Limitations Of An Instant Web Design Quote

Web design pricing isn’t as easy as you may think.

We are regularly asked, “What does a website cost?” And like asking "how long is a piece of string?", there really is no easy answer.

Over the past 8 years, I’ve built more than 200 websites of all types, but to this day, it's still difficult to answer this question.

Here’s why a quick, easy and accurate web design quote is nearly impossible:

1. Website design should be viewed as a service, not a product. Viewing it as a service will help you to better understand why a one-off price isn’t simple to give.

2. A large amount of time in building a web site with custom administrative features and javascript-based controls is spent in solving problems. Many times these problems are specific to working around your server environment to accomplish a functionality, or else a display error that is only visible when the site is viewed in one specific browser. How long does it take to solve a problem involving an unexpected behavior when you don't know what problem will arise? Often less than 30 minutes, but not always.

3. Building a website involves a lot of planning. For example: you may want a feature on your site where users upload an image which becomes part of a slideshow. There are 50 questions I could ask you, and based on your answers, I can either build the feature in one hour or 20+ hours. For example, I may ask: What’s the size limit of images you’re uploading? What file formats are supported? Do you need the ability to crop images? Does the web site modify the image for you after upload? The list goes on, and since your web design project is unique, it may be difficult in some cases for even an experienced web designer to anticipate what questions need to be asked.

So, if I asked all of these questions in order to figure out what it would take to develop one feature, are you willing to answer 1000+ questions for the potentially 40+ other features that your website might have? Also, are you willing to pay for the time it takes to go through this process, essentially making the quote no longer free? EVERY web site I've ever designed strayed from the original, brief description that the client gave to get the price, this is expected. The only question is, by how much.

4. Every web designer I know of gives some limitation as to the number of revisions the client can make for a certain price, but what level of change constitutes a revision? What happens when you run out of revisions? Are you stuck with whatever you have? Of course not; with most designers, when you exceed the agreed number of revisions, the price increases, but isn't this similar to working by the hour anyway?

5. There’s more than one way to price a website. There are two ways you can end up with a price for your website: fixed bid or hourly. For fixed bid, you will receive a figure like $2,000. With an hourly price tag, you will pay someone $30 an hour for as long as it takes to complete the project.

While we offer fixed bid pricing, we have to shoot a little high to cover the 100% chance that there are things that will not be discussed in the original description of the project. Hourly pricing allows the client to see web design as a service that involves numerous elements. That being said, currently we are charging $30/hr when working by the hour and flat pricing is based on a medium-high estimate of the time it will take. In general, most non-ecommerce sites take well under 40 man-hours depending on their complexity, and ecommerce sites are generally finished within 50 man-hours as long as they have less than 100 products.