Website and Internet Services - What do you charge?


I’m trying to give a reality check for my friend about the cost of Web Design, web maintenance, Internet research and other services. In a sense I’m out of touch with the current trends myself.

Four questions:
How much do you / would you charge per hour for:

  1. Internet Research: Using Google and other resources to find information and report back.
  2. Internet Sales: You’re asked to help sell some things. Posting vehicles (uploading pictures, text, stats, etc.) and other items on classified sites and forums and also entering the info in relentless posts in blogs. (Power houses like eBay and other paid classified sites which would give HUGE visibility are off the table.) Would you consider spending hundreds of hours doing it for commissions only w/no guarantee of a sale? If not how much per hour?
  3. Web Site Maintenance: Changing / adding / deleting content on an existing site?
  4. Web Site Conversion: How much would you charge to do a conversion based upon the information below?

Website conversion project.

The old site had many authors over the years; was not SEO friendly; was written in antiquated (gobbledygook) HTML style with no CSS. Pictures and other site files were erratically named and the site had little organization in the directory / folder structure.
Screenshots of the old site are located here. (at the bottom page are some other relevant bits of information)

Now that you’ve seen the old site, a quick recap of what I did.

Originally I wanted to do a Toy Story type 3D representation of the Ranch. Within a few days, I learned that my skills in Maya were not up to that challenge. Then I remembered a free 3D Mustang for Maya, by Ralph Manis (infinite-designs) that could be imported and I thought I could use that with some 3D letters for the Logo. It is located here: His version looks a lot better than mine.

When (after many, many hours of frustration) I was finally able to import it into the correct version of Maya. Unfortunately, none of the wonderful textures came along with it. So textured it using Blinn and lit up the headlights and other lights.

Spent a couple of days looking at fonts and then used CINEMA 4D (way better than Maya for text) to create the Muscle Car Ranch section.

I imported that into Maya, added the shiny floor and the other text, played with lighting for a long time and rendered what you see. The Logo took me about 3 weeks to get it the way I wanted it to look. Lots of tweaking and rendering in that process. My machine was way too underpowered to manipulate things quickly.

The rest of the site is what it is. I used PHP for Navigation for the side menus, inline menus and Gallery displays. I used CSS for formatting. New Version:
Pages NOT in the Navigation anymore because the items are no longer available.

The bulk of the work was getting the old content and wrangling it into the new design. I added some new content: History of Muscle Cars, expanded several sections, renamed 98% of the image files.
I inspected each image. In many instances I did image processing: I cropped them or resized them or enhanced them or replaced them with better versions or any combination of that.

I tried to create a more SEO friendly site with the PHP (generated HTML)

The website validates without the third party Weather insert.

The folder that contains the site files has: (18 folders, 27 PHP files, 18 CSS, 3 HTML, 580 JPG and one animated Flash File.)

The parent folder has 25 folders w/more than 5,000 files: proof of concept, CSS menu variations, Logo Work, Image work, Design variations, Gallery work, etc.

Again, (pretend you like the design) because this question is only about what you think your price would have been to convert this site.

Just looking for a ball park figure.

It’s a question that encompasses not only the time it takes to build or convert a site but also to learn the craft, how to use the tools (graphic, languages, editors, Flash editors, and other applications) that are involved.

My good friend tends to think that website design is not real work. He tends to think that creating a site is not much more difficult than what he’s doing when he’s updating his Facebook page because it is done sitting in front of a computer and not outside building an amphitheater.

Thanks very much.

Am not sure it’s kosher o ask what their hourly rate is a public forum.

HOWEVER , I would like to reply to you because I face this issue too often and feel you are starting to go about it all the wrong way.

  1. if you do work for ‘friends or family’ they will never pay you fairly. This is just human nature. I wish I could have warned you earlier, :wink: .It they love you love yo, they will pay you ‘exorbitantly’ ( according to their means) for quick and poorly done work, if not they will expect 1000s of hours and prioritize treatment and pay you much less per hr than working at Burger King. Best choice , refuse the client if it wont get you ‘disowned’.

  2. You want a ballpark park figure, that is bad business. As you dont know how your quality ( as proud as you may be) compares, and asking something to compare their quality to your before they give you what they would charge… is just asking for trouble ( human nature again). So someone may say $15/hr and do great work but have a low self esteem…in which case you BOTH suffer; another person may answer $150 and have horrid work, but great swindling skills. Even in a level playing field the numbers wont add up. if you live in the middle of nowhere you may be able to be happy with $20/hr… but if you are out of NYC you will NEED at least $200/hr. Once more , what you change hourly can only be determined by YOU. This into being evasive as much as it is simple economics.

3)The one part in your rant where you nailed the issue on the head is this:

My good friend tends to think that website design is not real work.
until you learn to make people realize that it is you will never be cheap enough for anyone… and btw your goal should not be to be ‘cheap enough’ . you are a biz too.

PRO TIP #1: focus on value. challenge your friend to do the same by himself. ( if he says he doesnt know HTML, etc) tell him “to learn” … if he then says but that takes time… ask him how much time… and then ask how much that time would have been worth to him … that’s the VALUE you have provided for him ( if on the other hand, and this could happen , he goes off and builds a site in FB ; then I have to say this was your fault because you misunderstood his goals, creating an intricate site without understanding that the client just wanted a FB page… which has happened).

The point being is that the value of your labour is = to the value of the time / effort you saved your client. If your client doesnt see that or says I can get someone else to do it then he wont ever pay you no matter what.

PRO TIP #2: understanding your client
Tho NOT the case here , I thought i would touch on this. Before STARTING any work is IMPERATIVE to agree on expectations. and on “I want a good site” is NOT clear communication. Clear communication is a LIST of function, a specific aesthetic expectation AND a comparable product ( if there is no comparable site then your client is expecting something that has never been done before… that requires… Research and Development!! Congratulations, you can now justify a budget that matches Apple’s or Google’s… or at the very least point out the irrational request rationally. In any case see a finished comparable product will let you say … oh that should take XX hours to complete, because ( see step 2)

PRO TIP #3: The lump
Client asks :“how much for a site” .
I answer : $ridiculously low to $ ridiculously high, depending
Client asks : what?
I answer : if you had been looking for car with that same question, I could say you could get a ‘car’ from a junk yard for $50 or a Lamb Murcielago for ~$550K ( and a 6 year waiting period) , but both are ‘cars’ thus the range is accurate; same holds for website design.

You seem to have been friended, misunderstood, and lumped. There are easier to prevent than to fix ( as you can never get the time you spent back, so it put you at a disadvantage negotiation wise, and your friend prolly knows this). But maybe you can tweak what I have mentioned to make him see closer to fair on this deal.

Thanks for the reply. Your the only one that was kind enough to answer so far and from the look of it, you will probably be the only one that puts out an answer.

Perhaps I should have approached this differently based on what you said.
When I mentioned ball park, I didn’t want anyone to spend a lot of their precious time with an analysis. Most people that can design websites have a feel for how long it would take to accomplish something and put that into an hourly range, then apply some sort of $ figure per hour.

The question was legit. If you (meaning anyone that designs sites reading this) were to do the conversion I did, what would the rate be? I was just asking for numbers. It would have been ok for someone to say $500.00 or $12,000.00 and anything in between.
When I asked about “what you charge for other services” the general meaning would be what’s the average going rate these days for the industry as a whole if it was averaged for Internet Research, posting sales items, website maintenance. Again, I was just interested in what other folks are charging.

The question was legit.

No doubt. Bu what I was referring to was that it comes off as rude in a public forum… kinda like asking a stranger at a party , hey how much do you make. Also it’s borderline illegal in some places , as it could be taken as a precursor to price fixing ( professionals meeting to coordinate their prices). I know it makes no logical sense, but that is a reality of life. This is why you are having problems find specific numbers. It’s better to ask for a FORMULA and derive your own numbers.

average going rate these days
There isn’t. I kinda covered this. Web design is an unregulated global industry. Technically you can ask whatever you want, and the client can pay whatever s/he wants. So at the moment it best no know how to negotiate your own worth. Currently , it is literally impossible to say to a client : I did better work for less that THAT guy. Because clients dont know what “better” means ( the art part is subjective, and the tech part goes over their head and as I said there is always some one, who for some reason will say I will do it for $1).

If you really want numbers ( however undependable) but with the ADDED benefit of being for your general geographic area, search the CRAIGSLIST services offered. usually there are a few ads from ALMOST all of your possible competitors: site mills from Asia, freelancers, the next door neighbors kid ( yes he is in it too) , smaller design firms, etc… some might even have link to their portfolios so you may be able to compare the design/code to yours. Keep in mind however that clients are incapable of doing this so a client will ask for the price s/he wants regardless as the effective price range for any web design is really $0 ( if you dont believe me , remember your friend expected your work for free, so it does happen) – infinity (and some people either nickle and dime you or have permanent maintenance contracts) the key determinator is the client.

Like dres says, it’s not kosher to discuss pricing in public like this. Number one, it can be considered collusion, which is almost always illegal (like in AUS where SPHQ is based). Secondly, it varies far too widely based on the area the service is being performed in. New York prices are far different from middle Iowa, or somewhere in Asia. It all depends on what the market will bear.

Typically, the reason you didn’t get a response is for the reasons listed above - in fact, I usually close threads like this before they even CAN get a response…

I appreciate the reply.

My apologies! I was not, in any way shape or form, trying to do something incorrect, illegal, abrasive, inconsiderate, or any other negative thing and I certainly didn’t want to step on anybody’s toes.

I thought it was an innocent question… Kind of like you ask a mechanic how much do you charge to install a new starter motor?

I realize that asking how much is like asking “How much does the average house cost?” and it is quite absurd to ask that because it does depend on the size, location, amenities, and other factors.

But I did supply what could be construed as some general information such as size and location of the house; a before and after along with quantity.

I’ve been out of the game for a long time.

I used to work in corporations and there were general Salary standards back 20 years ago that said the average Salary range of Systems Engineers was such and so, and even today, I can see that information is sometimes posted on websites.

Many years ago, in the early 1990’s just after the PC world found about WWW the average price for web page was quite a bit higher than it is now. I think it was something ridiculous like $1,000.00.

About 10 years ago, when I was doing some work in this field, a lot of people advertised HTML coding at about $65.00 per hour, PHP programming (depending on complexity) could go from $70 - $125 or more per hour.

Those amounts that I mentioned was basically what I was charging 10 years ago and I was just wondering if any of that has changed in 2013 because now, there are lots of templates, CMS’s, site builders and other tools that make web design a whole lot easier and less mysterious than it was before.

The questions about Internet Research and Sales I can probably find out from some sites that have people that do that (I didn’t think about that at the time I posted this question because I thought the questions I asked were innocent) kind of stuff.

Anyway, sorry I ruffled so many feathers. I was hoping to put some kind of intrinsic value on the conversion process just to have something to say to my friend that people in real world get this for doing the work I’ve done :slight_smile:

Sadly I doubt you can get away with actually charging 65$ for pure HTML work these days, though a lot of people get away with it through project budgets I suppose. As the others mentioned, it’s almost impossible to get a genuine idea of what you should charge an hour, as it varies so greatly. Maybe a more reasonable question would be an estimation of how many hours would be needed? For instance, a decent developer may be able to automate the process by writing a crawling script that grabs the content off the old site and automatically generates the pages for the new site, writing the script may take an hour or so, and running the script may take 15 seconds. In reality you’ve only done an hour of work, where another developer may have spent several hours manually transferring the content - if you’re being very friendly you could simply charge for that one hour, but most developers would probably assess that they’ve solved it in a “smart” way that still allows them to charge for atleast a few hours.

The problem with asking about an hourly rate, is both that it varies so greatly, but also that someone might charge 200 $ an hour but only use 2 hours, as compared to someone who charges 20$ an hour but uses 10.

I thought it was an innocent question… Kind of like you ask a mechanic how much do you charge to install a new starter motor?

Am sure you did. I have been ( and still find myself) in your situations sometimes. that’s why i didn’t close the thread immediately and gave you the answer I gave. The problem tho is that you aren’t asking as a CLIENT to a VENDOR; you are asking VENDOR to VENDOR. BTW, this is why I suggested craigslist, to see how much vendors around YOUR area advertise for.

behaiti also reiterated one of my points

The problem with asking about an hourly rate, is both that it varies so greatly, but also that someone might charge 200 $ an hour but only use 2 hours, as compared to someone who charges 20$ an hour but uses 10.
add to that that there is a random factor of QUALITY, someone may do the job in 2 hrs because they are THAT good ( or both efficient AND good) , while another may do the same job and in the same time simply because they cut so many corners they made a circle!

HTML coding at about $65.00 per hour,

note ever this quote is deceptive, back in that time frame, when you said HTML you could really get away with just the mark up ( probaly considered crappy mark-up by today’s standard)maybe they flowed in the placeholder pics too…but that’s it. HTML has gotten more complex and STANDARDS are now pretty much a REQUIREMENT, but jry to do web sell yourself as a HTML-only specialist. Not going to happen.

Those amounts that I mentioned was basically what I was charging 10 years ago and I was just wondering if any of that has changed in 2013 because now, there are lots of templates, CMS’s, site builders and other tools that make web design a whole lot easier and less mysterious than it was before.

That may be one reason. but I still think it’s ‘cultural’. If you theory were strictly correct, then client would be happy paying you whatever for simply setting up a template, and moving on. Trust that’s not the case. Also consider the fact that only 4 years ago you could seem like you were a top of the line developer if you design/code function only on desktop browsers. In all honesty am amazed your friend dint automatically complain because the site you developed was not ‘responsive’.

The sad part , IMHO and I hope am not misunderstood when I say this, is that the downfall begins with this kind of expectation. In which a vendor relies on being able to point out another vendor so as to be able to say , “see my prices are reasonable.” But as any action has an equal and opposite reaction, that enables your client to say 'well that kid from Bangladesh that I met in FB will do the whole thing for $15"

Quite right!
Listen, thanks again, very much for all of your input. I’ve learned a lot. Back in 1991 when I wrote my first HTML page and for the next 3 years I was way ahead of the curve, but in 1994 my life took a nasty detour and was not able to pursue that line of work for a long time.
Now, I’m behind the 8 ball. Back in the early 80’s I was a crackerjack C programmer and worked my way up to being a Senior Systems Engineer using Objective C in a R & D shop (along with being Sys Admin Manager and Systems Integration Manager) from 1991 - 1994. I wouldn’t know the first thing about writing a crawler; it’s amazing how much and how fast technology is changing around us. In less than 3 years what is common now will probably fade into the sunset.

Some other points. Of course I realize that today HTML by itself is dead; it’s nothing. But regarding the crawling script, now that I think about it, I have to say my hat goes off to the person that could write a crawling script that could wade through that old gobblydegook (did you even take a look at the old HTML file that I posted on the link to the old site?) and pull the data off of that along with pictures and then format that into a new site in an hour or so. The NSA is the USA is looking for people like that!