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[web] How much to charge for web design/programming?

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Since I told my dad that I would do his company website (Clicky It needs work) He was able to get me a job doing a website for a Used Car Dealership in town. My dad is going to pay me just enough a month that I'm able to keep my hosting plan going with enough bandwith and such (I put his website on my hosting plan that I have with 1and1.com). I have no idea what to charge this other guy though. I'm 16 and have been doing websites as a hobby since I was 8. (And for all of you disbelievers out there, GO LEARN HTML. IT'S THAT EASY). I recently started CSS so I'm getting not too shabby at it. But how much do you think I should charge and how should I charge? It's mostly going to be a website full of pictures of cars listing their attributes. So, I can see right now that I should come up with some type of PHP script (I should really go buy the new edition of the book I have for that) or something, and I'm going to need a bigger memory stick for my digital camera and some money to pay for the hosting (I have a feeling this will be on my account to). Thanks a bunch in advance for the help. No matter what, you guys here have always helped me and it brings a tear to my eye to know that people actually do care about people they don't know. And you guys show that. </sappy closing>

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Charge by the hour and never otherwise: hourly fees * labor hours worked.

Base your hourly fees on a realistic appraisal of your financial needs. Total your labor and overhead costs, divide the total by average working hours, add a profit margin of 15-30%, and that's your hourly rate that must be charged to provide an acceptable return on invested time.

Have one rate.

Web design is dropping as a sales opportunity for creatives so consider yourself more valuable than you did yesterday. Don't undervalue your time, and price accordingly.

One of my employees thought that our design fee was too much until he realized that our market is willing to pay that fee. The freelance graphic designers I've hired usually had fees between $18-50/hr. Believe it or not, a higher price does add value to your brand.

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That's the thing though. I have no idea how much I'm going to be working on this. It's not like I'm going to be going there every day for 6 hours and just work on the website. And I think he would be a little iffy about me just telling him how many hours I worked that week. And I would be too, because chances are I would also be talking to my friends on AIM, having my TV going, and of course, posting here.

How much would be a fair amount an hour though? He doesn't know much about the internet and I don't wanna rip him off. I was thinking maybe $7-$10 USD an hour but I seriously don't know what I'm doing with this. If it helps, I've never had a job. Too proud to work at McDonalds and too young to work anywhere else around here.

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Original post by Coward
Holy crap.. Impressive website you've got there..!


I don't know whether to take that as sarcasm or not. My own website is www.ekimgram.com but my new layout will look like this

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You can either charge per job, per page or per hour. It's really up to you and the nature of the job; I mean, if you spend most of your time creating a template then using that to create pages, charging per page wouldn't make much sense, you'd be better off on a per job basis.

Work out how long it'll take you to complete the site, add on an extra 10% for time spent messing around and fixing things and then work out a reasonable hourly rate. If you're charging a small company, it might be a good idea to keep your prices low - but if the company is large, hit them where it hurts ;)

if you're serious about web design and getting more work from it, I'd recommend keeping the prices low for a couple of sites and letting the word of mouth do it's work. If people talk about how well you did the site and how cheap it was, you're likely to attract more clients, giving you time to improve your skills and knock up the prices as you gain more experience.

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Original post by Ekim_Gram
That's the thing though. I have no idea how much I'm going to be working on this. It's not like I'm going to be going there every day for 6 hours and just work on the website. And I think he would be a little iffy about me just telling him how many hours I worked that week. And I would be too, because chances are I would also be talking to my friends on AIM, having my TV going, and of course, posting here.
If you're going to go professional, be professional. Forget about AIM, forget about TV, and forget about GameDev.net while you work. Set your own working hours and work those hours. Provide your prospect with an estimate and do what I said.
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How much would be a fair amount an hour though? He doesn't know much about the internet and I don't wanna rip him off. I was thinking maybe $7-$10 USD an hour but I seriously don't know what I'm doing with this. If it helps, I've never had a job. Too proud to work at McDonalds and too young to work anywhere else around here.
Yea, yea, who cares? How much you think your time is worth is irrelevant. It's your customer that pays you using their perception of your value. I already gave you the pricing formula. Don't give yourself excuses. Just do it. By the way, $7-10/hour is about as much McDonald's workers get paid. Don't devalue yourself. Don't devalue your services. If it helps you get your head around it, you're providing business and marketing services not Web design. Your work will help your customer increase profitability, brand awareness, and enhance their corporate identity. That's certainly more valuable than a counterfeit hamburger.

The adage "dress for the job you want" applies to services pricing. Don't dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want. Behave the way you want to be and you will be as you behave.

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Original post by Adraeus
If you're going to go professional, be professional. Forget about AIM, forget about TV, and forget about GameDev.net while you work.


Agreed. If you're working on someone's site and you're serious about doing it, you should act in a professional way. Sure, that means cutting out some of your social life, but you're getting paid for your time and the more organised you become, the more it'll pay off in the long run, especially if you get more work from it.

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Thank you so much for the advice guys. I'm going to post the demo when I finish it. If anybody else has to say something, please do so because I really appreciate it. It's giving me a lot of insight about what I'm going to do.

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DUDE! I used to do web development, and the LOWEST I would charge was $30/hr. AND I LIVE IN THE MIDWEST. I went to mapquest and determined where 'West Islip' is, and apparently you live at a place where you can throw a rock and hit the statue of liberty, and so your price should be considerably higher.

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I'm somewhat cynical on paying for web design. While the sites you've listed as examples of you're work look fine - the same can be done in just a few minutes using a content creation package. I have absolutely zero experience with web design. However, this is a site I put together in roughly 10 minutes, to use for customer support. It was a matter of using a number of interactive control panels and placing information where I wanted it. Anybody could do the same.

It's just a warning. If you try to charge something greater than $50, your client is going to be rather upset if he ever realizes what he could have done with an hour of his own time. This trouble would only be magnified if the person in question is a friend of your dad's and he comes to the conclusion that you were trying to rip him off, which clearly you are trying to avoid - but all the same.

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Original post by haro
I'm somewhat cynical on paying for web design. While the sites you've listed as examples of you're work look fine - the same can be done in just a few minutes using a content creation package. I have absolutely zero experience with web design. However, this is a site I put together in roughly 10 minutes, to use for customer support. It was a matter of using a number of interactive control panels and placing information where I wanted it. Anybody could do the same.


Yes...I do realize that but can interactive panels create a CMS built just for what the site is for? I'm designing AND programming the website, by myself. That means there is no seperation between the XHTML, CSS, javascript, and PHP whatsoever. It's all me and I doubt a few interactive panels from a free web builder can build all that needs to be built for this particular project.

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I charge about 30€ + VAT per hour per employee here in Finland - that sum covers the wages easily and brings back some money for the company, as well. However, since real income varies from country to country and even inside countries, I can't recommend any specific figure for you.

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Original post by Ekim_Gram
Yes...I do realize that but can interactive panels create a CMS built just for what the site is for?


Well, not to discourage you, but yes. Most content management systems allow trivial implementation of custom 'blocks' ( parts of a site ) or even modules ( systems of a site ). There are also hundreds of importable blocks/modules. Here are some example of sites made using the same CMS I am using ( xoops ):

1
2
3
4
5

Those are just a few random picks from the "check out my site" forum on my CMS's homepage.

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Quote:
Originally posted by haro
If you try to charge something greater than $50, your client is going to be rather upset if he ever realizes what he could have done with an hour of his own time.
Of course, if you lack practical mastery of the principles of good design, you shouldn't be designing Web sites anyway. If you have to use a Content Management System to design a corporate site, you're not a Web designer and you shouldn't be charging for your (dis)services. The rules bend somewhat for ecommerce sites; yet still, Web designers must possess practical mastery of the principles of good design.

All visual communications design revolves around the 'message.' If you're not building sites around the 'message,' you're not creating an effective product.

The Myth of Content Management

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I would absolutely never hire a freelance designer/artist/programmer who charges an hourly rate, unless he works right here on site, in our offices. And even then, he gets a temporary employment contract instead. There is absolutely no accountability in hourly charging when not working on location, especially if it's an internet only job.

If you do freelance work, then the best thing is to charge either per job, per milestone, or in the case of webdesign, also per page. A well known fixed price will make it much easier for your customer to trust you, and also to get his budget approved.

Have your potential cutomer give you preliminary information about his project, and work out a first estimate of the time and efforts required, calculate a price from that (you can internally use an estimated hourly rate to get an idea about the pricing range). Then meet with the customer (real life preferably, or phone/email if that's not practicable), offer him various pricing schemes if you can. Get the whole project straight, discuss dead lines, delivery delays, milestones, and payment terms. Then, take all the information home, and draft a final offer, using a fixed price based on the payment granularity your customer chose (ie. fixed pay for the entire job, per page, etc).

The most important thing to show your customer, besides your technical and artistic skills, is reliability, accountability and transparency. Unless you're a very well known company, charging per hour is definitely not the right approach. A well designed production schedule, with well defined milestones, and - most important - a reliable pricing is exactly what your customers wants. Keep in mind that they want to get a job done at minimal costs and minimal risks.

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Well, Yann, that's what offsite creatives are supposed to do with their hourly rates: create an estimate. I thought that was implicit. I mean, that's what hourly means to seasoned creatives. I guess it's not that clear to starters... (Or you're just trying to find more ways to argue with me.) An estimate can act like a "fixed price" but the invoice may differ so it's not really fixed at all.

In any case, good info for Ekim_Gram and other likeminded aspirants.

Ekim_Gram: In your estimate, you should include the following data:

* Your logo. (optional)
* Your contact details (name, physical address, tel/fax numbers, e-mail address)
* Your prospect's company name.
* Your prospect's point-of-contact's name.
* Your prospect's contact details.
* Your estimate number.
* Project name (or list of project names) with brief descriptions.
* Applicable project fees.
* Project subtotal.
* Project grand total.
* Thank you note.
* Disclaimer stating termed validity of estimate, payment details (e.g., NET 30 (ROG)), etc.

If you're set on your pricing system, you shouldn't offer several pricing schemes. It'll be much easier to sell one pricing scheme to a prospect than the option to choose if you're not "into" the other schemes.

You need only say what's needed and nothing more. This is a negotiation. Each member has yay/nay choices. Don't give them the opportunity to say no... unless you want them to say no.

If you need any more help, CreativePublic.com provides enough advice, materials, and resources to get you started.

[Edited by - Adraeus on August 22, 2004 4:03:11 AM]

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Quote:
Original post by raydog
I would never pay for a website design that I have never seen before.
If you want a pre-made template that was designed without your business and your message in mind, then you could "hire" someone that sells those products, but Web designers who actually know what they're doing don't work that way. By the way, you also need to pay tax on templates because those aren't considered services.
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Where does, 'show me what the site will look like when it's done' come into play?
Usually a creative will produce three finalized concepts that concern the prospect's 'message' and present those finalized concepts to the prospect one-by-one. This phase requires the creative to persuade the prospect to choose one of the finalized concepts. This is done exactly as it is shown in the movies (e.g., Tom Hanks' "Nothing in Common", Keanu Reeves' "Sweet November.")

If you want (I've been saying that a lot lately) to learn more about the process, contact one of the many professional Web design firms (that doesn't provide templates) listed at The Firm List about the process. It differs from company to company but there is some sort of standard somewhere.

[Edited by - Adraeus on August 22, 2004 2:34:13 PM]

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Original post by Adraeus
Well, Yann, that's what offsite creatives are supposed to do with their hourly rates: create an estimate. I thought that was implicit. I mean, that's what hourly means to seasoned creatives. I guess it's not that clear to starters... (Or you're just trying to find more ways to argue with me.) An estimate can act like a "fixed price" but the invoice may differ so it's not really fixed at all.

And that's exactly what it is not supposed to to: change. The final offer is fixed, and will not change, even if it takes you twice as many hours to complete the assignment. If that happens, the artist misjudged the work involved, and it's his problem. The employer will not pay a cent more than on the final offer.

What is allowed to change is the first estimate, but this one is neither legally binding, nor a contract in itself. It's just a base to give a potential employer an idea about the pricing range, and allow him to compare your price to the price of the competition. If he is interested, the artist creates the final offer (which can involve a real life meeting, possibly signing an NDA, etc), and this is a 100% fixed price: it will be exactly this price that figures an the invoice.

It doesn't matter if the artist internally uses hourly rates to evaluate the price, since those rates are never exposed to the customer. The customer knows the final and irrevocable price of the job before he signs the contract.

An example of a fixed price scenario would be an ADSL flatrate.

Charging on hourly rates means something entirely different. Here, you don't have a final fixed price offer, you just keep the estimate (or several ones, if you propose various different scenarios). The invoice may differ considerably from the estimate, since it will reflect the "real" number of hours spent on the product. If the artist spent less time than estimated, the customer pays less. If the artist spent more time, the customer pays more. Obviously, this method requires a great deal of trust between both parties.

An example of someone charging an hourly rate is the plumber who is currently working on the malfunctioning water pipes in my basement.

So in short:

fixed price: first offer price == final invoice price, customer knows exactly what he will pay, artist knows exactly what he will earn, independently of the actual time and effort required.

hourly rate charge: both the customer and the artist know only approximately what each one will pay/earn for the job. The final price may vary in both directions depending on the time spent (although, sometimes both a minimum and maximum range can be specified beforehand).

See the differences ? Both these methods are widespread on the freelance market, and I've worked with both before (first as a freelance, later as a customer). I would suggest using the fixed price scenario, eventhough it puts more risk on the artist, it's going to be much easier to find potential customers with that approach.

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Somewhat agreed, but it does work differently when dealing with government/military contractors. One of our clients allows the invoice to differ from the estimate because an estimate is an approximation of cost. It is not a final price unless stated or negotiated before the commencement of the project; however, tax may be applied to the "final" price for some projects negating the finality (or fixedness) of said price.

I've dealt with quite a few freelancers of all disciplines and each charged an hourly rate. The hourly rate is the standard pricing method for freelancers unless the project requires otherwise (e.g., custom construction.) I've asked around and freelancers prefer hourly rates over other schemes. You also have to consider target markets and prospects. I've only done business with and extensively communicated with high-end creative pros that deal with high-end clients.

Clarify one thing for me: are you advocating fixed price or value pricing?

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Original post by Adraeus
Clarify one thing for me: are you advocating fixed price or value pricing?

Answer depends on whether you're the freelancer or the customer ;) From the POV of a freelance artist, it depends a little on the specific circumstances, as both can have their benefits. If you are more experienced, then charging an hourly rate is probably better: you know your working rhythm, your estimates are pretty precise, you have access to a large library of previous work (templates, code snippets, etc), and you have a reputation to lose (ie. your customer know you won't screw him). Although as I mentioned, I would only hire such a freelancer if he works on premises, unless I knew him very well and trusted him.

But for beginners, things are different. They often have great difficulties judging the amount of work involved in a project. More than often, the required work is greatly underestimated. Also, without a nice track record, getting customers is not as simple as if you're already set in business. Your customer knows that - trying to convince him that your estimate is precise, and that he won't face outrageous costs at the end of the project will prove difficult. If you're in this situation, a fixed price scheme is better: your customer wants a job to be done for a certain deadline. You offer to do this job for a fixed price, and your potential customer has a 100% guarantee covering all costs involved. Keep in mind that when hiring a novice freelancer, a customer already takes a risk, since he doesn't know if he can safely rely on your schedule, or if your know how is really up to it. Every newcomer faces this problem. Offering a fixed price scheme is already one risk less for the customer, since he won't have to worry about exploding costs.

For certain specific sectors of the market, fixed price schemes are also interesting for a professional freelancer. If you know you're going to complete a project in no time (perhaps due to previous work, webdesign can be such a sector), you can negotiate a fixed price based on the value of your creation, rather than on your time. This allows you to earn much more without (illegally) screwing around with working hours - and your customer will be happy as well.

Quote:

I've asked around and freelancers prefer hourly rates over other schemes. You also have to consider target markets and prospects. I've only done business with and extensively communicated with high-end creative pros that deal with high-end clients.

Well, I wasn't talking about high end freelancing - I was referring to the question of the OP. And reading Ekim_Gram's post, I somehow doubt he is in the position to ask for the same work and payment conditions as an industry veteran with 30 year experience... He is doing small scale webdesign, it's pretty clear that he is going to take a different approach than a freelancer on a multimillion Dollar project.

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Well, there are a few things you need to take care of before you casually drift into value pricing... like discounts, premiums, definition of value, ensuring mutal attractiveness, etc. Still, hourly pricing is a standard practice and anything else outside business norms and foreign to most clients. Time-based pricing has more advantages and fewer disadvantages than other methods--for the freelancer and its clients.

Creative Business
Get this book!

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Quote:
Original post by Adraeus
Well, there are a few things you need to take care of before you casually drift into value pricing... like discounts, premiums, definition of value, ensuring mutal attractiveness, etc.

Yep, that's indeed the job of freelancer, or better, his negotation skills. Many of the points you listed are just as important for negotiating contracts based on hourly rates, beyond the simple time = money equation.

Quote:
Original post by Adraeus
Still, hourly pricing is a standard practice and anything else outside business norms and foreign to most clients.

I disagree. We extensively hire fixed price freelance contractors, and have done so for years. Many of our customers, eventhough being mostly from the highend packaging and industrial manufacturing sector, specifically ask for fixed price offers (admittedly we are a company rather than a freelancer, so the perspective is obviously a little different. Still the point stands: customers know very well of alternative pricing practices, and even request them).

Maybe this is due to a difference between the European and the American freelance market, although many of our US customers are very interested in the fixed price project, usually at milestone granularity (note, this was when I was still a freelancer myself, around 3 years ago, but I doubt much has changed since then). It makes the finance department feel much safer about their budget. I have witnessed that more than once during contract negotiations, when the finance people were quite uneasy about the deal, until a fixed and guaranteed pricing scheme was mentioned.

Quote:
Original post by Adraeus
Time-based pricing has more advantages and fewer disadvantages than other methods--for the freelancer and its clients.

I disagree again, but you're entitled to your opinion.

OK, also to come back to the OPs specific case - let's do a little thought experiment:

Say you need a webpage designed. You're a small scale business, perhaps 3 or 4 people, you try to limit your expenses. You're browsing around the web for good offers, and find Ekim_Gram's webdesign site. It's very well done, and you think to yourself that this is exactly what you need.

You check the pricing, perhaps exchanging a couple of emails or phonecalls with the webdesigner. You know that he is pretty young, new to the market, and not backed by a large company. Still, you want to hire him, because he isn't very expensive yet still technically skilled. Now, let's consider two scenarios:

A) Ekim_Gram tells you he wants $xx per hour. He drafts an estimate of yy hours working on your project, with a total of yy * $xx plus taxes. You know that the final invoice might very well be more. You never worked with this guy before, you never met him, you don't know how seriously he counts his hours, he might live thousands of miles away from you.

B) Ekim_Gram tells you that your entire website will cost you $zzz. No hidden costs, you know the invoice will be exactly $zzz.

Now be honest, what option would you pick ?


[Edited by - Yann L on August 23, 2004 7:58:18 PM]

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*forgot that you were in Euroland*
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I disagree again, but you're entitled to your opinion.
Not really an opinion... more of a preference based on decades of pricing history, strategies, theory, and research.
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Yep, that's indeed the job of freelancer, or better, his negotation skills. Many of the points you listed are just as important for negotiating contracts based on hourly rates, beyond the simple time = money equation.
Nope. The two basic value-based pricing strategies are premium and discount. Look 'em up and buy that book.

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