Web Design - how much does it cost?

Updated on November 12, 2020

The beginning of every creative conversation

During a conversation with a potential client I can't know if they plan to hire me or continue shopping price until I ask, "what's your budget?" Then I typically get three flavors of answers.

  • 25% answer immediately because they had a well organized marketing budget before the call and as such, expected the question. The conversation continues until we agree on fee, deliverables, and a completion date.
  • 70% answer with an amount that is far below what's reasonable for any type of creative project, which is usually a defense mechanism - assuming the quote will always be higher if the other person knows how much they can spend. But even after I explain how and why my quote is a fair amount, they become obsessed with searching for the lowest hanging fruit.
  • The remaining 5% never considered the question simply because Web Design wasn't even in their business plan, and in today's hyper competitive market this can prove disastrous. And after I mention a reasonable fee for the amount of work they're asking for, they put off all marketing plans indefinitely.

I get it, graphic design and Website development projects result in stuff we can't touch or feel (aside from emotionally). But hiring a plumber, mechanic, even a dentist for example, usually results in personal improvement not profit.

Expecting a Website developer or even a Web designer to deploy a secure, search engine optimized, properly hosted, and profit generating platform, for only several hundred dollars, is super crazy.

With all that mentioned, I just find it sensible to discuss budget upfront, well before discussing any creative processes.

Be open about your budget

Creative work is exhausting and challenging. I have a few clients who first tried to DIY a flyer, booklet, even a Website in Microsoft Publisher. Each of them quickly realized that converting a few hours of work into something that sells one person on their products or services, was going be almost impossible.

So even if you don't immediately have thousands of dollars to spend on marketing (the stuff that ultimately converts a consumer into a long-term customer), be up front about your budget. A professional graphic artist and Website developer like me is more likely to work with you before and after the decimal point, especially if you are passionate about your advertising project.

Always be mindful, you have choices! So if a quote is outside of what you can afford, get another quote or wait until you have the funds. If you form a bond with someone, even if above your budget, consider that it might be worth the wait.

Don't fall in that Rabbit Hole!

I get my share of phone calls and e-mails from disappointed/pissed off/frustrated people who spent months looking for the lowest fee, and got nothing, got an incomplete Website or got a really embarrassing representation of their brand.

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Their biggest mistake as I mentioned above, was shopping price and getting consumed with pitting every "Web designer" or graphic artist against each other like used car sales people. Eventually someone agrees to their magic number, starts the project, then just as quickly opens a rabbit hole full of excuses.

  • "I need more money to finish the project" - basically extortion, forcing you to pay another fee to get your project completed.
  • "I'm busy with another project" - stall tactics like this are not uncommon, and they're hoping you offer a "rush" payment to expedite your project.
  • "We didn't see (fill in the blank) in the original quote" - this is where a proposal, not an e-mail from a Gmail account containing some vague expectations, would have helped.
  • Non responsive - AKA a hit-and-run since they never intended to do any work. Now they and the money are gone forever.

I've been in the Website development and graphic design industry for over a decade, so I know how much gets how much. Your brand image will depend on that Website for the foreseeable future, so it just makes more sense to base any hiring decision on a developer's abilities versus shopping how little they're willing to charge for Web design.

How much already!

With Web design prices ranging from $1000 to more than $100,000 (as much as $2b+ if someone else pays for it), it helps to know where your budget fits in the following professional Web design pricing structure. All of this is loosely based on what I might charge, after determining the potential client's core needs.

Basic Web design ($1000 to $3000)

Expect a simple, yet effective Website that is specific to your brand and goals.

If you’re a small business or startup, this provides your company with a credible, user-friendly site that can start driving purchases, quote requests, phone calls, and more.

Intermediate Web design ($3,000 to $8,000)

Expect a dynamic Website that includes some content management features - add or modify content, even make minor layout adjustments. With some guidance, you'll be able to create content that is unique to a product, service or event without depending on me.

Advanced Web design ($8,000 to $15,000)

This is typically for the company that needs a more engaging layout and design. Business types that benefit from a more flexible or fluid layout are e-commerce, learning management or real estate. These companies see more value in ROI (return on investment) and conversion rates, and believe their Website/social network presence is central to their brand. Essentially, they're willing to make significant investments to ensure their brand is noticed first.

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While asking how much Web design cost, also ask a lot of questions of the person you plan on hiring. If someone is willing to go all-in on the following tasks for less than $1000 and you feel confident in their ability to deliver an awesome product that will serve your business long-term, HIRE THEM!

  1. Send you a proposal summarizing your conversation and confirming deliverables.
  2. Use a collaboration portal instead of e-mail, to organize tasks and project assets.
  3. Give you access to a work-in-progress Website you can interact with to provide feedback.
  4. Secure your Website at the file and directory levels to protect against hacks.
  5. Point your new domain name to a robust Web host (not a $10 shared hosting plan)
  6. Complete the project on time and as expected, then take time to explain how everything works.
  7. And if agreed, ensure search engine optimization is completed to immediately boost your site ranking.