How much does a website cost?
September 13, 2005 1:50 AM   Subscribe

How do I charge for web development work?

I used to do it for a living, but with a company on a salaried basis, so I never had to deal with the fees aspect. I've been asked by a friend to do the website for his company, so it's 'mate's rates' but still professional work, and I haven't got a clue what factors to include when working out the fee, or what's a good amount to quote.

I'd like to have some idea when I talk to him about it, so as yet I have no idea of the spec, so general ideas on the calculation would be much appreciated.
posted by monkey closet to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
It depends on what they want. Is it just flat HTML+CSS, do they want a contact form and can you code that yourself in PHP (or whatever) or are you going to have to investigate the murky world of CGI, do they want and DB work, how many pages are there, are they going to provide images etc? There's so many questions to ask.

I've put together a few 3 or 4 page sites for friends with flat pages and a contact form for £50 and a few CDs. I've also just finished one for my brother for just a few CDs.
posted by TheDonF at 2:36 AM on September 13, 2005

Best answer: Spec the job, choose an hourly rate, multiply one by the other, and add a bit on. That's your quote.

The spec is about a billion times more important when you're freelancing than when you're salaried - it's the best tool you have to estimate how long a job's going to take, and to protect yourself against feature creep.

The catch-22 is that a sufficiently detailed spec is a lot of work in itself (the bulk of the work, maybe), but nobody's going to pay to give them a quote. If you find an answer to that one, please let the rest of us know.

Some additional costs to think about: Collateral (stock images, etc), design, development, copywriting. Some of those you're probably going to have to outsource, and this should be reflected in your quote.
posted by Leon at 3:30 AM on September 13, 2005

Best answer: If you're having problems figuring out an hourly rate, take your annual salary in your salaried job and divide by 1000.
posted by madman at 3:42 AM on September 13, 2005

although more humorous than helpful, this is actually a good thing to keep in mind when pricing your work.
posted by bryak at 5:32 AM on September 13, 2005

That should be "divide by 2000," unless you crazy Europeans use some sort of metric hour I've never heard of.
posted by MrZero at 5:33 AM on September 13, 2005

MrZero: you're supposed to charge more when freelancing, as you have to cover your own employer's taxes, insurance, support staff, periods of unemployment, etc.
posted by Leon at 6:00 AM on September 13, 2005

and I'm not a European. Nor American.

Dividing by 2000 will give you a regular hourly rate, but as Leon has explained, you have to cover all those other things.
posted by madman at 6:28 AM on September 13, 2005

I'd also make sure to ask about ongoing content updating on the site. I've done a few sites for folks who need to learn how to update their site or need to pay someone to update it going forward. It's good to know about that part up front as you may need to add on to the hours when you spec the job.
posted by jdl at 7:12 AM on September 13, 2005

Wow Madman, that's a great rule. Thanks! (wish I hadn't divided my salary be 2000 for the last freelance thing I did!)
posted by Pericles at 8:50 AM on September 13, 2005

Yeah, and another reason you're going to divide by 1000 rather than 2000 (in addition to all the benefits you're buying for yourself) is that you're going to have dry spells, periods of involuntary unemployment. And you also have to account for the non-paying work you do, such as the accounting and taxes and marketing -- the overhead, in other words.
posted by kindall at 9:41 AM on September 13, 2005

Best answer: I think it is a good idea to "build-in" maintenance from the beginning. Include a reasonable monthly "retainer fee" that INCLUDES a half-hour or hour of maintenance work per month (kicks in as soon as the site is done)*. For many sites you will be able to charge the amount and do little or nothing. Other months you will do more than your included 1/2 hour or hour and be able to charge accordingly.

*It is a good idea to define in concrete terms what constitutes "done". (I prefer to call it Stage One, Stage Two (etc.) and Maintenance Phase).
posted by spock at 10:44 AM on September 13, 2005

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