Pricing website creation.
June 1, 2006 1:36 PM   Subscribe

How to charge for website design and can you recommend a few things in that area?

Local eatery wants me to do a website, my first one. I have experience in print design,but not little in professional website making. So there's a few questions:

1. Can you recommend a good registar? I've used mydomans.com for personal stuff, but is there something better I should be using for for businesses?

I like laughinsquid.net for hosting, as they're solid and very helpful the few times I've had problems and their prices are resonable (under $20 a month)

2. I'm looking at putting a content managaement system in for their site. They want to do a blog, have a mailing list, several forms for contact/reservations (they get a good amount of out of town groups who want to order stuff) and the ability to have daily specials emailed, rssed, and posted. Wordpress is free, but is it up to doing all these tasks? I like ExpressionEngine, can anyone compare the two? Do you think I should use something different than these two? EE costs money, $250 for a commercial license but seems worth every penny and more for it's power and flexibility.

3. How do to charge for the job?
They want to completely redesign their current site, while adding some of the more advanced features I mentioned above. We've agreed that the redesign should come first, before adding(or at least concentrating) those features, so it's obvious I should break the project up into several parts, with payments at various milestones. I followed an earlier suggestion for figuring an hourly rate, so at I'll just estimate how long it would take to design the site (on paper and photoshop etc), with a separte time for putting that into code, right?

But the client wants to keep me around for various editing as they want their site to change/update regularly. How do you figure charging for that, as regular hourly thing or package deal?

Am I overthinking this too much? It's just a matter of figuring a rate, estatimating chunks of time?
posted by anonpeon to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's just a matter of figuring a rate, estatimating chunks of time?

Yup. Figure out a rate, estimate how long the job will take, multiply one by the other.

Never sign a package deal for website maintenance. You have an hourly rate. That's how much your time is worth. Stick with it.
posted by Jairus at 1:40 PM on June 1, 2006


pair.com and its registrar pairnic are great. not super cheap registration, but the hosting is super reasonable, especially if you host many sites. great customer support.

regarding the pricing question, depending on your area, $35-60 an hour are standard for independent contractors in web stuff.
posted by miss tea at 1:54 PM on June 1, 2006


Seconding Jairus about the maintenance piece. I've had several customers where I've given them a flat fee for monthly maintenance and it's never worked out ok. Usually I worked way more than what they paid me for.
posted by jdl at 2:34 PM on June 1, 2006


I do freelance web design etc myself...

Registrar: Godaddy is cheap and reliable, and does DNS for you, which you will need (register.com does not, for example)

Typically, I do exactly was was suggested above:
- Estimate # of hours required to complete each task.
- Consider the customer and establish an hourly rate
- Multiply the two.

Also, I have my own server I do hosting on. If you're looking for a hosting provider who your clients can sign up with directly, instead of you having to manage the accounts yourself, drop me a line...

A few things to remember:
- Always overestimate. Your estimates will be wrong. Very wrong. This is the general "your", not you specifically. We all estimate wrong.
- Consider that you will probably need to present a design or two or even five to the client before they're happy and ready to move forward and have you actually turn it into code. This takes time - charge for it. You may even want to say "3 different mockups will be provided, at which point you can choose the one you like best and we can make tweaks"

Also, using a content management system is great -- but it will limit your ability to be "freeform" with the design of the site unless you're ready for some serious icky coding difficulties. Look at options like Mambo, Xoops, phpNuke, postnuke etc... See if you can find skins that you can make minor modifications to to tweak for your client's needs. You're going to need to do some serious research and digging to figure out how to make these tweaks if this is the first time you're doing a website. It seems like it should be super easy -- but a lot of the time, simple stuff ends up getting rather obfuscated and hard to find.


Feel free to drop me a line if you want.. I'm in the process of moving so I'll be internetless until next week (except during work tomorrow), but feel free to email me (see profile).
posted by twiggy at 2:38 PM on June 1, 2006


A good rule of thumb is to take whatever estimates you have for time and double it. This will cover the inevitable scope creep, dragging of feet by your client, changes in design, etc.

Also keep careful tract of what you agreed to do before hand. Projects like this can quickly grow out of control and you may end up giving away a ton of work. If they ask for something that you didn't agree to charge them extra.

As for day to day maintenance of the site once it's done just bill them hourly. You could give them a discount on your hourly rate if they purchase hours in bulk, say...10 or more hours.
posted by Sandor Clegane at 3:00 PM on June 1, 2006


As others have said, overestimate. But also, break things down as much a possible. It will help you estimate, and also help them see where the work is going and that you're not just pulling a big number out of your ass. And give estimates in ranges--"8-12 hours" for a particular piece of the site as opposed to "10 hours." If you end up billing the higher end on most of the items but are on the low end on a few, they'll probably still be happy that the total was less than the maximum for the aggregate estimate.

You have an advantage in that you're both designing and coding the site. The one thing I consistently manage to underestimate is how long it will take to translate someone else's design mockups (who doesn't necessarily know HTML/CSS) into code. There are just too many cross-browser pitfalls for this ever to be as easy as it should be. And designers love their overlapping and semi-transparent and round-cornered stuff. But if you can design with the end-product code in mind, that's good.

Similarly, it sounds like you have may have some control over how the site will be structured (as opposed to being handed a set-in-stone specification). If that's the case, I suggest you choose a CMS first based on their feature needs, get familiar with how it "likes" to do things, and then you can design and structure things in a way you know the software can naturally support.
posted by staggernation at 3:06 PM on June 1, 2006


But the client wants to keep me around for various editing as they want their site to change/update regularly.

This definitely points to using a CMS that will allow them to log in and update at least some of the content themselves. Even if they're paying you well, you don't want them calling you every time they change the soup of the day.
posted by staggernation at 3:11 PM on June 1, 2006


Thanks for the useful answers guys, it's helped a lot.

Another question: How do you charge for work that you don't know how to do? Ex: while my php/mysql knowledge isn't great, I have no doubht that I could master it in time and I'll certainly have to dive into it for this project. Does my learning factor into that hourly price? Should it, ethically?

Also, could anyone point me to an example of a website proposal doc, just so Ihave reference when writing this up? I'd just feel better if I had a few examples of web proposals and googling results in pay solutions.
posted by anonpeon at 3:21 PM on June 1, 2006


Another question: How do you charge for work that you don't know how to do? Ex: while my php/mysql knowledge isn't great, I have no doubht that I could master it in time and I'll certainly have to dive into it for this project. Does my learning factor into that hourly price? Should it, ethically?

Some people would consider ramping your skills back up to be due diligence. Other might say that you should charge a little bit of money for your time spent on the project.

Will those extra hours be a deal breaker? If not then you might as well try and get as much money as you can out of it. If the project, in your estimation, is already close to their budget you should probably just take what you can and spend extra time brushing up on your skills.
posted by Sandor Clegane at 3:34 PM on June 1, 2006


My blog (link in profile) has an entry called "Setting consulting fee rates". Might be helpful. (Site is ugly and I'm sorry.)

If you have to learn while doing work, you should cut your rate or not bill for all the hours. If you say you know how to do something, you should know, since they are paying you to be an expert. Really, your ongoing learning should be something for which you budget through your hourly rate. It's part of your unpaid time. So you shouldn't directly charge the client.
posted by acoutu at 3:51 PM on June 1, 2006


The Web Developer's Handbook is a site which has lots of helpful areas to investigate, depending upon what you want to learn-as-you-go, and there is a section for freelancers, which includes links to creating contracts, which could be helpful in your situation.
-coevals' wife
posted by coevals at 6:11 PM on June 1, 2006


Registrar: Godaddy is cheap and reliable, and does DNS for you, which you will need (register.com does not, for example)

Register.com did DNS for me, but I stopped using them since they were more expensive then GoDaddy. They also let you use wildcard DNS which godaddy does not which is very annoying. Also there's that whole Bob Parsons ♥ guantanimo thing so if you're a liberal you might want to stay away.
posted by delmoi at 7:40 PM on June 1, 2006


For those aspects of the project which require skills beyond your present abilities, learning is good but it takes time away from execution, and you'll inevitably make a few mistakes along the way -- both of which could harm your prospects for long-term work from this client. Rather than adding extra time/risk to the project (and charging a pittance for your effort), consider subbing out those parts WHILE learning on the side.

You can charge a reasonable markup on the subcontractor's work, the client gets a professionally-executed site in a reasonable timeframe, and hopefully you'll be well-positioned to do more of that work yourself when they call again.

On the maint work: hourly, by god, HOURLY. Contract for it separately, spelling out clearly how long the quoted rate is in effect. Inflation is a fact of life, plus you intend to become significantly more skilled and efficient in the next year. So don't get yourself locked into a long-term figure that may quickly diverge from your true value and expenses.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:04 PM on June 2, 2006


« Older Globat vs. GoDaddy   |   You mean it's not a bunch of little elves with... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.