Business: Guidelines for pricing work?

started by Mpj on Jan 5, 2004 — RSS Feed

Mpj Mpj
Posts: 76

Does anyone know where I can get hold of some guidelines for pricing my design and development work? I'm semi-professional, soon to be professional and don't really know where to look. Looking at design agency websites, pricing ranges from ridiculously cheap to ridiculously expensive (nice work if you can get it )

Thanks in advance for any help.

Joe Gillespie Joe Gillespie
Posts: 528

The principle is very simple - charge as much as you can get away with. If you have looked at what other companies are charging, you have to narrow that down to companies that are in a similar situation and location to yourself.

Have a look in the Web Design Directory and try to identify your direct competitors. Look at their sites and find ones that do similar work to what you do, there's no point in trying to compete with large, established companies, or indeed, high school kids looking for pocket money.

That should get you into the right ball park. After that, it's down to how well you handle clients and make yourself indispensible.

Kif Kif
Posts: 1


"What does a website cost?" is the main subject of the following site:
Unfortunately, it is only in german I hope it is helpful, all the same.

Cheers and a Happy New Year  

Pangur Pangur
Posts: 1

Forum said:
Have a look in the Web Design Directory

Hi! Just signed up--Thanks. BTW, getting a 404 on that page.

Joe Gillespie Joe Gillespie
Posts: 528

Sorry, should be .htm, I don't use the 'l' on this site

Mpj Mpj
Posts: 76

Thanks for your help.

Happy New Year to all of you too.

Vladimir Vladimir
Posts: 53

I have a similar question along those lines. If I were a freelancer creating small to medium-sized websites for small businesses and individuals, should I charge per page/element or per hour of work?

Mpj Mpj
Posts: 76

hi vladimir - this is just my opinion but I have decided to charge by the day/hour. Producing a page for one job may take an hour while for another job it may take 4 hours. I wouldn't want to get stuck doing loads of complex work just to bill for a few pages.

Day/hour charging also gives me much more flexibility with the work I can take on, video work for example, because I don't have to come up with a new price for each new type of work. Also, most (not all) of the web agency sites that I've looked at who charge by the page/element fall into the 'very cheap - bad quality' category while agencies charging hourly/daily tend to have a much more professional image.

The down side is that you must be very sure of how long a job will take you when writing a quote otherwise you can end up working long hours for peanuts.

Hitthosekeys Hitthosekeys
Posts: 10

Patty Ayers has a very sensible article on pricing over at her site,

Marc Marc
Posts: 1

Hey Guys nice forum. As to pricing jobs I don't think there is a set "standard". In the last two years I've seen the industry standards fluctuate drastically with the economy, the influx of thousands of new designers and many other factors.To further solidify that point, I've seen many designers fall by the wayside who failed to adjust to such factors. So rule #1 in my opinion is to factor in such things at the time of any bid.Then, you have to decide what your time is worth to you. The previous comments about kids who need pocket money is always a factor.We have found that certain jobs take us "X" amount of time and we start calculating based on our previous experiences. i.e Brochure type websites 3 - 5 pages is about 500.00E-Commerce sites standard layout 50 - 75 products is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000.00Those are very broad but usually where I start figuring things. Then you have additions of CMS, Flash, SEO, Hosting Etc.

Mrblack Mrblack
Posts: 40

I wanted to add something that I figured out a long time ago but didn't see in any of the previous posts.

Price your product based on VALUE not COST.

First of all, it is almost impossible to estimate the amount of time you will spend on one project to the next, unless you are offering something simular to each of your clients (something that is suited for mass-production), in which case you stand a good chance of being replaced by the next version of design tools, or more likely

Second, setting your prices based on hourly rates makes you subject to the fluctuations of the market (as pointed out in other posts).  I don't know about you, but my talent doesn't vary with the ebb and flow of the market, but maybe that's just me

However, the value your work brings to the customer falls victim to neither of these phenomenon.  The question you have to ask is, what is the value?

If you can define this, you will have no trouble selling your work.  This does of course mean that you will have clients for whom you cannot provide enough value to justify your price and in those cases, you will have to turn them away or perhaps refer them to someone who can afford to work for them.  But in most cases, clients are excited about the fact that you care that they are getting their money's worth, that you are taking an interest in how your work will affect their company and that you are not just trying to make a few bucks off of them by selling/charging as much as you can get away with.

I'm not sure I articulated the above as well as I would have liked, I'm still on that first cup of coffee.  I'd love to elaborate if the above isn't crystal...

Vladimir Vladimir
Posts: 53

hitthosekeys said:
Patty Ayers has a very sensible article on pricing over at her site,

Great articles! Thanks!

Dzblack Dzblack
Posts: 33

Around here, web sites go for $500 and include lifetime support. And those are good sites to boot.

The lifetime support is clarified with the customer through a contract. Basically, lifetime support includes everything except GRAPHICS or DATABASE work. Simple page additions or changes are covered in the lifetime support agreement. This concept is like the car sales of current time, i.e., buy a new car and get free oil changes for life.

With the threat of IT jobs and projects being outsourced to India, web designers around here are going for the small to medium business community, many of which cannot afford high-priced web design.

Also, its a NO-FLASH concept around here too. This is because of the high cost of producing FLASH graphics. The development time to make FLASH is beyond the financial budgets of the small to medium business owner. They want the shortest development time (and therefore, the lower prices) one can buy. A lot of template work is being sold around here.

Cece Cece
Posts: 8

Lifetime support seems VERY unreasonable You have to take in account that server behavior changes with upgrades and if your website is standing still for a lifetime, your website is probably stale and stagnant.

As far as pricing, we all have to consider we are in the business to make money or at least make a decent living. I would take your salary plus your overhead divided by the number of working hours, which should give you an hourly rate.  This is a good rate for custom work.

You also have to consider what services you are going to give your clients. If you are developing from an existing cms, a flat rate can be considered, since you know how much time it will take to get the website up and running from a cms.

Unfortunately, most of the small and medium size businesses are thankful for an affordable website is the reason why they send their work to India. They fail to overlook the quality of the backend.  I get more quality work from developers in the US than in India, and have not considered outsourcing to India for this very reason.

Should anyone care? Absolutely! Website owners are responsible for their websites front and back...and it amazes me that website owners have placed total trust on people they haven't met.

Analatana Analatana
Posts: 6

There are two great books to which I refer again and again: "Web and New Media Pricing Guide" by JP Frenza and Michelle Szabo, and "The Graphic Designer's Guide to Pricing, Estimating, and Budgeting", by Theo Stephan Williams. Also, the "Graphic Artists Guild Handbook, PRICING & ETHICAL GUIDELINES" which has a chapter for "Computer Art", but in this case, I have a 1991's edition and it not includes much for web pages. Especially the first two titles help me a lot at the moment of writing proposals and budgets. For each new one I make, I am more careful in specifying what will be included and what will be not, how many hours dedicated to interviews, how many design concepts will I present, etc. This not always results finally in so accurate dealing, but helps.

Here, in Argentina, I work with to kind of clients: Big or experienced businesses, which are easier to deal with, and small business or people who sometimes don't know why they do think they need a web site at all. For these, I finally got to the conclusion that it is best and most understandable to charge "by page", with a minimum price for "three pages", meaning by page something proportional to an A4 paper page. I work out for myself a global price and divide it for the number of the estimated number of pages. This price includes the main design, developement, site architecture, html, ftp uploading to server, final testings, and registration in some of the most known search engines. The client must provide digitalized images, logos, etc. I charge separately all additional material: scanning, illustrations, animations, long texts, translations and programs such as Flash and Contribute.

Also, it is very important for me to recognize that as a "One" or sometimes "Two people" design studio, I can't charge as much as the big ones. I have to consider pricing more or less for a third part of their fees. If not, I would not have any client at all.

If there is any argentine or lating american member, it would help to compare our rates.

Regards to all,


PD.: I bought all the mentioned books through "Amazon"

Jdenny Jdenny
Posts: 65

I thought that "lifetime support" meant the lifetime of the web site.
Therefore if I was giving lifetime support, it would include recognising when the site is becoming stale and needs to be re-done. At this point I say to the client, "it's dead" then either re-do it or leave it.

The trouble is client's might not be happy leaving it up to me to tell them when they need a new site - obviously I'd be biased if I'm short of work I couls just pick a site i've done before and say it needs re-doing!

Thanks for the idea of "lifetime support".
I'm going to add that to my service, with the addition that it will be subject to regular reviews - every year I'll assess the clients site, unless they request an assessment earlier - to see if it's got any life left in it.

Dzblack Dzblack
Posts: 33

Another note on the lifetime support issue.

Its main purpose is to keep the customer coming back to you. The customer is less likely to jump to another web master. Its a "hook" and helps to keep your customer on a line with you. It also gives your customer a sense that you care about him long after the initial web site is done and paid for.

Our contract is carefully written to clearly explain the limits of the lifetime support. We will tune his engine for him but an overhaul is not included. We might paint his car but body work is not included.

Buy a car from us and we'll throw in free oil changes for life.

Jdenny Jdenny
Posts: 65

So it's different to a regular content updating thing?

Dzblack Dzblack
Posts: 33

Lifetime support does NOT include any new graphic, database or scripting work. No shopping carts, digital photography, etc.

It does include normal changes to pages (text), new pages, additional links. (We will keep the engine tuned up.)

Note: We try to keep each site based on a template (using Dreamweaver) and drive the site with a single CSS. So...against that, adding new pages is quick for us.

Final Note: We have a "back door" clause in our contract which gives us omnipotence (final authority) with any web site issue. We reserve the right to hollor when it hurts! If we feel that the issue at hand is going beyond and outside of normal web site changes, involves time and money, then we hollor and ask for more money. This sounds tough and it is, but we present it up front to the customer in a gentle manner. They clearly understand that we are not foolish with our "lifetime support" clause and that we are in business to make money, not loose it with giveaways. We will hollor when it hurts and ask for more money for any issue we feel needs this kind of treatment.

So far, we have not had any customer misunderstand this feature of the contract and they respect the fact that we will try to give them full service every chance we can. But not everything they ask for can be given away free. Business is business in the end.

I hope this makes sense.

Jdenny Jdenny
Posts: 65

yes it makes sense, thanks.

how do i get these clauses written up???

(I have no stnadard contract or clauses to go in it yet!)

Hitthosekeys Hitthosekeys
Posts: 10

Patty Ayers has some sample agreement and estimate forms for sale at her size:


I've used them--they're very good.

Jdenny Jdenny
Posts: 65

lol great link www.html  ;D

should that be .com ?

Vladimir Vladimir
Posts: 53

I was searching for web design companies when I came up with this:

It has SUCH ripoff prices....$35 for each additional HTML page?! GIF/JPEG images for $2.50 each?!  Even a TEXT HYPERLINK is $2.50 each! Oh my goodness...what are they thinking!!! Does it take $60 to paste ten form elements on a page, without any validation whatsoever??


Kenne Kenne
Posts: 2

omg... u know what... my client paid me RM200 for the whole site!! It's only about USD$50!! T_T it took me 3 days on it. HE CHEATED ME >"<

Joe Gillespie Joe Gillespie
Posts: 528

No he didn't. He taught you a valuable lesson - agree a price before you start!

Orbit26 Orbit26
Posts: 4

Such a good topic.

I tend to charge a per site fee for very small businesses who want a brochure-ware type of site - say for Joe's Dog Training. $300 - $500 is good. No way would I do that lifetime thing.

I charge my hourly rate for any work post-launch, and round it to the quarter hour.

Larger companies expect more than just a website - they often want branding strategy, database compatible design, and project management. They can pay more - these sites are in the thousands of dollars.

I don't charge an hourly rate - i do bids. If a project scope changes, I charge for the changes. Sometimes, I do fine on my bid. Occassionally, I've gotten into a situation where I didn't forsee something and get burned.

Orbit26 Orbit26
Posts: 4

sorry - I missed the fine print about the lifetime support somehow. it does sound great, especially since the changes would be so easy to do.

i have also seen people use a 'maintenance' contract. the client pays a small fee for a set amount of edits and changes per month. it still keeps them hooked, but also insures that the designer doesn't get taken advantage of.

Stuartm Stuartm
Posts: 6


I operate as a freelance web designer in the UK and prefer to give my clients the following costing examples as a rough guides of what to expect:

You need to compare prices with companies offering similar work in your area and then offer clients realistic examples of what they should expect to pay.

Hope this helps,


Jack Ayer Jack Ayer
Posts: 0

Hey all

I'm currently starting up a web business--

and wondering how much to charge.

do u think i should charge by the hour or

if i use javascript, css, ectt...

Mike Crone Mike Crone
Posts: 27

Most professionals charge by the hour.
The way my company works is :
1. Find out the scope of the project
2. Figure out what needs to be used to create the project
(static HTML, PHP, databases, etc)
3. What your client will supply
(company graphics, copy for pages, etc)
4. Figure out a timeline for the project
5. Add up the hours needed for each component in the project, and give the client a quote for the entire project.


WPDFD Forum Moderator

On In 3 Web Design On In 3 Web Design
Posts: 1

I agree with Mike Crone. You could also give them an itemized list of the charges for each phase/component.
I have also given bids with price for the whole project
when it is easier.

Jumi Ram Jumi Ram
Posts: 31

Hello Mpj,
I think you can find more pricing guidelines at . In this, they are covering more information and guidelines. I think it will resolve your problem.
Thank You.

Ken Liang Ken Liang
Posts: 4

How much do you think your work or time is worth?

Work out your hourly rate and then simply multiply that by the number of hours you think the job will take.

Hope this helps

Krystine Tawnie Krystine Tawnie
Posts: 28

Once you have decided upon a pricing structure, stick to it. It’s a bad idea to offer different prices to different collectors. It throws into question the value of your work and makes the collector who paid more feel cheated. The best way to be consistent is to decide on the retail cost of your work and negotiate the percentage the gallery takes.

David Alford David Alford
Posts: 7

Lifetime support does NOT include any new graphic, database or scripting work. No shopping carts, digital photography, etc.

It does include normal changes to pages (text), new pages, additional links. (We will keep the engine tuned up.)

Note: We try to keep each site based on a template (using Dreamweaver) and drive the site with a single CSS. So...against that, adding new pages is quick for us.

Maskodok Eko Maskodok Eko
Posts: 171

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