.00.

Man! I really suck at pricing.
well I’m in philippines. and it’s cheap labor here lolz. btw I’m currently designing an 8pages xhtml/css validated ajax based effects site including 4 design study on branding(logo) for $700.00 . It think it’s fair compared from that first one.

what do you think?

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Klasd May 3, 2007

Ok, now I’m really going to learn CSS and improve my HTML.

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MISS_plugin May 11, 2007

Great Post!

I didn’t read all of them, but at least the first 50 or so.
Maybe this is just the way I look at it, but aren’t we all just trying to make a living? Isn’t that what it comes down to? What am I worth per hour and how many hours will I work to complete the job? We base what we are worth based on what we have previously accomplished as well as what we are capable of. I find it odd that this profession gets the shaft when it comes to getting paid. I find design and web programming far more difficult than many skilled professions that pay better. My brother digs holes for a construction company and makes $27 dollars an hour; go figure. I loved the post about the plumber. We don’t shun at paying a plumber $70 bucks to unplug a pipe in 20 minutes, but when it comes to designing a logo or creating a small site, all of a sudden people think your time and skills should equal minimum wage.
Anyway, I got off track. The point is, what is the value of a service? What are your skills worth? Nothing against Plumbers, but I think that designing a corporate identity and building a data driven site is at least as skill worthy as what a plumber does. Unfortunately when my toilet is plugged up, I don’t have a neighbor who has a nephew who will do it for $20 bucks. I call a plumber.

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KLUSTENATOR May 14, 2007

This is to MISS_plugin. You never really know when you are going to have your toilet clog up, and when it happens, you are usually in a state of emergency. At that point, you’re thinking, “I need to call someone, fast. Doesn’t matter who.” Also, you’re not really thinking about the cost so much as the problem. So, after the plumber comes and does his job, he gives you his price, and there’s pretty much nothing you can do about it except pay up. When you need a design for a logo or a site however, you usually know the deadline for it (and in some cases can even set your own deadline). That means that you have time to think every aspect of it through, especially how much money it will cost you. So, its only natural that you then start looking for the lowest possible price, and become disgusted at even the lower costs.

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Dave May 21, 2007

I’ve designed a few sites part-time for small businesses. While my design skills are still in their infancy, I charge a above average rates. I can do this because I guarantee something many other designers don’t; reliability.

I treat business people with professional courtesy and do what I promise to do, on time and under budget. And that always gets me more work.

It’s been mentioned before in this post, but I’ll say it again; Value. That’s what companies are willing to pay for.

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km May 23, 2007

In my opinion reputation determines the price over and beyond typical web design rates. A designer with reputation and a brand can charge whatever they want based on demand of their services. It takes time to reach this point. A reputation can be made overnight with a famous or well-known client.

When I did work my rates varied depending on the vibe I got from the client and how busy I was as the time. Prices should not be written in stone.

I’m curious how many web designers get turned off when a clients first question is about the cost or price.

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Jenny May 26, 2007

I can’t afford that much money for a blog design. Which is why my site sux, but I do the best I can for FREE.

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doryn May 29, 2007

Very interesting article, though it is not very professional to spew out such crass remarks to readers who are not glorifying your work. If you put yourself out there, people will voice their opinions. So, try to remain professional and not fly off the handle at those not raving about your work or thoughts.

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Blumen June 1, 2007

Interessting.
In my oppinion professional designs are worth the money. Today there are many design company who sell their non satisfied products expensivly.

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Web Design Guy June 4, 2007

There is enough competition these days that the price has gone down a lot. The biggest problem is finding a web designer that is not trying to sell you a temlpate. A lot of designers these days remind me of crooked machanics, always trying to rip people off. It’s really important to be cautious and you should be able to find a good web designer that is honest and just tryng to make a living.

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zaneMATTHEW June 5, 2007

wow, this thread is amazing lots of great info.

BTW, all the ppl leaving comments saying its TOO much!! need a big reality check

so you konw css, xhtml, php, wordpress etc. and do a site for less than $1500?
so what your saying is you would do a site like these for $300?
http://merkleinc.com/
http://www.alpinestars.com/ (drupal based)
http://designcollector.ru/ (drupal based)

i say this because blog style sites are the back bone behind coorporate sites that use a CMS

BTW, you didnt even touch on the ‘requirements gathers’ pricing or all the extra BS, like providing help desk/tech support, conducting seminars on the CMS, providing detailed manuals, flowcharts, etc. of the website

DORYN? u say dont rave? get some glow sticks : )
CHRIS P. rave, and rave some more…

thanks

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Respiro Media June 5, 2007

“The biggest problem is finding a web designer that is not trying to sell you a temlpate.”

I am one of those who offers ONLY custom design solutions…

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CS June 7, 2007

Great site.. thx for your artice.. i was enjoy it :d

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yev June 9, 2007

Wow. Let’s see . . . I have been writing code for about 25 years and have been designing websites since 1995. I guess experience-wise, given the fact my first real web project was the “blog” I made in 1996, I ought to be demanding a whole lot more for my skills!
Thanks, Chris.

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Webactif June 12, 2007

Its just taken me a good hour to read this post with a brew in between. In this time I have probably gained more insight into the ‘business’ of web – blog design than any book could offer.
Oh its sad to see you’ve left cutline but copyblogger is something else :)

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Digital Street June 16, 2007

Ey, did you design text links ads?
:)
Nice web 2.0 design.

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George Morris June 17, 2007

Pricing really depends on the size and scope of the project. Personal sites shouldn’t cost more then $3k especially if a freelancer does it for you.

On corporate level websites we’ve charged anywhere from $25k to $120k depending on the custom features, design level, content organization and marketing objectives.

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Design Guy June 18, 2007

Hahahaha.

“Everybody wants a killer design, especially after seeing one that they lust over. Problem is, nobody wants to pay for it.”

that’s totally true, i’m a web designer too.
you gotta see my requests, like a master piece of art + 5 uniques pages designs + unique custom icons for $50 or in the best of cases $100.

some people dont know the value of the work of a good web designer.

alright :).

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Susie June 30, 2007

Hmmmm… seems like a lot of chest beating here on this thread. If you want to pay someone to design your blog for $1,800… go ahead and for corporation that rapes consumers to make millions… I guess that’s not a lot to pay however for some people like me… a student on a budget and just trying to write an Eco-friendly blog. $1,800 is my tuition for a semester. I think I am going to invest in my education instead. I think you are an awesome designer and I do hope you make that money however you shouldn’t snub at people who can’t afford your design. I do appreciate the fact that you did release free templates for Wordpress , so I am sure it was half in jest.

Some of the Ego stroking on here is hilarious.. I don’t get out of Bed for less than $2000.. who are you? the Linda Evangalista of web design.. At least find your own quote if you are that good.

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Susie June 30, 2007

ps… I just read through all of the thread… looks like I should quit my endeavors of going to medical school and start designing web sites instead. :)

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Web design portfolio by Respiro Media July 1, 2007

I am sick and tired from those “Service Buyers” who expects a large amount of work for $100-300.

As a general rule for them: respect to be respected!

Best regards,
Respiro

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adam libman July 8, 2007

what blog software/script did you use on Aaron Walls Seo Book? thanks

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Chris P. July 9, 2007

Adam — Currently, SEObook runs on MovableType.

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design for myspace July 9, 2007

Awesome post. Is MovableType the best software/script to use if you’re optimizing a site for search engines? Is that why you chose it. Well done by the way I frequent the seobook page often to use the keywoord research tool.

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carter July 9, 2007

I like this post, although, I would like to know if you design blogs exclusively? While I enjoy designing blogs, I find designing for small companies to be a little more exciting.

I also would like to know if you charge extra for the stolen Wordpress “submit” button I am about to press.

Only kidding, I have been known to be inspired by other’s work, though not to that exact extent.

Cheers

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Chris P. July 10, 2007

carter — Care to explain to me where you think my submit button was “stolen” from?

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carter July 10, 2007

I said it, the wordpress login page. It looks identical to the submit buttons on the older versions of wordpress.

I even found a picture:
http://brams.dk/wordpress/wp-content/articles/new_login_ex.gif
http://nnlm.gov/evaluation/images/wp_login_screen.gif

Maybe I’m crazy, but I have them side to side and I swear, you even used their bg image.

I’m sorry if this is news to you, but I still really like your site. It’s great.

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Chris P. July 10, 2007

Accusing me of stealing anything is extremely poor judgment. As I told you via email, you’re young, and I’ll let it slide…

Buttons – and any design conceit, for that matter – are fodder for the masses, but besides that, there are a couple notable truths about the button that you’re accusing me of stealing:

  1. I created the background image (a simple white to gray gradient) back when I released an update to the Cutline theme in late 2006.
  2. Buttons utilizing the double border CSS property are nothing new. I was first exposed to them through this post by The Man in Blue from 2004, and in the post, he talks about Macromedia being one of the first companies to utilize this style of form button. I’m sure it was reproduced countless times in the interim before it was picked up by WordPress in late 2005.

So I guess everybody except Macromedia is a thief. Ah, who am I kidding? They probably ripped it off some poor sucker’s blog back in the day.

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JohnXD July 12, 2007

I have to give you props for putting up this site… I run into the battle EVERY time, when people want me to price out websites…. My gift may not be in html, but I know Flash. My sites I now design, All have Flash in them. (I am a pro photographer not web designer)
Take a look at a couple of my sites… let me know what you think… http://www.signaturebuilt.com
(that one I did for a client, High End home builder, I do all his pictures as well as a lot of marketing)

This site I did for a very good friend… and the site has done well for him… It’s Simple, but effective!
http://www.miamimiketalent.com

This last one http://www.24sevenmagazine.com
is designed for myself and my magazine I have coming out. Check out the 24/Seven Extras link… that is my latest Flash design…

Thanks for the insight….

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Jakob July 12, 2007

Quite an interesting post. However…

Even if you are skilled at writing CSS and XHTML, you have no sense of esthetics at all. You have so many lines that don’t fit at all, so many inconsistent elements.

It would be OK if those were designs you did for fun, i would cringe a bit then as well but i wouldn’t care.

But please tell me you didn’t charge $1500 for Gadzooki. Please tell me you didn’t charge $1500 for Biziki, or Link Building Blog.

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Chris P. July 12, 2007

Jakob — Considering I did those designs about two months after learning CSS and XHTML, I won’t get too bent out of shape over your disparaging remarks.

I find it interesting, however, that you didn’t comment on the aesthetics of this site or of others that I’ve done recently, like Copyblogger or any of my popular WordPress themes.

Oh, and it’s just classic that you don’t have the balls to leave your own URL. It really legitimizes your remarks, let me tell ya.

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Jakob July 12, 2007

I never give out my email, i prefer to give funny remarks. And if you actually mean URL the answer is simple, i didn’t leave any because i don’t have any, and i hope that doesn’t make me less of a critic.

You might also have gotten my worst side since my mood wasn’t the best at the time of writing the comment, and i can agree that i went a little too far on bashing you.

However, of course i picked out the worst ones. I supposed they were recent works since you mentioned them in your “portfolio list”, so i thought it fair to criticize them. The ones you mentioned are fully acceptable, but my point remains that i do not think that these are designs anyone should shell out $1500+ for, since that price calls for very good quality, both technically and aesthetically.

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Chris P. July 13, 2007

I indicate in the post that I included what was, at the time, my portfolio, simply because people had asked for it. Nowhere did I claim that I charged $1500 for any of those designs.

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Ogłoszenia samochodowe July 14, 2007

The most problem at websites who offer a deisgn if very low price for hudge work. That’s why sometimes my offers are so expensive with other offers.

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fotka July 15, 2007

nobody want to pay so big prices.. people want to make it by self for minimizing cost

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seo elite July 16, 2007

yea I agree it is totally true..

designes for 1500+ are expensive for clients.. it is cost for a website but when they heard about hosting and domain costs they only say “No thank you”..damn

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Iksanika July 16, 2007

Hey Chris,

Came through some of the posts, just would like to mention the fact, that besides your own imagination and ideas you would like to implement to the customers sites(s) – design, structure, maybe some kind of text writing, one should never forget that these ideas can be too costly for the clients – and the consensus should be looked for. I will not try to name some specific numbers, but for example, as we do in our company, we give our customers a little bit “more” than they can afford… so they get 120% of satisfaction – and this will help to attract some other customers as well… the power of personalized approach you know :)

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adam libman July 16, 2007

i am shocked to read that some of you think $1,500 is a lot of money to spend on a design. Trust me, its not!!Ultimately, I see the issue as, “What is the purpose your blog or site”. If you aim is to make money, grow a brand, then you are going to spend the money because their is value in having a unique site with features you want. Another thing to mention regarding price is the level of professionalism you get. I will gladly pay thousands more for a site/design if I knew it would be done on time. A lot of people will say they will preform, but they don’t, and the lost opportunity costs are enormous. Does that mean if you are cheap you are unprofessional, not at all. But, from experience, the higher level firms are much more professional. Is $1,500 a lot of money? That is actually a stupid question because at every price point there are buyers and sellers. For those of you who think that $1,500 is a lot of money, you represent buyers at a lower price point. And in a capitalistic world, in general, we discriminate on price. Chris can charge what the market will bare. It doesn’t matter if millions of people think Chris isn’t worth $1,500. Trust, there are enough that do (much more than $1,500), and with only so many hours in a week, he can charge to the level where the work stops. Price is a function of supply and demand. Rather than get upset, go to craigslist, and you can get a complete site for $10!…And hey, if you think that is a lot, Copyblogger is free!

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cd druck July 17, 2007

adam libman -> if you think that price is a high..you do not realize how much you will spent money in webdesign company for “low price site”. Sometimes is better to ask some freelancer’s on the net and I think the quality is the same.

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adam libman July 17, 2007

cd druck- I agree, you can get equal quality work for less money compared to larger firms. the issue is: the effort to find the person (industry experts are easily IDed), the trust factor (you do trust they will preform)….My issue isn’t about quality, its that people get so upset at expensive goods/services. If you don’t like the price, go someplace else. That is what I’m saying…Usually, quality and price are correlated; but there is a vast amount of evidence to support that that correlation isn’t very strong (ie R=.3). A great example is wine or cigars. There are some vintages that really aren’t worth $75/bottle, but because its “special” and they didn’t make a lot of it, they can charge it, and people will buy it. For web designers (1-2 people), the supply is know, all you can do is change demand. In other words, are you a walmart or a Nordstorm? Shirts are shirts. Is a $250 zenga shirt 10x better than a $25 walmart. No, its not. That difference is part actual better quality, added perceived value, with a touch of higher demand. The trick is making yourself a nordstorm. make yourself a $250 shirt seller. Once Chris did SEO BOOK and Text Link Ads, he went from walmart straight to Barney’s or Fred Segal (High End US clothiers). Is his work 250x better than most designers. No. bUT HIS CRED SURE IS! Due to a demand for his services that is a lot higher, he can charge a lot more. And yes, people get upset at that. Very upset. This leads to class struggles and all that other stuff. I get it. And to get back to your point, everybody sees Chris as The Man (rightfully so), and they see him as The One (we humans can only have so many authority figures in one area) who can deliver, and so everybody wants him. But people can’t pay the price, and they get mad, and we have these comments…..I’m actually hungry right now and about to pick up my girl, so I’m killing a bit of time, and for those of you who are upset at the length of this comment, I understand. Just like the price, don’t complain, MOVE ON!

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Konin July 18, 2007

You said “If you don’t like the price, go someplace else” Yes I think that every pay is good :) Clients didn’t see a difference between projects. They didn’t see difference beetwen quality of product.. so they are going to competitors. That’s why sometimes I have to take less money.

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Nishanthe July 22, 2007

I am from Sri Lanka. Just because I am from Sri Lanka, some people think I should quote lesser than designers from US or UK. I can’t understand this!!!!

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Brian Gardner July 25, 2007

Chris, thanks for writing this post a year ago – I reread it from time to time, and it’s really helped me gauge what to charge. Fact of the matter is I still think I am underselling myself, but that’s my deal. Glad to see you are still following up on the comments here…

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geral July 28, 2007

I’ve got links on this site to designs that, by my standards today, are quite embarrassing.”

Where are the links that hold your high praise?

I figure if you’re going to be a self-proclaimed “web guru” in your About section, then you’d provide a portfolio link of some sort

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Dojo July 30, 2007

I think most of our clients would like us to work for free if possible and maybe finish the project they give us today yesterday.

I also had people roll eyes when I told them how much a site would cost. And again, the prices are small in the industry, even in my country. But still, many think a site would have to cost as a new pair of socks. Many don’t understand what a web designer needs to know, how many thousands of hours we spent working on improving ourselves, how many hours we actually work on their sites and the high level of expertise needed.

The good thing is that some of them finally come to their senses and can become quite good clients, while the others … we let them go and won’t waste time.

Awesome article and so true :(

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repliki broni August 7, 2007

Thanks. Good piece of writing. Much needed. I don’t know anyone who mentions their charges on their website. Brilliant! I hope clients can read this.

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gry za pieniadze August 7, 2007

Seems to me you only focus on design companies that charge more than you which leads me to believe this is just for getting clients.

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Noosa August 7, 2007

As they say, you get what you pay for. If people do not want to pay for quality, then they should expect that they will get rubbish. At least if they pay a reasonable amount of money, they have some recourse if something goes wrong, or if they want to change their minds.

If they pay a little amount, they will find that they are paying for it in the end with lost sales or, or worse still, browser incompatibility.

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zane m. kolnik August 9, 2007

all the ppl that thought $1200 was alot to start out for a basic BLOG layout…check this out:

to advertise on the Perez Hilton BLOG it will cost you $9000 for 1 week

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golebie August 16, 2007

Thanks. Good piece of writing. Much needed. I don’t know anyone who mentions their charges on their website. Brilliant! I hope clients can read this.

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The Daniel Richard August 18, 2007

Your blog designs are excellent! $2000 for your work should well be affordable for business based blog sites!

Way to go :)

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Mo September 3, 2007

$1,800 is too much for the average joe like myself. Don’t you offer discounts?? guess not, Godbless FREE open source templates

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Beth Haddox September 10, 2007

I liked your site. I have been looking around cause we need professional help!

Beth Haddox

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Catalin September 11, 2007

Great blog, great articles . I really like your way to view things and share them to us.

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emule September 13, 2007

In my opinion, this can be overcharge if it was just for graphic layout design. But if it requires programming for CMS, plugins, and such: Then that is a different caseread more | digg story

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Maldee September 14, 2007

As much as I agree design cost money and $1500 ad up is not high, I am afraid I did not like any of the samples you supplied including this site. The post itself is very good though,
sorry Chris

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Chris P. September 15, 2007

Maldee — Thanks for the kind words! I think I’ll go find the nearest bridge and jump.

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Jeevan September 20, 2007

As far as this post goes, there is so much of optimism. Sadly, the big bad world out there doesn’t care to invest on good design. We are pressurised to work for rock-bottom prices.

Do people care about the hard work?

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Essex Web Site Designer September 20, 2007

Really like your work, you’ve designed for some big companies and I respect your clean, simple yet professional style.

Great article also! Being a freelance designer I know exactly how you feel. Is it just web designers that feel like everyone wants their services, but nobody want to pay for them?

But hey it all comes down to the company who want the site, the bigger ones wont hesitate to throw $5000 at you!

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china seo September 21, 2007

I know sometimes its a big deal to convince customers to spend 5000USD for a website.

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Mitesh Rami September 25, 2007

yes – i too feel big companies wont hesitate to give large sum for great designs

but what about an average company

$1500 is big amount, i feel it should be around $400 (starting price ..) for a good looking website or a blog

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Adam Kowalski September 27, 2007

I do understand why most designers prefer not to publically disclose such information, but it really is nice to see the details once in awhile

People who are thinking that about 1500$ is too much for site arent right. Put some money for marketing and U can earn much more at yout site. I bought my site >tworzenie stron www for 1250 $ and after 5 months I earn 3500$ only at this site, I know that because I’m asking my clients why they heard about my company.

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Vinny September 29, 2007

I know this is an old post – but I keep coming back to it time and time again.

I’m one of those people that do think a starting price of $1500 is a bit of a sticker shock.

But here’s the deal. I’ve gone to more affordable web designers – and even though I use what they give me – after a month or two I always end up looking for somebody new to redesign and/or fix their errors.

On most of my sites I would been better off going to someone who knew what they were doing in the first place.

I guess that’s why I keep coming back to this post.

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Pathfinder October 17, 2007

Thanks for the portfolio.

I personally enjoy the text link ads site and seo book the most.

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Meteko October 21, 2007

Nowadays, it is very competitive in designing especially with those cheap labour coming from india. They are able to quote half of what you are quoting. Most of them produce shabby work. To be able to command a premium in your designing, best to produce a good portfolio which will impress your prospective customer.

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Elvira Quintero October 22, 2007

so how much money do u make a year?? =:)

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Lauren Herda October 22, 2007

Awesome article! I’m working on figuring out where to go once I finish with design school and how to deal with the process of actually making money with what I do, so I definitely appreciate what you’ve put together here.

Asking anything less than $1500-$2000 for a Web design is crazy. Think of print design. It’s not cheap, and then you have to actually have a printer go ahead and print several thousand copies of whatever it is, and that’s not cheap either. Why should web design be any different? In fact, you save on the cost of printing copies because the way the Web works, so $1500-$3000 for a good, well thought out design for your blog/site/whatever is perfectly reasonable.

The fact that a good site/blog design isn’t affordable for the average Jane/Joe User doesn’t make me lose sleep at night. They can’t really afford a quality print design either, and I don’t think they’d expect to. Why is Web work any different?

If a client needs print work who can’t afford it, print designers may do it as pro-bono or reduced-rate work if they can afford the time (this is what we did where I interned). Web designers do the same when they make open-source templates and such, and those are made *for the purpose* of helping Jane/Joe User to deck out their blog in designer digs. But if you want uniqueness… that’s a luxury you need to be able to afford.

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Europa October 28, 2007

I change couple css myself and some of them were very painful so i know the cost and i can tell you that web design should cost a lot.

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Rene Kriest/ProBloggerWorld.de November 1, 2007

Nice article, Chris!

It’s all about self-confidence and contribution.

People know that they get the very best for their money.

You could even charge $10,000 and more. Bottom line is that people believe and know that they get the very best for their money.

That’s why people buy Porsche instead of Dacia Logan. It’s about the great feeling you receive.

Kind regards,

René
Probloggerworld.de

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depressione November 1, 2007

I do understand what you mean, Europa?

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Addiction November 2, 2007

Around 2500$ i think is quite normal price .and that depends how much preparation you need to do and what expectations , effort etc but yeah 2500$ – 3500$ for reg site

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Lorraine November 5, 2007

I think you need to inform your clients why their professionally designed site is worth what you are asking for.

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George Morris November 6, 2007

It’s all a matter of scope and size. $3,000 should be plenty to find a good freelancer to build you a blog however on the corporate level there is far more work involved and many skill sets are involved, especially if you are talking about system integration and scalability.

Good design comes at a cost. Look at Landor and what they charged FedEx for the revision of the company logo… unless my memory is wrong that FedEx logo we all know cost them upwards of several million dollars for Landor to design.

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Benjamin Yakubu November 7, 2007

Great article man, just saw this after I charged $1700 (or less – if client negotiates) but I feel good about my charges lately, they should go up though.

Amazing article man, great job.

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Charles Handy November 7, 2007

wow impressive references with really nice designs, i think you are one of the designers that are every cent worth what you cost.

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Thomas November 16, 2007

I’m a webdesigner from Germany, and I have the same problems like you. People want to have big website with a nice design, because they know that they can earn lot of money in the web. But they don’t want to pay for it. A little advertisement in a newspaper costs for one day so much—and this, they pay.

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pozycjonowanie November 19, 2007

I completely agree with your opinions. People nowadays see site which was created for 2 years and they want to have the same in a week and pay 300$

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andrej November 19, 2007

People don’t know how much a good design is worth.

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Vic November 24, 2007

this pretty much sums it up…

I think a homeless bum would charge more for a website then i’ve charged… i feel like an idiot for charging so low, for my custom cms, after reading this.

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Diseño Coral December 3, 2007

a menudo me encuentro con ese problema, mi precio es el tiempo estimado de construcción, lo más dificil de todo no es cotizar proyectos sino little jobs.
el blog esta muy bueno!

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nieruchomości December 6, 2007

Great article from great author – thanks man – i change my price list now ;)

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TagDiri Tag Directory December 13, 2007

Chris, it seems to me that your prices are realistic ones. There’s a price level we, web designers, never should go under…

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Brandon S. December 14, 2007

Anyone who thinks $1500 is a ridiculous amount for a job of this sort has no concept of the amount of aggravation that the average client causes through even the smallest jobs.

I handle mostly print jobs and create some design for web – no coding – but, from a designer’s standpoint, 2/3rd’s of the price of a job goes towards hand-holding and coaxing a client into making decisions, hounding them for overdue information, or giving them emotional support throughout the process.

True, I myself could not afford the $1500 price tag, but designers target their ideal clientele when they set their prices, and individuals, unless wealthy, are definitely NOT ideal from a designer’s perspective.

The ideal client is a big company who signs on the line, lets you do your thing without too much interference, and pays their bills on time.

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Todd Johnson December 22, 2007

those sort of prices for just a blog, are very ridiculous in my opinion. Very Ridiculous!

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Jack Black December 23, 2007

Learning of prices this expensive I now know I will have to build all my own sites.

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Jason December 23, 2007

I have a website quote I am putting together for a job most guys in our industry dream of getting and I am lost in terms of how much to charge for it.

It is a community site that is the size of weddingchannel.com (as an example) but different industry. Just trying to give you an idea of size of site

Based on that site I have come to the conclusion that there are about 200 pages that need to be created in photoshop minimum. Thats included all front end pages, and backend page for user control panel

As per the article I need to do all of this for each page for my developers

* Graphical comps produced in Photoshop
* Graphical splicing for optimal CSS/XHTML structure
* CSS/XHTML production in standards-compliant fashion
* Unique CSS/XHTML adaptation to CMS platform of choice
* Bell-and-whistle functionality to meet client requirements

Since I don’t have an exact page count I want to charge per page.

I was thinking of charging $5000 for initial design of homepage and internal templates $200-$300 per page. I think each page will take 3-6 hours to do all the list above

Am I to low or to high!!!!

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Verbrenner December 26, 2007

Thank you very much for this very interesting article! I think many people can’t realize why a professional webdesign is so expensive.

@Jason: I think your price per page will be ok for your customer. When the initial design is very complex it will be ok, too.

Greets

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Jim McNelis December 27, 2007

Wow. What a great post and discussion. I have been struggling with pricing now that I have a few sites under my belt, and this article and discussion has helped reaffirm my business direction.

Thanks Chris

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domki letniskowe December 27, 2007

Good article Chris. It’s strange that some people still don’t see the gigant
difference between regular design and professional blog design. I saw your projects and they seem very interesting and well-coded. Great job. Keep working.

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Scotty December 29, 2007

Comments monitored and replied to from June 2006 until Dec 2007 – a record in blogs I’ve read so far.

I get a salary from an employer but do design work for friends and charities on the side for which I charge a very low hourly rate (no one values ‘something for nothing).

I also teach design students and in my ignorance am bemused by their questions on how much to charge for work (we explain hourly rate (so we thought)). Yet they are woefully willing to undercharge. The posts in the discussion above illustrate it all – and illuminate me – very well.

The questions answered are: What’s your skill level/experience? How much is your work time worth to give you enough to live on? How much can you morally add to the value of your work time based on the skill level/experience that you can deliver? What cost can the client bear? Can you afford the client? Can you work effectively with the client? And if you are brave – do you really want to have this particular client?

Hourly rate is the easiest way to break your value down to a measurable item. What is your lifetime’s worth today – in an hour – in rent, insurance, equipment, mortgage payments, pension, health care, car payments, car repairs, energy costs, travel, software, fonts, printing, paper, magazines, training, personal development, professional association membership, research, tax, accountant, emergencies, holidays, wife, kids and fun?

And (unfortunately) what only comes with experience is correctly estimating how many hours any job will really really really take.

I don’t think anyone ever gets this right. You’re good if you get it nearly right.

Cheers

Scotty.

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Srini December 31, 2007

Hi Chris,

How do I get in touch with you. Can you please email me?

Thanks
Srini

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Chris P. December 31, 2007

Srini — This post is over a year and a half old, and unfortunately, I no longer accept new clients. Because of this and in an attempt to keep my overall correspondence under control, I have chosen not to publish or provide my email address.

I appreciate your interest, but I must reiterate that I am not for hire and am not able to undertake a private discussion about design rates. Thanks!

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Paul January 1, 2008

Before I say much, let me tell you that I, as a fellow designer, understand where you are coming from. Design (and coding) takes a long, strenuous amount of time to complete (to what degree depends on the project, of course). And I do think that most people undervalue the role of designer and coder as much as the next person, but $1,500 for a blog design is completely out there, even for a fellow designer like me. Now, before you stop reading right here and scroll down to the bottom of the page to write a comment to make me look like an idiot, allow me to explain my reasoning:

Most designers that I have ever known, heard about, or talked to have all used some sort of “shortcut” in the design process. What I mean by this is that most projects done by professionals in this field include some portion of work they have previously done – whether it be snippets of PHP, CSS, or XHTML code, a CMS they have used previously (one they have made or otherwise), or design elements taken from other designs they have done. When you buy a design for a CMS such as WordPress, chances are that the designer you hire has a bare-bones template laying around ready to be used. All they need to do is add the images, change the CSS, and do whatever else they need to in order to accomplish their task. I know it sounds a bit crude, but it’s how things are. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I do the same thing, and it saves a lot of time and effort, but by reading the article above one would assume you are getting a completely original work for such a high price tag.

If that’s not enough of a reason for you, consider this: is fifteen hundred a really good investment for a blog? A high majority of blogs generate zero revenue (and perhaps negative revenue if you have to pay for hosting), and even if you place ads on your site or attempt to generate money by other means, you will probably not ever make back that few thousand dollars you blew on appearance. It’s just a silly thing in my mind to invest so much cash into something so minor and insignificant as a blog. Besides, learning is fun – design your own site and you might expand your mind a bit, and perhaps even have fun in the process.

Personally, the most I could ever conceive charging for a blog design is somewhere in the range of $300 to $500, give or take depending on the job. That is including (valid) CSS and (valid) XHTML, some decent amount of server-side scripting, graphics (of course), and all the other “bells and whistles” that the client may want. For a site that “has minimal graphical complexity, no customized icons, and no logo production” like the one you stated your minimum for, I would say in the range of $100 to $200. Once again, this is just a very rough estimate. Essentially, it comes down to the project as a whole.

Also, in the article when you are justifying your prices for blog design, you claim that the price is reasonable for corporate websites so that they may get their name out. Although I agree with this entirely, when I read it I asked myself “whatever happened to sticking strictly to blog design?” It’s a bit sleazy to use reasons that aren’t within the same boundaries as the topic. If we’re talking about blogs, stick to blogs and don’t use unrelated reasoning to absolve yourself.

Oh, and also Chris, I would recommend changing the tiling background of this site. That one-pixel double-crosshatch pattern causes strain for some monitors, and adds unnecessary wear-and-tear to them. I’m a bit surprised you didn’t know that, given your extensive work in the design field.

Take care, Chris.

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Lail January 17, 2008

@Paul – I read your argument, and my intention is not to make you look like an idiot but I couldn’t disagree with your rationale or your conclusions more. A professional designer can’t make a living doing projects for a couple hundred dollars at a time. I won’t put a number on the amount of income it takes to be a professional web designer, but just to clear overhead and have a pittance to live on, one would have to hunt down and complete multiple blog designs per day at your rates. And everyone should know – when it comes to hiring a designer you get what you pay for. For some, hiring a student or part-time designer may be just fine, but to declare the rates of a hobbyist designer should be the going rate of pay for a professional like Chis is ridiculous, and it undermines the value of our industry.

To say that the potential income from a blog should determine the fee charged by the designer is faulty logic as well. You seem to doubt that any blog can make enough money to warrant a design investment of more than a few hundred dollars. Besides grossly underestimating the value of a successful blog, you’ve broken some fundamental laws of economics. If I walked up to you and wanted to buy your car from you for $500, you’d laugh in my face. When I explained that for any more than that I could just take the bus, you’d encourage me to do so and walk away. Your car has value. Why is design any different? Good design takes time, and time is money. Anyone who fails to acknowledge that simply has nothing better to do with their time.

Paul, I’m not trying to attack you – I’m trying to attack the arguments you’ve made because I’ve seen similar arguments in the past. At the rate you’ve stated, unless you’re completing a few blog designs every day, you’re not getting paid enough to be a professional designer. There is nothing wrong with being a hobbyist, or a student trying to build a portfolio, but realize that many designers actually make a living doing this stuff and designs starting at $100 just aren’t realistic.

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Diety January 18, 2008

These prices will never so high in eastern Europe. Maybe for biggest companies it’s true but I don’t think casual guy can afford that.

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Nick January 22, 2008

I checked my old email after about a year and found I’m still subscribed to this and was amused by the debate between Chris and Lail.

Since I last commented, I’m now working professionally for a business strictly doing web design and my opinion varies by little.

Chris: I agree, $1,500 for a blog design (and up) is ridiculous as most clients generally don’t spend as much on a full, dynamic website. On the other hand, you can’t undervalue yourself by charging significantly less. Nice catch on the background, by the way. Not only would it cause strain, but creating such a small image is overkill with all of the extended processing. He’d be better off creating something much bigger, or better yet, use a web safe color and just nix the color all together.

Lail: Overhead? For web design and development? Maybe you can explain why a designer has any sort of overhead unless you’re strictly running a blog design business out of an office building. On the alternative, I wouldn’t consider your rent as overhead. Also, even though people spend tons of money on things they don’t need, there’s a fine line between being compensated for your work and ripping someone off.

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Lail January 22, 2008

I was replying to the guy who’s post is under the name Paul. His post ended “Take care, Chris”, but I think he was speaking to this posts author, not signing his post.

Nick, to address your question about overhead – a web designer most certainly has overhead. Yes, if you have a studio or an office, rent is overhead. That MacBook is overhead. Photoshop, Flash, TextMate, so forth – software is overhead. The student loans that got you here, that’s overhead. All the time off the clock that it took to build client relationships to land those projects. The list goes on and on. Because designers don’t have “stock”, like a back-room full of T-shirts or 2x4s, doesn’t mean we don’t have overhead.

Remember that we’re talking about the costs of be a professional web designer, not how cheaply we could build a single blog design if tasked to. Yes, we could use GIMP, PHP, Emacs and other “free” software on a “free” computer that mom bought you. You could also hitch-hike to work each day and eat Ramen for dinner. But if that is your idea of a career, you might try looking at monastery life.

My argument hinges on that difference between being a professional, full-time web designer doing professional client work vs. a kid in his or her mom’s basement building a portfolio. The author of this article framed the discussion that way in his original post, so that’s the question I’ve tried to address. You can say that I’m “ripping people off” if you like, but by de-valuing your work you are ripping yourself off. Worse maybe, you are undermining the value of the whole profession.

Being an professional designer is about building your reputation and the value of your work, not competing for the lowest rates for your clients. Let *them* make the cost value analysis, and try your best to be on the high end of both scales. It’s not charity.

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Jack C. January 23, 2008

For a good unique design this price tag is not expensive. It takes time to create such a design. For less money you don’t get normally the same quality.

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Nick January 25, 2008

Lail:

Like I said, if you’re running an office building for blog design (which sounds humorous in most cases), then it’d be considered overhead. Software is pretty much a one time purchase with potential upgrades every year or so (Photoshop), so I wouldn’t consider that as something you’d consistently charge your clients for especially if it’s anywhere near $1,500. Going to college has nothing to do with your current business’ operating costs. It got you there, but so did your mother. Are you going to charge your clients for that as well?

“My argument hinges on that difference between being a professional, full-time web designer doing professional client work vs. a kid in his or her mom’s basement building a portfolio.”

Maybe you can clarify what the difference is between the two. You’re both building portfolios, working with clients, and receiving income. A kid in his/her basement is irrelevant.

“Being an professional designer is about building your reputation and the value of your work, not competing for the lowest rates for your clients.”

That couldn’t be more untrue. Yes, it’s about building reputation and your work’s value, but you’re usually going to be dealing with competitor rates. It’s business. No one’s saying to charge below minimum wage, but you shouldn’t be charging an arm and a leg that’s not worth its own weight.

But, I guess if you can find idiots out there who are willing to fork over something which generally gives them nothing in return, then so be it, right? No morals here.

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Lail January 25, 2008

Yes Nick, I have absolutely no morals – way to swing low, pal. You predicate that on the false assumption that blogs have no value to begin with. If that were indeed the case, that would make everyone selling blog design – at $100, $1,500 or whatever price you can think of snake-oil salesmen. But your assumption is false. Blogging is a large and profitable market for many businesses and if you haven’t seen the value yet, I can’t help you.

It’s true that many don’t rake in huge profits, but it’s foolish to think that is always the case. My argument has never been that everyone who wants a blog should spend $1,500 to get a solid design, but rather that there *is* a market for $1,500 blog designs. And there is nothing immoral about charing the going rate in the market you are in.

Anyway, I’ll concede that previous education costs shouldn’t strictly be counted as overhead. I was reaching. But I don’t see your argument considering software – whether its upgrades or not, it’s still money and it’s still overhead. Whether it’s 40% of your overhead or 2%, it’s still fair game. Same with hardware.

I don’t think that running an office for web design is at all humorous. Sure, the vast majority of interactive agencies that do blog design don’t do that one niche exclusively but what does that have to do with it? Even if you fall into the “one guy working from a home-office” category, your still writing that home-office off on your taxes every year. So why isn’t that fair game? It’s OK to tell the government that it costs you money, but not your clients?

Really, regardless of what percentage of your rates are based on overhead, that’s not the crux of the issue. Your carpenter doesn’t just charge you for the wood. The majority of our rates should be based on *value*.

You’re right, competitor rates are a reality. But you compete for value, not price. To increase your “bang-for-the-buck” ratio, you can either lower your rates or give your clients more for their money. My position is to strive for the later.

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adam libman February 4, 2008

I’m almost done with my site. I want to add a blog, using wordpress, with the functionality as seen on this site. Just to be clear, not the design, but the functionality. I would love to hire Chris, but it appears he isn’t on the market, so I thought I’d post here since I figure there are a lot of quality people reading this post. I want the blog to mirror the homepage look, with the Libman Consulting top bar and Client Services/Our Team/Blog/ Contact to still be there, but in html. I’d rather pay more for an experienced, professional, responsive, and creative person than some lame ***. I’ve dealt with a lot of bad designers and coders, so if you aren’t good, don’t contact me. Please email or call me at 626-698-1228. My office is open 7am-6pm PST. Payment can either be by check or paypal. If paypal, I’ll pay for half of the fees to transfer the money. Please email me your bid for the project, along with your portfolio.

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lauren February 9, 2008

Wow. What a great post and discussion.

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Dylan February 14, 2008

You’ve written an interesting article and I agree with your pricing. But, for the money you charge I would be expecting more than what you have delivered to past clients. There are some nice designs, but they are things on all that hold them back from being fantastic.

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Mike Smith February 14, 2008

I have to agree with Dylan, I think your designs are good, but I think for $1,500.00 they should be a lot better, or maybe i’m just charging way too low of a price?

Nice topic though. at least someone is talking openly about pricing.

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rick gregory February 14, 2008

Let’s look at this another way. I can work at Costco and make $12.50 an hour plus benefits. Good health insurance is about $300/month. Let’s toss $2/hour onto that base rate, so we’re at $14.50. That’s for a no stress job that works you 40 hours per week… no clients calling with last minute changes, nothing. And in that 40 hour week I’ll make $580.

So, for those of you arguing that $1500 for a design is too much…. are you arguing that skilled web designers should work for Costco wages? If a design has 40 hours in it, is a bit more than 2x what you can get at Costco REALLY too much to pay? Sure, for a personal blog it is… but we’re not talking about a personal or hobby site – we’re talking about people who need a professional site as part of their business.

To give this yet more perspective, I have a small business client who spends $1000 per month to send out their newsletter in a paper form. That’s right… $12,000 PER YEAR. And it pays for itself. Do you think they really balk at a couple thousand dollars for a well-designed site? Don’t be silly.

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Chrissy February 18, 2008

Now I cannot speak for larger design firms but for us freelancers out there many clients forget that we are on our own doing this and have to be the designer, the developer, the gopher, the hand holder, the sales person, the day-to-day running shop person, etc… working far beyond the standard 9-5 just so we can please them and accomplish our goals. Since we are freelancers we do not get any medical/dental benefits, pension plans or stock options unless we invest in them ourselves which in turn will increase our prices.

Just another thought for you all..

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Matt February 21, 2008

Chris -

My friend sent me to this post. I’ve never bothered to read over 300 comments in a post, but I did in this case. Being the owner of a professional web design company, this is quite a relevant topic to me.

Let me start by saying that $1,500 for a professionally designed website from a designer who put together SEOBook.com (I love that site, and now I know who made it :) ) and CopyBlogger (absolutely beautiful, exceptionally clean layout) is way, way too low. I can only imagine that by now you’ve either 1) Started your own web design company and are charging a hell of a lot more than $1,500 or 2) Been hired by a design agency and are being paid a generous salary. I’m guessing the former, but who knows.

That being said, #Nick at 9:07 am on Jan 22, 2008, you my friend, are an absolute idiot. Please, no one even take the time to entertain this clown’s ridiculous comments. A couple hundred dollars per website – are you kidding me? Who cares if similar bits of code are used. A custom website is a custom website. Its your code, you can charge however much people are willing to pay, despite if you’ve used it before.

If I were not a professional web designer and I needed a website, based on this article, SEOBook.com, Copyblogger.com, and some of the hilarious responses that Chris has given to the clueless, idiotic posters on this post, I would hire Chris (or his firm, or the company he now works for) in a second.

I run a professional web design blog of my own, Chris, and I have to deal with these kind of ridiculous responses quite often. The difference between you and I is that you let the comments appear on the blog – I just filter out the stupidity and only allow logical, well thought out comments to be published.

I’ve learned a lot from running a blog. However, the one thing that sticks out the most is that there are a TON of idiots out there who know jack shit about web design. Some people just like to belittle and take a stab at those who have become successful and done something with their life. I’m used to it by now, and I sure hope you are too. Don’t let these fools get to you. They’re all just background noise.

I’ve officially subscribed to your RSS feed.

Thanks Chris, keep it real man.

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wczasy na kaszubach February 26, 2008

Chris,

I may seem a little bit laic about the whole web designing, I learn, read but the changes come so fast i can hardly follow it. I try to do everything by myself in my site, you may look at it and judge (i appreciate “master” comment), but when i finnish i read the site and realize that what i did i actually not functional enough. Adding this blog to my favourites, hope to be up to date with all the prices (i must admit, for me 1500$ is a whole bunch of money – in Poland they take about 700$ so you will not do business in poland :)
greets, sorry for the previous post.;)

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Abe Smithson February 27, 2008

I charge $20-$30 per hour, sliding scale (artist, musician to business site) For an average of $1000-$2000 dollars for an original site with business card and sign design, plus all the other stuff. All told, I do bits of free work here and there, let’s say if someone wants to change some little thing, I don’t charge.

Middle class Baby Boomers are the best to work for, they appreciate the cost of a work-a-day person and tend to respect you more than big shot rich folks. You have to be careful with rich folks. They didn’t get rich throwing their money around like sailors and will enslave you if you let them. Every rich person I’ve ever dealt with plays it like they are broke and poor tries to get you to do a lot of free work. As soon as you put your foot down with rich people, the money comes out magically. They need you more than you need them. You have to stick to your guns to get what you are worth, because if not you will get frustrated and won’t last a year. Respect yourself, and the industry, and demand at least a higher than subsistence wage in your community. No sense being a designer if you can make more money delivering papers like a chump!

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Claudiu March 6, 2008

Hmm…place where I’m getting my clients from have showed me that very few people are willing to give up on $1000 for a complete website of about 7 pages that requires some php knowledge; and now I see webmasters asking for $2000 just for design.Wow!
This sure made me think about my business and for sure I won’t give up on this. Looks like I have to raise my standards.

I think this also depends on the country you live at. In my country, $2000 would be salary for 4 months as a worker.

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Dennis Figueiredo March 29, 2008

Rightly said claudio.
I live in Goa,India where average pay is Rs.16,000 ( $ 400/monthly)
We don’t usually charge by the hour. We first take a quote based on the rough pencil drawing then design the template. Then ask for a half advance payment.
We design complete websites at as low as $ 250 – $ 500
Includes PhP or asp (based on the hosting), java, mysql database mgmt..etc we also give them inclusive hosting(from the us) + domain name in about $ 500 max.

SO if any of you’l interested in outsourcing please lemme know hehe.

This is a proposition to anyone willing to outsource to India as a business tie up. The most expensive websites here would cost u $800- $1,000 max. OUrs usually cost $ 250 sometimes

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Ryan April 8, 2008

No offense Dennis but, if people go out to India to get a design, how good is customer service and can we understand you. I know when other companies in America outsource to India, it is so hard to talk to the customer service. Its that really worth saving a few dollars? Just my 2 cents.

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eigentor April 10, 2008

Gosh. This may be the most famous blog post ever, regarding the amound and quality of comments.

I don’t know if this has already been said, cause I am still working through the top third of comments (phew).

A good designer cannot work 40 hours a week on design. If he does so, he will either be drained but end up on 80 hours in the end. A whole lot of time is and has to be spent on the following: browsing the web and seeing all the new trends, keeping up to speed with new technical developments, learning about all of IE6 (go away, devil) ‘s myriad of bugs and memorizing workarounds (you cannot charge your customer for that), visiting Conferences and Congresses, staying in touch with your fellow webworkers, and so on. So an estimate of max. 20 hours of actual work over the year and 20 hours of research may be fair. Not taking into account the idle time because you are self-employed.

People inside companies also have idle time – but they get paid for it. Any designer and coder who does not do the above-mentioned stuff – well – they just won’t be up to speed and/or will be lacking inspiration over the time. End will be – no professional work anymore.

So this is my personal experience and is a figure to explain hour rates.

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Doug April 14, 2008

Do not sell that value of your work short! We lose a deal or two to “low prices”, then often that client comes back (if it is a company with money, but unfortunately, often, whoever the client was, they are now out of money and have no website or a bad one. ) We START at $5,000.00.

Overhead? Don’t forget the cost of putting a real contract put together with an attorney. Tough to build a business on $300 designs. Our sweet spot is the $25,000 to $50,000 range.

The low ballers out there do make it tough for the cream to rise to the top. Exceptional developers and designers need to ‘slog through’ the quagmire of low prices to get the work to build their portfolios.
Especially now that more and more smaller businesses want to get online.

Once you do rise, you will hopefully find a level of sophisticated clients that find value in your knowledge base and skills set and pay you what you are worth…. but its up to YOU to sell it… anyone can cut a price to win a deal. Not as many can win a deal bidding 2x – 3x to 10x over the lowest bid. It is hard to do, but if you stick to it, you can make a life business out of it. We’ve been doing it for 7 years now.

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Javier Cabrera April 16, 2008

Pssttt! PSSSTT! HI CHRIS!… don’t you going to say… HELLO?

Oh come on Chris… don’t you want a balloon? oh… your dad told you not to accept information from strangers? very wise, very wise indeed. I’m Javier Cabrera the Dancing Clown, and just want to tell you I updated Emaginacion to Emastudios.com so you can now change it on this blog post.

Yes Chris, I updated it yesterday! come on now, don’t get scare! here, have this candy. That’s right, now listen: I also updated my rates. Now it’s $3500 for a basic web site. The oil goes up, the rates too you know.

Take care!

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Domki nad jeziorem April 18, 2008

I do not quite follow you JC ??? :/ Maybe i am only one

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Javier Cabrera April 21, 2008

Just saying I updated my website from emaginacion to emastudios.com. I know I know, it sounded weird and all; I just wanted to make a say it like Pennywise the Clown of the IT movie. Don’t ask me, was a weird afternoon ;)

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Ryan April 24, 2008

I know that I am now charging anywhere from $800 to $2000 for a website on rjgraphix.com I have a portfolio where I have one for SpaceMaker that I would have charged $2000 and for Casa Grande 4 Wheelers I charged little over $375

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Sohbet April 27, 2008

No offense Dennis but, if people go out to India to get a design, how good is customer service and can we understand you. I know when other companies in America outsource to India, it is so hard to talk to the customer service. Its that really worth saving a few dollars? Just my 2 cents.

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Javier[EmaStudios] April 27, 2008

Just my 2 cents now.
It’s true. India sometimes sucks at customer service. They also sucks sometimes as design. But there are some excellent companies over there. Money isn’t everything; we at EmaStudios charge a base price of $3,500 and some times, believe me, we should charge a project for $8,000 like some other agencies out there but we don’t. Not because we want to get the client to sign and that’s it, but because because Argentinean Economy, 3,500 is enough.

I think having a FAIR price that goes along with the work to be done is the ultimate way to set your prices; if not, you end up charging for non-existing things just to justify your greed.

Client’s aren’t rich either; they want to pay for a service, so make every penny worth it’s time/hope. And if they are rich, that doesn’t mean you need to set your price upon the client’s bank account, but having the WORK TO BE DONE in mind.

And, also; the fun. Sometimes I end up lowering our agency price just because we WANT to do that site. Just because WE NEED to do that site. Just because IT’S DAMN FUN to do that site. If we aren’t here for the fun, then what the heck are we doing here?

It isn’t for the victory; but for the battle we are here.

Be fair. Charge based on the work to be done and that’s it.

Javier
EmaStudios.
Owner & Poor.

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mark rushworth May 15, 2008

at one of my previous employers i was responsible for growing the web design arm of the business. They sold websites purely on a £100 per page fee with CMS being added on for £1000 and ecommerce for £2000. I immediately revised this to “corporate site £2000 + £200 hosting and £200 pcm SEO” and “ecommerce from £8000″ as a result turn over went up, we got better clients, had more time to spend on each project so the quality of work went up and everyone was happy… thos who questioned the price went elsewhere simple as that!

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Fred May 17, 2008

Of course, one might want to make sure the template actually WORKS before paying for it.

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Sophia Pitt-Browne May 25, 2008

This is a very interesting article. I agree alot with eigentor.

It is amazing to me how people want to tell others how to price their work. Yes, pricing deals with the quality of work but you also consider the hours of work it will take PLUS certain market factors and business factors like your target customers and your break even price. Why should a US web development company or professional consider competing with India’s prices or to attract clients who want loads of work done but for the smallest fee?

I live in Barbados and I am now starting my own web development company after working for another one for 8 years and I have seen how bad pricing and bad business processes can make a company suffer. Trust me, pricing for web development is a universal issue.

My last updated salary was $2400 Barbados dollars a month which is $1200 US. For this, I was writing proposals, doing designs in Photoshop, planning web projects, doing development in Coldfusion, populating the clients’ sites with content, managing hosting…use your imagination…I did it all.

That company charged anywhere from $300 US to $10,000 US from simple sites to more enterprise sites and web applications. Some companies here don’t do sites for less than $2500 US but the market range is still very wide.

A few months before leaving the company, I realised how far behind we are in terms of web development. I started doing a lot of research and had to seriously update my skills, I am still doing that now. The research and training is continuous. Ironically enough, they are plenty of people who say they do websites but are lacking in a lot of the skills and basic principles to develop beautiful AND successful websites.

I for sure know it takes a lot of work behind the scenes to develop not only a visually beautiful site but a functional and customer centered site. Chris seems to be a very good designer…clean….beautiful designs. I love Javier’s designs as well. The designs from oswd…not so good.

Sophia Pitt-Browne
Creative Cycle
From the Amazingly Beautiful Caribbean Island of Barbados

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Andris June 11, 2008

Chris, thanx for sharing your pricing.

As a sometimesFreelancer I never knew how much to charge. But now I know I’m way too cheap. I have to charge more for my work.

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chris rock June 11, 2008

You charge 1500$+ for those sites ?!?! Those look awful.

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Chris Pearson June 11, 2008

chris rock — I’ll add you to the list of “assholes who don’t have the balls to leave a URL with a disparaging comment.”

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Matt June 11, 2008

Chris -

Just ignore them. They are jealous nobodies who will most likely never go anywhere in life. These kind of people have to put others down to try to justify their own shortcomings in life. Don’t let them get the best of you.

Look at your web traffic logs, your page rank, your work – you’re obviously doing a lot of things right. Your work is superb. I run a professional web design company of my own, so I know a thing or two about design (at least I like to tell myself I do :) ).

chris rock – enjoy the rest of your pathetic life. Maybe one day you’ll look in the mirror and realize that you’re a nobody and that is nobodies fault but your own.

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Ulquiorra June 22, 2008

I agree with Chris Rock to a certain degree. But I also disagree with him completely. When each template is made for a certain client, the true goal is the client’s satisfaction, and not how “cool” the site looks.

That being said, $1500 is indeed a lot of money, which is exactly why people design for others in the first place.

Otherwise, go buy a canned pro template for a couple hundred bucks and be happy.

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al June 27, 2008

I totally agree with everything you said.

Recently I was contacted by a lady, representing 3 of her sisters, and they want (wanted) a Really Nice site that allows them to sell items; Not only that, they want the process completely automated, which means finding a Drop-Ship Company to do two things: 1. When an order is placed on the site, it notifies the Company and then 2. The company sends out the order to the customer.

Now, my Base price for a design is around $1,000 – that’s extremely simple, but nice, professional, and effective; for a CMS (depending on how complex) we’re talking $250 – $500 … For R&D … when customers want something like automated, intergrated, Drop-Shipping … tack on another $500.

Then you include Flash, for Logos, Banners, adding animation and sound to the site (something else they requested) – and my numbers were up at around $2500 total; I told them I’d do it all for $2,000

Know what they told me?

Way Too high.

lol… So yea… People do want killer sites; they just dont want to pay for a killer site.

that has been the Only stumbling block in this profession; finding people who Understand that if they want to build a brand online, a business online, they have to Commit to it – it can’t be something you stick your Toe in the water on,… U gotta Jump In.

Not only that… You’ve got to be willing to Invest in Quality, to get Quality in Return. People aren’t gonna buy stuff from a site that looks like it cost $10 to build.

People are simple – they’ll see a crappy site and think “crappy products” – even if the products are good; So Good Products need Good representation; it’s just too bad Most people who start up a business don’t seem to grasp this idea. Enjoyed reading this article, many props your direction, and good vibes; good luck with everything.

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Aggie Jane June 28, 2008

Well, I think that your prices isn’ expensive at all, they are realistic, but some designers work for very low prices, just to take more projects. You can see Getacoder or Getafreelancer for example. Prices there are wthiout any comment. When i deside to give a price I take attention to one thing: How exactly hours it tooks me to make a site? I have a price for one hour for example $20 and just compute the price for the whole thing.

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justine July 14, 2008

this is really useful. especially the breakdown to explain to the clients where their money is really going.

not many people realise the amount of time and effort that goes into creating a “rock-solid, hand-crafted, browser-tested CSS, XHTML, and simple (but striking) graphic design.”

thanks for sharing. :)

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No idea what to pay July 18, 2008

Thanks for writing this. I know the importance of charging enough for your work. I used to freelance write. I’m in a pickle with my own theme. I use one that was free, but asked the author to tweak it for me. Told him I’d pay him and would he please give me a ballpark figure so I knew what I’d be dealing with. He didn’t. He started the work already and is now asking me what MY ballpark figure is! I don’t know what to tell him. He’s basically making his own two-column theme into a three-column one. I asked for no other tweaks. Is $100-200 a good ballpark? I hate the position he’s putting me in. The client shouldn’t have to guess how much to pay.

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charlotte January 20, 2010

WOW, I guess I’m to nice to my customers, I bought a premium temp late for them and purchased 3 domains and customized the template for $899.00 and I’m doing SEO free and writing articles , driving traffic to their site ect. that includes squeeze page, e-commerce setup and the works I even did their log and corporate identity package.

I fire or basically tell off the ones who don’t pay me or expect free shit so i guess were even steven. I already give a lot and price alot lower than most and I have probably more experience than most on here as I have been designing websites for 10 years. And yes Im up to date with trends.

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Chris Pearson July 18, 2008

No idea what to pay — Yeah, you’re in a spot there. I say offer him $100–$150, and if he declines, seek out someone else.

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Brandi July 21, 2008

It might be beneficial for some of you to look at the Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines put out by the Graphic Arts Guild every year.

Everything you quoted was UNDER what they considered ETHICAL. Albeit, they weren’t quoting for blog design, but I’m pretty sure blog design and full website design are merging to the point that the future of web design will be an integration of the two.

So…take that for what you will. It’s a professional organization that serves as “standards” for graphic artists of all sorts.

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Some German Guy July 30, 2008

Ouch, the prices are really high! I’ve never expected that Web Design would be so expensive! Maybe because a friend of mine helps my with my projects. Especially for designing a simple blog the prices are much too high! I can understand that it is expensive to create a great commercial website, but for a blog…hmmm. I would agree to Aggie Jane. But is it really so much time and effort to design a web page? I should be very thankful to my friend.

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Factory Fast August 4, 2008

Personally, I think your prices are very reasonable. This may be because I’m in a similar field. The truth is that most people just don’t realise the amount of time that has to go into our fields. My friend is a complete designer like you (I’m a Web Copywriter) and he has the exact same issue – people can’t believe he charges so much. Then, he breaks it down for them a little hour by hour and shows them that they are paying for his time – and they’re getting a darn good price. Point is, people think it’s just an ‘easy’ thing to do – you can just quickly put it together and everything works well. They don’t realise it takes TIME.

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al August 4, 2008

Aggie Jane: I agree with what you said there. I have been considering an “hourly rate” for some time now – Of course, the only problem with that is, the customers will be leery that you’re over charging them – Like Chris said, People just don’t want to pay any money.

Some German Guy: Yes, you should be VERY Thankful to your friend. They’re doing you a Really BIG favor; Never forget it.

Brandi: Thank you for your suggestion; I’m picking up this handbook soon so that I can refer my customers to it when they complain – so they can see why I’m asking for what I’m asking for.

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sara r August 7, 2008

Thanks for the info. Frankly I got only through half of the comments before getting bored with the nay-sayers, though they all put things into perspective. To me web-design is art. You wouldn’t hire an artist to produce a sculpture for your entry way unless you could afford it, and you wouldn’t complain about the price, you would either accept a quote or you wouldn’t. If you can’t afford the artist, you can always make it yourself, or settle for a piece that is plaster-cast and can be found in hundreds of different homes. You get what you pay for and though I’m admittedly an amateur and I design my own site because I enjoy it, if I were to design a unique site for someone else, I would charge for my time and effort. People who design web pages are artists (whether experienced or not) and should be respected as such. The busier you are, and the more people want to hire you, the more you can charge. Portfolio building benefits you as well as the customer, so you can charge less, but once established, you charge what you can and don’t work for high-maintenance cheapscates. Great discussion!

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HoomanCan August 8, 2008

Ladies and gentleman, It is nice to be important but it is more important to be nice. I have seen people be so bad to each other here, that it makes me wonder? Please be respectful to each other. Don’t waste your time being bad to each other. Step up and motivate each other. There is so much positive inspiration out there that can empower you to do unbelievable things. Instead there were times when some folks were acting like children.

Chris, Congratulations on your success….. I know what it is like to be young and come out of nowhere to dominate a market. I did that with my real estate company and some of my competitors just couldn’t take my success. The only thing they could think of doing was being negative about my success. See the story at my site.

Chris, Always create as much value as you can and don’t be afraid to ask for the money. You get what you pay for. You will love my website because it will empower you to be unstoppable. There is so much valuable information on there that could really help you. I took my business from two agents from my living room to selling 55,000,000 a year. We grew into a staff of twenty in a very glamorous office. I already dealt with a lot of the things you are dealing with now. Success leaves clues, so learn as much as you can because you seem like the kind of guy that is committed to constant and never ending improvement. Remember, you can achieve anything that you believe so take control over your thoughts and actions so you can live the life of your dreams.

HoomanCan

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Some Guy August 10, 2008

I started out doing web design at the age of 19 (I won’t say how long ago that was, but I remember using AOL *before* it was known as “AOL”!). By the time I was 24, I had people asking me left and right to design sites for them – which I did. For free. I never believed you could get paid for it.

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CK August 14, 2008

Chris,

Quick questions… I’ve done lead design work for many large firms and just recently started dabbling in freelance work. First project was an informal “cash” deal. All was well, but I realize it’s not going to always go so smooth. So for your work:

1) Do you have a formal contract that you use for every project?
2) Do you a lawyer that looks over every agreement that you and your client sign?
3)How do you deal with the almost certain maintenance/troubleshooting/customization requests that come weeks/months after a project is done? (Do you charge hourly or just completely decline this type of work?)

All insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks nice designs btw.

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Cameron Billinghurst August 15, 2008

Thank you for writing this.
It’s the perfect explanation and comparison for those unfamiliar with the industry.
Again, thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this!

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diarmuid ryan August 21, 2008

An interesting post, the prices that one should be able charge for design and the amount a client has or is willing to spend is often at odds..

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Goran September 4, 2008

Very interesting post. I work out what we are a company wish to make monthly and divide by the number of workable hours (100) and then ensure that I make that amount at least. Thus a basic website takes 20 hours then we will charge R9000, which is about $1100. Prices over the years have come down as the more designers and developers we have the lower the prices become.

As far as what others charge, our competition, we dont care. We dont sell to loose money, we sell to make money and we can only do this when we are charging correctly.

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gazduire domeniu September 9, 2008

Have you guys ever considered outsourcing for half of price, same quality and ranking results ?

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Matt September 9, 2008

Same quality? Ugh, no.

Same ranking results? What?

I’m tired of hearing about this outsourcing rubbish. Quality from a company outsourcing services will almost never match the quality of getting something in house from a respectable freelancer or firm.

Nice spam link, IMO, gazduire domeniu.

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Jaki Levy September 14, 2008

I just setup my own company and really like the full disclosure here- now that 2 years have passed since you’ve posted, I wonder what kind of new insights you’ve had…

Are you outsourcing some work? Using ELance? Do you still take smaller jobs? Do you have someone helping you do sales/marketing?

Helping other people out can be a full time job. As a web designer+producer, it’s our calling. It’s like a massive version of community service, but paid. We’re helping people communicate with other people, and with style! That’s worth much more than $2000.

It’s our job to only sell design, but explain to our clients what we’re doing. Education here is key.

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Shondhi September 15, 2008

Hi Jaki,
Im interested to have an off-blog discussion with you. can u pls mail me at shondhis at yahoo dot com

Thanks in Advance

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Chris Pearson September 16, 2008

Jaki — I completely agree with you on the education end of things, so much so, in fact, that I quit freelance work to focus on something much broader that would allow me to help more people. The project is a premium WordPress theme marketplace, and my goal is to give everyone from n00bs to pros the tools they need to build and run awesome sites.

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brian fidler September 25, 2008

Value is a funny thing. How we value ourselves is even more interesting. It is difficult for me to believe that any of the people here who have ripped Chris for his design rates have ever worked for themselves. $1500 as a base rate is CHEAP! Sure a web developer can purchase a domain, find hosting, and install a free WordPress template for very little money.

But how much time have you invested in the knowledge to:

1) know where to go to purchase that domain

2) know where to go for hosting (honestly this is a moving target sometimes)

3) understand how to point your new domain to your new host
4) use ssh, or plesk, or cPanel, or whatever you use at your new host to set up your new account, your new email, and your new ftp privileges

5) understand what Wordpress is and have the knowledge to go grab it, unzip it, and ftp it to your new domain on your new host (ftp…don’t all businessmen know what ftp is? )

6) set up your new MySQL database (of course you new you needed that when you chose your hosting package…right?)

7) configure your new Wordpress installation to connect to the new MySQL database on your new hosting package

8) awesome you now have a website up and running and it didnt cost you anything but some $ for the domain and hosting.

9) oops, spoke too soon, i just went to my domain…how come it say’s “hello world”??? that’s not what my business is about. so now I have to write content too? jeez

10) write content. frankly spend a lot of time and money at Starbucks wondering what to write. Didn’t I take a lot of English classes at college? i don’t remember anymore. How much did college cost? did i really learn anything of value there that i should be building into my estimates now? hmmm…

11) too stooped to write my own copy so i outsourced that to a local copywriter for about $2,500. that didn’t seem too bad considering how much i used to pay for brochure copy. it’s a good thing i spent as much time networking as i have or i never would have know my local copywriter.

12) back to the website…oh, i don’t like the masthead of the free Wordpress theme so i need to design my own. of course, this means i must open Photoshop (or Gimp if I’m on linux which is of course free and we all know anybody can use) which I paid a small sum to purchase. and repurchase in 1999, and again in 2001, and again in 2003, and again in 2005 and again in 2007. oh cool CS4 is on its way and I can upgrade for only $500ish.

13) now that i’m designing my masthead i feel at peace with the world. i’m very happy i spent so much time reading those Photoshop books i purchased from Amazon. those $50 books. those 12 $50 books. the ones i bought with my 8 php books, and my apache book, and my 4 mysql books, and oh, jeez, i almost forgot about Flash…and my 12 Flash and Actionscript books, and my seo books (which reminds me…Aaron…I think my subscription fees actually paid for your website design)…and my CSS books, and my jQuery book, and my 2 CakePHP books (yeah, i’m shocked there are 2 ’bout time man!) and my…is that a cgi/perl book…i can probably give that away now…which all reminds me why i pay $40/month for my safari@oreilly subscription which has really reduced the $ i spend on books…though of course the time i spend reading has gone up…not fun reading like a Nancy Drew novel (that’s a joke…i’m an Encyclopedia Brown dude) but, you know, work reading…the stuff that makes my head hurt. Wow #13 is a long sucker, and i didn’t even get into how my wife feels about spending our children’s college fund on my education.

14) now that my masthead is designed and my site is up and i’ve paid my copywriter a pretty reasonable fee to say what i wanted to say ’cause i was too busy thinking to figure out how to say it myself, i finally have a site i’m reasonably happy with. but…i think i want a calendar. do they make calendars for Wordpress? maybe there is a plugin or widget…of course that will take me at least a few hours to find, install, play with so that i understand it and can bend it to my personal will, but it’s just time right?

15) so now i finally have a website that i am happy with and it only took between 5 and 10 hours, i forget ’cause i spent a lot of time on forums reading about other plugins and widgets and cool stuff that i ended up downloadin and playing with…maybe it has been closer to 20 hours.

So yeah, $1500 is far too much $ ’cause anybody can create a website.

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Siah October 3, 2008

wow great article and enlightenment from all who have responded..

Question for you all:
With the drastic economic changes are you lowering prices?
Everyone is tight on spending, especially small to medium sized businesses which is what I assume we all target. How have you and your company made changes to adapt to this drop in the economy?

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kirk October 4, 2008

The price is depend if it need web development, etc.

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Michael G October 4, 2008

What really interests me: which percentage of the final price is taken by the CSS/HTML coding?

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Raymond October 6, 2008

Great article Chris! Also great feedback from the readers. Thank you for the inspiration.

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Raymond October 6, 2008

I’m really inspired by this article Chris. I just need to ask whats your design process like? What are the steps that are covered in your base price? Can you please give a rough outline of it?

I will follow your advice on setting up a design blog and showcase some of my work. I’ve been slacking of most of the time and this article is a real wake up call for me. I need a mentor like you! :D

Btw I like how you handle the jerk-offs! Whenever you’re receiving good blessings some people will really try to bring you down. I know you’re too good for them. hehehe.

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Mokokoma Mokhonoana October 7, 2008

Excellent article. My advice – never try win a client over by under-charging. If they fail to be willing to pay for your expertise, it’s their loss.

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Hollie October 11, 2008

Thanks for the article.

I was obviously spot on with my perceptions on pricing. I figure for a basic website 5-10 pages with limited ‘bells and whistles’ this is what I would pay. Being a graphic deisgner alot more of my time goes into logo/layout concepts rather than actually putting it into a workable site.

My problem is learning more abbout Flash MX and forum server spaces etc.
Cheers!

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Jaki Levy October 11, 2008

i’m curious how designers are now taking their designs and then putting them up.

i thought developing themes for CMS’s like expression engine, joomla, drupal, and wordpress were good solutions.

if you don’t want to do the grunt work yourself there are a few solutions.

for designers looking to make things even easier, try Light CMS:
http://www.speaklight.com/

they’ll take your psd’s and theme them for you (for a fee of course). for those who haven’t tried it yet, oDesk might also be a helpful solution.

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anonymous October 15, 2008

The thing is though, with the release of Artisteer, almost anyone can design a site now – don’t you think that may decrease the price that you can sell a custom site for since almost anyone can design a site with a what-you-see-is-what-you-get program?

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Joe October 19, 2008

I’m just getting into freelance, and all of those shoddy programs like “Expressions Web”, “Dreamweaver” and “Artiseer” are just cheap ways of skewering the average person into actually believing “well hey, I have a program now!, I saved a few thousand dollars and I’ll just do it myself, I’m so smart!”. Unfortunately, they can’t design,they have no idea about web standards, and have no idea what is eye catching to the people that are going to be viewing their site. There is no real way around it, no program is going to get you a 2advanced.com site, (obviously that site is farfetched, but you could plug any well designed site in there and it would be the same analogy). You have to pay someone. Period. I used to think that anywhere upwards of a thousand dollars it pushing it, now I won’t even look at the project for any less than a thousand. It’s just not worth it. See thats the problem, the client doesn’t see all that the designer/developer has to go through from start to finish with a site, and it’s especially bad when the client has absolutely no idea which way he wants to go with it. Hey man listen, this is the bottom line, if someone wants you to basically think up of an idea out of thin air for a site, then actually go out and find pictures and use photoshop and manipulate images and make everything look real sweet and come up with a layout, and then code it, and then validate the code,…all the while you having their best interests in mind by asking probing questions and holding their hand and basically spoon feeding them everything, not to mention set up their hosting and registering their domain, then I say you make them pay for every single red cent of that, because I can almost guarantee you that the process doesn’t stop when the site is complete. You will still have questions and have to “tweak” the site to their specifications…..it just takes forever and if a client knows nothing about this business then sure, 1500 bucks might sound like a total ripoff, but in reality, its chump change for even a crap design basic site. Think about it, it’s their business’s site, no matter what it is, they are still getting their name out there and being recognized, people just don’t want to pay. If you want a personal relationship with a designer/developer that has your needs in mind, and that will promote your businesses image through an eye candy website and a professional looking layout that will adhere to your customer base, then come to me or any other good designer/developer. If you want an ordinary run of the mill “web easy” premade template site that blends you in with the other 99% of the web that screams cheapness, then by all means, go purchase the latest copy of frontpage and have at it with your drag and drop interface that writes bad HTML for you.

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Matt October 19, 2008

Amen Joe!

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Joe October 19, 2008

I’m not saying that I am anything special at all, because I’m not. However, I do believe that a site that looks like it cost 3000$ to assemble sends off a completely different message to everyone as opposed to a site that looks like my 15 year old cousin threw it together just because he can use the custom shape tool in photoshop. By the looks of this board, it seems most of the people, or at least some agree that 1500 is not that bad of a price for a well designed and layed out 5 page web presence. Just because it comes naturally for a developer to code and design since he/she have been doing it for so long does not mean that they need to charge any less,…it’s all still a skill. Crappy developers charge less, good developers charge more. You want crap ?, then pay crap. You want good ?, then pay good. Simple.

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Adriatic Web Design Company October 25, 2008

Try to keep the site professional and affordable that will always attract customers!

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Steven Marks October 29, 2008

One thing I noticed. Clients always want more. Whatevers not in the contract – another contact form – o lets change this layout after we already agreed on it.

The best thing to do Is price a little higher. Cause 9/10 you will be haggled some.

You have to think of the hours you will put in. The people you are dealing with. If there a pain automatically price higher. You can feel out a client by talking some jargon and seeing if they understand. That’s my key. 9/10 they don’t understand. Also know if they have a ‘friend’ who is in their ear. Joe Doe told me this. If they have a design savy friend you may have to price appropriately.

Overall its selling game. But you have to produce good results to price high – and have the portfolio to back it up.
*If i would go back I would probably build out 2-3 basic 5 page sites with good design and host them on my own hosting account. So i would just pay for the domain name and host with 1 account. This way I can say see look at these great designs. 2-3 nice designed sites $14-21 domain investment could make your baseline price go up a grand or 2.

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mrsome1 October 29, 2008

This design is not worth 1500 USD ;) I think SEO, graphics, development etc should stay under half that price. That way you would more than double the market of potential buyers.

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Chris Pearson October 29, 2008

mrsome1 — So you would advise everyone to work harder, not smarter? I’m hollerin’ FAIL.

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Joe October 29, 2008

mrsome1 says that this design isn’t worth 1500. How would you know if you don’t mind my asking ?. You know, all of the people that say his designs and sites aren’t worth the money that he charges ironically fail to produce any links or URL’s of designs or creations of their own. I’d be willing to bet a lot that they are mostly below average, unprofessional, and bland sites that have invalid html code, no css, and im sure that it looks as if it were done by an 11 year old. The people that say “oh your designs aren’t worth that kind of money” are the same people that are “other people’s computer guy that can do a site for 50 bucks”. Remember, there are 50 dollars crappy template sites presented in a garbage fashion, and then there are professional looking creations that hone in on a specific target audience and propels the information forward in a fashionistic sort of way,…and if you can give that to someone for their company or for personal use, I say by all means make them pay every bit of 1500 or even double.

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Joe October 29, 2008

“This design is not worth 1500 USD ;) I think SEO, graphics, development etc should stay under half that price. That way you would more than double the market of potential buyers.”

I’m just sitting here thinking, who in the hell would do all of that, plus create a design and code it and consult with the client and host the site and do everything from the ground up for 775 bucks ?. I really wish people would think before they talk….ok, maybe for your skill level you deserve to be paid 775 dollars, but don’t say that to someone that has a decent portfolio and has charisma and knows how to develop sites.

some examples of sites that are at least worth 3k or more….and thats at least.

http://www.fusionfox.com
http://www.brightcreative.com <—- doesn’t even look at you for under 5k
http://www.radiantmars.com

Those designs are what I mean by professional, now, compare any of those sites to this site…

http://www.graphic-displays.com/ <—–”One basic web page
with 2-4 graphics and E-Mail link: $95.00″

haha, ok, so now that I have made my point clear, if you want a piece of artwork and a creation from a quality designer, look to pay in the thousands,….if you want “one basic web page for 95 bucks”,….by all means, let the ma and pa shop dig you up a site and see how far your company image goes, or even your personal site or reputation for that matter.

So when I say “professional”, thats the difference between professional amd just some run of the mill person that knows how to put an image on the screen that calls himself a web designer.

Hope this clears things up

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z October 31, 2008

whoa dude. CSS is like 35hr? you telling me it takes you almost 50 hours to change a word press blog? I throw up Joomla, WP, drupal, exctra for 650 a pop. That includes the hosting… no wonder I have business flowing through my doors…

sure 75hr for a custom joomla mod, but i have a script library the size of a 120gig HD… you are rippin off people for 1800 unless you are building custom apps like RIA AJAX addons complete with PHP-XML flash animation integration, how long does it take you re-CSS WP? I can do 3 a day and make 1800 to 2300 and get 3-5 more clients out of it…

I mean, i totally understand wanting 1800 for something that required a super design, or stiken it to the cooperate side… perhaps its experiance. On my server i make 3 clicks, 1 to charge hosting, 1 to set it up, and 1 to deploy word press… check out fantastico delux. So that takes all of what? 5 min? then i charge 550 to customise WP, and to think ‘i felt bad’ because it only took me 5 hours and i charged for 15… Guess I can chalk it up to experience…

get a copy of the Graphic Artist Guild guide to ethical guidelines…

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Chris at tv on the web November 1, 2008

I think those prices sound fair. It’s a one time investment to make your site look professional. It’s important to stand out and look legitimate (my site above excluded–primitive blogspot blog!!), especially in a crowded marketplace if you want to sell anything.

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brian fidler November 2, 2008

z: you must mis-understand what ethics are. If we value our time differently than you, and we find clients who feel that our work meets that value, how exactly is that unethical?

Also, changing style sheets isn’t exactly “design” and $35/hour is a pretty low rate for a professional designer or even production artist for that matter. That is only $70k per year and doesn’t allow for any time building business, running your business, etc. I’ve found that just the networking activities and business activities in running my own business can easily eat up 10 to 20 hours per week. If I want to spend time with my family (which happens as we age and have children, etc.) I can’t spend 60 hours a week working. So that means I end up with 20 to 30 billable hours per week. Even at 30 billable hours per week, at your $35/hour rate, that would amount to just under $55k per year. If I actually want to take vacation then it’s closer to $52k per year.
Now, since you are a college student, you may find $52k per year appealing, but once you become decent at what you do I am certain you will feel differently. Until then, perhaps you should take an ethics class and learn the difference between valuing and selling your services and being unethical in how you deliver them.

If you’ve developed a service you can profitably offer at $650 per site, great! I am certain there is a target audience for your service, but I assure you that you can’t compare your service to what Chris or myself deliver to our clients. And to then call our rates unethical is purely absurd.

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Joe November 2, 2008

Brianfilder, I was never a huge fan of flash, but I absolutely do appreciate your work and I know that its an art of its own, and obviously you do some pretty nice work there no doubt. I’m starting to think that its mostly just college kids or kids in general that want to call themselves web designers just because they know how to throw an image up and host it. There is just so much more to it than that, and the main problem is, the public doesn’t know any better, so most of the time, they opt to go for the cheaper ways out not knowing how destructive it can be to their reputation or their business. To complete a site starting from scratch on a professional level, nothing below $1000 should even be heard of, thats just my opinion. Sure it might take an inexperienced designer 6 hours to complete an entire site, and they may think that 400 bucks is enough to charge, but I’m sure there are so many things wrong with the site and how it’s put together that its just all a mess anyway, so why not pay someone who can do it and knows how to market products and get an image across to the target audience.

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hidden November 3, 2008

@ z, lol you site looks like its dated pre 1990 with those blue border hyper linked images , damn son

http://www.designhowyouthink.com/

fyi, i’m NOT posting a link to my work, cause it is bad for biz if i bash someone here and then a client views my negative comment.

to Chris’ and the others keep up the good work!

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Joe November 3, 2008

“@ z, lol you site looks like its dated pre 1990 with those blue border hyper linked images , damn son”

lol, Im not usually one to critique someone when they don’t ask, but he has a strong point about that looking like something from the pre-cambrian era

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Shondhi November 6, 2008

Hey guys,
probably we missed one point, “Z” may be trying to do some sort of advertising here to get some projects by alluring people with cheaper quote. All he said was just to infomr that if someone wants something cheap (whatever the quality is) , they should contact “Z”.

Sorry “Z” , you are caught :) LOL. no offense.

We should work and earn the values as per quality of task and we should not let our market down by doing unusually cheap development. So, keep up the good work Chris and all the good designers and developers.

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Ahsan November 9, 2008

I think the best way to get an idea of market cost of website or blog design is to check freelance websites. Most of the designers there are professional companies and charge standard rates for work.

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Doug November 12, 2008

Chris, I sure hope you haven’t let all the trolls get to you. You do seem to be taking it all in stride, I don’t think I could. I am a freelance designer, and nothing pisses me off more than when someone tries to tell me what my time, experience, education, and effort is worth.

However, I do like how you put yourself out there by making this post, it took some balls. Charge what you want, it’s your business. And the last time I checked, we do live in a capitalist nation.

This reminds me of when I was a part owner of a restaurant/bar. People would constantly complain about prices, specials, and cover charges for special events. People are just cheap, and they all think they are entitled to something.

And for the future doctor who jumped on the poster who said “I don’t get out of bed for less than $2000″, you are an idiot. You are working towards entering into the industry that has been fleecing this country for decades, and you want to jump on us for charging what we are worth? I have an idea, why don’t you spend your free time going to blogs/forums geared towards bitching about the state of health care/insurance in this country? Now that is an industry that you could call “over-priced”.

All you folks bitching are the same idiots who can’t do a damn thing without your company’s IT guy/gal holding your hand. You are the same idiots who can’t keep your windows boxes running good for more than a week. You are the same idiots who are or will become managers in your company, and you will be responsible for setting unrealistic budgets/timelines because you think all IT jobs are easy. You are the same idiots who think because you have Dreamweaver you can design a good site.

Personally, I always place a special “ass hole tax” on you idiots. That way, when you ask me to do something outside the scope of the contract (which always happens), I don’t lose time/money.

Look folks, it’s real simple. IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE PRICE, DON’T BUY THE PRODUCT OR SERVICE, or come up with another plan. For example, get a 15 year old to design you a myspace page. And after you realize what an idiot you are, you can punch yourself in the face.

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Joe November 12, 2008

I have one thing to say to Doug, and I’m a 28 year old freelancer myself, and I have been reading forums for a good 6 years on this subject. And to be completely honest, that is the most compelling, true, and down to earth paragraph that I have ever read, and I don’t disagree with a single thing that you said Doug. You’re so right it’s ridiculous, people are just cheap in general and think that it’s nothing to create a state of the art design and site. Just because you can throw up an image with Dreamweaver doesn’t mean that you can create a site.

Amen brother

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Doug November 12, 2008

Thanks Joe, I am never sure if my rants are going to make sense to the outside world. We freelance types need to stick together, as the price-bitching will only get worse as people assume they are becoming more proficient with their idiot boxes. “If I can surf the Web and create a myspace page, I can create a quality website.” I think that is how their logic (or lack there of) goes.

The cheap-ass culture in this nation, combined with all the “part-time Internet experts” equals a giant pain in the ass for us, and for all IT folks in general. Oh well, working for myself makes it all worth it, plus I love Web design.

Peace Brother

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John November 18, 2008

I do agree with most of what you have written. A good design website will cost bomb because what you are getting is what worth what you have paid.

You pay peanuts and you will get monkeys!

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Aaron November 24, 2008

Awesome piece, I’m a web designer, do some coding too, I was doing flash actionscript 3.0 when everyone else was doing 2.0 late last year (and univeristy professors weren’t teaching it cause OOP aspects were too hard to grasp, boo hoo) and when people charged for a “flash” site, and I charged a bit more I heard about it, but until people that saw my stuff were like, wow, do my site, please! I’ve learned recentley my clients recognize talent by way of portfolio and people don’t understand the cost for software licenses, costs of doing business, maintaining equipment and staying cutting edge (and portable in my case), when someone doesn’t like the way a flattened image on their site looks and wants to modify it but thinks photoshop is a Bob Vila tool–I’ve always stood on the principle of buying commercial licenses, I bought CS3 web standard, cause I had macromedia MX I could upgrade but in my college years, I knew a few nickle and dimers that were using pirated or educational versions to do their work, that’s part of the problem, we live in a world now where people cut-corners (or cheat/hack) to get ahead, the average person thinks musicans should “give away” their intellectual property (or for a buck on itunes), people want a dollar menu web designer, honestly, knowing what I know about web design, I am impressed with your professional blog designs and if I needed a blog would be grateful to aquire your services at a cost fair to your lifetime of experience, education and talent. Nuf of my editorial, sry. Great blog!

and your prices has made people go, “Oh, okay, I see. Nice work.”

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Colt Brennan December 4, 2008

I think you are right on with your pricing. Your logical thinking also makes a lot of sense. Most individuals can make the time to build a website if it is just for amusement purposes. On the other hand, companies get to a point in their business, especially these days, and realize they need to be online …… and soon. Not next year like individuals that can tweek their designs or change something on their web because they found some cool new widget. Companies want branding on their products and business instantly online. Companies want straight forward brand recognition on their site that delivers customer ease of use. Time is money. This is where a professional designer comes into play. Loved your article and now I will follow you on Twitter because of this article. Thanks!

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Michael December 4, 2008

I see the overall struggle of how much to charge in reverse of what is usually debated. It does not seem to be how much to charge at all. A designer knows what his or her work is worth. You establish what you charge and then seek out clients that can afford and do not bulk at that price. If I need to make $2000, then I talk with doctors, lawyers, dentists, orthodontists, etc. Working for those who can’t afford you will eventually defeat you.

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Techie Zone December 9, 2008

Oh…Dude….How do u even consider urself as a designer..>except TLA and SEO book none of ur other portfolio comes in the purview of a web design portfolio. And u charge 1800 bucks ???????? IMO thts like puting money in shit..Dun take it personal.

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Techie Zone Is An Idiot December 9, 2008

Nice website, Techie Zone. Your logo makes me want to vomit, and there is absolutely no originality in your design. Nothing more pathetic than seeing a person pass judgment onto another when that person clearly has no real talent nor credibility.

Pearson owns you.

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Aaron December 9, 2008

Techie Zone’s site looks like CNN turned blog that regurgitated with ad space for sale.

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Paul December 11, 2008

hope your clients get a much better design then this site….
if you are charging them for something comparable to this one then you are ripping them off.

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Susan December 11, 2008

Hi-5′s Doug. I started to quote some of it, but couldn’t choose a favorite part, so I just celebrate the whole post.

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jeremiah December 18, 2008

15 hun for a blog, sweet. i started out doing some phpbb, drupal, and joomla. i better get into some wordpress!

real talk though, after this year i will become a junior and have already put in 87 hours of computer science education at a nice university. this is a lot of money ill be paying back after investing into myself, a lot of money! if i have to only make 50k a year ill never break even. we as a community must keep our skills at a premium value so we do not become a commodity for big business to exploit.

if i can make 80k a year cutting hair paying my way through college, i better be able to make some money with this CIS, comp science thing!

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jeremiah December 18, 2008

btw, comparing low cost design in eastern europe or india isn’t fair because they can live better on that kind of dough there than getting our prices and living here.
if it comes down to this we should crack down on standards of americans buying overseas making sure that the person or business that is selling the product is abiding by US intellectual property laws. if these people are charging pennies on the dollar than most likely they cannot afford the premium tools that we work with. this is where torrent files are hitting us in the pocket. ok, i could keep going but ill stop. anybody know a congressman?:)

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Evans December 26, 2008

Nice post Chris -

Even though the post is over a year old, or approaching 2 years, I must say it still rocks! Looking around your site/blog has reignited the long-lost love I had for site designs and software development.

Though, I now work for an SEO company, I will try and keep up with your awesome blog by subscribing to your RSS.

Great stuff!

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Site O Rific December 29, 2008

My prices are insane and annoy most ‘design from scratch one client at a time’ web designers- apparently. Pricing is completely subjective and totally up to the potential of the barterers involved. Norms are an illusion and opinions are obsolete! I can build a website for $750 in 30 minutes and the client loves them! Go figure…

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Aaron December 31, 2008

Hey Jeremiah, maybe we should start a US web designer’s organization (I’m serious), have dues and lobby our congressmen, they seem to listen to lobbyists (and nobody else).

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Miss Blossom January 3, 2009

Thanks for this. I always struggle quoting to people new to the web, but I have had so many conversations with people who have been burnt by people who are too cheap at the outset, because they often don’t meet the needs of the client. I know there are people out there who are cheap as chips, and that fills a part of the market, but it’s like buying cheap versus quality in fashion. You can get a cheap dress/t-shirt, but you’ll look like everyone else and yes, as with websites, it serves a function. Or you can spend a little more and get something made specifically for your needs, that no one else has, that will make you look incredible.
I’ve got a lot of design experience, formal art and design training and industry specific knowledge and training, under my belt, so my clients come to me for that.
Thanks for this again, very affirming.

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jeremiah January 8, 2009

jeremiahmathews@gmail.com

i would like to discus this lobbying thing further, email me aaron or any others that would like to discuss that particular subject. maybe ill put a blog together for this subject.

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Tolome January 11, 2009

I’m still new with this blogging thing, i may or may not understand what the others are saying but it didn’t took me two lines to understand what the author is trying to imply.

Lesson i learned from this:

Chris, don’t put price tag on your balls but sell your brain to the highest bidder…

Nice post man!!! More power

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Linda Lee January 12, 2009

I agree with you and I love the theme you have on this blog.
It is very slick, cheerful and colorful. Nice testimonial to your own skills.
Great design. :)

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John E January 15, 2009

Nice discussion. I have been doing commercial design work for over a decade, blogs are one more element to me. My pricing scheme includes pricing my time as Business Analyst (collecting, verifying, validating, and documenting the requirements), Design time (submissions, revisions, re-revisions), Business Analyst [again] as the ‘new’ requirements begin to emerge [Thank heavens for Agile methodology], Development, Testing, Deployment, and Documentation. In the corporate workspace BAs, Designers, Testers start around $45K, Developers start around $55K. But once you have been doing this for 10 years the experience raises the bar by 2/3 or more.

Little story to remember: James Whistler, painter of ‘Whistler’s Mother’, was displaying and selling some paintings in London. When asked by a gallery patron how much would he charge for a portrait Whistler replied, ” 20,000 pounds.” The patron asked how long would it take to paint the protrait and Whistler said, “About 3 weeks, maybe a month.”

The patron gasped. “You expect me to pay you 20,000 for a month’s work?”

“No,” replied Whistler. “I expect you to pay 20,000 for a lifetime of experience.”

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Shondhi January 16, 2009

Hey John E,
The example that you mentioned is simply stunning. Really, people don’t want to pay for the creativity or complexity of task, they just compare all the people with the same quality and try to pay less. But they forget one thing that is, THEY RECEIVE FOR WHAT THEY PAY.

Thanks to All
Shondhi

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Aaron January 16, 2009

John E is so right. I now do web sites by contract only and it’s saved my hynee these days, spoke with some attorneys and the whole thing is when you are designing something, it falls under a category of art, you are an artisan, people are hiring you to draw what they want for whatever, then it’s a question of skillz and getting the job done (i.e. “Media Arts”) Painters use a paintbrush, a musician may play a guitar, I use a mouse and a wacom tablet. ;)

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Frank January 19, 2009

If you look at that point you are right!
But 1800,00 is a lot for 1 website that may not go any where, and if you look around you may find free website and free websites templates, Some people may offer free sub-domains free websites templates and even free
websites Hosting, I see Business People working with you But Mr Bob Joe ,frank and Jose will not pay that Kind of money for 1 website, some times they may put more money the they should but This day’s with this economics times, that may be very hard to get the av Joe pay 1800,00 for a website!
For example Uoha.com will offer this services for free!

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jeremiah January 19, 2009

now discussing lobbying and politics for ways to protect our industry in web design thanks to this thread. i would like to put a link to this thread in appreciation for your interest in our work.

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Aaron January 20, 2009

Hey Frank, you link to your site I take it, that’s so cheap (pun), I clicked on your link, goes to a site built on images only, no text ID’s for your images? That don’t show up or it’s missing plug-ins the regular world doesn’t use? I guarantee my customers their site will work cross-platform and I make sure my graphics and artwork at least shows up (if I was trying to prove a point). Every site I make is better than the last too. Progress.

;)

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Patrick Garner January 31, 2009

Excellent post and discussion (and site!)
The one poster who makes the best point is “monoeject”, stating that “a fair price is whatever you can get for it,” although in monoeject’s was incorrect on one thing: monoeject stated that “Design is not gasoline or eggs.” I think what mono meant to say that “Design IS like gasoline or eggs- a service that not unlike many commodities fluctuate with the market.

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A. Beck March 6, 2009

I don’t know about anyone else, but this economy is kicking my tale right now. It seems that a lot of clients that were willing to pay for a good site 6 months ago are ready to pull the 404 on their sites now. I can’t blame them, they’re laying off workers that have been with the company for 15+ years, going to furlough-time with remaining employees, cutting benefits like health/retirement matching, and cutting salaries. I’d trim the site budget too. But the thing is, how do you think we should adjust our pricing in the midst of this financial mess? I’m having to mark down services and scale down sites every day – I’m sure some of you are losing clients. I’d just like to know what someone else thinks.

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Aaron March 6, 2009

A. Beck, do it better than the other guy, that’s all I can say (without disclosing substantial trade secrets, heh).

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Van S. March 6, 2009

I like the article. I am a web designer myself and there is always some ambiguity when it comes to how much should we charge. People just dont have the understanding of how much web design costs. I had one guy who wanted everything and anything and he was only willing to pay $150.00.. whew.

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Keysle... March 20, 2009

… You’ve got to be kidding me… I charge way less than all these things… WAY fuggin less.

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This Anonymous Guy March 20, 2009

Hey Keysle, Chris could kick your ass all over the place. If I were you I’d shut the mouth and go pollute someone else’s blog.

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BYGino April 1, 2009

I’m a UK developer (that’s a coder NOT a designer) and I have been in the industry for years but only had my own business for 2 years. $1,500 actually sounds pretty reasonable for a decent design. When I think back 2 years to when I first started out, I was charging way lower than this but there’s no way I could have sustained a business at this rate.

Since then my minimum price has gone up in the region of 800% and I’m still getting more work than I can possibly cope with. I quote per project and factor in about 10 hours worth of meetings and telephone conversations with the client, time for traveling, sales and marketing of my business, equipment costs, accountancy fees and a whole heap of ancillary costs that some people just don’t think about.

I manage projects from start to finish and bring in the right designer for each project, for this I charge a premium. There is nothing worse than quoting a client £8K for a site to then be asked, why are you £8K when I can get a site done by my [insert relative]-neighbor’s-schoolkid for £100.

The other side of the coin is that you are sometimes not taken seriously if you charge too little. OK, my skills have developed a little over the past 2 years but not 800% better! I now do a lot of work with local authorities but 2 years ago I couldn’t get them to take me seriously because my pricing was too low and the reaction was automatically… “well, they can’t be very good at that price, can they?”

I hope to build my portfolio to a level where I can realistically double my rate again. By which point people will be happy to pay the premium because they know what kind of service they will get in return. Someone replied with a one-liner of “pretentious” above, I’m afraid that’s the type of reply from someone who has absolutely no business sense.

I’ve got to agree with John E’s comments too, although the version of the story I heard was Van Guagh and it was in Paris but essentially the principles are the same. In this day and age it’s not unreasonable to download a free CMS buy $25 template and spend 300 hours learning how to use the system and populate it with bad content and terrible images. But if you are a senior exec or even if you just run a small business, what is the actual cost of you website? 0+25+(300 x [insert your hourly rate]) and I don’t know many business owners or trades people who work for minimum wage.

Sorry, I’ll get off my soap box now.

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BYGino April 1, 2009

oh and Keysle… you’ve got to be kidding me… we’re you actually stupid enough to post a link to that monstrosity you’ve called a website and then have a go at someone else!

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Blumenversand April 2, 2009

Great artice, thx for your web 2.0 design site. Problem is, nobody wants to pay for good web designer.

Van S. write People want everything and anything and he was only willing to pay $150.00
its reality :-(

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JohnMaar April 5, 2009

I don’t think it’s fair to say that NOBODY wants to pay for a good designer.

That said, most competent individuals, whether in a personal or business setting, tend to think very highly of themselves because they understand just how long it took them to become “competent” at their best, monetizable (if that’s a word), skill. On the other hand, they see something that looks simple, so they assume that it must be. For example, look at the logo on my site (under development, using Chris’s Thesis theme (I bought the developer’s package, which I consider to be a huge bargain)). It looks simple. It is. Simple and elegant. But the number of iterations that I went through with the designer to get that simple and elegant final product was mind numbing (something like 18, if I remember correctly). And I only had to pay $600 for it!

Re pricing: back in my consulting days, my original rate was $2750/day. Citibank got me for 18 months for that rate. I thought I was doing great. Sadly, once I finished that account, it took me some time to leverage that into another major gig. But you know what? Not one good (there are bad) prospect would take me seriously at that rate. I bumped it up to $3250, and then $3750 and finally $4250/day. The lesson I learned was to benchmark the guys at the TOP of my profession and then back off just slightly from their rates. Then I wound up with some much business, I had to fly one to two around-the-worlds per month. Then, as Chris mentioned in another one of his posts, I burned out.

So now I’m in Scottsdale, rolling my own (website, of course ;) ), teaching myself CSS, PHP and HTML via WordPress and Thesis. As soon as I get Simple:Press Forum fully integrated (WP’s comment system just won’t handle what I’m planning) with Thesis, I’ll start uploading my content.

So, thank you, Chris, and the rest of the community, for your helping hands. I promise to give back as much as I can.

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Aaron April 5, 2009

The difference in web design cost is in site funcionality (or the lack thereof). A designer I occasionally help out did a nice site on the cheap, under $1,000 where he put the design together, everything but it was all designed in photoshop, sliced, he edited the HTML, made links, a contact form, that’s it! he contacted me because he wanted to convert it to a CMS, after showing him what it would take, after sitting down with him for 2 hours, he said “there’s no way, even with a template, this would take 100′s of hours to customize” and he’s right.

In case some still just don’t get it, the difference in slicing an image and calling it a website (which it is) versus customizing and securing and mastering a massive enterprise CMS…here’s an excerpt from ICONS 2008 WEB DESIGN: MUSIC SITES (by Ed. Julius Wiedemann) case one, pg 18, Jon Sulkow of PROD4ever (they designed Madonna’s website in 2008) in his interview states:

“When we were asked if we wanted to design Madonna’s website, our collective mouths dropped open. We started blasting Borderline and jumping around the room. Finally we snapped out of it and realized what a lot of work we had in front of us. I cannot tell you exactly how many hours this site took to produce. In fact, we’re still making updates and adjustments to it. Suffice it to say, it was a huge amount of work – 6 people in our studio worked fulltime for 3 months, with many late nights, and are still working off and on to make it better + keep it fun.”

Nuf said.

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Tony Kau April 13, 2009

I run a small web design/marketing firm out of Portland, and I get this same question all the time, this is an excellent post! Some of my clients say ‘oh I thought it was going to be like $200′ and some are impressed at the value in a $3500 e-commerce package. It totally depends on any framing the customer has already built up.

If they’re searching through Craigslist, looking for a deal, they’re going to get used to seeing ‘$399 full e-commerce website.’ Unfortunately they should be replacing ‘full’ with ‘horrible and not secure.’

Here’s to creating value in our clients’ minds!

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Cole April 17, 2009

Great Article. I usually take into account 3 factors. What the customer can / will pay. How much it should be to make it worth my time. And how busy i am at the time.

Sometimes i will be completely covered up, but will take on another job if the money is right.

Cheers!

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JW April 20, 2009

Just out of curiosity, is it typical for someone to charge around $20,000 for a professional site design? As in, a startup business that doesn’t have THAT much money but obviously needs their site to be professional. I ask because someone I know is trying to make such a business work and their so-called web designer has taken MONTHS to put together the new site (it’s not even done yet) and has charged them roughly 20k along the way. Now they are talking about providing an “estimated timeline and budget” (read: additional time and costs) just to sort out the kinks that THEIR design has and make it cross-browser compatible. Is this little business getting completely swindled or is this acceptable on the designer’s part?

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Cole April 20, 2009

First off, always ask around before hiring a designer. Talk to people in similar situations, or who have been where you are now, and try to get a good word or mouth referral on someone. If that doesn’t work, you can always ask for references. There are a lot of lazy designers out there. They talk a big game and then do not deliver.

Having said that. I have seen sites go as high as $250K for large corporations, and have heard of up to $500K for International Companies.

But it goes back to “What the customer can / will pay.” You should have a good idea of what your budget is before shopping for designers. The clients i typically work for, $20K would include a very large site, Content Management System, probably a custom Store, and a very kick a$$ design, with perhaps a Motion Graphics / 3D animation movie that goes on the site.

But most small business sites are simple. I think $5K would build a great small business site. I’m just got a contract for a small site, CMS and store for $2K. So yeah, probably getting swindled.

Cheers!

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Chris Pearson April 20, 2009

JW — Unfortunately, that little business is getting ripped off badly. They’d be much better off tackling the fundamentals with an $87 copy of Thesis, and after they’d developed their site a bit and acquired some direction, they could hire a Thesis designer for roughly $1000 (or far less in some cases, I’m sure) to flesh out a new design.

Ultimately, problems like this are the result of poor information in the marketplace, and a growing part of my job is to tackle issues just like this one.

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Cole April 20, 2009

That is a great option for smaller companies that need sites on a limited budget. Even something with wordpress or frontpage or any of the open source systems would be a great alternative to dropping $20K.

Also, there are some great flash template sites out there with beautiful designs that are relatively inexpensive, but i don’t know how their setup support is.

The lesson to be learned, as with anything i suppose, is do your homework.

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Mikeee April 22, 2009

OK i have a question about some design prices really quick, if i was going to have a professional build me a website, like a facebook or myspace set up with everything to go along with it, what price am i looking at? and dont worry as long as its not over 20 thousand you wont be scaring me

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BYGino April 23, 2009

Sorry Mikeee, something like facebook would cost way more than £20,000 let alone $20,000 if I was to price it. I’ma developer NOT a designer but I work with different designers on large projects. I just won a contract for almost £30K to develop a site for a client who I did a £2,000 site for in the past.

You’ve got to look at the bigger picture. This site will take me about 6 months to complete and even the first month will be used completely for planning aand management, not a single bit of code will be touch. Then I’ve got to bring in designers, flash experts, videographers etc etc. In the end the only reason I’m charging as little as £30k is that I really like the client and want them to succeed with the project so I have discounted it very heavily.

With some proper project planning you can consider things like the time to get a return on investment. The project is going to be part funded by UK government but even so, I estimate the ROI will be about 6 months and the UK government will get there initial funding back in tax revenues from the client in a few years.

I’ve heard of sites (although never personally been involved in) cost hundreds of thousands and more but aat the other end of the scale i know someone who churns out £99 websites. It’s all about your perspective.

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JW April 23, 2009

Sorry, I’ve got more information on the company now and I probably misrepresented it with the term “small business”. It’s a place that does short term apartment rentals for hotel-style accomodations, with online booking and credit card processing, plus live chat with voice capabilities. They’re hoping to eventually generate $1-3 million per year though at the moment it’s nowhere near that, it’s just trying to stay on its feet for now. Content additions, etc. are maintained by my friend himself, not done by the designer. Hope that’s a more appropriate explanation than I originally gave…any opinions now would be great. Thanks again!

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BYGino April 23, 2009

The cost sounds quite reasonable to me if it’s a pro. Although the comment about only now getting into estimated time-lines and final costs starts to ring alarm bells and sounds a little unprofessional. That said, many people on here will no doubt agree that far too often the client’s original brief can change considerably from the one quoted on which could be the case here. That’s exactly why I’m spending a month planning (with the client) my next project. The initial project I did for them racked up many more hours than it would have if the brief hadn’t changed throughout the project so learning from that it’s good to take control of the project and planning upfront.

Long and the short of it is for those kind of figures the site would have to work well and generate enough sales to pay for itself (in profit not turnover in 6 – 12 months) There are of course many contributing factors however and hopefully the client is backing up the site with the right marketing etc and not just expecting the website to be the answer to it all.

Just my 2 cents worth.

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Givemeabreak April 24, 2009

All this article establishes is that designers are overpaid.

Whether or not all of you want to admit it, it comes down to one simple equation: How long does it take you?

And unless you think you are worth $500 an hour (delusions of grandeur, big time) then your prices are too high.

Consider for a moment all the skill, and energy, and education, and time, and sheer effort it takes to be a high powered attorney. The litigation, the endless hours of all nighters, research, the piles of books, the hearings and paperwork and skill involved in defending a client in front of a Judge. Consider how much liability, risk, and education goes into being a brain surgeon. The unbelievable work and effort involved.

And you think you should make 5x more than them… putting together a web blog design?

Get a F****ng clue people. Wake up.

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BYGino April 25, 2009

That’s what I like to see, someone who puts a lot of thought into a response, where the heck did you get $500/hour from? I don’t know anyone who charges that kind of money for web design.

Now lets just see, the project I mentioned earlier I said was quoted at £30K and would take 6 months. Now that’s 6 months of at least 80 hours a month (and I do mean at least, you’re probably looking at closer to 120h/month) then you’ve got outsource, overheads here’s a Maths lesson for you…

30,000 – 6,000 (costs to be covered) = 24,000
24,000 / 6 (months) = 4,000 / month
4,000 – 1,000 (business overheads estimate) = 3,000
3,000 / 80 (hours per month) = £37.50 per hour
3,000 / 120 (hours per month) = £25 per hour
And that’s before I’ve looked at things like tax and national insurance etc.

You’ve actually got me thinking that I’ve under quoted now! My previous employers thought I was worth £120/hour + benefits so why shouldn’t I value myself at that?

Try thinking about what you are saying before posting slanderous remarks!

Oh and just for the record, I’ve probably put in as much effort (if not more) than my very close childhood friend the lawyer to get to the level I am at now so yes I do think I should be allowed to charge more, even though I don’t!

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Colby Anderson April 27, 2009

hey im colby a computer info student in a trade school..
i work hard on sites ( not ecommerce ) and make around 1000 dollars a pop..
now i build small to meduim buesness related sites no more than 20 pages mostly.. the key that ive found is if you can bang out a site every few days esspecially if you have a solid client base you can bring in about 60 grand a year. for someone thats not in highschool they could make much more.. there are many people out there looking for a no hastle site thats not gonna break there wallet.. another tip is have about ten templates built, and use those to build around if a customer has all his content set you can have a web site done a a few days…
well thats my 2 cents coming from the 16 highschool student =]

well good luck all hope this helps some

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Tony Anderson April 27, 2009

Here’s a calculator I made so you can see how much your site should cost.

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This Anonymous Guy April 27, 2009

I can’t tell you how ridiculous that is, Tony. That is such an inefficient way to quote a website.

I’m very disappointed in that garbage.

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Some dude May 4, 2009

I think web design is a most important thing when you getting start online business. In my view if your website having good seo and results are achieving in all related good keywords but all in vain if your website design is not good because your viewer does not get a good impression from you and without waisting time go for other option. So it is really important that no compromise on quality, if anyone provide quality with affordable cost thats great. Always keep in mind first imperession is the last imperession. Thanks for shairing veiws.

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turbowebguy May 4, 2009

If people don’t get it still after this long list, they just may never get it. I’m finding more recntely, people don’t want to pay for a design concept (because of templates), it depends on what they want, many don’t know what they want so, for example, somebody last week asked me to put a concept together for them to pitch to a board, I said I would and spent 3 late night hours testing two CMS’s to determine which would suit the job better. I don’t get paid for that but I will have a sort of commission to take on this site when it’s done, so, another turn of events for how much should a web site cost? Will depends in this instance on how much effort I put into it after I’ve designed it and no, I’m not a sap, it’s a very good deal, just can’t say here :)

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almanssori May 13, 2009

Hi Chris,

How do I get in touch with you. Can you please email me?

Thanks
Srini

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Nick May 15, 2009

JohnMaar : “my original rate was $2750/day”

Bullshit.

For a standard 8 hour day someone was paying you over $325 /hr ? For what?

If you were being paid $2750 a day and working full-time that equates to roughly $900,000 per year. I don’t even think one of the original developers of Flash has ever made that much.

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Jessica May 20, 2009

Very useful article! I’m just beginning to get into freelance design and had a not so great response to my invoice! Thanks, Chris for tellin’ it like it is. I’ll continue to visit.

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George May 22, 2009

This is what i dislike about the so called “designer world”. I am a graphic designer myself with an MA and i find such prices to be ridiculous as much as i find designers charging so much money PER HOUR outrageous! In your article you are trying to justify the fact that you still overcharge people for a service that sooner or later most will learn how to do it by high school age. Perhaps living outside high-cost markets such as the US and the UK does not allow me to get a proper perspective on the matter but i still say that my common sense is right tuned. You can ask for any outrageous amount of money and sure, many suckers will fall into the trap the same way some people pay thousands of dollars for a hat or a sitting chair that could have cost the seller/maker small change to create/buy in the first place…all in the alter of design. Sorry i don’t do that, when people ask me to create a logo or a website i charge more than reasonable prices and NEVER by the hour. I mean come on, how is a client going to know how much time it indeed takes for a designer to finish a job? I could be just listening to music and reading a book and having the client think i am *cough* “slaving” over a logo design.

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This Anonymous Guy May 22, 2009

George, thanks for this. What you just wrote is by far one of the most moronic things I have ever read. Do yourself a favor and never speak or type again. You will instantly lose any credibility.

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George's arch enemy May 22, 2009

By George you’re wrong!

You need to get a Ph.d obviously a MA isn’t enough to understand or you’re still stuck in a high school bubble (since your demographic can do sites on the cheap).

I’ve done web design before you got your MA and web design has changed but staying on top of the game 24/7 is key and how I make my money, oh no I don’t want to be identified save me! Help! By George I’m a forsaken waste of space and should charge a flippin burger.

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George May 22, 2009

You both obviously posses class judging by your elegant replies and that also shows how much your PhD and professionalism has done to your inflated ego. Telling me not to type another word here while everyone else is freely expressing their opinion, class act. So George’s arch enemy , if you are not making hundreds of dollars a day off the backs of naive clients the only alternative is to be flipping burgers huh? Really graceful and it shows the amount of education you have received and the respect you hold for people who are not as…charismatic as you are. Oh and This Anonymous Guy (charming name) i think you are the burger-hater are the ones losing credibility at the moment. It is because of ignorant people like you that so many people around the world are starving to death while some sharks milk out the economy to its last drop.
Live long and prosper oh intelligent and sophisticated ones

:-)

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George's arch enemy May 22, 2009

Geroge, I fold my arms, nod, bow, and salute your ignorance and faciniating imagination.

Sure web design is your calling?

I do web design so my clients don’t have to deal with people like you.

I’d hate to be a client of a guy like you that spews nonsense so indiscriminately.

If I see you holding out your empty can on the street next year, we’ll all know why. Demographics.

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Joe May 22, 2009

George I’ll be honest with you, you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, and judging by how you react to criticism, you’re design work would be amateurish at best, which is why you don’t feel like YOU should have the right to charge people what some others on this board do. You know what, I want you to post up here a link to a few pieces of work that you have done, and I swear to god I will be 100% honest with you if I deem them decent, and if I do, I will listen to what you have to say, other than that, you’re nothing but a bag of wind who can make a bevel in photoshop and use an HTML table to put it in and then say “WELL HEY!, THAT WASN’T HARD AT ALL, I HAVE NO IDEA WHY ALL OF THESE SO CALLED “DESIGNERS” CHARGE SO MUCH MONEY!, THEY ARE OBVIOUSLY JUST RIPPING PEOPLE OFF!, I’M GOING TO CALL MYSELF A DESIGNER AND JUST UNDERCHARGE THE HELL OUT OF EVERYONE AND MAKE A KILLING”. The problem with this is your work most likely doesn’t hold a candle to the likes of http://www.2advanced.com or http://www.pixelranger.com or http://www.derbauer.de . or http://www.fusionfox.com or http://www.brightcreative.com or…I could go on for a looong time. The point that I’m trying to make is that the reason why we all charge a high dollar amount (according to you) is because a highly developed, design oriented and cleverly laid out site takes a LOT of skill,…to implement, to code, and above all, to design. You personally sound like you have absolutely no clue as to what goes into making a work of art site that you are truly proud of.

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BYGino May 23, 2009

Come on guys, this is a world of free speech, lets keep everything on topic and not start with the person insults and assault on individuals. While I disagree with George’s comments myself, I don’t think ramming our own opinions down other’s throats is really helping matters any.

There is a place for everyone here, I do not try and compete with teenagers sitting in a bedroom with only a basic level of understanding and charging just enough to get by on, I find my own market. In the same respect, I am far from at the top of my game so wouldn’t dream of trying to compete at the corporate level. I work with moderately sized businesses who understand the importance of what I do and are willing to help me build and improve my business while helping them grow theirs. It’s called life and applies to every single industry you can think of.

My opinions have changed and evolved over the years as I’m sure most of you will. Let’s hear peoples comments take them on board, filter out what isn’t important and learn from each other. There are no right or wrong answers really.

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Suffie May 24, 2009

I think people need to realise that there is a difference between traditional graphic design and web design/development.

I think this is one of the major problems. When a graphic designer (with little web design knowledge) sends me a web site layout, I often have to send it back or make changes to make it more web worthy.

They are often totally unaware that you need to be cognizant of factors such as loading times/bandwidth, accessibility, usability, ensuring it looks decent in most if not all of the popular browsers as well as for different monitor sizes…AND ensuring that it flows well with any content if it is CMS driven, all this while ensuring that it everything validates XHTML 1.0 Strict!

It is a lot of work and I have not even included additional coding and necessary testing. I don’t agree with George but if his work is easy and his clients are satisfied with his work so be it. He never said he was a web designer though, he said he is a graphic designer and I think that is a significant sign of his way of thinking. The thing is a person can say they do web design and ignore all standards and web design principles and just put out anything as long as it works. I’ve seen many people do just that and boast that they do cheap websites.

Truthfully, if someone was to design a website and then just let photoshop or imageready or some software like that cut up and export the website, then of course websites would be “easy” to create.

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Vicky May 29, 2009

After reading this article again today, it came in at the right time. I consider myself to be a web marketing strategist who creates websites as a means for marketing. I take into consideration balancing design with functionality. $1500 is more than reasonable when you look at the amount of time invested to create a blog/website such as designing, coding, testing can take several hours. Add to that the hours it takes to get spec details from the client to begin the work and modify it to fit their needs.

One skill overlooked often is strategy. Anyone can put a site together. It takes a good designer/developer to strategize the best way to create a site fitting the client’s specific needs. Choosing between Wordpress, Expression Engine, Drupal, Joomla, etc is strategy. Knowing which font to use, where to put the navigation, which icons to integrate, etc is strategy. Those are things that justify $1500 easily.

People who complain about $1500 being too much are looking to cut corners and most likely won’t appreciate the value of a personalized and custom design.

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A Former Designer June 2, 2009

Not only is that price reasonable, I am stunned that people think it would even approach expensive. As someone who worked both corporate and personal design for more than ten years prior to leaving the business in disgust (lol), I didn’t even touch work that was less than $4k or $5k, and frequently quoted people $10k. Fire clients who don’t get it and your business will become more profitable. Bargain hunters are people that are uncommited to their ideas, as good design yields results.

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Mcometa June 2, 2009

Very helpful post and to think that the blog was written in 2003, people are still expressing their thoughts! Whoa and big thanks for this one.

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Chris Chong Web Design June 7, 2009

That is pretty reasonable, that’s about what we are charging for custom wordpress themes. Its one thing if they have an existing site with content, completely different from someone with no site at all who doesn’t know what it takes to make a good looking web site.

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Andy June 9, 2009

Great post even though quite old now, 1500-2k for a website really IS reasonable. 1 year ago I would have charged £495 for a complete bespoke design, would I charge that today.. hell NO. People who are charging that little will probably NOT for too much longer.

Yes, you can design a website and build it in less than a week. And that is exactly why I priced my designs at £495 – however it’s only experience that shows the issues with that.

If I was a machine and all I had to do all day was build websites for that price I’d be fine, but as i’ve now realised it’s not just the design you have to charge for, it’s customer correspondence, whether that be telephone calls, petrol, time explaining how things work then on top of that the adding the “little changes” which soon mount up to days of work. And what’s more the site has to be tested in at least 4 different browsers, w3c compliant and every client wants to be number one in google LMAO.

Of course I was swayed into that price range because of the hundreds of adverts advertising cheap website at £20 a month then clients calling me to see if I could beat that.

£1500-2k for a commercial website is GREAT VALUE, especially as this medium can achieve far greater results than TV and still costs less than a small yellow pages advert.

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Alex June 11, 2009

This was a very well written article, your pricing is about the average for this market. We have been in the website market for about 3 years and have done some extensive research before listing prices. We are now in a web blog project design mode, and all these articles are of great help. These small business and do it your self website design folks are totally off the bench, they use simple HTML and CSS coding. Dynamic programming designs that Google and yahoo no longer use for search criteria, instead Google uses a static search criteria, and we know this because we use Google apps and find them the most up to date technology wise. So if you are in the market for a website and you see someone or a business offering it for $300.00, ask yourself, “What am I really getting?” and same goes for a blog design.

So this article was helpful and we actually showed it to our clients. Your $1800.00 was a good start, and the Blog studios $3000.00 – $5000.00 was a great package price. Google uses the same criteria for searching a website as they do a blog.

Great article!

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Webstaze Web Design Studio June 22, 2009

Web design should be affordable. At Webstaze, we believe that, people should be able to get a custom basic website for less than $1000. Of course with most of the freelancers located in India, that option is available since years, but there you really get what you paid for.

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Lloyd April 23, 2010

There you said it. “You get what you paid for.” The less you pay the less you get.

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This Anonymous Guy June 22, 2009

I’m so tired of these third world design companies charging bargain basement prices for cookie cutter designs and websites.

Good thing more and more people are recognizing the difference between cheap and value.

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HAH!! June 22, 2009

Actually I think your work is crap!

All gob and no graft………..
There are almost as many web designers as there are websites, everyone with a quick MS course and suddenly they think they are the business, when in fact they are hardly even mediocre.

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Web Design San Diego June 23, 2009

This is a great article, and opened my eyes one more time…. I’m too cheap…. I’m a web designer, and as a one-woman show, I only have small customers with a tight budget.

Almost every time I end up putting way more time in than I anticipated, and people probably still think I’m too expensive, even when my hourly wage is ridiculously low if I would calculate my actual hours…

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Shisha June 25, 2009

Amusing article…and you´re so right. To create a site takes a lot of time and so even money….nice work too

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jose July 3, 2009

Hi guys and sorry about my spelling my english is not so well.
I’m learning about website designing I’m working with fireworks, photoshop, dreamweaver, flash . Now I know with flash there is some coding involved I’m sure is not as much as what you guys do . My question is if I master this softwares and become good at this would I be consider a web designer ?? Because I read that a couple of you guys didn’t feel people who worked with those softwares are not website designer . So I just wanted to know how you guys are the pros here ? I done a couple of websites for a couple of friends of mines for free ( cause I’m still learning lol ) . I been reading this article an I do feel that 1500 is not that high of a price . And I know I’m a beginner an I don’t do all that coding that you guys do yet . But sometimes it takes me days just to get the right look on one page ( because I’m a perfectiones ) . And I’m just working on photoshop lol . I have done from movie editing to 3d designs to making beats for clients . An I feel that what people don’t understand that your paying for a skill . All your clients want is for you to get the job right no questions no mistakes and give results, you have to pay for that . Yes there are websites online out there that you can get for 20 dollars . But when it comes down to it, is worth 20 dollars. And that is good if that is what your looking for. But if you wake up one day with a idea of a site that is so… great so different but you don’t know how to put it on paper or how it would work but you have to get it done just right . Where do you think you going to get that help from ? Not from a 20 dollar website maker . Some body put time and sweat and long hours to earn those skills why shouldn’t they get pay for it . If a lawyer did 4 to 5 yearss of school and feels that his worth an amount of money to represent you . You pay for it right ? Because you fill that there knowledge is worth paying for . You can simply get yourself a pubic defendant but you want no mistakes. You want somebody that you fill is going to put all of there knowlege in your case to get the job done right . Because that is what your paying for , so why shouldn’t a web designer get paid for the time and knowlege they earn ? Who are you to say what some one skill is worth ?

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Meleniumshane90 July 5, 2009

I appreciate this article – contains sensable information. Though not the specific approach I would take to responding to comments, but thats just because you have nothing to lose : ) My nasty comments go on alternative accounts.

===
Anyways, to respond to jose, you will need proficientcy in HTML, XHTML, CSS, JavaScript, and eventually PHP to really do anything professional. There are good guide websites, and I’m sure if you work at it, you will do well. Always validate your coding and test the website on all browsers (IE6+. Firefox 2+, Opera 8+, Safari) and organize your websites with all lowercase folders (images, music, etc.) and index.html for homepages!
====
With my company, I’ve found that people just want something that is looks nice, is easy to navigate, and is professional. They want to be hands off, and want me to do my stuff. I like working with this method – of course I discuss ideas and make sketches before I do anything, and most of the time it takes a few minutes to get something that they can conceptualize and I can begin work.

It does take a lot of time – especially when you have to deal with browser compatability (Internet Explorer hates CSS).

Anyways, appreciate the article, I learn from reading on the internet – this is no different.

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jose July 5, 2009

I appreciate your help Meleniumshane90 and I will take your advice.
I’ll start looking online for guides on learning how to use everything you mentioned .

Thank you !

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Avery July 12, 2009

In an average day, how many man-hours does a 37signals employee typically work?

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Lewis July 14, 2009

You and many of your commenters have hit the nail on the head regarding pricing for web design.

All too often individuals and small companies don’t understand the value of their own branding. Sometimes you have to say no to work rather than cheapen or degrade your own talents to fit a smaller budget.

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Learn Master Guitar July 15, 2009

You started a great post! I have read every comment here, and it is very revealing and eye-opening to me.

A suggestion for your next post, as this is my next big problem: How do you get PAID?! I have two customers who were very happy during the design process, and now that it’s done, they don’t pay, just don’t react to my invoices/emails/calls anymore. Again, we were in good terms during the whole process, no problems at all and they were really happy and confirmed it many times.

I would really appreciate everybody’s 2 cents for solving this problem – or does it only happen to me :o)?

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Aaron July 15, 2009

You probably should figure that out before you do a design, written agreements really help, that’s how I do my work, that way if they don’t pay (which they are less likely to do) you can always go the legal route, if people don’t sign a written agreement, they’re not serious, of course, when it’s not an aobscene amount or people want something simple I’ll say I’ll do this, they’ll be like okay, send me the money, then I do it, I don’t do anything without getting some or most of the money upfrnt (unless it’s along terms project), if it’s long term, an agreement can specify how much $ per month, week, milestones, 50% to start, 25% after the cows come home, 25% when you’re really sick of them, etc.

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Suffie July 15, 2009

I agree, have a written agreement and in the agreement indicate the terms of payment. Get 50% upfront before any work is done and a signed agreement. Getting payment is all about your processes.

By the time they have a completed project, you should make sure you the majority of the payment, so that by the time the process is finished, they should only have 10% or even less outstanding.

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Learn Master Guitar July 15, 2009

Thanks for your answers. I have a written agreement too, but so far I had 50% outstanding at project completion. I’ll change that! You helped me, thanks a lot!

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Jefferson Faudan July 15, 2009

I am in a totally different field since I do SEO but yes… you nailed it… that’s exactly what people have to understand…they are paying for intellectual property and branding themselves to be identified… it is a luxury which comes with a good ROI on the latter part.

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medyum July 16, 2009

I bought a design, loved it, and am hounding Chris for another one. And then probably another one. And then… Sharp. Crisp. Clean. Unique. Those are the words I would use to describe Chris’s designs. I am a big fan.

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Alex July 17, 2009

Learn Master Guitar…

Have you turned over control of their Domain to them? We do not allow them control until after final payment is completed.

If you can…turn off their site until payment in made…

Alex =>

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Learn Master Guitar July 17, 2009

Hi Alex,

thanks for you comment. Yes, we did turn it over to them… but I still have the login. It’s ‘only’ $415 they owe, but it’s still mean because there was never any argument what so ever. Just silence… I think they are in financial trouble and it has nothing to do with the website. Changing the login is not a bad idea, might not bring in the money, but at least satisfaction :o).

I never had trouble with any customer for the last 6 years so I was getting too naive and friendly… just got my check today from the 2nd ‘trouble customer’ – that’s great – and I’ll be more cautious in future.

Thanks for all your advice, it helped me become clear on what to do :o)

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Arie Putranto July 17, 2009

Well, it always been pretty hideous too me to answer their question about the cost of my design even mine was never been that expensive.

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Melissa July 31, 2009

This was a very insightful article. I’m wondering something though. I’ve just gotten out of school and I keep hearing everyone talk about CMS, we didn’t do any work with CMS. We had code and dreamweaver shoved down our throats. I haven’t played around with any CMS (wordpress or otherwise). Not even truly sure what it is…

Also, I’m trying to figure out pricing for a whole business package. Sort of selling a business image complete with logo design, business stock and website….

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StuartC August 1, 2009

Good open debate as usual when the topic is raised.. I have people coming to me expecting all the bells and whistles of a full CMS and database driven PHP site for ridiculously low amounts..

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Crazyhorse August 6, 2009

The web design cost depends on the concept, context and the application of your website. If you outsource, it would cost you around USD500-USD5K or even higher. The reasons why it costs high sometimes are simply because of the web application and it has warranty of 1-year or 2-year depending on the arrangement with the web designer that they might need for repair or recover once it has been corrupted or crushed. Normally, in creating or designing a web site you may need a project manager, researcher, graphics designer. Prior to the completion of your website the entire project team (referring to the web designer team) will meet you up to discuss and finalize the design. By doing this, there will be an interaction and might be negotiation on price if they meet your requirements or the features that the designer team has offered you.

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Jim August 10, 2009

Like any industry, there are different rates for differing levels of expertise. I have learned my craft over 10 years as both a developer and designer, but hand-in-hand with that goes 10 years of experiencing market trends, understanding user experience, accessibility, online business strategy and how to achieve ROI on any web project. These aren’t just buzzwords and if you don’t feel comfortable with them, then you probably won’t be charging professional rates.

So yes, you can get a site designed for $300 and you can also get a site developed for $200,000. I know that some people will say that top whack prices are ridiculous, but this will always be the case and they should stick to using their cheap alternatives as they will never understand what makes a great site.

If you’re looking for a cover shoot of Vogue you don’t choose a $200 photographer. The same way as if you are producing a brochure for your uncle’s corner shop you’re not likely to hire Rankin.

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Peter August 13, 2009

True, many people register the domain and pay hosting fees and think that’s it..you can see it on Craigslist all the time: i need my website designed – budget: $20

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Bryan - After5PC August 18, 2009

You know what I hate? When clients tell me how long the project should actually take to complete — “for an expert” — is the term they usually use at the end. Come on! You can’t expect a nice blog design to be completed in 30 minutes. And who made you the expert in telling me how long it should take?

Not sure if you’ve come across those types of clients yet. Hopefully not…

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Michelle August 26, 2009

Great article and I totally agree….raise your prices. If a business is serious about their brand they will pay for the quality of work you provide.

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Crazyhorse August 27, 2009

No offense Bryan but the clients would like to know your estimated period of completion. Of course you could share your concern if they want to have a very good web design then inform them. Do not get mad at them since they are considered your clients and sometimes some of the customers do not know that it is not that easy to create a design especially with good concept.

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Bird Yoshikawa August 29, 2009

I didn’t read through all the comments, because there are so many, but I want to commend you right off the bat – there are 1,000 blog posts about how to price, and NONE of them tell us how to price…
Putting your fee up on the post was brave – at least more brave than the 1,000 cowards who told us to “ask our hearts” what we should be earning.

I really mean, this. Bravo.

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barney August 29, 2009

I’m sorry to do this on your comments page, but I can’t figure out another way to do this (maybe I’m dense). Your prices seem perfectly reasonable and I would like to hire you to design a site for me if you have availability. If you can contact me by email I’ll fill you in.

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Alex August 31, 2009

Well, for the record, here are our prices. These are good for 30 days, then we sit down and compare them to local competitors and adjust accordingly. Though we do not really change other then a couple dollars here and there, most companies are about the same.

Our websites though do very well after Google indexing, normally within the first page, though as we are a Google member, that helps I think. We’ve done some online stores and machine rental sites…you can take a look at them at http://www.itambassador.com

Any questions..U can reach me at: alex@itambassador.com

Basic Template Website $ 500
 Includes four basic pages
 CSS Layout ~ selected from pre-existing templates
 Navigation
 Analytics Setup
 Content Management Ready
 Search Engine Optimization
 Page Content NOT included

Additional Pages $ 100 (each)
Choose from: Basic Pages, Website Search, Custom Database, Photo Gallery,
Calendar of Events and E-mail Contact Form

Custom Design $ 500 (each)
Choose From: Custom Website Layout, Custom Page Layout, Flash Header,
Logo Re-design or Random Image Banner

Content Development (per page) $ 150

Blog $ 2000

Forum $ 2000

Login System and Opt-In Mailer $ 2000

Store $ 5000
 Requires use of Paypal or Authorized.net for processing

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Alex September 2, 2009

Jason,

That question is a ‘open’ question…it completely depends on what the client is asking for…and wants…hard to answer that question with out knowing what your trying to do with the site.

Alex

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Anna Kiss September 3, 2009

Hey there,

I have recently installed pressrow for a friend of mine and when I went your link for pressrow I got this link for credit cards instead. I think you’ve been hi-jacked.

That aside, is there any info or support for pressrow because I am having some problems with the pages linking up.

Thanks,

Anna Kiss, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Alex September 4, 2009

Jonathon,

Our prices for the area are actually below market…we are about 5% to 10% cheaper then others in the Michigan/Indiana area.

It is all determined by area…dont know what else to tell you.

Alex =>

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Alex September 18, 2009

Brett: Thought I would expand a bit on your question, We are familiar with joomla. We actually have our own version we programed from scratch using Ruby on Rails. We do make custom layouts for our program which is more expandable than joomla.

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Ryan September 19, 2009

Well looks like i under charged for my first 2 designs. 60$ for the first and 50$ for the second well now i feel like a dumb-a**. Figures college is seriously not helping me.

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Aaron September 20, 2009

Ryan, college can screw you during technological transition I’ve learned (people still want to live in caves, same old, “I love Windows 98, I’ll never upgrade to XP, then I love XP, I’ll never upgrade to Vista or 7, what they really mean, is I’m broke and am scared of investing and learning again), I have 200 units it differnet fields of study and after college, everything I found out to be considered seriously to apply for a US government job in the IT field you have to have a “A+” certification and a “Security +” certification, turns out, I’ve been getting passed up because I lacked these, NOBODY EVER TOLD ME ABOUT THESE TESTS! Seriously, I’m studying now, they cost about $185 per test to take, 100 questions, C or better score to pass, I’ll probably kill my own chances in the job market by saying that here, but, I’d rather have smarter competition so I don’t have to deal with people that work for a dollar a day. ;)

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Meleniumshane90 September 20, 2009

Its very beneficial to get pricing from local, non-local, and more automated sources (ie; Yellowbook, Yellowpages, etc. – the ones that crap out websites with content over generic stuff) before dealing with customers.

The automated website places – normally through phonebook companies and such – can be in excess of $1000 per year. Automated website creators (for individuals to design and crap out a site in an hour) can cost over $300 and are not custom, nor do you actually own the content. Keep this in mind, your work is custom, the person is buying the website (and if they are insistent) the original design files for it (PSDs, Flash files, etc.)

I’m very upfront with my pricing, but I’m also flexible with peoples’ needs. Some people want a website thats done fairly quickly, and then want to pay me to work on it as a project over time, others want a website that I give them and we part ways. I usually charge around $100 per page designed, and work from there for the extra content and such. Carts, PHP, SSL, if they need a CMS then we go up from there.

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Kaye September 22, 2009

Hi everyone. Wow. I’m so glad I found this forum. This is my first time charging someone for a website. I was wondering what the price range should be. I did 11 pages and created a Mysql database for this organization. The web development is still pretty new to me. But I’m making it work. So for me, $1,50o sounds right to me. Heck, the one who did it before charged about $1,000 for the website and it was basic.

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Leprakawn October 4, 2009

I still charge low in comparison only because I have not learned all of the new, cool things that are out there. But one of these days I am sure I will have much better understanding of it, and I will definitely be charging appropriately!

Thanks for the 411, Chris!

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Blog Content Writer October 26, 2009

Just curious, did Biziki have another new design done or am I missing something? Their blog says it was designed by Thord Daniel Hedengren.

BTW, I love your stuff.

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Chris Pearson November 3, 2009

Blog Content Writer — I did the original Biziki back in 2006. They have since changed and now have a really nice design by Thord, as you mentioned.

Honestly, I wouldn’t point to a single site in this list if you asked me for a current portfolio, but then again, I haven’t been a freelancer since early 2007 :D

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Shawn Jones November 8, 2009

Im wondering if you are able to create a community webpage; something on the lines of facebook, and myspace. If so what would you charge or what do you think a reasonable price should be? If you are unable to create this do you know of any companies that would be able to? Thank you!

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turbowebguy November 8, 2009

Hi Shawn, good question, I’m actually in the progress of making a few social membership based sites, depends on what you want, time and costs, they start at $3,500+ USD, and that doesn’t include the cost of a dedicated server (or hosting, if a smaller site) or the site’s maintenance fees, usually monthly fees (which are needed for security upgrades, monitoring the site, combating hack attempts, database backups, etc.), depending on the scale and membership, more maintenance is required, you can start small and grow but it’s best to have as much ready to hit the market ahead of time.

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Jeffrey Valino November 13, 2009

Pretty sick how this 2006 article is still getting hits and reads even up to 2009! This is a great for clients and entrepreneurs alike.

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LinaB November 22, 2009

Laughed my a** off at how you aptly described the journey of the “newbie” under “Watch out for that curveball”! Me. To a T. Then I mirrored exactly Jeffrey Valino’s thought – For cryin’ out loud, it’s 2009, and I’m catching up on something this guy wrote in 2006.

Your blog has, thus far, been the most helpful I’ve found. This whole “get your own domain” thing everyone’s been telling me to do has been torturous.

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Jaki Levy December 3, 2009

Chris – there is a ton of Russian spam coming thru. I’d like to stay subscribed to this, but you really should check out what’s happening here with spam comments

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turbowebguy December 3, 2009

I actually went to babelfish and translated some of it, dumbest spam I’ve seen in a long time, about England, Ivan the Terrible and buying pharmaceuticals via a rooskie that failed web marketing?

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Poosc December 6, 2009

I got a design from one of my friends for $60. Completely unique and looks pretty good! Not the best out there but hey, atleast i don’t look like everyone else! Unfortunately it wasn’t integrated into a CMS so I don’t use it anymore but it was good for the purpose i needed it for at the time!

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Poosc December 6, 2009

I’m actually looking for a fresh new design but now seeing this i don’t think i want to spend that much on it! Maybe I will once I have saved up but it really hasn’t affected me too much that my site looks like others. I will just customize mine slightly so its not EXACTLY the same.

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Christina December 8, 2009

I read this article in 2007, and again just now – this time I read through almost ALL of the comments – since they have a lot to offer as well.

Your logic and discourse is SPOT ON with this, and it still holds true.

I really don’t take on a lot of clients, because often it is painfully obvious that they are not serious about their company or it’s success – this is evident by how little they are prepared to invest in it (often times, they wish to invest far less than what they spend on pointless objects or luxuries)…

However, take heart my friends – the honest truth is that pricing in this range is more common than some of you think – usually only people who work very hard manual labor, with low education, for very little money, will complain about this kind of proper pricing for quality design work.

Be picky, pick and select your clients. YOU should be as proud to have them as a client, as they will be having you for a designer. It is just as much an interview of the client, as it is an interview with a designer.

Let *them* sell *you* on why you should consider designing their site, and not work on another project. YOU are the resource that is unique and valuable – there are millions of them and only one of you.

PICK AND CHOOSE. there is no competition, only uniqueness and you should stand by it, and your pricing, and push to be better always.

Chris, always a pleasure. Keep up the good work, you’ve come a long way since your first stepping stones, I am very proud of your work ethic and command of logic. :)

You know, the people who have shot you down, its not that they don’t have SOME valid points, its just that they tend to have no class, and even less command of logic – mostly people get mad because they realize they are mediocre, and have been charging mediocre prices, and it feels for them as if they are losing their mind (as evidenced by their obviously short-sighted remarks at times).

Don’t ever feel bad about putting these people in their places – they are actually BEGGING you to do it when they post their small minded opinions (perfectly entitled to them though…. just *also* entitled to the ass whipping someone wiser might give them in response, such as yourself.)

Anyhow I guess I’m responding tonight after so many years because today particularly (and occasionally over the years) it has been hard to stay strong in refusing a potential client based on my perception and instinct that the individual or company is not serious enough for their own ends, and should deal with a less talented designer for less money instead.

Thanks for the support,
Kudos,
Christina

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another rougue designer December 9, 2009

Its not just the pricing its people expecting something for nothing, I did a website for my best friend in exchange for article writing which he never wrote the articles.
He begged me for an entire year, know i hate his guts – because instead of thanking me he asked me to design his girlfriends logo for free and to top it off he wants me to teach him all my mad design skills for free.

Say what?

Why is it that people think they can haggle prices? Or get something for nothing?

He is retarded by the way he told me he has a PR1 page rank therefore he thinks hes number one. LOL he doesnt know pr1 means the lowest i tried to tell him, he thinks hes an internet marketing guru and he only has one page of content.

and get this he told me he would barter his “top secret marketing knowledge if i would teach him how to make websites and design graphics”.

I told him if he is such a good marketer and hes making so much money than why are you still living with mom and daddy at age 32.

I basically told it like it was i was like you dont have any bills you live at home with your parents.

why i hate his guts, he told me he borrowed a 1,000 from someone said it was for paying me, didn’t give me shit. He borrowed the money for himself – lied to his so called partner told him it was for me and then went out and bought a new computer.

I hate his guts and truthfully i think we should all charge higher rates because it is a luxury, if you cant afford it dont try and hustle us.
We spend hours on your damn web projects and all you can do is ask for more shit and than not want to pay for it.

If you go to a hair salon and you ask to die your hair blonde and they do it – you have to pay for it

NOT WHAT YOU THINK IT SHOULD COST, and you cant say oh i dont like it lets do another color, you would be charged for each color.

because we don’t have a physical product you think its okay that we spend a billion hours for freakin measly 1500 dollars?

Cost of equipment- our computers and equipment are not your everyday home computer they cost between 5,000-6000
i have over 30,000 wirth of software that i have to update or renew memberships.

theres advertising
Phone bills
electricity
hosting fees
TIME, TIME TIME
sometimes i spend over 200 clock hours on one project only to receive less than 2,000. – a mexican makes more than i do.

Think about what a big agency would charge you, and its not 3-5000
its more like 8,000-all the way up to 250,000 I used to work for many large design agencys and they charge alot more than is quoted here.

And by the way you get what you pay for- oh and one more thing your crappy page builders that some of you cheap clients use, they suck and it makes your business look like a 12 year old child had an accident on the internet, and it ended up being your website, which is ugly and has absolutely no purpose because you decided to be a cheap ass.

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Jeffrey Valino December 9, 2009

Wow, someone had to vent.

People love bargains, but breaking a promise (like not paying) is just stealing. As a businessperson, make sure you have a contract or agreement. Don’t start any work until you get your first installment payment. Have a plan for the customer to pay more of the balance at each milestone in your contract or agreement. Make sure all of the terms are agreed upon upfront. And get it in WRITING.

For me, I like to give my clients a benefit of a doubt. If they do me wrong, like miss a payment, I stop work. Can’t take it personally otherwise I’d go insane. And I DEFINITELY make sure that I don’t deliver anything to them until the final payment is made!

Good luck to you all. Happy New Year 2010!

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Elle January 7, 2010

This is a really good discussion! It is interesting that it has spanned over a few years and is still relevant. Thanks for the viewpoints – Happy 2010!

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Gino January 18, 2010

Great post I think this is a very important topic for new web designers to look into. Not only was your post helpful but all these comments really make this a great guide.

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Christina January 18, 2010

If you are a novice designer, just starting out, or have been doing this for years and are a mediocre designer, then the pricing examples in the comments here could seem high. There are many designers out there who are forced to work for a few thousand dollars per site because they are simply not passionate enough and do not hone their skills to be well rounded designers.

I’m sure for them these prices must seem absolutely unreasonable.

For someone who’s primary focus is to learn and grow, and who consistently outperforms themselves with each challenge, not watching the clock but watching the results of their work with an eagle eye – these “high” or “greedy” prices are nothing but a starting point for fair pricing.

You get what you pay for, every time.

Nothing is stopping any of you from becoming known as the best in your field through hard work and diligence. the rest will come naturally, including the price points you are all dreaming of.

My 2 cents, again! :) hugs!

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rick January 20, 2010

Hi,
1)Do you do squeeze pages with optin boxes…. that would lead to a fairly simple website that includes a blog? Do you have any examples of that kind of package?

2) Are you for hire…I saw on another page of yours that you weren’t?

3) What kind of money r we talking about: a)squeeze page w/optin box announcing a free offer b) Simple website with a blog probably embedded rather than on the main page…?

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Tobias January 27, 2010

If you want to follow what the average professional web designer charge you should set your prices at about 150 dollars/hour which is about 3500 dollars for a 3 day job. This is according to the average salary of web designers in the US. At the moment the average is 65,000 dollars/year.

I think 1500 dollars is good to start with and not expensive at all when you consider all the work behind it. A web designer isn’t just one job, they are doing 4-5 jobs and should be paid accordingly.

There are always these web designers that really are only graphic designers with little interest or knowledge in web development. These web designers are not professionals in my opinion and you don’t have to know flash to be a professional like some seem to think.

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Pablo January 27, 2010

I love this thread!

People saying that “everyone will be able to design by the time they leave high school” and “Anyone can be a web designer…” because they get a CD on a magazine that instantly builds a site. or “Why charge so much for a logo if it’s only taken 30 minutes?” etc. etc.

I read somewhere recently about a designer (old school/pre Mac) who scribbled a logo out on a scrap of paper in 2 minutes. It became the brand for which ever company it was for. The logo design was charged to the company at a HUGE rate.

When the designer was asked why it costs so much when it took such a short amount of time to do. He replied, “It may have only taken me 2 minutes to design, but it’s taken me 20 years to learn how to design in 2 minutes!”

I’ve been justifying my prices to customers using that phrase ever since :0)

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Arraial d'Ajuda February 8, 2010

I think the whole hype about “how much to charge” is that there is not one simple rule or standard to follow when it comes to pricing. It is very difficult to find people who are willing to explain in a simple and clear manner how much you have to charge…

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brian fidler February 9, 2010

Actually Arraial the rule is very simple.

Identify how much money you want to make in a year.

Identify how much time you can actually spend designing and developing. In any given work week I find that at least 50% of my time is spent doing business development, research, learning, etc. so I may only have 20 to 30 hours of actual design and development time that I can invoice.

Identify your overhead. Your rent. The salaries of yourself and your employees. Your insurance. The ink for your inkjet printer. The cost of the 30 business cards you hand out each week. The mileage you put on your vehicle driving to and from client meetings. All of these expenses need to be factored into your hourly rate.

For exampe let’s say you want to make a salary of $84,000 a year, you identify that you have an overhead of approximately $16,000 not including your salary (if you’re married with children, health insurance alone will cost you between $10,000 and $15,000), and that you can bill 30 hours per week and that your business development efforts allow you to sustain your 30 billable hours per week for a full year. Also, to keep things simple, let’s also assume you take 2 weeks off like you would most likely get if you were employed full-time with a company.

This leaves you with 50 weeks x 30 billable hours per week == 1500 billable hours for the year.

You need to net $86,000 (your desired income) + $16,000 (overhead) == $100,000.

If you divide your gross income by the billable hours available you will see that you need to invoice at $67 per hour. If you know that it takes you 40 hours to design and develop a website then you should be charging around $2700 for that website. This is a simple example and probably overstates actual hours available for billing and doesn’t even address making a profit (your salary is overhead not profit).

Understanding the value of your time is a primary factor in determining whether you will succeed or fail in business. You set your own value and if you’ve set it realistically your target market will be willing to compensate you accordingly.

So I’d argue that the rule is very simple but understanding the entire package of value that you bring to the business process and the market that you service is often miscalculated.

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Michael February 9, 2010

Thank you. I was just in the middle of putting together the estimate for my fifth professional job and your article was a huge confidence booster. I’ve been doing my research, trying to find the right amount every time. But every time I felt a little guilty at how high the price tag comes out. Not now; you’ve put it all in perspective quite well.

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Anonymous February 10, 2010

I’ve charged customers as little as $500 annually for a website, that includes a Blog that they would maintain once I set it up.

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TheGuysDontExist February 10, 2010

Would you do any of these jobs for $500? Also, how good of a job do you think these people do? How much do others value their work?

Hey.. only $500..! Look at all these deals!

Family Doctor: “I’ve charged as little as $500 annually, and that includes a lollypop when they leave.”

Film-Editor: “I’ve charged movie directors as little as $500 annually, and that includes film that they maintain once I set it up.”

Plumber: “I’ve charged customers as little as $500 annually for plumbing, that includes a plunger they can use once I set it up.”

Garbage Man: “I’ve worked for as little as $500 annually to clean up garbage, that includes a garbage can they can use after I’m gone.”

Welfare Recipient: “I’ve charged customers as little as $500 annually for odd jobs… oh… I forgot. That’s why I’m on welfare.”

Now, do you want a web designer who values your business and his work experience at $500? You decide.

I bet your results will reflect the price (which is about the price of crappy low end PC, or a 32″ low def TV, or a night out for dinner for 2 couples).

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Lloyd April 23, 2010

Hey invisible man,

I think reasoning and logic “Don’t Exist” in that non exiting brain of yours. Your analogy is really twisted. Why?

The doctor who charged $500 annually is for his visits and consultations only. That job can sum up to $3000 – $5000 a day if that doctor of yours visits 6 to 10 patients a day. This job is equivalent to paying a webmaster to submit your site in the directories so they’ll get visited and this doesn’t include design.

And come on man! A plumber? Garbage Man? Welfare Recipient? You gotta be jokin’. Do these guys spent hundreds of dollars for books like flash Action scripting, MySQL, PHP, annual subscription to design magazines just to keep up with design trends and technologies? Do these guys spent a lot of time researching and studying the market and industry of the their clients’ business so a designer/developer can give an appropriate case study? Do these guys burn millions of brain cells in collecting garbage or by plumbing your water system? Seriously! $500?

But if you want a website for $500 i can give you a quote. Then you’ll see where you’re five hundred dollars ($500) can get you. Just post your email here and I’ll shoot you an email ASAP.

*Note: Sorry for not putting my web link. We’re in the process of migrating and redesigning our website.

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TheGuysDontExist February 10, 2010

Please don’t misunderstand. I *DO* feel there should be $500 web designers.

It helps to draw a clear line between what is mediocre, and what is solid creative work that gets results.

I do think that the lowest income people, who maybe have a real learning disability and no drive of their own, should hire a local $500 designer to get started – if there is NO other choice.

Like eating bread with ketchup, instead of starving. That kind of thing. :)

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Angela Allmond February 19, 2010

Awesome post!!!

I totally agree with your pricing structure and view point. There is a huge difference in a blog, blog design, and professionally designed blog/web site. One of the biggest differences that many bloggers may not realize is that designers can customize your WP blog site to work just like a regular non-blogging site for businesses with their blog also designed into the site…not having to leave the domain at all. This cannot be done on any free WP or blogger template…that I have seen and why would a business ever want a free hosted site with such limitations…they need to have better control of their online marketing.

Most businesses understand the importance of a website and some are into blogging and SM, but many do not understand how to combine their sites with blogging and SM. Web designers know how to do this and quite well in order to meet today’s new CSS standards. So to get this expertise, you have to pay for the knowledge AND the up to date (ever changing) technology and design experience.

Great job on the post and thank you for standing up for us designers and our prices!
Angela

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David February 26, 2010

I work for a corporation and will say your prices are great! Big Daddy tricked the world into thinking anyone could build a website. Anyone can build a website/blog, but few can do it well. When I was 6 I built a house from a refrigerator box. As an adult, I choose to hire a professional. If your website/blog has any affect on your income, pay for a professional!

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Bob Barcus March 9, 2010

Exactly! People are usually quite ready to say that we designers charge too much for our services. But we create designs that an amateur couldn’t even dream of!

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stephanie March 16, 2010

I really like your neoclassical design for worpress but your link is no longer working — if I could get the zip I would be truly grateful. Please let me know if you are still letting it be downloaded. Thank you.

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Chris Pearson March 22, 2010

Stephanie, I recently moved to a newer server, and I accidentally lost those links along the way. The good news is that I’ve got ‘em back up and working; here’s the Neoclassical demo site.

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Painter March 20, 2010

4 years since OP, still going strong and ruffling many feathers along the way.

Brilliant choice of topics Chris!

Man, I gotta tell ya, if any smaller business’s are freaking out thinking they need to spend 2 grand plus for a productive site, just remember …

A million dollar site that doesn’t show up in the search engines for services or products you offer is worthless. It’ll sure look pretty though -lol

Learn Thesis :D

3/4 of the battle is just showing up so get something halfway decent online and go from there.

P.

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John March 28, 2010

in the end is all about seo if your site is not rank 1 on google the whole design was waste of money :)

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brian fidler March 29, 2010

John, that’s an absurd statement and anybody worth their salt in the seo business would know better. I will agree that a site without traffic is a waste of money however you don’t need to be #1 in Google’s SERPs to get traffic.

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Lloyd April 23, 2010

Hey John,

Let me clear something. In my understanding, the pricing we’re discussing here does not include hardcore SEO which can cost an additional $3k – $6k specially from a Google certified SEO specialist.

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Dhar April 4, 2010

If I make my own, of course until the design .. So do not spend big $ ..

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Alex April 8, 2010

I agree with Brian..that is a absurd statement…we’ve done websites that are 2nd or 3rd page…that get more traffic then front page listings…how that works with Google is a mystery….Google changes on a monthly basis…and we are a Google business member and we still have no clue how or why they change their search criteria so much. I think they have a guy sitting in a office that decides to change it up just to keep us on our toes :)

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tommy April 21, 2010

Danke für die Design-Tipps. Kann ich gut gebrauchen.

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Christopher Ross May 11, 2010

As great at the article here is (and it really is) I think the comments here are the funniest part of the post. :)

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Sandra May 13, 2010

I just think that everything is well priced for a good designer but theres one thing you can never find. A good developer and designer. It’s usually either or the other.

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Marcus May 19, 2010

Especially young and small companies have a very small budget and can not afford such high prices for a website. And I think nobody can refuse to work for small companies.

If a larger, established company inquires my work, the price is rising, of course. But I think it is the wrong way to say, I do not work for less than $ 1500, -.

Greetings
Marcus

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Beauchamp Web design May 20, 2010

Good post, it is always good to know other opinions on how much people charge for web design

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Dr. Lawrence Kindo May 20, 2010

That’s some money to pay for design. But, for a business based site/blog I feel it is worth it in the end. The business pays for it and later the blog pays for the business by drawing many more clients.

Of course, I cannot afford that price yet. And yes, I am an amateur blogger.

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Corey Zeimen May 20, 2010

Yes, people that are having websites built for themselves are very cheap, and companies are really the only customers I deal with.

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Sumeet Chawla May 21, 2010

Very interesting post. I really enjoyed reading it and I also believe that Quality means price. If the end product is really good then its worth the price.. :)

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Fabrizio May 23, 2010

Well Chris I totally agree with you. I’m a software engineer from Costa Rica, I started 15 years ago and I’ve code on anything that moves. What I can tell ya is that there’s a trend of some companies in the USA & also here (considering culture is very similar) to make cheap designs and hire people for almost few bucks. So I think Software & web field has arrived to the limit, nobody wants to pay for what it worths your work and everyone wants a high level stuff for just cents. One of these days I got a phone call from a “potential” client who wanted me to make some adjustments on his website (believe it or not) for US$15. So well, that’s why I say that.

I believe that the responsibles of this situation are the same IT people, ‘cuz everyone has focused on make “automated” things and try to make software cheaper in order to get more money on their pockets instead of visualizing a problem on the long-term and voilà! Here’s the situation that has taken us to the floor. I agree with Ben that one should charge high in order to get 1 guy from 10 who might agree to pay your services but my question is: during this time of recession are you gonna sit and wait until that guy appears meanwhile your neighbour might be getting all the attention?

So, I’ve deeply thought that no longer worths to work for third parties, the best you can do is create your own websites and try to make a generalized service that you can sell to anyone. The most general your meta public would be, the less complaints you get. For example: if you make a website that charges US$10 for something very useful and anyone can afford it, what do you care if the President of the USA or the guy who sells hot dogs at Central Park pays you? if any of those are not happy, then no worries, you can make someone else pay for that!

So well, I’ve found in the recent years no-one wants to pay for hi-tech services and it’s a shame because you have to invest a huge amount of time investigating, buying material practicing and it’s just a loss cause unless you work for yourself. The reality is that companies try to hire recent graduated guys with hi-tech knowledge and affordable for few bucks; this way they can “milk” their brains for 5 years and when salary raises have arrived to the top level of their company policies they get fired. I know a loooooot of coders in the USA and here in Costa Rica who still looking for a job after 2 years since the last time they got fired with no luck: they just turn cheap or dissapear! take in consideration there’s a huge amount of guys going up to India, Phillipines, Pakistan, … for cheap designs!

So just think about 20 ideas on your own, make them grow and wait until the fruits mature. That’s the best personal tip I can give you. Software & Internet careers are great fields but now doesn’t have a point to work for “them” just for you.

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Mohit Gupta May 28, 2010

whoa whoa whoa…i came first time to this blog, and i was literally amazed at 1500$ price tag for a design…

though i totally agree with the fact that Bigger companies shell out this amount as they understand ‘crafting a brand holds a value’ and they can go out with this.. but what about individuals who want to start blog to share knowledge?? or maybe for personal interest , they want customised blogs?

well i can suggest an alternative.. go for outsourcing! there are a lot of quality designers in india etc. who can do this job with nominal price tag..and good designs..

But again, if u are going for brand building, nothing better than to trust the leaders!!

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Stephen May 31, 2010

People who think $2000 is too much for a blog template are probably thinking about a personal site, which clearly is not the market you are looking at.

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Nishal May 31, 2010

Nice Thread! I would say that pricing also depends on lot of factors. Most importantly the cost of living/cost of software for the person working on the project. You find most designers from INDIA charge just $500 per website. And way to justify is you can live a good life with car and family with that amount of money for whole month!

I am not discussing about quality, obviously if you charge more, you can dedicate more time. But there are people looking for mediocre results and that’s why they pay less.

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Ellie White-Stevens June 4, 2010

Chris P–you’re my hero.

I read through all the posts on this pricing blog and saw something key missing. So many freelancers here talk about valuing work according to the time it took. Some of them wisely break down the process (like Brian Fidler).

$1500 seems like decent money for some, until you consider the current cost for GETTING a client willing to pay workable money for a website. If we charge only enough to manage billable hours, how will we pay the bills when we are actively networking and marketing? What about sick time and family emergencies? Saving for retirement?

With a relatively new business, I hire and outsource all of my web design and development. We’re working on several sites today. I get wholesale rates lower than $1500 for custom Joomla sites with bells and whistles. And my team are happy that I bring business to them.

Because the biggest business I’m in is getting business. The average sale (for any salesperson) takes 5-7 calls. And I do that. And interface with the client, usually weekly. I handle the hassles and I write the content. And for all of that, I don’t generally touch a website for less than $4500. And that’s rock bottom. In reading this, I’m not charging enough. Because with small clients, content takes FOREVER and a day and a half. The edits eat my time alive. And I need to be getting work for my current two teams of designers and developers.

I’ve got to put two children through college and keep food on my family’s table. People who are in college or living with their parents or in a 2nd world country can afford to charge next to nothing. My customers pay to get my customer service. I’m worth it. And chances are you are, too. If they want excellence, they’ll have to pay for excellence.

That’s the other deal. I always pair an artist (designer) with a technician (developer). Because I value aesthetic. It costs me more but is worth it to me.

I’m not shocked by all the nastygrams on here. Destructive criticism is alive and sick. This is an exceptional forum. Chris Pearson was way ahead of the curve when he posted it and deserves major kudos.

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Entrepreneur June 10, 2010

Hey chris, thanks alot for this topic and also thanks to everyone that stated their opinion. I learned so much from reading everyones statements.
Im looking to start a small graphic design and 3D design company. Can somebody help me with the types of contract i need when dealing with clients. I really struggling with this and i need to know how do i protect myself and my business from bad clients (because their out there). I need to know where can i find good examples of contracts, please respond. Thanks again for this topic!

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Ellie White-Stevens June 10, 2010

Entrepreneur,

Others may have an opinion on this, but mine is based on what my lawyer told me. You need to have a contract drawn up by a lawyer in YOUR state. Laws are state-specific, and there are things in Georgia, for example that would negate an entire contract unless it’s written specifically for that. Before I got my contract I got burned by a website client and by a branding client. I’m more careful now. It was a good investment for me to get a legal contract. It should only take ONE contract for all the business you do. Good luck.

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Mal Milligan June 11, 2010

Another great article and points well taken. The company I used to work for charged $10,000 for a 10 page site. Not a blog but a custom HTML site with SEO built in. Customers were making $400 an hour so the fee was nothing they would blink at. I am using Themes and starting at a $500 price for people that just want to get on the web and get into Google – Yahoo – and Bing MSN main index and local directories. But when I get the business more matured I will raise the bar. Thanks for the great article – cheers -

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Entrepreneur June 14, 2010

Thanks you for the respond Ellie White-Stevens

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Bal June 17, 2010

A $1,500 blog site is a reasonable cost. Web design is not about physical work, but a mental work. You need to take your creative juices out from your mind. The design is an art, and i think art are more often invaluable items.

I do simple websites for $599. And this is because I dont have enough business all the time.

I can do work for some of you if you have clients, but you reject it for low price they offer.

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mohit gupta June 17, 2010

i strongly disagree that 1500$-2000$ is the “right price” for web design. I am an indian freelancer and i do ‘good designs’ for 300-350$.

Also this has to do much with your geographical location and other factors, for example, clients in india usually pay something around 100$ for simple wp blogs( no comments BAL!) , and good customised designs cost upto 300$.

i dont understand y people in usa etc charge so high, afterall what it takes???

1500$-2000$ .. we will do full time job with your firm …LoL.

happy bloggin guys!!

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Gregory June 19, 2010

wow! great, and useful article and points well taken. I am using Themes for Joomla and starting at a $2000 price for people that just want to get on the web.

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Luxus June 19, 2010

I Think The web design cost depends on the concept, context and the application of your website. If you outsource, it would cost you around USD500-USD5K or even higher. The reasons why it costs high sometimes are simply because of the web application and it has warranty of 1-year or 2-year depending on the arrangement with the web designer that they might need for repair or recover once it has been corrupted or crushed. Normally, in creating or designing a web site you may need a project manager, researcher, graphics designer. Prior to the completion of your website the entire project team (referring to the web designer team) will meet you up to discuss and finalize the design.

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John Arleth June 19, 2010

So, I want to hire you to create my killer site. How do I do that?

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Anonymous June 20, 2010

For $1500+, I’ll keep my ugly blog with my customized Prosense theme. Eventually I’ll figure out how to make it look pretty… I hope. lol =)

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Nick Bright June 22, 2010

This is a great post and one which I couldn’t agree more with. It is easy to forget that designing websites incorporates a host of technical disciplines. I would believe a lot of clients imagine the website design process being a case of creating a design in photoshop and ‘uploading it to the internet’.

In fact, you are at least a programmer, designer, database administrator, search engine optimizer, search engine marketer etc. You are fluent in a range of client and server side languages, has a knowledge of color schemes, a good eye for design, can research keywords, build links, optimize website sizes, market and publicise the website.

Makes me dizzy thinking about it!

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Pro-Technologies June 28, 2010

Theres no hard n fast rule to pricing. It all depends on various factors including how you value yourself and how you market yourself and to which niche.

Its obvious that the designer who has 10 years experience in his back will charge you more as he will put all his experience & exposure to his work. His work will be lot mature.
Similarly, a designer whos more of a solution provider will offer you complete business solution, not just design. He will show you how to do branding, how to market your products etc. So a consultant will charge his consultancy fee as well.

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WG Moore July 1, 2010

Your prices sound pretty cheap to me. I recently found out that the State of California paid $28 million for a website. Would I love to have that contract.

I normally figure out what I think it would cost in hours and multiply by $120. Then vary that against other requirements such as company/individual, their participation etc. I kept pushing my quotes up until people started hanging up on me, then came back down to an acceptable leve. Works for me.

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Guest July 2, 2010

Wow, this post went up four years ago and it’s still relevant today. Thanks!

I was wondering about pricing for non-blog sites that involve more than a redesign: branding strategy for one. Is this typically part of a redesign proposal, or is this priced separately?

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Ellie White-Stevens July 3, 2010

If you’re talking a logo design, tagline, positioning, etc.? I would price it separately. Put in on the same proposal. Because here’s the thing. Depending on how big you are, you might not have the luxury of turning down business if they don’t want to do it what you consider “the right way.” Plus, they might brand with you first, then do the website. By then your relationship is more solid and you can decide if you WANT their business. Or they might decide they don’t care about a logo, etc. Not smart, but their prerogative. You can typeset a header, etc., for a client who doesn’t want the branding piece. If you’re talking about branding in the sense of look and feel of the website. You gotta do that in the package.

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Guest July 3, 2010

Yes, branding in the way that you described. Interesting though, was that I received two separate proposals: one for branding and one for redesign. They were priced separately, but not packaged as part of the same proposal.

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Ellie White-Stevens July 3, 2010

Didn’t realize you were the client. It’s normal to price it separately. One page or two is irrelevant–whether you call it two proposals or not. If you’re the client, just be sure to check their portfolio. You’ll want to see that you like the kind of work they do. And that you’re comfortable with the relationship. Do the branding first, because it will influence what colors and style you choose for everything on your website. Be aware, if your vendor price is a lot higher than what you’ve seen on this blogpost, many of these people are solopreneurs living in countries with low cost standard of living. You might get a great site for not a lot with them, you might also get a huge language barrier.

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Barbara July 4, 2010

Love this post and had a kick reading both the intelligent and absurd responses!

I’ve been in the web business for 15 years, at one time providing clients with websites they could manage themselves in the $6,000-10,000 range and up; today things are cheaper but I’m not sure because they are worth less but because there is so much crap available for such low prices that companies are forced to compete to stay in the mix, especially a small local company like mine. And some of that crap is from outsourced jobs…cheap is cheap in any language.

WordPress has been a godsend and I’m delivering only WP combined with Thesis for clients today. I’ve just had an interesting exercise in the work I’m doing. Because I run a food blog for fun; I’ve become known in this arena. Food bloggers most often started for fun on Blogger (oh my…really, if you have to ask the difference between WP and Blogger, then you have not done one lousy search on Google!) and when I get into discussion with them, their primary goal is to move from Blogger to WordPress. Lots of ideas, lots of plans, lots of hope on building revenue. The only thing they do not have LOTS of is…money! After being able to run a blog and make some ad revenue on Blogger without ANY startup costs; they have a heart attack when I quote prices. I can deliver a nice looking blog for them in the range of $800-$1200 but I’m no longer willing to low ball to get their business. Main reason? I just signed a contract with a local physician’s office for a WordPress blog setup just as a website…no transferring from Blogger and assuring that permalinks work perfectly; no figuring how what the hell a ‘custom domain’ is (Google’s term for a domain bought from them but really from Yahoo!).

How much? $5000. It’s the difference between working with individuals that don’t have a clue what it takes to start a business and a business who is prepared for a reasonable expenditure to get something that they know will represent their business to the WORLD!

I’ve got to stop rescuing the former and concentrate on the later!

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Angel July 8, 2010

I am new to web building and did a website for my mom company I am in high school and was ask to build one for her CEO he ask me how much would i like to get paid i have no idea and i am trying to research it HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Alex July 9, 2010

Angel…it depends…you can go the hourly rate of say $75.00 as is the normal for our area…or a basic $699.00 for say a 4 or 5 page layout and basic with no bells-whistles…but I’d say for you to just go with a hourly rate…if you have any question feel free to email me and I’ll help if I can.

Alex@itambassador.com

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Barbara July 9, 2010

This is not going to be a popular reply but the truth is Angel if you are ‘new’ to web building I would expect your qualifications need to be increased before you can start to charge the type of hourly rate that Alex has mentioned.

I would also caution any CEO from hiring a high school student for their website. It’s not just about a skillset, which by your own admission is limited; it’s about being available to clients for continued work and support and building a relationship that the client can depend on. Is that you? Will you not go out on a Friday night if an emergency arises?

I would suggest you start by creating sites for yourself, family and friends and charge VERY modest fees as those folks are paying for your learning curve. A CEO should not have to.

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PrinceofPalmyra July 12, 2010

No offense, but backing into an hourly rate by starting with the annual salary you would like to make is just foolish (imagine if the same applied to farm hands: you’d be paying $10 per strawbeery at the local market). The fact is: you all chose a career path that is flooded with qualified people…it also does not help that it is technology based (meaning the creator does not need to live in the same location as the client—designers living in a trailer in the midwest have lower expenses than someone living in a trendy area of NY). All of you want to be creative and get paid well for it—so do painters, sculptors and other starving artists. I say, if you want to do design work, prepared to starve a little–there’s a lot of competition out there that is hungrier than you…and as a business owner, I am going to take advantage of it—it makes good business sense.

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Barbara July 12, 2010

The truth is that that way too many in this field are not qualified and have no business offering services for any amount. Those that are qualified and build an actual business; they not only deserve but need to charge adequate rates to run that business whether it be rent or staff or Chamber membership fees…the list goes on.

I have a web business and at one point felt I needed to compete with the lowball rates provided by the guy in the trailer. But no more. Those guys disappear, get drunk, drive their trailer over a cliff and then you come running to a ‘real’ company to rescue you after you’ve dumped all of your budget into the account of trailer guy.

I’m no longer operating as a rescue service so now when someone quotes prices they got from someone else that does not reflect the skill set to do this job professionally; I wish them the best and urge them to go that route. I’ve been doing this for fifteen years…I know what is going to happen and I’m too busy with ‘real’ clients who will pay a qualified rate for services.

I could spend the day citing horror stories but don’t have the time; I’ve got a backlog of client work from people who respect that you really do get what you pay for!

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Dellendoktor July 18, 2010

@ “I’ve charged customers as little as $500 annually for a website, that includes a Blog that they would maintain once I set it up”

Wow – I dont start my computer for this.
Also, a good website can costs 2000 $ .. without CMS / Blog

best regards

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Eric Weidner July 21, 2010

Great exchange here!

My company has been designing and building sites for over 12 years, and have seen budgets from $200 to $500,000 for various websites and web-related projects. So, in a series of blog posts, I took a stab at showing what folks might expect to get for various price ranges: $200 or $200,000? How Much Does A Website Cost?

True story: A very sophisticated client fired us recently and had their site completely rebuilt in Flash, basically because one of the big cheeses liked the other company’s design style. However, the site now has all kinds of amateurish problems, they lost their Google ranking because the new design shop didn’t do 301 redirects from old page URLs … etc.

Professional website design companies can give you just about any kind of “look” you want. But the real pros think about things like 301 redirects and other practical issues newbies or amateurs don’t bother with.

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Anonymous July 22, 2010

A unique and user-friendly design significantly extends the visiting hours and at commercial sites, the conversation rate. A unique and memorable design lifts out the side of the mass and provides branding. The cost of a personalized page design for commercial sites pay for themselves within a few weeks and is only recommended.

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Kevin Redman July 22, 2010

I’m shocked at how many people, after reading that article still had something to say about designs costing too much. $3000 dollars is fair, for a corporate blog design.

The design process includes the hours doing research on the company, its competitors, practices, and partners. Then theres research based on how to approach the design, research based on problems along the way, and we haven’t even gotten to photoshop yet!

Once you’ve done your 10+ hours of research, you begin designing in photoshop, this may take days, but cost 10-20 working hours. Then you begin coding it, using XHTML/CSS, after carefully assessing where to slice, and how it will all fit together.

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Robert Barcus July 23, 2010

I think that most people undervalue our work and always want something for nothing. I loved reading this post and now I don’t feel so bad about my design prices!

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Gask July 23, 2010

I found this post by googling “web design rates” (congrats on making the first page, I am sure it was not by accident). Primarily I was wondering what the standard rates are supposed to be. Thanks for a great post, and a comments section that is as entertaining as CFH.

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Guy Who Only Wants a Link August 3, 2010

A user-friendly design significantly extends the visiting time and the conversation rate. A unique and memorable design lifts out the side of the mass and provides branding. The cost of a individual page design for pay for themselves within a few weeks and is only recommended.

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Björn August 5, 2010

For companies the prices are to cheap. The reason: no company whats a template, which is from TemplateMonster and not really modified. The costs for meetings and brainstorming are higher. The wishes from the customers are very different. Good homepages can make a lot of money and can give you a good image.

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Jake August 6, 2010

Yea, custom designs are always going to set you back. $2500 for a pro blog design really isn’t much in the scheme of things. You’re right that hosting prices around the $5 a month mark anchor people’s expectations low and the $1.5k designers seem comparatively expensive. I find a good alternative are professionally designed templates, though you of course sacrifice uniqueness.

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yisroel August 9, 2010

Prices are outrageous! My boss recently (2 yrs ago) spent well over $1500 for a simple retail website built on php. It’s awesome for web developers, but for someone who needs a website for their business, Unless their website gets picked up very well on a variety of search engines, they wont make their money back for a long time.
I happen to be a web developer and designer, and don’t believe in such outrageous pricing.

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rebecca August 10, 2010

I applaud you for what you have stated here. You seem to be honest and forthright! Kudos to you for your words! If a client doesn’t like your price, there are plenty of others who will work for theirs, and give them the quality of work they will pay for.

Continued good luck to you and your work!

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Mary August 10, 2010

I did some web designing way back, how do you deal with people comparing your service cost to freelancing sites like Elance, Freelancer, etc?

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Peter Srinivasan August 11, 2010

So glad to know I’m not cheating my clients. At first I had my concerns, but then I realized I was DEVELOPING for them. Ensuring cross-platform is harder now than ever – mobile phones, ipads, “do we use flash or ,” etc.

Thanks for reminding me the work I do is worth it.

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Neill August 12, 2010

I’ve got the same problem as Mary…. I could tell my clients that they are inferior to what I could design them, BUT they have no proof if they don’t understand at least some basics of web design. Whats a good way to explain it. anyone got any good analogy’s to put it in lay-mans terms?

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Christian Seus August 17, 2010

We bill by the project. Never by the hour. By the hour usually scares clients away.

$1800 for your projects are fair. Unless you are in an Atlanta market you can charge more. Website Design in Knoxville is a bit more affordable than Atlanta.

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Roger Aburto August 19, 2010

I am interested…

Chris Pearson How do I proceed??

I have the graphic already done.

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TenTex August 20, 2010

Great Post! I’ve been managing my own web business for 8 years now and only focus on small business owners. Why? Because they have money and they can make the decision. What people don’t realize is that when they hire a so called Web Designer they don’t understand they are only getting the experience level of that person. Anyone with a computer can call themselves a web designer and they do! I personally view a potential client as a victim. Why? Because they have no clue what or who they are hiring to build them their website, even if it is a relative. :) So I guess my business has evolved into a “Victim Recovery Program” for all those folks who have horrible websites that don’t work. I’m not a designer nor a programmer. I’m a business consultant who project manages successful websites. I pull together the Front End, Backend, Navigation Architecture, SEO with the right CMS tool. But even before that I have to understand their business model!

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Anthony August 20, 2010

Just wanted to chime in and say thanks for a great post! I’ve been really struggling with this topic at the moment as I’m a noob to freelance web development. This article (unlike many others I’ve read) is extremely enlightening and honest, particularly about actual prices.

Thanks again for such a useful post…I’ll be bookmarking : )

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David August 23, 2010

Cheers for that! I even read most of the comments :o

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Rich August 28, 2010

What a great article and comments section, I think it’s just helped me earn an extra $80k this year alone so thank you to Chris and to all for what’s been written.

I’m thrilled to hear there are so many designers prepared to do sites for $500 because they can keep all the cr*p clients busy and out of my way and I can focus my time on the ones who’ll pay me $20k and up. They won’t be in business in 12 months time anyway, and if they are they’ll still be eating ramen for dinner each night because they never learned what gross margin or COGS meant. A class in economics, not CSS, might be the best investment for some people.

Incidentally there seem to be some people who equate offshore developers with poor quality: that’s not necessarily the case, at least it doesn’t need to be. I’ve worked in a top London consultancy where day rates are £600-1800 and I’ve worked for an offshore provider in South America where rates are as low as $33/hr. The people quality potential is not much different- the bid structure, P&L and project management on the other hand is a different league. If the company are working their devs to death with no people development or training, just project after project to try and make the business model of $33/hr margins work then poor quality output is to be expected. If you set a reasonable deadline and factor in the right number of hours to produce the level of quality your client expects, and don’t begrudge sending your staff on a 2 week training course here and there, foster a learing culture, etc then you don’t have quality problems. You can only afford to do the latter when you’re charging higher rates.

To equate this all to freelancing: as already mentioned a few times in the comments, the price you charge should NOT just be what it cost you whilst you sat at your desk to produce just that site. That is not good business sense for you or your clients.

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Nick June 14, 2011

I know this post is old, but what sites exactly have you produced which are 20k+ up?

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Michael Molino August 31, 2010

Great article! Very well written and very insightful to a fledgling designer. One of my biggest weaknesses right now is giving my clients pricing information. I always feel like I’m somehow robbing them despite the fact that they tell me my prices seem reasonable. It’s nice to have that confirmed by someone with extensive experience and know how.

Thanks! I am officially a fan now!

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undressingHER September 1, 2010

While most of you are 500x better at web design than I am, I couldn’t even imagine paying that type of money for a blog. I’ve found that just browsing around other blogs that you guys have created can give me ideas for my own layouts and a simple forum search on wordpress.org will help me with any and all coding issues that may arise. I haven’t seen a blog on the internet that I think is worth $3,000. I’ve had to sit there for 3 hours just trying to make one script work and all that stuff, so I know it’s time consuming, but $100 per hour? Geesh, fire fighters need a raise.

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Rich September 2, 2010

If you’re making money from your blog/site and a $3000 design gives you a sales uplift worth $3000 (say an extra $300/month) that you wouldn’t otherwise have got then it has just paid for itself. You can measure the ROI easily enough by comparing “pre design” blog expected sales with the new actuals. So it depends on your blog. If you’re a public figure/company then even if you don’t make money from that particular site, $3k is a good investment to maintain your brand image. If you’re blogging about Jimbo your pet hamster it’s probably a bit much to spend.

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Rhys Welsh September 6, 2010

Really good article, It has helped me with the whole ‘selling’ aspect of freelancing… Theres alot of points an phrases that will help me persuade a potential client.

In my opinion it comes down to the web site quality and what you can provide for your quote.

Several years ago I also thought that £2,000 for a website was very expensive, but at that point I was only producing simple html pages ! Now knowing the amount of time,effort and experience required I think your prices are very reasonable.

From a clients point of view unless you are very involved in the web design industry, you simply would not know how much is involved and unlikley to part with large amounts of money.

I now see it as you have to educate your client, before you will get any money handed over.

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Alexandra September 24, 2010

Hi Chris! I felt you knew my reaction when I discovered the cost of professional design. I want to start a brand-spanking new online business, and I don’t have a lot of funding at the moment. Boy, oh boy, do I want a super creative website. Good things come to those who wait… and to those that work smart! Viva the American dream.

There is a complexity to creating a blog with all the bells and whistles. Adobe software suite kicks my butt anyday. I have mental images in my head that I can’t illustrate; I hope one day I’ll be able to see those ideas visualized for web-surfers to see, admire, appreciate.

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von October 1, 2010

thanks for the advice and your site is really fast, going to try that out..

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Loviss October 5, 2010

All this is great stuff

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Ranjit October 8, 2010

Dude you are very intelligent and great at maths. I didnt took all this things in consideration when charging a client. Next time not all but of the points will be kept in mind.

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Tyrant October 9, 2010

Excellent read. I”ve learned alot from the above. I’ve done graphic design for years, and have recently stepped into a partnership with a friend designing websites/blogs. I have always known it takes ALOT of time and energy in building an effective website. But truely I had no idea what I was getting into. It is certainly a learning process.

One thing that all people when selling their skills has come against is: what is a fair cost. As many before me have posted, it comes to experience and service. I would much rather give my $1500 to someone who knows what they are doing and who will explain it to me in terms I can understand, then pay $50 to my brother’s wife’s third cousin. I dont even like that guy.
When a customer pays that kind of money they expect to get that level of satisfaction. Companies (as stated above) consider that to be a drop in the economic bucket, but a small business owner who has the same needs of a great site has to plan and scrap to find those funds. They are counting on the site to generate the business they need.

I appreciate all the voices here. It has enlightened many things for me.

~Peace

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TA October 11, 2010

Nice Article, I commend you for holding your ground with prices. I agree with one of the comments that the ecomony right now is at a all time low and people just dont want to spend that much money. Sure the large companies have it but small businesses and indiviuals want a deal. If you have enough work where you dont have to cut prices for web design thats great. Way to hold your ground.

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xena October 12, 2010

hi, do you know on which platform living social is built?

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I A October 14, 2010

Hello, I am a young person (as in school age age) and was just wondering two things:

1) When you say you design a site for $1,500 do you including managing the site?

2) How much should one charge for managing a site? Such as a site made from an average template.

Also, I loved the article as well as many of the comments and conversations that came with it.

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chris g tucker October 17, 2010

Some may feel a need for custom design, and some do not. There are so many beautiful custom themes for Thesis, and Frugal has their Impact plug in, etc, etc. If you are Coca Cola, you may want a truly one of a kind site. But for a small business owner in a niche market like myself, it matters not to me. It will be snowing in Tampa Florida before I cough up 1500 to 3000.00 for custom design, especially in the current economy.

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amy z October 20, 2010

I stumbled upon your post, and I dont even remember how, but I wanted to comment because I absolutely LOVE this post and you’ve made me realize I may need to post one of my own. I am a photographer, and I have been extremely frustrated by the way people really LOVE my photography and really WANT their wedding or session to look like my work, but they DONT wnat to pay for it. So many new photographers dont charge for their work. They give discs of high res images away with a session for 2-300 dollars. The end up working for minimum wage and they leave the rest of us looking like we are charging crazy prices. I feel that I have to constantly explain or defend my pricing, and REALLY – IT’S NOWHERE NEAR what a lot of other professional photographers charge. I am so tired of feeling the need to explain the process, the quality of my equipment, the time involved in editing, the knowledge needed to get the look they say they love when they comment on my work.. Your post is perfect. You’ve described the why in a positive, non-offensive way, and probably gained customers from it. I am going to have to write something similar for my own situation and post it on my site. Of course, the challenge here is making it sound positive and inviting. Not negative, frustrated and offensive. Maybe I should wait and write it after working with a really smart, investment-minded client. :)

Best to you!

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German Guy November 2, 2010

yes I totally agree on this! We are a german based SEO Company and are thus sometimes obliged to support customers also with webdesign issues. Traffic on websites is one thing, conversion another, which is in fact the more important of those two! Good Design and therefore good usability is a turnkey in web success! And in this case even higher investments in customized design and/or templates do have better ROI in the end!

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Jose Alexander November 16, 2010

If I paid $3,000 for a blog design and it looked like this page, I would be PISSED.

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John Wilson November 17, 2010

I was looking to get a good estimate on a website start up cost. I dont know much about creating new sites. the basic idea would be similar to monster.com, the resume profile website. People can create a profile and business can pay to search profiles and post job openings.
website design/creation?
hosting costs?
maintenance?
etc?
any advice would help. thanks

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David November 17, 2010

Different clients have different expectations and every case is slightly different.

For my last job, I charged $30/hr where I asked the client what his budget expectation was. I tallied my hours in a spreadsheet and gave the client regular updates as I progressed. I did up a template to make sure that was the look & feel that the client was happy with. Then I filled the content pages. Some 30 pages later for 60 hours of work yielded $1800 for the site.

RFP responses typically like a package price. In this case, I might break down the components and even make it visible in the RFP response. But a bottom-line number is typically expected and/or required for an RFP. After all, the client is shopping for the best bid to get the job done.

Managing the client and the client’s expectations is a big part of the business. The web programming and graphic design portion may seem trivial in comparison.

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Kelsey November 19, 2010

So here’s my question: what is a reasonable rate for someone who designs within a framework such as Headway, Genesis, or Thesis? I’ve had a wide variety of responses and really feel conflicted about my pricing. I generally charge about 1/2 what most people here seem to, but I do that because since I’m not truly starting from scratch, I feel conflicted about claiming that the work is “100% custom”.

What do you folks think?

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Phuc Nguyen November 21, 2010

Pearsonified: I don’t know your name but i know your work. It’s unique and it’s the way to go. More over, I believe that business should be serious about their site designs and have to invest in the right design companies.

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Cody Redman November 28, 2010

Great post.

There are many ways to skin a cat! it’s the same in any industry. In my experience, UK “experienced” freelancers charge between £25 and £50. And agencies £90 + an hour (inflated due to, office rent, insurances, NI….etc etc.) And at the end of the day our industry is priced by the hours it takes to manage, build, develop and optimise a project. Like Eric Weidner said in his comments above, going the extra mile ensuring redirects are in place plus all the other 100′s of additional components all chew up time. Time = Money. That’s why it’s its impossible to a website should cost £X.

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Jaimie Hamilton November 29, 2010

Thank You! That’s all I have to say. lol

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suprit November 30, 2010

Nice work Chris.
hey if there are any designers out there who have excess designs which they are not able to handle can outsource it to me. I am a student and I am into web designing from an year now.Contact me through my email id if interested.

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brody November 30, 2010

All of the steps highlighted above require a certain degree of expertise to be completed in professional fashion. As a professional I charge $1400 for a 5 to 6 page website not to mention it takes 2 to 4 weeks to develop it.

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suprit November 30, 2010

As I want some good will from the customers i am charging just $300 for each design. Although I assure that it will be done in complete professional fashion. Anybody interested contact me on supritdk@gmail.com

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brodster December 1, 2010

Do not contact this guys ^ he is a scam artist, a website does not cost $300.

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suprit December 4, 2010

hey buddy i dint mention that i charge $300 for a website. I charge $300 for a custom design the way you want it. And about the low pricing when you convert dollars to other currencies in world it is quite ok.

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The social February 7, 2011

A website can definitely cost only $300, that’s not a scam if you actually deliver a good result.

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Alex December 1, 2010

Amen Rich,

I agree with you, we spend 6 to 10 hours with each client before we even get started. So charging $500 bucks to sit and make the website is a quick way to the “out of business” sign.

I was laughing when I read a post here about “paying 1500 to 3000″ for a blog/website , well , I hope they have a cold weather coat. Websites that folks build with website building tools used by 1 million others? Well google knows this and your site will likely end up on search page, oooh say 15 ?

You get what you pay fore :)

Alex

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Chris December 2, 2010

Wow, great article! I have been using templates for joomla but seriously modifying and customizing them for a few months now. I have a damn good grasp on joomla, html and css now, and I think its about time to up my prices. I feel that once I master (or learn like the back of my hand) of the yootheme.com and rockettheme.com templates, I will be able to raise my prices from $750 per site to $1500 per site. I need to start targeting larger more serious companies… A lot of small business don’t have that much to spend..

Thanks for the great article! Definitely making me think about my website business!

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Patrick December 2, 2010

Those complaining about $1500 being a lot obviously has no clue how much work goes into building a totally custom website from scratch.

Take this site for example: http://www.davedays.com

That is a completely customized Wordpress site built specifically for that artist. Do you think $1500 is a lot for that? I know if I was a company who needed a stunning website, I’d gladly pay even $7,000 or $8,000 for something similar.

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brody December 3, 2010

the design industry needs to be regulated like architects and lawyers. that way we can assure we get paid what we are worth. talk to your congress man, woman.

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Yanickdev December 7, 2010

My prices are pretty similar to yours. For the year 2011 I will raise then by 1/3.

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Handyshop December 15, 2010

Great Article. I usually take into account 3 factors. What the customer can / will pay. How much it should be to make it worth my time. And how busy i am at the time.

Sometimes i will be completely covered up, but will take on another job if the money is right.

Cheers!

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Ike December 19, 2010

Hi Chris, I remember reading somewhere on this blog that you mentioned a few books you recommended any designer or programmer have but I can’t remember what page it’s on. Can you tell me what the titles of those books are? Thanks, I appreciate your time.

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Anonymous December 28, 2010

Great article. I think that $1500 is a rock solid price to start from. When i had received a quote for a new design for one of my company’s, it started at $1800 and afterwords, including the shop it came out to be $2700.

In the end i wasn’t satisfied at all because i was $900 over the discussed budget. So i think it is better to give out a correct price, as you do, and tell people the extra possibilities and cost in advance.

Thanks again for the article and keep up the good work!

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Alan December 30, 2010

Hi there, as a Thesis user and customer, I did my own design work to start off with but quickly realised it was not where my core business was and I paid to have my blog further developed.

Now while I have not paid anywhere near as much as Chris suggests in his post ($3000 – $5000), I have still paid a lot of money to try and get my blog as unique as I possibly can, because that is what counts.

I think this post rocks by the way and at last I have a measuring stick to go by because I will be getting my blog completely re-done in 2011.

Cheers

Alan

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David December 30, 2010

Great article, and a subject seldom spoken about by the designer/developer. Thanks for the Kudos on Twitter the other day Chris, Im Thesis through and through and can’t wait for 1.9 and more importantly 2.0 :) Keep up the good work, I shall be sending my clients to this article when they are playing hard to get ;) Have a great 2011.

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Daniel January 3, 2011

what??? … and i charge $120 for entire design? thanks for the clue man

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Peter January 4, 2011

Your prices are actually very competitive. As a business owner, the value of having multiple web properties capable of bringing in clients is absolutely invaluable to my business.

Basically all of my advertising is done online, so I expect all of my websites to be beautiful and function, and for that people need to realize there WILL BE a price involved.

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Nick M. January 7, 2011

I’m curious what you would think on costing a site out that is somewhere in the middle of “installing a theme” and “designing from scratch”. I like to use Atahualpa as a base because it is extremely customizable, but then I create custom content, images, retool the CSS and occasionally the php for client needs. But a great deal of the “work” is stock out of the jar.

I’m under no delusions that my sites are “amazing” but I don’t think they are pathetic either. I’m curious as to your recommendations in that case.

Here’s a sample of one that is currently under construction.

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Egaladeist January 10, 2011

Seeing as you’re not following me on Twitter I can’t send you a message ( bugger, how could you not be following me :D ), and can’t apparently send an e-mail because you don’t seem to have a ‘ contact ‘ page…so…

I want to know how much it would cost to build me a site like this one:
broowaha.com

you can contact me through messaging on Twitter or through the e-mail in the fields for this comment.

Thanks,

Eg

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Chris Pearson January 12, 2011

Egaladeist, as I mention on my About page, I am not available for hire.

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David January 12, 2011

With that said Egaladeist I AM available for hire ;) Sorry Chris, couldn’t help myself. :p

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Patrick January 14, 2011

Hey David, if you’re available for questions – here’s my dilemma. I have an agreement setup with a horseback riding stable. I built their website for them, and I host it on my own servers. This includes the basic design (I’m not graphic designer, but I made it decent enough), e-mail hosting for the employees of the stable (I redirect emails to their own accounts), nightly backups of the databases that power the site, support if something goes down, and a customizable forum and event calendar, admittedly they were open source and I merely adjusted them for use with our project.

In return, I get to go horseback riding for free every week. Normally $45.00 a pop.

My question is, am I making out, are they making out, or does this seem like a fair deal? I want to make sure it seems fair.

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David January 16, 2011

Hi Patrick, that’s a tough one, I guess it really depends on what you work your costs out to do this on a monthly basis is, and how much you utilize their offer of letting you ride for free. Its an unusual agreement I can tell you that, but an interesting one all the same ;)

I guess if they are happy with your ongoing work and assistance then you are entitled to this offer or more, does it allow you a free riding partner to come with you? Are their any other things they can do.

How long does it take you to earn $45, how much time do you spend a month, and how much time did you spent initially on the setup? How often do you ride? measured against how long you put in and/or can earn in the equivalent time?

If it sways that they are winning then perhaps asking them for a fare monthly rate, and begin paying to ride?

There are a lot of variables, ultimately the only answer to this I could conjure up would be for you to ask yourself if you are satisfied with the arrangement?

Good luck :)

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Elery January 17, 2011

AMEN!!! brother :)

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Patrick January 18, 2011

Sure, I’m fine with it. I ride pretty much every week, and my girlfriend always comes along, as well. I figure I spent a good 40 hours at least up front setting up the servers initially (I already owned them and use them for myself, so it wasn’t hard to add an extra task to them), and then designing the website…but I have so much code saved from other projects over the years that as it gets easier to build things, I forget what they’re worth. Recently I built a bed management system for the hospital where my real job is…and we compared it to commercially available systems. Ours did everything the commercial systems did…and they just paid me my salary instead of three quarters of a million dollars…holy crap. I’m still amazed by how much this stuff costs. I just have fun doing it and forget…

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David January 18, 2011

If your servers are in use for other things and your just adding them onto it then yeah your probably getting a good deal in terms of the running costs verses riding costs ;)

Unfortunately the hospital market sector isn’t as well funded as the commercial, and the software your comparing to has probably quantified its value as its sold on a license basis where as your work is specifically to the hospital you work for, perhaps you did a contract early on to state you own and retain the rights to resell such software after an exclusivity period of 5 years? ;) In addition, could your software be easily adjusted to work for other markets where bed management is a big issue? Hotels, Hostels and what not.

When Chris reads all of this convo hes going to WTF lol

Have a nice day.

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Markus January 30, 2011

well, the website costs should not only calculate on the base of working hours. A greate website can generate more benefits than a bad one

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Brian February 1, 2011

so how do we hire you?

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Chris Pearson February 1, 2011

Brian, I no longer do work for clients, but that’s because I built a piece of software that can help thousands of people rather than just a few (as was the case when I was doing freelance design).

The software is called Thesis, and it’s a premium WordPress framework that serves as the foundation beneath your website. If you want perfect SEO, fast page loading times, and a commitment to web standards, then you’re the perfect candidate to run Thesis on your site.

Best of all, Thesis can accommodate any design, and this means that although your design may change, the guts of your site can remain perfectly optimized and unchanged.

This is the best possible long term strategy for ranking well in search engines and always staying on the cutting edge.

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Brian February 1, 2011

and where can we see some of your work?

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Chris Pearson February 1, 2011

Check out the Thesis Gallery Showcase to see examples of awesome sites running the Thesis Framework for WordPress.

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Marty Potokar February 8, 2011

While I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments following this article, I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading it and only wish that more would, meaning those looking to have someone design/develop a website for next to nothing much less have someone quote them a price without so much as even knowing all the particulars. All one has to do is read the ads on Craigslist and you’ll quickly see what I mean. As for myself, I personally designed/developed my own websites using HTML & CSS in a simple text editor (I now presently use Coffee Cup) as well as focus on SEO which I’ve actually become pretty good at over the years. However, while I’ve been approached by a few people, I’ve never worked outside of helping family and friends w/regard to website design given the cut throat nature of the business. In reality, I’d much rather focus on helping people with SEO. However, it also appears that the mindset of those looking for someone to provide them with SEO services is really no different than those looking to have a blog or great looking website for next to nothing. Fact is, everyone wants to be on the first page in the SERPs. However, little do they realize not everyone can (at least not for the same keyword phrases) and that this is not something you accomplish overnight using a crystal ball. It appears altogether obvious to me that whether we’re discussing website design or providing SEO services, it all boils down to educating the ignorant but, in the midst of a poor economy, who has the time. Just my 2-cents worth but a tough nut to crack in all cases. At least it’s refreshing to know that I’m not alone in understanding the time and effort that goes into the design and development of a good and attractive website that validates and performs well much less the SEO required to achieve a decent position in the SERPs. Unfortunately, the only ones that appear to understand what it takes are the ones doing it!

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The Guys February 8, 2011

@thesocial
“A website can definitely cost only $300, that’s not a scam if you actually deliver a good result.”

quality is a function of skill, which is a function of time and effort invested.

300$ represents how much study, skill, time, and effort?

any website buyer with even a passing interest in success would have to lower expectations and standards to commit their online presence as an investment of 300$.

a website is like the menu of a restaurant. you can photocopy it for 3$ a page if you are selling stale fries and a burger.

but if you have class, you go the quality printer and have it bound because your business and your food need to be promoted with self-respect and style.

do the math. is your web idea/business/personality worth only 300$..? if anything, your users/clients will know how important you think they are…

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suprit February 20, 2011

@the Guys: I perfectly agree about your comment dear friend. “A website can definitely cost only $300, that’s not a scam if you actually deliver a good result.” When the value of currency in some country is 300×50 there comes the question of whether it is inexpensive? And here we get two perspectives: one as a designer and one as a buyer. As a designer $300 is equivalent to 300×50 in my country which is obviously a decent amount and from buyers perspective for a person in US , $300 may not be expensive. The point that I am trying to address is that “when you can get a quality website at just $300 why would you spend more than a thousand for the same thing”

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Karihara February 10, 2011

When searching for a webdesign company you might want to find one that offers merchant services or a merchant account as well. You should research companies that have been in the business for longer than 5 years. This you will probably get a legitimate company. Also a good indicator is their website which means the company probably has a lot of clientele also indicating that people prefer this company. But never settle. Look around and compare prices and services offered between different companies. Id say between 1000 and 3000 for a site with basic functionality and shopping cart.

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Damian February 10, 2011

Being new to the filed all of this is gold. Thanks man, keep it coming

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Dermot Lawless February 23, 2011

A great post, and quite an eye-opener. I spoke to a client today who told me that a community group that he works with awarded a web design job to a guy who was not a registered business, had no insurance, and no tax-clearance certificate. He charged them almost $3000, and requested $1200 for this years updates. I’m definately charging too little despite doing a better job than 90% of these guys.
I continuously go to seminars, take extra college courses in related areas etc when I can, and give better service to my clients, so an increase in price can be justified.

As a matter of interest, how do you guys bill? Hourly? or do you give a project price based on clearly defined client expectations? Many of my clients are small businesses and most want a project price which means I have to tie down the parameters of the project before we both sign the contract. I’d just like to hear other ideas on this.

Dermot

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Altenpflege March 8, 2011

I think a good, individual design really is worth its money. If my customers do not want to spend some thousand Dollars on a individual design and concept, they still can use some standard templates. When I explain them this as an alternative, then some of them switch over to the individual design, because that is what they want and some of them choose the cheap alternative with the templates. We are here talking about WP design and not an individual CMS or HTML project, of course!

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Anne de Groot March 9, 2011

I think your pricing is right on the mark, I charge the same amount and don’t feel that it is too high. Thanks for creating “Thesis” I use it all the time, and find it very intuitive and great add-on to the wordPress backend Admin area. I just spoke to a 3rd yr Advertising class, and recommended they check out Thesis if they decide to self-host.

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Randarr March 30, 2011

whoa! $1500 that’s a wicked price especially from a professional!

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Ronald Redito March 31, 2011

It really depends on the budget of the client. Customized and unique designs should be expensive. But more importantly, the usability and ROI should be taken into consideration.

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David April 12, 2011

When I got to the part about how 90% of readers probably think $1500 is high, I was thinking “wow, that’s really low”. My base for a custom WP design and theme generally starts around $3000. With a rate of $65 (which I’m considering raising)… when you break it all down… requirements, architecture, meetings, design comps, detailed design for unique pages, revisions, approval, slice and dice, browser testing, theme integration, usually a little bit of custom PHP programming, a bit of plugin research and/or integration… and of course the always inevitable closing phase where there always seems to be “one last thing”… it doesn’t take long to add up! I’m usually on the $3500-$5000 range.

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David April 12, 2011

p.s. I’ve been designing and building websites since downloading Netscape Navigator 0.9 beta in October of ’94 and “back in the day” it was not unusually for me to be working on projects with $1,000,000 budgets and higher. Of course, those were radically different clients than your typical local freelance jobs (big banks, big three auto, etc.) and there were no ope source (or commercial for that matter) CMS tools at the time… but when you think of that, $3000 for a local company sounds like a pretty small investment. For individuals I, like others, often offer to simply tweak a commercial theme for them. That gets the price way down. And often an individual doesn’t really need a custom design anyway.

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Steve M. April 13, 2011

I’ve read much of the posts above, and it’s taken a very long time. The most important thing I’ve gotten out of it all is this – Seek and find corporate clients, not individuals.

My two cents on the rest: I’ve been designing websites for 12 years, but I’m not a naturally talented designer. But this deficiency means less and less with each passing year. This is because the extremely vast universe of WordPress, Joomla, etc. templates out there can be used as a baseline and TWEAKED to fit your client’s needs. It takes a lot of skill (CSS, HTML, PHP and a decent eye) to tweak seamlessly and make it work, but you no longer need to be “artistic” to provide real value.

My premise is that a tweaked, often times heavily tweaked, template get’s you 95% of the effectiveness of an original design.

But in 2011 I don’t see how design can be discussed in a vacuum anyway.

How many more clients can I help in a year by using my time to tweak templates, customize plugins, install the all-in-one SEO plugin instead of charging for SEO (white hat is simple), etc.? The answer is a lot more than if I were toiling for hours in front of a Photoshop mockup in order to come up with something original and clever .

So, in conclusion, $1500 (2006 or today) sounds reasonable, but probably not if most if it is spent in original design creation… IMHO.

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Paul April 20, 2011

I think it is difficult to explain clients how much work it is to make a design which conforms there whishes. So not everybody understands this.

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Joseph April 20, 2011

Having had a little experience in the newbee field I know that you have to start somewhere. The blogger ghetto is usually not the place but somewhere in that neighborhood is the place to get your feet wet and make a few connections. You don’t really have to worry about making mistakes because no one sees it anyway. But as you get more adept and want to show off your work you also need to upgrade your tools and get out of the low rent district. Though you can do a suficient job at designing your own blog, you may want to think it through as there are allot of things that need serious consideration. By the way, I don’t think your prices are out of line, one just needs to deside what they really want, how they want to be precieved and how much traffic they want. Thanks for the post.

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Alec April 23, 2011

Yeah, I skipped all that and learned php off the bat… Doing that I also know HTML by heart and I’m working on CSS and aspx…. Wasn’t that hard…..

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Travis April 27, 2011

I’m so glad to see that there are those designers out there who know the value of a well built Wordpress blog. You really do pay for what you get on the web. Also I’m really tired of people agreeing to make Wordpress blogs for 150 dollars, “because it will make a good portfolio piece”. The client needs to be educated on the time it takes to make a great site, and the custom plugins you might have to build for thier website.

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Rudolf Bösiger May 3, 2011

We are collecting Webprojects and their expenses and can calculate the Website prices for an avarage. And they vary a lot depending on the Service and the Webdesigners market position which represents the quality factor.

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Peter May 3, 2011

It’s all relative. A simple blog could cost a few hundred dollars. A complete functional social network could be six figures.

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Pragmatic Design May 18, 2011

Great article.

It never ceases to amaze me that so many people think that they somehow “deserve” a website for £100. Even more amazing is that there are people out there who will happily supply them with one. Sure, it’ll be awful, but the client’s often pleased with their bargain and completely misses the fact that an awful website can often hinder their business rather than help it.

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Christian Mungle May 19, 2011

Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your site? My blog is in the very same area of interest as yours and my users would truly benefit from some of the information you present here. Please let me know if this alright with you. Thank you!

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Chris Pearson May 19, 2011

Christian, you may quote snippets, but not the entire article. Every snippet must also have a link to this page either directly above or below it so there is no confusion about the source of the information.

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Adam John May 23, 2011

Thanks for creating “Thesis” I use it all the time, and find it very intuitive and great add-on to the web designs backend Admin area. The client needs to be educated on the time it takes to make a great web designs, and the custom plugins you might have to build for thier website.

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derek June 10, 2011

(@reese) you have the smartest reply on here!

web design is BROAD…from web design (aesthetics ONLY!) to all the nuts and bolts behind your design (seo, ads, monetization etc etc.). I am a designer PERIOD. all my clients know this from the start. They only want my designs. they know to employ a coder for all that other stuff. maybe i can charge more if i had to teach them how to USE their new site, but that wastes my time. i can get 5 more clients for just aesthetics than 1 in which the product life cycle is very long.

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Arjun June 11, 2011

I’ve found this post very informative and your tips are very helpful. I am learning Web Designing and I am gonna keep your tips on my mind all the time. Thanks a lot.

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Mark June 19, 2011

An other great article I read on your blog. I totally agree with the conclusion..every time I get asked to build a website, the first question I make is: “What is your strategy and how do you think a website could help you in that process?”. Just a few percentage of people actually answer me..I always have to suggest them a good web strategy in addition to building their website.
For businesses, a website should always be intended as an investment, and a GOOD investment has a GOOD return. If you don’t do branding, if you don’t get email subscribers, facebook friends/likes, if you don’t sell anything..then you should really think about not creating a website at all!

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chris June 24, 2011

Hey my name is chris and I would like to get some feedback on how much is reasonable to charge for a site like this one http://www.eaglesloftobx.com. A family member is looking for me to design a website like the one posted. This website is one that i created for a school project. I realize that the website is extremely basic but i wanted to offer a price that was fair to both of us. I am not a web designer so any thoughts would be helpful. The site in question will be very close in terms of design but it will be for Apartment rentals. Thanks in advance

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Chris July 7, 2011

Great article.

I wise man once said “pay nuts, get monkeys” and I think that also counts for websites. You can’t expect a designer to put in a lot of hours and work for minimum wage.

At the age of eighteen, when I just started out, I did design some websites for very low prices and two unexpected things happened:
- I wasn’t taken seriously and it took me a lot of phone calls and angry letters to actually get my money.
- Other prospective clients expected the quality of my design to be bad, because I wasn’t asking much for it.

Nowadays I’m not working for less than € 1000,- and I recommend starting bloggers to keep it simple until they are very sure they want to invest a lot of time and money into their blog.

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Mary July 10, 2011

I think the costs quoted represent a reasonable investment if you have a site which needs to be competetive to rank and your market is profitable long term. Your site should make money for years to come and if it makes a decent amount annually then a one off investment of $3,000 is not much in the grand scheme of things.

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Christopher Dolan July 11, 2011

I’m an artist looking to begin a online presence. I have plans for a specific project to introduce myself to the cyber world. I just came across this blog on the same day I returned an email from a potential web designer she had asked me what what I was looking to spend on the site. My response to her was $1500 I guess I was right on the money from what I read here. Thanks for the blog very informative, and interesting to note as an artist I have felt undervalued for years I always thought you tech heads made all the money. Not so much anymore I suppose with all the off shore competition. Not to dissimilar to my experience working as a house painter all these years
it just gets more difficult to make a living with so much cheap labor in the market. God bless the creatives the world would sure look dismal without us. Thanks again.

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Denel July 22, 2011

7/22/11 (I put the date in because obviously this article has spanned quite some time, and I couldn’t find the original date. This is for the benefit of those who come after me. ;) )

I started out just helping with basic input on an organization’s site, because the designer was overwhelmed. That was about a year and a half ago. He taught me a lot. At the end of that project, he said I had a knack and knew enough that I should get into doing web design.

I have volunteered my services to many organizations, and a few months ago the head of one of those organizations referred me to a business…my first paying client!!!

I discovered, the hard way, that I waaaaay undercharged him! I happened to run across a site that has a design calculator. I plugged in what all I put on my client’s site, and they came back with a range between $8,000-$10,000…and that didn’t include hosting. My client paid a total of under $1,500…including 1 year hosting with an unlimited database for his clients and orders! Check out the site I designed for him (including custom graphics) at http://titansignposts.com

Yeah! I know! I know!

I ran across this site because I am in the process of creating my web design site, and am trying to put together packages. I want to specialize in small businesses…you know, the mom and pop businesses that can’t afford the big corporate prices. I want to give them something amazing without it costing them a year’s worth of income.

I am curious about this pricing here. Would you say that prices have gone down or up over the years? I know what my client was quoted by some other companies. I also know that he paid $1,000 for his original site, which quite frankly looked to me like a kindergartner did it.

Chris, you said you charge $100 an hour. Is that the industry norm…or is that because you can because you are that good and companies will pay it? For me, coming from a perspective that I was donating my time to build sites for organizations, that is a LOT of money. But I also don’t believe I am as advanced as someone like you. I am just creative and a hard worker. So, how do I figure out what I should charge…and is there really a market for someone like me?

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Chris July 22, 2011

I have found it to be very difficult when charging with clients.. I expect to make a decent amount of money per website, but it all depends on what the client wants (how many pages, images, videos, custom contact forms, custom graphic design, etc.) Luckily I have gotten pretty good with Joomla and can easily build a simplistic website with 5-6 pages, customize the site a bit and upload content in a day..

In the market that I am going after (small businesses, musicians, artists, nightclubs) in Orlando Florida, nobody wants to pay for anything.. It is aggravating because the amount of work that goes into a website of any size, along with SEO tweaking and custom graphic design I feel that I deserve a few thousand dollars minimum.. It seems to be all about negotiation.. and generally I get around $800-$1000 per website average.

I wish clients knew how much work was put into building their website so that they understand the value of “you get what you pay for.” Then again maybe I need to make them understand a bit better..

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Helen July 22, 2011

“Nowadays I’m not working for less than € 1000,- and I recommend starting bloggers to keep it simple until they are very sure they want to invest a lot of time and money into their blog”

+1. I dont know why but lot’s of people cannot understand this strict order:

1. hard work
2. gain experience
3. refine
4. goto 1

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Eliza July 27, 2011

Hi all,

I am an art director (print and tv) looking for someone to turn my web design into a working website. Anyone interested? NYC area helpful. Give me a shout. Elkewilliams001@yahoo.com

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Denel July 30, 2011

I got an email that said there was a new comment on here, but I don’t see it. The guy was talking about the hourly rate…obviously not too thrilled that people were charging $100 per hour. I agree with him that $100 per hour is quite steep. I had heard many designers before say the average was $50 per hour for web design…not sure if that is different than blog design. But even that seemed high to me.

I think I am going to charge package deals…offering different packages for the main design based on the needs, ie Brochure Site (for businesses that just want to advertise what they are and where you can find them), Communication Site (for businesses that want to use forms, send out newsletters, have direct communication with their clients/customers), e-Commerce Site (for businesses who want to sell stuff), and the Ultimate Site (have absolutely everything).

I think I will also have packages for ongoing updates/changes/additions to the site. That will be based on hours, they will be charged a monthly rate which will include a specified number of hours, and they will be able to “roll-over” unused hours (like the AT&T roll-over minutes) to the following months…which gives them an opportunity to “save up” for a potentially huge project on their site.

My whole desire is to give small businesses in America the opportunity to have a great professional website, without going bankrupt to pay for it.

Any thoughts?

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brodster July 31, 2011

$50 per hour is for a newbie

Example:
Sam, a self-employed website designer, earned $50,000 per year as an employee and feels that he should receive at least the same annual salary as an IC. He estimates that his annual overhead will be about $20,000 per year. He wants to earn a 10% profit and estimates that he’ll work about 1,500 billable hours each year. Sam determines his hourly rate as follows:

He adds his salary and overhead together: $50,000 + $20,000 = $70,000.
He then multiplies this total by his 10% profit margin and adds this amount to his salary and overhead: 10% of $70,000 = $7,000; $70,000 + $7,000 = $77,000.
Finally, he divides the total by his annual billable hours to arrive at his hourly rate: $77,000 ÷ 1,500 = $51.33.

Sam rounds his hourly rate off to $50. However, depending on market conditions, Sam might be able to charge more — or he might have to accept less.

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David August 9, 2011

We, poor peoples living in Eastern Europe, do charge our local clients at least $2000 for a simple business website (which basically is complex as much as a blog). This happens in a country where more than a half of population earns around $350/month. I suppose you Americans need to charge 3-4 times more than you do now ($1800??? must be kidding).

One gets bankcrupt in a year of two if does not stop taking work from bean counters.

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Bella August 14, 2011

Wow, this has been a long-running conversation! I am just starting out in web design (loving it!), and after a fair bit of market research, I am realizing the range of pricing out there. I have noted, however, that where you live often affects how much you can charge (in larger cities the prices tend to be higher). For a fairly basic website however, say 5 pages, the $1500-2000 range seems to be fairly normal as a STARTING price. That means somewhere between $300 and $500 per page for the basic design and layout. Pricing goes up accordingly as more features are required, usually by the hour based on how long it will take to design, plan and finally code it…some pages obviously take less time, but it all balances out for those that are more involved.

I read through many “years” worth of comments, and although I may have missed someone already mentioning this, it’s a point about the “free” templates etc. available out there. Yes, you can get a decent looking, “out of the box” site for free, and that will suit the needs of many who don’t want or need something more custom. BUT, here is something to consider. Those “free” templates, plug-ins etc. all had to be designed by someone, and THAT person would have been paid for the original design. Just because they are free now, doesn’t mean they started that way! I don’t know how royalties etc would work with that sort of thing, or if the designs were bought out from whoever originally made them, but the point is someone received probably a good chunk of change for making them so user-friendly and providing the world with the ability to get a good looking product for free! They wouldn’t be available without the talent behind them that produced them in the first place. Point again: that part would NOT have been free.

A side note: I recently heard about a company in town who is in the process of getting a new website, and the bill from the design firm SO FAR (from a large Canadian city) is sitting at $40K. I just about died, but from reading some of the posts from other large companies, I do understand a little more where that may be coming from. However, from what I’ve heard they don’t seem to have been very thorough in truly assessing their client’s true needs and so there have been some “surprises” along the way as to what things cost. Needless to say, there have been some meetings and it will be interesting to hear the final outcome in terms of the price…being honest and up front about what you or your design team’s time is worth and giving reasonable estimates ahead of the game wherever possible will go a long way in not freaking people out.

Keep designing people, and charging for it. Your skills, time and creativity are valued and you’re worth it, and the industry just keeps getting more and more complex which equals more learning and time involved to set up and code a site, which translates to prices continuing to rise for web design services. And the whole “newbie” argument — honestly, if you like someone’s work, you are going to be willing to pay for it, regardless of how long they’ve been doing it. Think of an artist — whether they’ve been doing it for 25 years or just picked up the paints yesterday, does that matter if you like their work? I’d pay for it regardless because I wouldn’t care. That’s the whole creative side of design. (yes, you want compliant coding etc to go with it, but you get my point…)

Goodness, I’ll stop now…

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liz August 21, 2011

Thanks for sharing the average web design rates. This was very helpful in helping me unsure we are being competitive with our web design packages.
cheers,
Liz

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Ryan August 25, 2011

I’m a web designer, so the design costs are not a big issue for my websites.

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Patrick September 3, 2011

Designing your own website in WordPress is becoming increasingly easy to do. The range and functionality of WordPress themes these days is impressive.

I’ve even written an ebook guide for small businesses wanting to build and manage their own websites. My clients are now all on WordPress.

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tom September 6, 2011

There is no money in web design.

All of these clowns you see saying they earn $50,000 a year or $50/hour doing freelance web design are totally full of shit. Everyone and their dog knows how to build a basic website these days
using stuff like word press or the built in apps from hosting providers…

No one pays thousands of dollars for web design anymore in this day and age. They simple go to places like template monster and buy a site for $60 then have some college kid modify it for 100 bucks..

That’s the reality of web design today. There is no money in web design.

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Jeff September 6, 2011

” For instance, The Blog Studio charges $3000-$5000 for a blog design. ”

LOL $3,000 for a blog design? Can you say ROYAL RIPOFF? What kind of a complete idiot would pay $3,000 for a blog design? Their blog designs they have up there wouldn’t cost anymore than like $300 to do… it’s just a standard looking word press blog with crappy looking generic graphics.

What a bunch of thieves.

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Alice Johnson January 2, 2012

Hi Jeff, I read your comment, I have WP and need someone to help me with it. If you are charging 300.00 thats good I really need some help. I live in Flint MI. Will you email me asap.

Regard,
Alice

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Dave September 6, 2011

Hello tom/Jeff,

there is no money in web design only if you position yourself as “a freelance web designer” while working for other one-man businesses. My suggestion is to start a limited company (LLC, LTD or smth), get a fucking shiny suit and a starter-size office and build your own website with cases studies and etc. Only a few would pay $3000 to a lone wolf, but this amount of money is considered to be pocket money when trading between companies.

Think this way: many years ago there was Ms Frontpage and Macromedia Dreamweaver coming with thousands of templates and everybody could do a website in hours. Now there are thousands of opensource cms’ with shitty templates made in India and some cheap people still think anyone can do a website in hours. Wordpress is the new Frontpage.

Also think this: no company would bother to spend years and learn Wordpress, php, html, css, javascript, photoshop, SEO stuff just to save $3000 – they are preoccupied with their area of expertise (law, constructing, medicine, any). Time equals money in business, thus it just makes sense to hire another company to build a website for $5000-20000.

Avoid dealing with cheap people and stingy starter businesses – 95% of them will fail anyway. If they really want a cool website – tell them to find some investors and pay your price.

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bennyhill September 15, 2011

Not bad advice..But why would you buy a suit and an office.. this is the internet… all that can be faked.. But it’s much easier said than done.. Even if you “look the part”.. have a very high end looking professional company site.. with a few nice samples/case studies and some testimonials… it is still very tough to get anyone to pay 5 grand for a website with so many options to have it done for like 500 bucks..

The reality is that most $5,000 websites could probably be built for like under $1,000 bucks…. savvy people will know that.. the ignorant companies who have no clue about web design are the ones that actually may pay those kind of prices.. Just like those $3,000 blogs.. In reality — those blogs are not worth anywhere even remotely near $3,000. I mean word press is free for christs sake and takes 5 minutes to install. So they basically charged people $3,000 to do some minor customizing and create a few custom graphics that by the looks of it any teen kid could have made in photoshop.

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Patrick September 15, 2011

A $500 WordPress site (with or without blog) is quite reasonable. A savvy WordPress developer can use one of the better commercial themes/frameworks, install a few select plugins, and make some minor tweaks to design to come up with a very professional looking website in a few hours. I think that $500 is a reasonable price for this.

However, one of the great strengths/advantages of a WordPress website is the potential level of autonomy for the owner. A properly designed WordPress site can allow the owner to continue to manage the website and make additions/changes without the developer being involved. This saves money for the owner. But, the owner (or designated staff) does need some level of training and instruction to achieve this autonomy. The value is mostly added when quality, custom training material is provided as part of the package.

And, when this kind of training is added to a website design package, owners should expect to pay more.

When I charge $3K for a WordPress website, it comes with custom written and video (screencast) training material which is customized to the specific theme/plugin configuration.

I’ve developed a modular approach to creating and designing my training material so I’m not re-inventing the wheel each time.

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David September 15, 2011

If you are amazed by $3000 Wordpress website, it means you cannot make a distinction between being a business and being an amateur hobbyist working from home.

* Why one needs an office?
Most clients want to meet you at your office and talk about their project. Sometimes their office works too. No website above $1500 will ever skip this step.

* Why you need to be smartly dressed?
You are a professional, remember. I personally would not trust a guy in baggy trousers and Hawaiian shirt selling me a $3000 website. Being in a suit always helps.

* Why do charge so much?
Yes, Wordpress is free and customizations will take a few hours and or days. I would do that for $500 too.

So what makes $3000 or more?

* getting website requirements, technical specs & contracts,
* time spent emailing, calling or even texting your client
* hours spent in meetings at your or their office (car, gas, time)
* phone, electricity, internet and related bills
* consulting, training, months of support
* software licences, office costs
* profit (depends)

Most people are clueless about internet and computers. You are there to help them and charge them as much as their willing to pay.

If you want to start earning money – stop working with/to a random guy on internet and position yourself as a business working for other businesses. Get to know some local business people, your reputation will build as well your prices. Working for your neighbours and idiotic startups will leave you tired and starving.

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Bryant September 21, 2011

As owner of madracingconcepts, I would say that would be a drop in the bucket. Don’t look at my website, it is below par! We will get it up to date soon!

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jack sparrow September 25, 2011

you have to be joking. are we that stupid? people can LEARN to design there own sites and not have to fork out a dime. Sure there is a learning curve, but in my opinion the pros out weigh the cons. It took me a few months to perfect it, but now my sites are as good as any. CSS/HTML = easy, Javascript andsay PHP is a bit more time consuming to learn if you aren’t familiar with coding. The ‘design’ side is all down to creativity, and i’m sure all of us have atleast a bit of that.

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Neill McShea September 26, 2011

@Jack Sparrow – Its great that you have that much time to design your own site. Other people running a business, don’t have time to do that kind of stuff. Its all they can do to keep up with the day-to-day running of their own business. I’m in the same position. I’m a Website Designer, and I’m sure I can make pizza better then the guy down the street that I buy it from for my lunch, but you know what? I don’t have the time to perfect my recipe over the next few weeks….I’m hungry today, now….so I pay someone to make it for me.

Jack Sparrow….do yo use Lawyers? Accountants? Doctors? Builders? Electricians? Restaurants? Barista’s? If so are you “that stupid” that you can’t “LEARN” to do those trades yourself?….BTW…I’m not attacking you, I’m just using your own logic, and putting it into perspective for people tat don’t have as much time as you to design their own site.

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David September 26, 2011

Neill nails it to the point. People will always n