Stack OverflowHow much does Website Development cost nowadays?
[+38] [6] Andreas Grech
[2008-12-14 09:36:01]
[ business freelance ]

I am thinking of setting up my own freelance business but coming from a workplace that offers a particular service to huge clients, I do not know what are the current charges for websites are nowadays.

I know that as technology just keeps changing and changing (most of the time, for the better...), the amount you charge for a single website is constantly differing.

Like for example, I don't think static websites (with just static html pages) are that expensive today, no? (as i said, I might be mistaken since I haven't really touched on this freelance industry yet)

So, freelance web-developers out there, can you give me estimates on how much you charge for your clients?

Some examples of websites that I want to know an approx charge:

I know that the normally clients don't really care about the technologies used to construct their websites, but do you charge differently according to which technology you use to build the website with?; as in, is the technology a factor when setting the price? ...being ASP.Net, PHP, Ruby On Rails etc...

Also, how do you go on about charging your clients for your services? What are the major factors that you consider when setting a price tag for a website to a client ?

And better yet, how do you even find prospective clients? <= [or should I leave this question for a different post?]

Btw, in your post, also mention some numbers (in cash values, be it in USD, GBP, EUR or anything) because I want to be able to take calculate some averages from this post when some answers stack up

I am currently working in Malta, Europe...dealing with EUR - Andreas Grech
Just a suggestion: perhaps you should change the title to "How much does website development cost nowadays?" or "How much should I charge for website development?" When I read the title I thought you were talking about website-hosting which is very inexpensive. - Jason S
yes Jason S, you are right. I changed the title to the former. - Andreas Grech
[+34] [2008-12-15 15:05:15] JoeBloggs [ACCEPTED]

The best place I've found for this kind of advice is [1]. The gist of it, which agrees with my personal experience, is that it's better to set your hourly rate and then quote per job based on an estimate of how long it will take and that rate.

To define an hourly rate, it is best to decide on an annual salary, estimate the proportional split between actually doing work and administrating work (getting it, delivering it, book-keeping it, etc.), and calculate an hourly rate that will give you that salary when you work that split, ie:

  • You want $100,000 annual salary
  • That's ~$2,000 per week
  • You will spend 50% of your time working
  • That's ~$2,000 per 20 hours
  • That's ~$100/hour

Make sure that the salary takes into account any expenses you will incur that aren't separately billable.

A couple of other points:

Unless you've run a business before, overestimate the non-programming side of things by a huge margin - you won't believe it until you've been through it. Getting it down to 50-50 by yourself is a challenge - meetings alone can kill a whole day once you're got there, had the meeting, got back, done some research, sent off a clarification and then dealt with the day's email.

Don't do anything without a contract. If you don't have a contract and you don't get shafted, consider yourself very, very lucky. Doubly so if you're just starting out, and triply so if you're a one-man shop. There's just too much that needs spelling it for it to be left to good faith - what the project consists of, what it doesn't consist of, what is allowed to change and when, how many drafts before a decision, the price, the delivery date, what happens if the payment is late, what happens if the project is late, who is responsible for what content and when, who pays for things like stock imagery and fonts, domain requirements, hosting requirements, email requirements, maintenance, initial training, support etc., the list is endless. Luckily, there are some good boilerplate examples out there to start from, and again, Sitepoint has that angle covered nicely.

How to find prospective clients is definitely another post :)

...and good luck! :)


(1) Funnily enough, this was in my inbox today: - jTresidder
[+6] [2008-12-14 10:41:13] MrChrister

I estimate that I can plow through 4 pages of customer provided text per hour. I also have it in the contract that I am not a copywriter, not am I responsible for their content / typos / formatting. (Unless I have agreed to do their formatting)

I happen to charge $50/hour these days, but I am cheap. When I did it for a real living we charged $100. If my clients didn't want to pay that high, they would low ball us on other stuff too. But in turn, we had to deliver and support a high quality product with high expectations.

No matter what I was doing, my rate was the same. My small outfit was the total package (design, code, hosting, etc) and the single rate made billing easier. We billed in 15 minute increments to save the customer's value.

After a while, we had not only the experience to know how long a request would take, but a library of code / snippets / functions that sped it up. The only way to estimate is through experience. You will blow your first several. Eat those and you will get good word of mouth and repeat business.

Getting business in the first place? Word of mouth.

p.s. This is not programming related at all.

What is the reason that you charge per hour, and not per project ? or per fix ? - Andreas Grech
(1) I got paid by the hours I worked, so we charged the customers by the hours I worked. Flat fees are a gamble. Customers change their minds, and if they aren't ready for extra costs with extra work, they get mad. Hourly avoids that. - MrChrister
Btw, how is this not programming related? It is not a question for a specific targeted technology problem yea, but it's a question that is regards the industry of programming itself. We all need a job to practice our programming passion in, no ? - Andreas Grech
That is why I answered it, but there isn't code or concepts. This is business. But being professional programmers means we better understand business. - MrChrister
(1) Re client-anger: I found the opposite - they'd be understand that more work was a new contract/extension billed separately, but when I did it hourly they'd be questioning every little thing. The difference between effort and front-end effect is a difficult thing to explain to a client, however true. - jTresidder
I'm with Christer. I prefer hourly because it avoids arguments over scope or scope changes. - Dave Sherohman
I think if you put all little features and everything in black and white, set a price to that and mention in the contract any additional feature requests will be billed on the additional time at a certain price. Cause they don't understand and don't want to how long it takes so just give them a lump-sum amount(internally you calculate by the hour, always). My experience says, give them a quote, they like it they take it, else too bad. Also its good to discuss an hourly system with them because they may want updates in the future. - DMin
[+3] [2008-12-14 21:26:12] Rolf

The application you are describing is WAY to vague to come up with any kind of estimate. Particularly the "etc.." part is hard. ;-)

I'd say you make estimates case-by-case for this yourself, in hours. If you're a regular programmer who thinks about freelancing, you have to be at least moderately good at estimating how much work an application is.

Then, you determine your hourly rate by all the expenses you have, plus the amount you want to earn.

The estimated amount of hours times the hourly rate is the outcome. It's really that simple. If somebody is cheaper, you have 3 options:

  1. Wish the other guy luck because you know it's not going to make him a profit
  2. Lower your ourly wages
  3. If you are really unsuer, re-estimate, or talk to your customer on wether you misinterpreted something in his question.

Good luck freelancing.

[+3] [2008-12-16 23:27:07] Dave Sherohman

I prefer to bill hourly, but can be talked into doing fixed-bid for clients who have a strong preference - and, when I do, I estimate even higher than I do when billing hourly because I have to be absolutely sure that the estimate will be enough to cover any changes along the way.

For the most part, the bulk of the web work I do is dynamic webapps based on custom code and, depending on complexity, it tends to run 2-8 hrs per page to set up (including writing the code behind the page). While I will do static HTML or visual design when needed, I first warn the client that it would probably be cheaper (and, in the case of visual design, produce better results) if they get someone else to handle that part. I don't write content, period.

[+2] [2009-11-17 18:17:34] cdonner

I don't think this question can be answered without giving consideration to the market that you are targeting. There is no global market for boutique web development, and even within one geographic region there are a number of different markets that all bear different rates.

Markets can be segmented by geography, industry, company size, or IT budget, for instance.

I am not familiar with the situation in Malta, btw.

[-1] [2011-08-27 01:47:40] Philip Davis Web Design

Philip Davis Web Design is a freelance web designer; at first I concentrated on get my clients websites onto the front page of Google, so that their phones would start ringing. I charged very little to build my first few websites, instead my strategy has always been to get clients websites performing well and that this would led to referrals. This strategy worked well, next I obtained a commercial hosting package, offered clients free hosting and built my own website and concentrated on getting it onto the front page of Google. That in turn spoke for itself in terms of SEO skills and has now become a major source of my freelance jobs. I specialise in three different website packages Wordpress, Magento and Flash, these three packages have covered anything a client has requested so far. For the website you have mentioned above, I would use Wordpress and charge somewhere between $2,000 - $3,000 depending on their exact requirements, however I would guarantee them front page Google display for their keywords and free website hosting. Most freelancers would charge less just to get the job and the experience, and most clients would take the cheaper quote, however if the clients website does not display within the first three pages of Google, they will never get a response from their website and therefore the freelancer will probably not get the recommendations needed to run a successful business.