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When I was starting out as a new web designer, I did something that I believe most people do when starting out a new venture, I deeply discounted my rates to help me create my portfolio. Those clients that believed in me early on were rewarded with websites that cost them very little, but they also had to tolerate the ups and downs of my learning curve. After six solid years of business however, I have reached the point where I feel that a transparent, clearly set pricing structure is the best method.

Many web designers do not publish their design rates, rather choosing a generic statement like “Contact for pricing.” I believe that many designers are hesitant to publish rates on their website for two reasons: 1.) With all of the low-cost or free web builders out there, they are scared to push away prospective clients with what seem like high costs for something that they can seemingly get free elsewhere and 2.) The designers simply don’t really know what to charge. When you Google “How much should I charge for website design.” You can find all sorts of tips on figuring out your pricing structure, but it really is simply based on how much you feel comfortable charging AND what your customers feel comfortable paying. That being said, Google “How much should a website design cost” and you will often find Google Ads with seemingly random numbers that vary wildly from $257 to $795 to $2995 and links to articles listing web design costs so confusing that even this web designer doesn’t want to read them. So here are my ideas on how much a web designer should charge for a website design.Pricetag.

When a person is shopping for a car, they have a price range in their head, either how much they can spend monthly or how much they want to spend overall. Which number is more important to the customer really depends on the prospective car buyer’s big picture outlook, but either way they know what they want to spend. A person who has the number $400 a month in their head for a car payment is typically not going to just all of a sudden pay $700 a month because they like the color of the car. Car manufactures price cars partly based on the clientele they believe their car attracts. Pricing a website design is essentially the same thing as pricing a car. If you are looking to attract big corporate clients whose websites will cost tens to even hundreds of thousands of dollars to design and take a solid year or more to design, by all means go for it. But if you are a small business focused web designer, which I believe the majority of web designers are, and you want to know how much to charge for your website designs, here is the simple answer: KNOW YOUR CLIENTELE.

Understand who your prospective clients are and how they feel about web design. Discover your target market or your niche design skill, see my blog post It’s the End of Web Design as We Know It for more about learning to understand your client. Once you understand your prospective clients, you can charge a fair price, one that both you and your client can feel comfortable with. Since I have started listing my prices clearly on my website I have not had to spend as much time in the business day coming up with estimates for prospective clients and worrying “Did I undercut myself and estimate too little?” or “Did I overestimate what this prospective client is willing to spend?” Bottom line, if you want to design nice sites and get paid a fair price, figure out a pricing system, post it on your website, and let the clients who feel your costs and designs are the right fit for them choose you, instead of you trying to conform to what you think the client wants. As your design skill level changes, adjust your pricing levels accordingly and you will still be matched with the clients that are best for you. Trust me, transparency up front really pays off and in the long run saves you a lot of time, which in my opinion is priceless.