“How Much Does a Website Cost?” And Other Pricing Questions
By Sacha Greif
If there’s one thing nobody seems to want to talk about, it’s pricing. Most designers don’t publish their rates, and good luck getting a company to tell you how much they paid for their site.
The results of this situation is that it can be pretty hard to know how much to spent on design. Spend too much, and you’ll be accused of wasting money like those $300,000 logos you read about. Spent too little, and you risk ending up with a crappy “designed by my 14 year old nephew” website.
So I asked 40 of Folyo’s designers to answer a couple questions about their pricing strategies, and I hope the results will help you get a better picture of design prices.
A Couple Disclaimers
- The sample size was fairly small (40 designers). Keep this in mind while viewing the results.
- Folyo only selects experienced and skilled designers. So yes, you can probably find cheaper prices elsewhere (but not better designers!).
- Folyo is an international site, and this plays a big role in pricing. A designer in Bangalore will not charge the same as a similarly skilled designer living in San Francisco. That does not mean you should always with the cheaper designer, since other factors (time difference, cultural differences, etc.) will also come into play.
The logo is often a startup’s first contact with a designer. You need something that will look good for next month’s big presentation, and you need it fast. But how much will it cost you?
Although survey results show you can get a logo done for less than $500, I would be careful with such a bargain. A logo will often represent your company for many years to come, and will set the tone for your whole communication.
Plus, despite what many people think, a logo is not the same thing as a brand. Paying a higher price often means that the designer will not only come up with a logo, but think about what it means and how it can be used in different contexts (online, print, video, etc.) and provide different versions (color, black & white, etc.).
So altogether, I would say $1000 is a good starting price point for most logos.
The homepage (or landing page) is usually the next step. It’s a more time-consuming job, so the prices are starting to creep up. Depending on the complexity, you’ll pay anything from $500 for a simple teaser to $2000 for a full-featured landing page introducing your product (think Basecamp’s homepage).
A Static Website
This is the classic question every designer dreads. Asking this is like asking an architect how much a house would cost, or a surgeon how much an operation would cost. It all depends on the specifics, so providing a straight answer isn’t easy.
Still, assuming that a basic site usually has a homepage, a basic content template, and 1 or 2 additional layouts (pricing page, features page, etc.), we can get an idea of the costs involved.
Count at least 30 hours of work. The homepage alone will usually eat up 15 hours (and that’s for fast workers), and each additional layout can take 3-5 hours to design. So a basic site will easily reach into the $3000-$5000 range.
A Mobile App
A mobile app is usually simpler than a normal site, but simpler does not mean easier. In fact, the simplification process itself can be the hardest part of the project: which feature do you keep, and which one do you cut? And how will you keep the UI clear and uncluttered?
Mobile apps also frequently have higher aesthetic expectations than websites. Although there’s nothing wrong with the default OS controls, it’s now expected that every app will have its own style and every little visual details counts.
These factors mean that even with less pages or less contents, mobile apps are not cheaper to design than websites, and $2000 is probably a good place to start.
A Web App
Web apps are in a pricing range of their own, with a lot of designers charging $5000 or more. The reason is that there is no such thing as a “small” web app.
For example, the mere fact of supporting user accounts will mean having to design sign up, sign in, and “I forgot my password” screens as well as all the different error states associated with them.
What’s more, unlike a static site, a web app must be constantly evolving and pivoting to meet user’s needs. So requirements are hard to pin down, and designers must often plan for unexpected new features being introduced mid-way.
And lastly, designing a web app requires a very specific profile, a hybrid UX/visual designer who can both make something look good and make it work great.
All of this explains why this is the most expensive category, and why a $10000 design budget for a web-app is nothing out of the ordinary.
These survey results are by no means exhaustive, and keep in mind that every project is different. Still, I hope this article will provide you with some general ballpark figures that will help the next time you have to price a design project.
Note: this article was originally published on September 27th, 2011