Deciding how much to charge for a website is never easy. If you charge too much, you risk alienating a potential client. But charge too little, and you risk selling yourself short. On top of that, the right price depends on a complex web of factors, from your own skill level to the client’s industry or niche.
This web design pricing guide will help you break down these different elements so that you can figure out what to charge for the websites you create. Here’s an overview of how much web designers make, as well as the factors that go into determining your pricing model.
How much do web designers charge?
While prices differ from person to person, web design professionals typically charge between $50 to $80 per hour, with skilled freelance website designers making upwards of $75 per hour. A flat fee for a standard business website can range from $5,000 to $10,000, with an average of $6,760.
A host of factors determine how much to charge for a website, including the current market rates, your skill level and experience, the complexity of the project, and the industry you’re designing for.
How much to charge for a website: 8 elements to consider
With that in mind, the best way to determine your rate is by identifying the different elements you’ll need to build into your pricing model. Here are the 8 most important elements to take into account:
1. Cost of production
Perhaps the most straightforward cost to factor into your rate is the cost of building a website. Think of this as the price of raw materials. These might include:
CMS or website builder
Premium add-ons, such as apps or plugins
In order to make a profit, you’ll need to cover at least the costs of the materials required to build the website. Start by adding up the prices of the features your client wants, and use that as the starting point for your pricing model.
2. Current market rate
Of course, earning a profit doesn’t just mean accounting for the cost of your tools and materials. It also means considering factors like the time you put into the project, the quality of your work, and the amount your peers are charging for similar work.
Because these intangibles are harder to price, analyze the current market rate to get an idea of what others are charging for similar projects. That will give you an approximate cost to aim for as you build your pricing model.
Start by browsing freelance marketplaces such as Upwork or Fiverr. Another helpful resource is the rate sharing page at Freelance Solidarity, a union of digital media workers that displays a comprehensive database of freelancer earnings in the industry.
While it’s a good idea to stay within the ballpark of the prevailing market rate, it won’t surprise you to know that prices vary greatly. When comparing what you charge to the prices of others in your field, be sure to take into account:
The types of services you offer
Your geographic location
The industry and scale of your clientele
The tools and technologies you’re using
Your level of expertise
3. Your own cost of living
Regardless of the prices others set, your rate needs to work for you. That brings us to the next point: Use your own cost of living as a guideline for how much to charge for a website. Just as full-time employees get paid more when situated in pricier cities, you should, too.
Consider factors such as:
The price of your home or rental
Food and grocery costs
Animation director Harry Butt recommends working backwards to calculate the amount you want to earn. Add up your personal expenses for one month, and then figure out how much you’d need to make per day in order to exceed those costs.
Here’s what Harry suggests: Let’s say you shell out $2,000 per month in personal expenses. Let’s also say you expect to work about 10 days per month. In that case, your day rate should be at least $200 for each of those 10 days to cover your expenses alone. Up the price to make sure you get some savings, making sure to account for your own skill and the difficulty level of the project. That means you’d need to charge around $300-$400 per working day, or about $50 per hour.
4. Your skill level
You’ll also want to consider your skill level or background in the field. If your career as a web designer is relatively new, you’ll want to charge a lower amount at first and then work your way up as you build a portfolio. If you already have an impressive portfolio, on the other hand, you’ll be able to justify charging a higher price. You should also take into account any relevant degrees, certifications or specializations.
Once you have a few projects under your belt, create a design portfolio that highlights your web design know-how and showcases your work. Essentially, this will serve as a resume that you can use to demonstrate your craftsmanship to prospective clients.
5. Type of website
Because no two websites are the same, each is going to have a slightly different price. A one-page personal website, for instance, is going to require less work than an enterprise-level site. When quoting a price, consider whether your client just wants the basics or wants to include bells and whistles, like dedicated product pages or an online store. The more extra features, the more time and labor you’ll need to spend on the project.
Be sure to factor in their preference for a pre-made website template versus a custom-built one. Calculate the additional price not only in terms of the cost of the tools you’ll need to build them, but also the time and effort required.
6. Scope of the project
Another critical element when deciding how much to charge for a website is the size of the project. It goes without saying that the bigger and more time-intensive the project, the more you should charge. Updating an existing site, for example, will cost less than building a new website from scratch. If you’re charging hourly, you may opt for a rate that changes proportionate to the difficulty of the work.
Take note that the scope of any project can increase over time, depending on the client’s demands. A client might request changes or additions that make the task longer and more involved than you’d originally anticipated. If you’re charging a flat fee rather than an hourly rate, you’ll need to factor in this extra work from the outset.
One way to prevent potential misunderstandings is by having a detailed written contract before you begin working. This is a crucial way to protect you and your work. The contract should clearly outline the specific items requested by the client, along with the rate. It should also mention that any work that goes beyond the initial scope will require additional payment.
7. Your client’s industry and scale
Just as your pricing will change for different types of projects, it will also vary depending on your client’s niche. Keep in mind that some industries have a higher budget than others. Web designers tend to earn the highest salaries in the media, technology and manufacturing industries. On the other hand, the retail, hospitality, and education industries typically pay less.
The scale of a company matters, too. An enterprise-level business is more likely to spend extra money on special features and a complex design, while a brand new startup may just want to cover the basics.
8. Your client’s projected ROI
From your clients’ perspective, their website is an investment that they’ll profit from in the long run. With that in mind, you can charge more money when you incorporate features that help your client earn a profit or obtain new customers.
Upsell your work by bundling your web design services with premium elements dedicated to business growth. If you have the relevant skills, try offering SEO services, content marketing or performance tracking as part of a comprehensive package.
Deciding how to charge for a website
Once you have an idea of your basic pricing model, you’ll need to decide how to bill your clients. Will it be per project? Per web page? Per hour? The most common pricing models are:
Hourly rate: This means you’ll bill the client for the total number of hours worked. This is a good option if you’re not quite sure how much time the project will take you. Keep in mind, however, that you may need to revise your hourly rate if you become quicker and more efficient in your work.
Flat fee: Charging a flat fee for the entire project means that you and the client will agree on its value from the outset. This is most beneficial for designers who can create high-quality work in a relatively short amount of time. On the other hand, there is a risk that you’ll underestimate the number of hours you’ll end up putting in to satisfy the client. To mitigate this risk, make sure to build the cost of extra work into the final price. It’s also a good idea to bill the client for 50% of the cost before starting the project, and the remaining 50% once the website is launched.
Monthly rate: Similar to a flat fee, this is a great billing method if you have recurring work with a particular client. This includes tasks such as continuous website maintenance or ongoing SEO services. If you’re able to secure this option, it allows you to retain clients over the long-term and have a steady flow of income.
Most web designers recommend starting with an hourly rate, as it will help you get an idea of how much time goes into each project and what you need to earn to make it worth your while. Afterwards, you can always switch to a flat or monthly fee if that works better for you.
For a rough calculation of your hourly rate, divide your desired monthly salary by the number of days you expect to work each month. That will give you your day rate. Then, divide your day rate by the number of hours you’ll need to work per day.
For example, if you want to earn $8,000 per month (that’s $96,000 per year) over the course of 20 work days, your day rate is $8,000/20, or $400 per day. That’s the equivalent of $65-$70 per hour for a 6-hour work day.
Bottom line: Don’t be shy about money
The amount to charge for a website is often elusive. That’s partly due to the fact that no two sites are the same, but it’s also because of a general hesitation to talk about money.
Web design professionals would benefit from scrapping these social norms altogether and being more open with one another when discussing their earnings. Not only would this help everyone earn their due, but it would also give designers confidence when confronting doubtful inner voices or skeptical clients.
No matter how you choose to price your services, the most important thing is that you know your worth. Do some research on what other web designers are charging, and then factor in the 8 elements above to find the rate that works for you. Once you determine a price, be confident and stand your ground—after all, you’ve done the research, and you are the master of your craft.