How much should you pay a web designer?

When looking for a web designer, it is very tempting to automatically exclude anyone who won’t work for peanuts. But if you do that, you’re not going to have a good looking site. You should come up with a price you think is reasonable, but if every designer quotes you something much higher than that, you probably are expecting too much for too little. On the other hand, it doesn’t help to just go with the most expensive quote. Just because someone quotes you a rate that’s extremely high doesn’t mean that you will get an extremely good site. The law of diminishing returns applies. Some rules of thumb for pricing:

  • Free means you’ll get a very bad site or very very little. At best you’ll get a good site, and then when you ask them to make one change they’ll never answer your calls.
  • Volunteering and barter is different than free. If you run a non-profit, you might be able to find a Web designer to volunteer time for your website. But don’t expect it.
  • An estimate of $5-10 per page is extremely cheap. You should expect to pay around $25-50 per page for a standard HTML/CSS website. More if there is a lot of programming, content writing, or graphics creation involved.
  • An estimate of $500 or more per page is extremely expensive for a straight HTML/CSS website. If you get an estimate in that range from a designer you otherwise like, explore with them why they are charging so much. You may find that you’re asking for programming even though you didn’t know it.

Don’t be surprised if the designer asks for some money up-front. This is good faith money that you will pay them. It also allows them to pay for things like rent and food while they’re working on your site. But Take Note: if they ask for more than 50% of the total fee up-front, be very wary. You need to know that they will do the work and not just take the money and run.