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Readers' Poll! What Do You Charge?

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Settings your hourly rates as a web designer can be on the the most difficult (and important) decisions that you make... especially when you're just starting out. We're about to launch a couple articles on the topic of pricing out web design projects, but we'd like to hear from you first! What hourly rates are you charging?


The Poll: What Do You Charge (per hour) for Web Design?

One of the first things that clients usually ask is, "How much do you charge for an entire website?" As most of you know, that's an incredibly loaded question. There really isn't a single flat-rate out there for a website because there are a wide range of variables that play into each individual project.

  • How long will it take to "nail" the perfect visual style and layout?
  • How much content is there to consider?
  • Do you need to integrate external features like Facebook or Twitter?
  • Do you need to sell anything on the site?
  • Does it need a blog? Photo gallery? Video database?
  • Will it need a custom Content Management System?
  • Will it need a mobile or tablet version?
  • etc...

You get the idea... simply considering the basic requirements of a website's scope can seem daunting. So naturally, trying to apply a single flat-rate to any web design project without hours and hours of careful consideration is nearly impossible.

This unique dilemma has led most designers (and agencies) to develop hourly rates. It's a lot easier to look at a completely scoped out web project and make accurate guesses about how much time each individual element should take. From that, you can obviously create "flat rate" bids for websites... just as long as you remember that the $$$ is simply a representation of your time...

...Which brings us to the poll. What do you actually charge (per hour) for web design?

Answer the poll below, read the considerations, then join the discussion in the comments section to help explain why you charge the way that you do.


The Considerations

We're running a comprehensive article on the how to establish your pricing in the near future, so this should be a good primer for anyone who's interested in reading that post later on:

How Much Do You Need to Make?

This really should be the first consideration for any web designer (or any freelancer for that matter). When you consider taking a job, you have to consider whether or not it will generate enough income for you to pay bills, keep your studio running, and hopefully have a little left over for yourself at the end. If you don't pay rent, your bottom line might be pretty low, which means that you can theoretically charge less per hour... but undercutting your own rate undervalues your work in the minds of clients.

How Much Are They Willing to Pay?

On the opposite side, charging too much can scare away clients. Some small businesses would freak out if they heard you wanted to charge them $250 an hour. Since you've answered the poll, you probably already have a rate that people are willing to pay... but it's important to consider how much more they'd be willing to pay before you lost their business.

Here's a short guide to sorting out whether it's time to raise or lower your rate: If you have too much business (meaning that are offered more work than you can finish), it's probably time to raise your rate. If you don't have enough business (and potential clients complain about rates), it might be worth considering dropping your hourly rate (or improving your services to justify the raised cost).

How Specialized Are Your Services?

Another important consideration is how your own particular skillset affects your desirability to clients and potential hiring agencies. Adding in extra skills like photography, illustration, and other coding languages can help you justify a rate boost simply because it makes you more valuable (and prevents them from hiring another separate person to do those tasks).

For instance: It's a lot easier to find a web designer who knows just HTML than it is to find one who can also code custom Javascript plugins from scratch.

People with rare and valuable skill sets will usually demand a higher hourly rate than people with general skills simply because there are fewer of them out there able to do the work. On the flip side, it's easy to pick up skills that become irrelevant. Consider if you tried pitching yourself as a "MySpace Customization Wizard" a few years ago... you'd be hard pressed to find any work right now with that on your resume.

There are obviously other considerations that play into this (like stretching your skill set too thin), which we'll be covering in the article later this week.


Discussion: So, Why Do You Charge What You Do?

There’s no “right” answer, obviously, but it's great to hear the reasons why other designers do things. Like the other posts in our “Reader’s Poll” series, this is meant to be a jumping-off point for discussion amongst our readers... so don't hesitate to chime in with your own thoughts.

Oh - and if you missed our other Reader's Polls, check them out here!

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