Note: One of the most common questions new web masters have is “how do I quote a website?” This article is designed primarily for free lance web designers who are just starting out and looking for tips on creating web design quotes for clients. It’s not an exact step-by-step description of how to create a web design quote, but is intended to bring up points and ideas that web designers can use in their quoting process. The hourly estimations provided here are only for discussion and are not intended to be used as a benchmark of any kind.
While the creative side of web design – the graphic design and web programming that goes into building a website – is usually the most enjoyable part of being a web designer, good project management and foresight is the key to becoming a successful freelance webmaster.
To keep client and web designer relations as smooth as possible, it’s important to manage expectations. This means you should provide a complete web project outline stating the specific tasks you will perform, how much they will cost, when payments are due, and when the project is to be complete. You should also outline what items and content the client is required to provide for the web design project (photos, text, credit card information etc.) and what content you as the web designer will provide (stock photography, photography services, graphic design, copy writing, consultation time etc.)
The Web Design Quote Breakdown
As a service provider, a web designer only has so much time each day to earn a living. That’s why it is suggested you should base your web design quote on an hourly rate and then multiply it by the estimated hours it will take you to complete each of the components of the project. During the project, it is then important to record the time you spend on each component so you can tell how long it takes you, and then you can become more efficient in developing quotes and managing your time in the future. The more projects you do, the more efficient you’ll become and the more profitable each project will potentially be. You’ll find what used to take you five hours, may now take you only three.
Note: For the purposes of this article, we will assume the client wants a fairly straight-forward 10 page website with the addition of a few bells and whistles. We’ll also assume that the client is providing the copy they wish to place throughout the website. While the actual time quoted for each component of a website will vary and is highly situational, sample times are provided below simply as a general point of discussion.
The Web Design
Most websites have a general design, with one or more web templates, that carries throughout the whole website. Often this includes a navigation system with links to the various pages of the website, and a general header and footer design. Some clients also request a Flash intro, or some other type of stylized start page for their site.
When developing this part of the quote, it’s important to consider the client will probably have change requests. You may want to estimate your time and then multiply it by 1.5 to accommodate the time you will likely spend editing the design.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll estimate it will take us 6.5hrs to develop the design for the generally straight-forward website. We’ll then multiply this by 1.5 to cover potential client changes. Our site will use one general web template throughout the website without any special intro pages.
6.5hrs x 1.5 = 9.75hrs
The Website Pages
Generally, most websites have a specific number of static pages in addition to any dynamic or database fed pages. As we mentioned earlier, our sample site has 10 static pages. To make it simple, our site won’t include a database.
Most pages often contain a few images and text. When quoting these pages, be sure to consider the actual content that will be going on each page and what you are expected to contribute. You should also consider the client will probably request some changes. A general estimate may be one hour per page, so you may wish to multiply this by 1.5 to cover potential changes.
10pgs x 1.5hrs = 15hrs
Every site is unique, and the client will probably have special feature requests.
- contact forms
- shopping carts
- inserting products in a database
- database configuration
- built-in content management systems
These may include:
You should make sure to itemize these add-on features separately in your web design quote. Be sure to protect yourself. Sometimes even the smallest feature that you think won’t take you long at all can end up taking as long as the rest of the entire web project. Be sure to charge for consultation time, especially if the client wants you to perform research and then provide customized solutions.
For our basic website project, we’ll assume the client simply wants a single contact form and no additional consultation time is needed. We’ll also assume it will take .75hrs to set it up on one of the website pages and test it. There are many ready-made free CGI, PHP and ASP contact form scripts available to choose from which you could use to install this functionality on the site.
Web Host Configuration & Domain Name Registration
Web hosting configuration is also a very important part to include when developing your website quote. Some clients will already have a web hosting account, others will want you to sign them up for a new account, and others will want you to transfer an existing domain name from one web hosting account to another.
Be very careful with the clients that want you to transfer an existing domain name they own to a new web hosting account. Performing this task can be a time-consuming black hole. Often the client won’t know where their domain name is registered, so you’ll first have to track that info down using a WhoIS search. GoDaddy.com provides a good tool for this. Then, once you find the domain registrar company, you’ll have to obtain the login information. Usually you’ll then end up going to the registrar company’s website to fill out a “lost username/password” form or have to call the registrar company directly. Because of privacy issues, the domain registrar company will probably only send this login information to the email address they have on file. Hopefully it will be an email address that your client is still using. If not, you’ll have to get the client to speak with the registrar directly. Then you’ll have to get your client to transmit this login information to you. Finally, you’ll have to login to the domain name account and update the DNS settings to point to the new web server. In short, it’s a long process that is best avoided if possible. Because of the large amounts of time I’ve spent performing this process in the past, I’ll usually have to charge three to five hours worth of billable time to carry out this process for a client. Usually it may just be a good idea to charge this service at an hourly rate for as long as it takes to complete the process. Unfortunately, a client may not understand why this step can require so much time or can be challenging to do – so it can be hard to justify the cost to the client.
For our sample web design quote though, we’ll just assume we will be setting up a new web hosting account for the client with an outside service. If you are setting up a new account with your own web hosting service, you might just do this for free since you’ll be earning revenue on monthly or yearly web hosting fees. Otherwise, you might just charge an hour to set up a web hosting account. You may wish to add 15 minutes for each email address the client wants you to set up. Keep in mind you’ll have to provide the client with login information and test the accounts as well.
Our total for our sample web design quote will include two email addresses. So we’ll assume our total for web hosting will be:
1hr setup + .5hrs for setting up two email accounts
The client also wishes to have a domain name registered for them. Usually you can register a domain name at the same place you set up the web hosting. We’ll estimate a half hour to register and configure the domain name.
Web Design Quote Total
Now that we’ve itemized the general tasks for building a website for our client, here’s the hourly total for our hypothetical 10 page web design quote:
Web Design: 9.75hrs
Web Pages: firstname.lastname@example.org each = 15hrs (when providing the web design quote outline to the client you’d probably want to detail each page that will be created)
Special Features: 1 Contact Form @ .75hrs
Web Hosting Setup: 1hr
Set Up Email Addresses: 2@.25hrs each = .5hrs
Domain Name Registration: .5hrs
Total Project Hours = 27.5hrs
You may also consider charging for administrative time which will cover time spent handling the account (accounting, meetings etc).
Simply then, take the total hours and multiply it by your hourly rate to reach a total fee.
Make Sure the Client is Serious About the Web Design Project
Once the web design quote it agreed upon, you want to make sure that the client will come through on their end. While you can have a client sign a contract, a great way is to simply ask for 50% of the amount immediately to initiate the project. You can they state that the remaining 50% will then be due upon completion of the stated tasks in the quote. This is a great way to identify those clients who are serious about the project, and filter out those who may duck out of the project and disappear after you’ve already invested a substantial amount of time on the web project.
Time to Completion
Be sure to include a statement in your quote about project time completions. If the client has yet to provide you with required materials, specifically state that you will complete the project by a specific time once the required materials are received. You may also consider including a statement that deposited funds may be forfeited if the required materials are not received by a certain date. If a client initiates a project with you and then doesn’t get around to getting materials ready for several months, you’ll end up spending a lot of extra time in customer service and discussions since you’ll have to revist the project and get both you and the client up to speed on what has been done and what has yet to be done.
Your web design quote should also contain a statement about how future updates to the completed web project will be handled. Some designers offer a fixed monthly maintenance fee for performing updates. Over time though, usually either the web designer or the client will become unhappy with this type of situation. Either the client will request so many updates that the web designer will feel taken advantage of, or there will be so few update requests that the client feels they aren’t getting their money’s worth with the arrangement. Instead, it is often best to provide future updates at a set hourly rate. This way you’ll get paid for the work what you deserve and the client will only pay for what they need – more of a win-win situation.
While the web design field can be exciting and rewarding, it’s important to have sound business practices in place. Developing a system for generating web design quotes efficiently is a great way to help manage your client relationships and keep projects on track. Clearly stating terms and expectations in your web design quote from the start is a key part of running a web design business.