What You Need to Know Before Making Your Next Design Hire
Once your business has decided
that it’s time to get in the game
and create a website (and, in 2011,
that shouldn’t be a hard decision),
it’s time to face the daunting task
of designing and creating the site
that will introduce your brand to
This almost always means hiring
someone to help you develop
and build your site, and
that can cost a lot of money.
An average estimate for a
professionally designed multipage
website is approximately
$8,000 to $10,000. In a recent
Website Magazine poll, the majority
of respondents said that
the cost of their latest Web design
project was between
$3,000 and $10,000.
Clearly, creating a great website can be a pricey endeavor,
which is why you want to be aware of all of the factors involved
before hiring a new designer.
KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR
When searching for a website designer, you are initially presented
with a wide variety of options. The easiest way to narrow
down your choices is to assess the skill level and value of the designer
you want. Obviously, the more experienced your designer
is, the higher up the pay scale you’ll be moving, so it’s good to
know what you’re getting involved with from the start. You can
start by identifying five categories of designer: students, offshore/
outsourced designers, freelance professionals, independent
firms and professional firms.
Design students and designers from countries outside of the
U.S. are the cheapest form of labor, charging approximately $20
per hour for Web design projects. These are generally considered
If you hire a freelance professional designer from the U.S.,
rates will jump to closer to $50 an hour, but these designers will
also be able to provide you with a much larger body of their work
so that you can better assess their skills.
“I’d say the best way is to browse Behance.net or any similar
creative resource, as nothing speaks better for the designer
as his or her portfolio,” says Web designer Max Bratsun. “Personal
connections may also act well for small businesses. And,
finally, there are dedicated freelancing services like oDesk.com
and 99designs.com for those who need the design to be done
The next step up, small or independent firms, will more likely
charge either a fixed rate or package deal rather than by the hour,
although they’ve been known to do it all. Like freelance professionals,
smaller firms are also considered mid-tier and thus charge
comparable rates. Typically, choosing between the two becomes
an issue of deciding between a more personal touch with freelancers
or opting for more diversity with a firm.
For a considerably higher fee, you can also turn to a highlevel
professional firm. Again, they’ll likely charge you a flat fee
or package rate as opposed to hourly (though it’s not unheard
of), and, on average, it’s going to cost about twice as much to
have a site designed by one of these companies than it would to
go with a mid-tier independent designer. It should also be noted
that if you happen to find an experienced freelance designer, the
cost could come close to a professional firm but the general expectation
is that individual designers tend to run cheaper.
KNOW WHAT TO PAY FOR
Without question, the most critical area when it comes down to
pricing a website design project is the actual needs of your site.
What does your company’s website require? Will you have a custom
Content Management System (CMS), a shopping cart platform, blog, Flash, forum or any number of other features? How
many pages will you need?
You must be aware of these needs before even looking at
designers, so first and foremost you need to sit down and decide
what your site is going to look like and what it will be
able to do.
Of course, there are a few things that you don’t have much
of a choice in and must be built into your site. The foundational
elements of a website that will cost you some money include
hosting, database design, business logic programming,
markup, styling and graphics, standards-compliance, accessibility
and testing, and continual maintenance.
You have to remember that when you’re pricing these different
features, you’re paying for both the implementation and
labor/time necessary to include them on your site. If you’re paying
a flat fee or package rate, then they are both already included
in the price, but if you’re paying hourly it can become costly if
you’re asking for a lot of bells and whistles.
“An hourly rate is the most transparent approach for both
sides involved,” says Bratsun. “However, the project manager
should be a very well-skilled professional in order to provide the
client with the real-life quote regarding the exact number of hours
this or that milestone will take.”
What it all comes down to is making sure you have the most
efficient website for your company. Selecting an effective design
and choosing the right designer for the job is a big undertaking,
and often getting the best is not cheap. But in the end, the results
should be worth the investment.
About the Author: Michael Garrity is an associate editor at Website Magazine,
focusing primarily on search, design and development, and