More often than not, when I speak to a person who is looking to have a website made, they have absolutely no idea what the value is. This is not their fault by any means. As a professional in the field, it is my job to educate the people I work with. A professional should be able to sit down and explain everything they are doing, and prove their worth. A good doctor, goes through the entire procedure, helping us understand, and makes us feel better about their competency. This should also be the case when talking about websites.
Value of a web designer
I want to start with the designer, as this is where it all begins. I shared a post on social media, about the value of web designers, and my friend Kurt responded:
Whenever I talk about valuing work, I always remember this story about Picasso: Picasso was in a park when a woman approached him and asked him to draw a portrait of her. Picasso agreed and quickly sketches her. After handing the sketch to her, she is pleased with the likeness and asks how much she owed to him. Picasso replied $5,000. The woman screamed “but it took you only five minutes”. No, madam, it took me all my life, replied Picasso.
This is an illustration of the many intangible factors that play into the value of a web designer.
- Experience: how many years a web designer has been working in the field along the the knowledge they’ve acquired. This can be an explicit number of years, or it can be a concentrated time around other experts in challenging roles. A 5 year old freelance designer who’s done small websites for local companies may not have as much experience as a 2 year old designer who’s at big agencies.
- Location: the cost of living and working in a particular area. Rent, taxes, and demand all play role in this. A designer in New York City is going to have higher costs than a designer in Florida therefore it’s expected to see higher rates.
- Specialization: a niche in which a designer has chosen to work in exclusively. The more specialized a designer is, the better they can serve a niche. Think of a logo designer that only does hand lettered type for photographers.
If we were to evaluate me as a designer, we’d have to take into account the following things:
- I have been making websites since 2009, working freelance, agency, and startup jobs. This has allowed me gain a good understanding of the industry as a whole.
- I live in New York City. The cost of living is relatively high, in comparison to other places in the country.
- I specialize in WordPress blogs for creators. I know a lot about the platform and even more about the audience I work with.
Along with the inherent value of the designer, we have to also take into account the amount of work and time that goes into a particular project.
Every good web designer has a process. This process makes sure that things aren’t missed, everything piece is analyzed, and ensures the success of a project. Here is a basic set of phases that are within a website design process.
- Strategy: the phase in which we analyze the current standing of the business, target audience, & future goals. We think about what we are trying to say and who we are talking to, in order to arrive to a proper design direction. Goals are outlined and referred back to throughout the process to make the best decisions.
- Design: involves building out wireframes of each layout to quickly scope out how the elements will look together. Outlining the entire website, we make sure that the user experience makes sense. Once this is finalized the wireframes are taken into photoshop where the design is given life. This is when color schemes and style is taken into account.
- Development: involves taking the finalized design and turning that into a functional website. This stage includes making the layout look consistent across all browsers and transition fluidly between screen sizes.
This process can be several weeks and even months when done by a professional who cares about the project.
The cost of a website
There are 2 fixed expenses that you have to pay regardless of who you are doing the website with, and that is Domain & Hosting. These are often provided by a 3rd party company. Then of coarse, you have the cost of production.
- Domain: the name of your website, www.YourName.com
- Hosting: where your website files are hosted
- Production: the total sum of work put into a project.
Knowing this now will help analyze the costs in the next section. Now down to the nitty gritty, what would a professional charge to make a simple blog website?
A Simple WordPress blog
Let’s walk through the real numbers that go into creating a simple WordPress blog. I chose this as an example because it’s what I get the most inquiries on. An example of a simple type of blog is this one. I have a minimal homepage with articles, single pages & posts that share the same styles, as well as listing pages (Tags & Categories). I will not be including the custom pages in the estimate.
- Domain = $10/year via NameCheap
- Starter Hosting = $4/month via Bluehost (Great for starting small)
- Managed Hosting = $29/month via WP-Engine (I use this for my site)
- Production = $3000+ via Web Designer
Those are the real numbers. If I was my own client, that is what I’d show myself. Are there people that charge more? Yes, there are designers that have been doing this for twice as long as me, therefore have a lot more experience. Are there other designers that charge less? Of coarse, and I would be careful with that, remember, you get what you pay for. I won’t talk bad about anyone, but there are a lot of unprofessional people out there just like in any field.
Luckily, for those who are just starting, there is an alternative to a custom website that allows you to get started now with a much smaller budget.
Alternative to a custom website
It is very understandable that when we start out, we may not be able to afford a few thousand dollars for a website. The good news is, it’s possible to get a good website on a budget. There are still the fixed expenses of domain and hosting, but for less than $100, you can purchase a pre-made WordPress template. There are very competent web designers that make great money from selling website templates to the masses. They take pride in their work and create great multi-functional websites for a very affordable price. You can use pre-made WordPress templates to kick start our brands and focus on providing quality content. However, keeping in mind that these themes are sold to the masses. These themes are made pretty generic, therefore once we get established with our content, it would be good to set our brands apart by then getting a custom WordPress design catered to us.
Get a website
I’ll be following up this post next week with the importance of having a website, but until then, if you have any questions, you can tweet or email me directly. I can help you with questions similar to the following:
Can you give me a ballpark estimate for a project I want to start? Where can I find designers who specialize in other fields? I have the budget, what is my next step?