The Cost of a Decent Web Designer

People who are interested in me as a designer are always asking how much it would cost for me to do their sites, I always hate answering this question. The reason I dislike answering this question is there are so many factors in pricing a website job that determine the cost of that site.

Like:

  • How many pages?
  • Is it an eCommerce site or just an information site?
  • Are you going to need a lot of special features?
  • Am I doing just the lay-out and style of a site or do I also need to create logos, images and other content you need?
  • Am I only working on the site or are you going to ask me to help you with your social networking sites as well?
  • Are you going to ask me to help you with marketing as well?

These are only a fraction of things I can do and only part of the questions that come up for every job I have. When they ask me for a price what they are really asking me is how much to do their site, which of course I can not answer until questions are answered and it is decided on what it is they want for their business. The only answer that I can give them in that moment is I have never done a site that is less than $500.00 and that is a basic 2 to 3 page site with no special features. In other words, just a basic WordPress child theme that I only edit HTML and CSS. This means I do not research or add any plugins, I do no editing in PHP at all. I do no SEO, and I do no graphics.

I am very honest about my skills and my limits. I am never trying to gouge anyone. All I am doing is giving an honest price for my skills and trying to make a living for myself and my family. It always amazes me how some business’ try and get my services for free, or even a sub-par pay. Do you not care what your site says about your company? If your answer is no not really then by all means higher that high school student or nephew to make your site for $150 and be done with it. When you start losing business or never gain the kind of return you were hoping for, then tell me how that $150 bucks was a good investment for your company. Bottom line is your trying to make money for yourself and your family with your business why would you cheat me out of the same right?

What the numbers say

According to Salary.com a web designer should be making almost 58k a year. The occupational handbook from the U.S. government says a web developer should make about 75k a year, they lump web developers and designers together into one type of job. The U.S. government says a web graphic artist should make about 43k a year. These numbers of course vary according to experience and education, however, it still gives you a rough idea of what a web designer should be making.

So imagine how an experienced web designer feels when she/he is asked to complete a website for 150 bucks. It makes us feel under valued for our expertise, and experience.

Even if you took the 3 values in the images below and averaged them like so 75k + 43k + 58k = 176k/3 = 58k, it still comes out to about 58k per year. This of course is what a full time employer should be paying for a 9 to 5 person. Freelance is more expensive though, really because now the designer has overhead to pay for as well.

Well why can’t I pay you hourly? I hear this too. Ok well lets see.

58k/12 months = 1115.38 per week/40hours = 27.88 per hour

And that is without adding anything for their overhead should they be freelancer. Even if you reduced the 58k to 48k (some think this is a more reasonable pay for a web designer) per year the per hour wages is still 23 bucks an hour. Now add how long it takes to a do a site and multiply that by 23 bucks an hour. For a general idea a basic site can take up to 80 hours of just coding.

80 hours x $23.00 per hour = $1840.00

However, just coding isn’t all we do. For example, there is the creative parts that pop into your head in the middle of the night. So how much is my missing sleep worth? Or how about when and issue arises during development that cause the site to go wonky, how long is it going to take for me to figure out why it is doing that, and how do I fix it? As you can see those 80 hours are really just a basic estimate. So, by paying me by the hour you actually going to end up spending more money than if you just paid me according to the job we agreed on.

Salary.com says someone with my skills,experience and in my location should be making near $58,000 per year.

 What the U.S. government says a web graphic designer should make in 2010.

Occupational Outlook Handbook has the images below and above for your own research.

What the U.S. government says a web developer should make in 2010.

What the U.S. government says a web developer should make in 2010.

Don’t ask me to do spec work

Why do potential clients ask for spec work from web designers or graphic artist? This entire concept to me is like saying you do not respect me or my work, and automatically I start envisioning nightmare scenarios of begging for my final payment or explaining for the thousandth time why a certain element is needed in a certain area of the site. My work can be found on the internet, I do not hide what I can do. There is no reason for me to do spec work, when anyone can view my work and decide if I fit what they are looking for.

Jacob Cass explained it better than I could so I am quoting his article below:

To clarify, let’s create a scenario in another industry where SPEC work does NOT exist.

“I went for a dental check-up yesterday. After the dentist inspected my teeth, she suggested some work to prevent further tooth decay. I told her to go ahead, and if the dental work was satisfactory, I’d be more than happy to pay. She responded that she wouldn’t be able to do that, because she normally provides a service when a fee is agreed upon up-front. I said I’d let her know after I checked in with other local dentists.”

This scenario happens in the design industry every day and is seen as very unethical as it is ruining the design industry. A designer should not have to invest time and resources with no guarantee of payment much alike a dentist or any other professional.

Bottom line don’t ask for spec work from you graphic artists or web designers, its unprofessional, disrespectful and makes you look cheap.

What cheap and badly designed Websites look like

I have listed some sites below that are glaringly bad web design. Even though these are really bad design and most likely done very cheaply, there are far more sites out there with bad design that a lay man would not necessarily see right off. Sometimes bad design is not, the visuals but the SEO, or the placement of certain features.

In my opinion, when it comes to web design, you get what you paid for. Don’t cheap out. Don’t try and get something for next to nothing. If this is for your business, invest in your lively hood and your future and hire a decent web designer.

For Additional Information See the Following Articles:

What Cheap Web Design Really Looks Like
Why Web Design Doesn’t Cost £40
You get what you pay for
The Added Value of Design
How Much Should a Web Design Cost?

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