Behind the Curtain of Pricing a Website Project

Why pricing a website SHOULD include answering 40 questions (or more!).

Ready to get answers…
I’d love to chat about your website goals, marketing goals, and why you should take my 40 questions challenge.

Another day, another “how much do you charge for a website?” asked in a Facebook business group. “Ahh my sweet summer child,” I think as I ponder why I never answer that question when it comes up over and over again. It just illustrates that most people don’t understand how much goes on behind the curtain of a website project that can impact how long it takes and how much it costs.

I decided to write up a “short” list of the things I need to know to make an accurate project estimate. The list grew longer as I analyzed the many factors that were part of the projects I’ve worked on. Sure, I could just double the price and call it good. I could give a very high flat rate that covers all contingencies, as many people do, but I prefer to provide pricing that reflects the actual needs of my clients. Read on to see how 20 questions blossomed into 40.

web designer looking up at many question marks

Why Flat Rate Pricing Costs More

While it might be nice to just quote a $10,000 project and then never have to question whether my time and effort will be covered, very few small businesses are willing to put that much money into a website. I’ve seen a few approaches to flat rate pricing, one of which is to quote a very low price but not include any extra frills or even the basics I consider an essential part of a project. This kind of flat rate price may be cheap in money, but can be very costly in other ways (time, effectiveness, key details, customer service). The other is to over-estimate the cost in order to cover contingencies and even then, surprise feature requests can crop up.

Here are a few of the questions involved in accurately pricing out a website:

I know it can be frustrating to people to hear that you can’t just give them a set price for a website. Because it depends on several factors, accurate pricing can be complicated. However, these factors need to be considered to do it right. So what are the things that add time and cost to a website project?

  1. Is it a brand new site or a redesign of an existing site?
  2. How many pages will be on the site?
  3. Do you need a custom or basic contact form(s)?
  4. Do you want that contact form to reach you (which means having a sending service and special records added to your domain)?
  5. Do you want to protect your site from spam (Google Recaptcha, spam protection plugins)?
  6. Do you want to track visits to your site (which means connecting to Google Analytics)?
  7. Do you want to know if there are problems with indexing your site (Google Search Console)?
  8. Do you need to connect your site to social media and add tracking pixels?
  9. Do you want to display a feed from any social media sites?
  10. Do you want to collect email addresses for a newsletter or email service?
  11. Do you have good web hosting that provides, at the minimum, regular backups?
  12. If your hosting doesn’t give you backups, do you want to set up a plugin and a storage service for backups?
  13. If you don’t have website hosting yet, do you need to have that set up for you?
  14. Where will the site be built before delivery (good web hosting provides a staging site)?
  15. Do you need to sell products or services, digital or physical, and how many?
  16. Do you need to set up shipping options?
  17. Do you need to limit access to parts of your site to be viewed only by members?
  18. Do you need to set up events, a calendar, booking service, etc?
  19. Do you need training in how to add content to your site such as blogs, events or manage your site?
  20. How will you take payments for sales from your site?
  21. Do you have your own photographs, including different versions of your logo, and are they the correct size for use on your site?
  22. Can you provide full branding information including your color pallette and web-friendly fonts?
  23. Do you have your own written content or do you need it to be written?
  24. Have you collected all of your links to social sites, email addresses, phone, location(s) and other info for contact sections or do you need that to be located for you?
  25. Should your site include a map (Google Maps API or Open Maps)?
  26. Do you need to add testimonials or connect to a reviews feed or service?
  27. Do you need a blog and do you have any starting blog posts written or do you need those to be written for you?
  28. Do you have your privacy policy and terms of service written or need it to be written?
  29. Are there any industry regulatory policies or practices that need to be included?
  30. Does your site need to comply with GDPR for use outside the US?
  31. Do you need any translations for other countries and if so, how many/which ones?
  32. How much SEO content do you have or need to have added to each page (keywords/keyphrases, meta data)?
  33. Do you need image alt text to be written for each image or is it already written?
  34. What performance features do you want to have to help your site load faster (caching, media streaming options, CDN)?
  35. Do you want to use free or paid versions of plugins for security, image optimization, SEO?
  36. Is there a rush or expedited work needed to finish the site by a certain deadline?
  37. Will you need help changing domain settings to point to your site hosting?
  38. Do you need to forward any other registered domains to your primary site?
  39. How many users will need access to the site and the project management portal?
  40. How many planning and review meetings do you want to have?

If I hit you with 40 questions before I’m willing to give you a quote, just know that I’ve learned what it takes to determine my level of effort on a project. You can tell the difference between an experienced designer and one who may be new by how much they ask you before committing to a job.

“I am the founder and primary designer of PCS Creative Services, LLC. With 25+ years of experience in small business operations and communications, and 13+ years of experience in web design, I’ve seen and solved many of the problems faced by business owners. My passion is helping small business owners in Utah build effective, purpose-driven online content. Contact me today.”

Paula Sageser

Wearer of Many Hats, Your Guide to the Wild World of the Web

Latest from the Blog:

Why Do Small Businesses Use WordPress for Their Websites?

Why Do Small Businesses Use WordPress for Their Websites?

You read it right, 455 Million! That's the number of websites that used WordPress globally in 2021, and that number is on the rise. This isn't a coincidence, either.You don't know what you don't know...I'd love to chat about your website goals, marketing goals, and...

read more
Three Website Design Tips in 2022

Three Website Design Tips in 2022

It's a new year, and with the web industry continually changing, you need your website design to stand out in 2022.  Get ahead of your competition by giving your website visitors exactly what they are looking for when they land on your website. Read on for three basic...

read more
My Thoughts on Perceived Value, Tools and Expertise

My Thoughts on Perceived Value, Tools and Expertise

My Thoughts on Perceived Values, Tools and ExpertisePaying for an Expert - A Recent Social Conversation I have seen a few posts lately, and over the years, talking about how expensive it is to hire an expert. Setting a value on expertise is a nebulous thing. You may...

read more

I promise, I don’t send spam