Pricing a Website

There’s a lot to be considered; make it worth your while.

When you’re making a website for someone else – if it’s not for free, you’re going to want to charge the right amount for it; you should be paid what you deserve for your work, while making sure that you’ve given the right value to your customer / client for what you’re charging them.

Here are some of the things that need to be taken into account:

How much should be charged?

In a very simplistic sense, the price of a website should be a combination of the value of the time it takes to make and the costs you’ll have to pay while making the website, increased by a percentage to provide a profit.

In practice, the most difficult part of pricing a website is knowing the value of the time it will require to make. The value of the time depends on both by how much time and effort goes into the website, and the skills / experience it requires during that time. A good way to understand and apply this is to price the ‘time’ or cost according to the quality of your final product.

For example, if the quality of the website you product is excellent (professional) then you should price according to how much a professional would charge given how long it would take them. However, if it takes you longer due to your inexperience and this negatively affects the client, you should reduce the price.

Typical Time / Expertise Requirements

Planning and research The work you do before beginning the design or development, such as learning about the audience, the purpose and context of the website, it’s requirements, and so on.

Webpages’ design The sketching, wireframing and mocking-up of the website.

Development Taking the design and turning it into a fully-functional website, which may include coding / programming or working with a website’s back-end system (such as a content management system).

Optimisation The improvements and additions made to the website after it has been built, such as search engine optimisation, loading-speed improvements, and so on.

And also the following, depending on the project…

Revisions Customers and clients will inevitably want changes made to the website you design and build. Expect these and make sure you agree on how many revisions the client may ask for as part of the agreement. It is also useful to give a price that will be charged for any additional revisions – usually a per-hour rate.

Maintenance The time you’ll spend managing the website after it has been launched, and may include fixing problems, updating content, and adding additional functionality. The amount of maintenance depends on what the client needs and is willing to pay for.

Sorting out hosting and file migration While finding and purchasing an appropriate hosting package, and transferring files and content to the host’s server may take less than an hour and have no issues, it can also result in many difficult problems. You should charge according to how long it would take you if you had years of experience.

Sorting out the domain name Like above, this may take a few minutes, but will become a problem if the client’s desired domain name isn’t available. Decide and make it clear whose responsibility this is; yours, the clients’, or shared responsibility.

Setting up analytics The time spent signing up for an analytics package (and arranging payment for it), setting it up with the website, and setting up relevant dashboards and reports.

Training If you’re creating the website in a way that the client or customer can manage their website (such as a content management system), you’ll need to set time aside to train him / her / them how to use it.

Typical Physical Costs

You should include these costs in the price of the website where possible; you may need to project the costs since you won’t know before you begin.

Petrol to drive / travel You may need to visit the client and other related people before, during and after the website creation. The fuel you use should be accounted for.

Hosting p.m. Hosting the website will cost a specific amount each month, and may include an additional initial cost. If you’re paying this on behalf of the client, make sure you agree on a time frame.

Domain p.y. This is usually a small cost each year. If you’re paying this on behalf of the client, make sure you agree on a time frame.

Charging by Time or by Project

This is something that not all website designers or developers agree on. Most professionals, however, recommend charging by project when possible – even if they work the price out according to hours they expect it to take.

nitially, you’ll need to know both the industry price for the kind of websites you’ll make, and the industry professional hourly rate for unique work. If the website you’re making is generic (not unusual), then you should charge for the project as a whole according to its value. The more unique the website is, the more you’ll have to rely on hourly prices, because there will be no benchmark.

Charging by time is frowned upon by creative professionals because it may easily lead to unfairly over-charging the client when the work is done slowly. Charging by project is avoided by practical professionals because it doesn’t provide any incentive to make the website exceptional and unique if that’ll take longer to make.

Use a Quote and an Invoice

A quote is used to explain “how much this will cost you”, and is usually provided before work begins.

An invoice is used to explain “how much you owe for this work”, and is usually given after work begins – when the deposit is due, and sometimes after the project is complete. An invoice is necessary for accounting purposes.

Both should include certain parts such as:

  • The date
  • A quote / invoice number
  • Your business name
  • Your name and contact details
  • The client’s name and / or business
  • Banking details
  • Terms of payment (how and when they need to pay)

Save it in a universal document format such as PDF.

Asking for a deposit

A deposit is required for most websites because it provides the website builder with money to begin work, and it shows that the client is committed and won’t back out after work has been done. Deposits for websites can be any portion of the total price up to 50%. A deposit is sometimes necessary because a client may ask for a website that gets entirely built, then decides not to pay for it when it’s complete. The website maker cannot sell the website, and loses all that time and money if there’s no deposit.