How much should you charge for Web Design?

By Rich Bianco (a.k.a. DisplacedGuy),  I decided to advertise Web Design services, but had no idea how much to charge so that I was competitive, yet not so competitive that I am giving my time away with no mid-term or long-term objective.  I understand the concept of offering a “loss-leader” product, which basically means you offer something at or below cost with the primary purpose of gaining new customers or by making money selling optional features and support.  Being very new to this concept I am not sure how much you need to undercut the competition, and how long it will take for the process to start paying off in the form of repeat customers, and referral customers.  My timeframe is about a year, and my instinct says that is too short but on the other hand I’m in a position where failure is not an option because I have to support my family.

How to decide what to charge for Web Site design?

Sunday March 21, 2010

As of now, I don’t have much of an idea what a reasonable rate is for Web Design.  I’ve learned that I am not alone when it comes to this dilemma.  I believe every situation is different, further complicating the issue.  For example you have Web Sites that are basic static content needing to be modified to keep content fresh, which would likely command a lower rate, and then there are Web Sites that can be set up to allow for easy modification/addition of content by the end-user (with little web development skills) that are worth more because the site owner will save money keeping content fresh themselves.  Taking it one step farther, there are Web Site designs that are very customizable by a non-technical person which should command rates at the upper end of the scale.

At first, I plan to keep charges on the low end of normal to build some customer loyalty and focus on name recognition and customer satisfaction.  Once I become busy and have earned a good reputation then I would raise rates to be in-line with similar competition.  For those of you that have already experienced this, how did you decide on pricing?  What worked, and what do you wish you did differently?  I don’t think this question can be answered with a simple answer because of the different types of Web Sites, however there must be a common denominator or basic guideline to start with.  Any comments to this article are welcomed, and would be greatly appreciated.  We all had to start somewhere and my goal is to learn as much as possible not only for myself, but for persons going through the same thing I am.

Should I bill by the hour or by the site?

  • Billing by the hour is probably the safest, however it puts risk not only on the customer, but also the developer.
  • Billing by the job removes much of the risk from the customer, but increases the risk the developer must accept.

How do ensure that expectations of the customer are the same as expectations of the Web Developer?

Based on my experience in the corporate world, when it comes to software development… documentation and communication are the key components in a successful project.  You must make sure requirements and scope are well defined ahead of time.  Anyone that has worked in the IT field knows that once a customer starts to see their project start coming together, they suddenly realize all the things that they didn’t think of.  Non-IT customers in general have a hard time conceptualizing what they need without seeing some sort of a prototype. That statement is not intended to make the customer feel bad, it is merely illustrating that IT developers by nature are better suited at visualizing a finished project well before a complete specification is written.  I personally can visualize the data-model as I talk to the customer when gathering requirements.  This is why I tend to favor RAD development methodologies.  The main negative of RAD, especially when using 4-GL tools is that the customer sees a prototype that looks like a finished project, when in fact there is still much work before the product is complete.

If anyone with real-world experience is willing to share with us, we would be very grateful.


DisplacedGuy (Rich)

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