Your web design business is exactly that — a business. You work with clients not just for intellectual and creative satisfaction, but also to earn money. However, pricing your services can be tricky.
Fortunately, as much as pricing is an art, there’s also some science to it. Finding your sweet spot can take time. However, understanding the most important elements to consider can help ensure that you make a healthy profit from your services. This is why we’ve put together some web design pricing guidelines to get you started.
In this web design pricing guide, we’ll help you decide what to charge for your design projects and understand the most important factors to consider. We’ll also take a look at the different formats for charging clients. Let’s dive in!
The Average Costs of Building a Website (And Why It Matters for Your Pricing)
The budget allotted for a web design project has a significant influence over the final product. It can either facilitate or hamper what features and functionalities you include, as well as how much time you’re able to spend working on the design and User Experience (UX).
As a web designer, it’s critical to set your prices to ensure that you’re appropriately compensated for the time and money spent on projects. If your rates are too low, you may not earn a profit. If your rates are too high, you could lose clients to competitors.
Knowing how much to charge for a website can also be challenging due to how scalable it can be. For example, do-it-yourself Content Management Systems (CMS) or different website builders enable users to cobble together a site for a few dozens of dollars per month.
However, freelancers with decent skills designing a WordPress site from scratch could charge anywhere between $500 and $10,000. Agencies may charge even more.
The minimum required costs for building a website are hosting and a domain name. Then there are premium plugins and themes, maintenance and security features, and so on. The wide range in website design costs can make deciding what to charge quite difficult.
7 Factors that Influence How You Price Your Web Design Services
There’s no simple answer to what you should charge for your web design services. However, there are some key factors that can help guide your decision. Let’s take a look at seven!
1. Your Skill Level or Experience
It’s smart to consider the wealth of experience you bring to a project when you’re putting together website costs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the pay for web development professionals ranges from $39,550 to $142,080. This variance depends largely on factors such as certifications and experience level.
The more sophisticated and specialized your skills are, the more clients will be willing to pay. As your experience and skills improve, you can adjust your rates accordingly.
Having a demonstrated portfolio of quality web design work could help justify higher rates, and convince clients that you can meet or surpass their expectations. If you’re looking for a ballpark price range to start with, consider researching what other developers at your experience level charge.
2. The Type of Websites You Design
The type of websites you design can influence your pricing. For example, a lot less work goes into making a personal website than building a business website, such as an enterprise-level ecommerce platform.
Certain functionalities and features, like integrated payment systems and shopping cart functions, simply take more time to create and implement. Plus, the type of clients who are looking for custom-built, complex websites typically have larger budgets.
Of course, you’ll also want to consider your skills and the kind of work you can do for a client. If you’re just starting out and can only put together the bare essentials, this will affect how much you can charge.
3. Your Niche
In the same vein as the type of websites you design is the niche you specialize in. Some industries have clients who tend to be on a budget. For example, the personal finance niche is likely to consist of clients who are mostly focused on saving money and getting the best deals. This can make it difficult to land a lot of customers with exceptionally high rates.
It might be smart to start out in smaller niches where you won’t face much competition and can stand out easily. This might also make it easier to find work through word-of-mouth marketing. However, if the pay rates are low, you may want to consider moving on once you’ve built up some experience that you can leverage.
4. The Scope and Size of the Project
The scope of a project plays a pivotal role in web design pricing. If you’re designing a custom website from scratch, you can charge significantly more than if you’re simply updating an existing one.
It’s also important to remember that some clients may suggest changes that gradually increase the scope of a project. If you’re being paid by the hour, this might not be a problem.
However, if you’re charging a flat fee, you’ll want to build the costs of potential revisions and requests into the price. That’s also why it’s best to have the specifics of the project’s scope nailed down upfront in a written contract.
5. The Features Required
Generally, the more intricate and complex the features required by your web design client become, the higher you’ll be able to set your rates. As we’ve touched on already, certain types of websites may require specific features and solutions.
For example, if an online business owner wants you to build their website, you can expect that they’ll need payment gateways, product pages, and perhaps even the ability to service certain categories of customers differently, such as wholesale buyers.
You’ll need to charge your client according to how much work is required, especially if it involves designing custom solutions. This is to account for not only the time you spend setting up and configuring the advanced features and functionalities but also the cost of any tools or plugins you have to purchase in order to do so.
6. Prevailing Market Rates
You’ll generally want to consider:
- Type of services offered
- Web design niche and clientele
- Tools and technologies
- Location of the freelancer
All of these and more can lead to nuances in pricing methods. You’ll want to ensure that while you use prevailing rates as a reference, you’re also working to set prices that work for you.
7. The Value of Your Work to Your Client’s Business
Charging according to the amount of value you’re giving your client is arguably the best way to price your services. It’s one thing to design a new website that looks great. However, your services are all the more valuable if you’re also able to build a site that helps them achieve their business goals.
Marketing your services as an ongoing Return on Investment (ROI) rather than a one-time expense can help you make more than if you charged hourly or used a flat rate. For example, if your design will increase revenue from direct sales, you could charge a percentage of the total estimated profit.
It might also be helpful to charge your clients according to the scale of their business. For example, global enterprises will generally be better placed than small business owners to pay competitive rates.
Finally, you should consider upselling your services in other areas such as user research, content marketing, and more. You might even offer to set up and manage performance tracking using tools such as Google Analytics.
How To Charge Clients for Your Web Design Services
In addition to figuring out what to charge web design clients, you also need to decide how to charge them. There are multiple methods, with the most common being:
- Hourly rates. Charging hourly means you simply bill for the total number of hours worked. Since most clients expect this, it can be your best option when you’re just starting out. It also helps you get a better understanding of how much time each type of project takes you.
- Flat rates. Flat rates enable both parties to focus on the ultimate value of the deliverable. However, there’s a risk of underestimating how much time and effort you’ll need to spend on a project in order to satisfy the client.
- Monthly rates. This is basically charging flat rates for recurring work. If your skills and schedule allow, it’s an effective way to earn retainers by offering extra services such as website maintenance, copywriting and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), hosting management, and more.
It’s worth noting that as your experience and efficiency grow, at some point, charging hourly may mean doing twice as much work for the same pay as when you started. Fortunately, you can always switch to another pricing method if your current one isn’t working.
The Complete Web Design Pricing Guide: How Much To Charge for a Website
Now that we’ve discussed the factors that affect the pricing of web design services and the different ways you can charge your clients, let’s get more practical. How much should you actually charge? If you’ve done some research yourself, you may have found that ‘prevailing’ rates can vary widely between freelancers.
Although Salary puts the hourly wage at a range of $28 to $34, a typical average for a skilled freelancer is estimated to be $75. Of course, this varies based on multiple factors such as project timeline, difficulty, and even your location. In addition, long-term projects may use lower hourly rates.
You may also consider setting your hourly rates based on commonly used flat fees. According to 99designs, freelance web designers charge between $500 and $5,000 upwards on a project basis.
For example, when building landing pages, you may choose to charge your clients on the lower end of that range, whereas your average rates for full websites may go up to around $6,000 and more. Specialized projects such as e-commerce sites, which often require payment gateways, inventory management, and more, can cost even more.
Which Web Design Services Should You Not Charge For?
As a business owner, knowing what and how to charge for your services is key to sustainability. However, it’s also important to know when not to bill clients. In other words, it may sometimes be appropriate to offer free or complimentary services.
For example, when you’re contracted to build a website for a client, it’s usually implicit that you’ll be delivering a responsive product. You may also decide to charge less (or not at all) when you’re going to be reusing some of your past work from a similar project.
Additionally, if you’re working for a large and long-time client who needs a solution that you can quickly put together using a tool such as a CMS, you may decide to offer it ‘on the house’. In some ways, complementary services can be thought of as a way to show appreciation, which is why many businesses often offer end-of-year gifts to loyal customers.
Price Your Web Design Services Adequately
Learning how to price your web design services can take some time, but it’s well worth the effort. Your rates determine the type of clients you attract, the quality of work you can put out, and more. Additionally, as a business owner, the rates you command are an important metric for success and sustainability.
In this article, we discussed seven key factors that will influence how you price your web design services, such as your skill level, the scope of the project, and prevailing market rates. Once you figure out what price to charge for a website, you can also choose how you charge clients, whether that will be hourly charges, flat rates, or monthly fees.
What have you found to be the most effective way to charge clients for your web design services? Share them with us in the comments section below!