Factors that Impact Web Design Estimates, Quotes & Costs

If you’re looking to hire a web designer, you might be wondering how much money it’s going to cost. A little Googling will uncover some stats on web designers’ average hourly rates, but that’s not what most people that want a website are looking for. They want a defined dollar amount or at least an estimated cost for their actual project…not a national average.

There is no such thing as a universal website cost. Every freelancer and agency has their own way of operating – that’s why web designer A might charge $600, meanwhile web designer B quotes you $6,000. Both have unique factors that impact their cost.

With that said, we can’t speak for any other professionals in the industry, but we can give you our perspective and highlight some factors that contribute to the final cost of the projects we do.

Project Scope

Let’s start with a basic one that shouldn’t need much explanation: the more complex a project, the more time consuming it’ll be. A site with a couple basic pages and a contact form is much less complex than one with memberships, email automations and downloadable content giveaways.

Complex sites have more moving parts and, thusly, require more energy to become completely functional.

Current Workload

Another basic concept: if we have a lot of other things going on, the value of our time increases, so projects will be higher during these periods. Historically speaking, we’re busier in the second half of the year than the first. This may or may not change down the road.

Level of Planning

How much time has the person put into their website so far? Have they started writing content? Have they started thinking about content?

For us, it’s pretty easy to tell when someone hasn’t thought out their project enough. We try to encourage people to really think about not only their website, but their brand in general. Have they thought about it enough to be capable of carrying on a conversation with a curious prospect or investor?

As the folks tasked with planning the design, we need a solid foundation on which to execute every project…that foundation starts with the site owner planning and thinking about their brand and how a website will fit into it.

Project Deadline

In most cases, planning a professional website takes a lot of collaboration, and collaboration takes time. The amount of wiggle room we have for this collaboration to happen will affect the price of the project.

For instance, if there’s a lot of collaboration required, but only a couple weeks to do it all, we’re going to have to squeeze things in during the nights and weekends, and move other project milestones around on our calendar. Because of this inconvenience, projects that don’t give us enough time are more costly. An easy way to avoid this is to just give yourself enough time. Projects we do typically take a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks.


Small business isn’t about just creating new relationships, but growing and developing those relationships for the mutual benefit of all involved. Right?

If we have a standing relationship with a client and know that they’ll be great to work with again, the price will be lower. For those clients, a rapport has been established: we know how they think, and they know how we work. Because of this, we can breeze through the project more efficiently than with a brand new client.

Quality of Communication

Because we don’t work face-to-face with most clients, being able to communicate efficiently is a prized trait that we look for among prospects. Miscommunications lead to wasted time…every time. So if we realize that we’re working with someone that takes the time to explain their thoughts clearly and completely now to avoid miscommunications later, we’ll give them more favorable pricing.

Third Party Integrations

Some people want to integrate third party services that we’re unfamiliar with. Because of this unfamiliarity, we have to factor the time it’ll take to learn about said 3rd party and figure out how to integrate it with the project. Some third parties have excellent documentation and support…others don’t. Some have very intuitive account interfaces, other require multiple logins just to see a simple embed code.

Role Wanderers

People that may want to take on the role of project director are usually pretty easy to spot. They’re more proactive than others…some might say too proactive. Unfortunately, these people often get in the way and cause massive wastes of time. It’s like that “too many cooks in the kitchen” saying…everyone’s got a role, we favor folks who understand that.

Here’s the bottom line: the more time and energy that needs to go into a project – be it on the planning, design, or the collaboration front – the more expensive it will be.

Want to see how much your website project will cost? Get an instant estimate here!

About the Author

My professional experience with the web reaches back more than a decade. During this time, I've been creating sites for individuals and businesses, working on a team of digital experience analysts as well as providing qualitative and quantitative research surrounding web and mobile technology.


Web Strategist

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