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What are Web Designers and Developers Worth?

Updated on March 3, 2016

Simple answer - a lot more then you think. But it varies, a decent range could be from $20 an hour too $100+ per hour. Doing web design and development projects are very hard. A lot of people simply don't have a clue when it comes to this business. They think, websites can be whipped up in a half an hour. They do not realize these websites have many steps, even simple steps that all take time.

Without going too in depth into what building websites involves, I will just say their is a lot of steps that it involves, including research and planning, graphic design, page layouts, coding the front end, then coding the back end and adding features, then adding SEO, browser testing, hosting setup, and launch. I'm sure their could be a few more steps in there. But you have to do this for every project and it all takes time. When I get a project that says $75 to build a site, that consists of basically an hour of work which wont get you very far into the 2nd of many steps in the project phase.

When I am doing my advertising and marketing to try and get some clients, it just really drives me crazy seeing people want work done for them for FREE(test project). Or by slapping them in the face and wanting a website built for $10.

I just saw a listing where someone wanted a website built for $10. Albeit it was a simple website. Their criteria was:

1. Newsletter/email contact sign-up

2. 4-6 pages

3. The ability for the website to hold 6-10 videos.

First off, no one can build a website in an hour. Their is a research planning phase that will probably take at least an hour for such a simple website. What about graphics? Those needs designed as well. What I would do is give them a template and modify it and be done with it. That’s the only way that it would be worth $10.

The median salary in the United States for a Web Developer is $62,500 or $30.05. This means in order to get that website built for 10$, you need it completed in 20 minutes. I ask really? Now I know, salaries vary, but not by the degree in which this person wants it done for.

Next case – ELance, oDesk, UpWork and others just like it.

On UpWork which has been created from oDesk and ELance, they have many clients asking for projects for less then $5 an hour. UpWork’s minimum amount is $3 per hour. I saw a client which has paid an average of $6.15 over the course of 9100 hours. Now I bet most of these freelancers that have done his projects have been based overseas where 6 dollars an hour is a lot to them. But what this does, is make the USA based workers unable to bid on jobs because no one will accept a job with that budget.

Also not to mention most of these freelancers on UpWork apply to almost every job with copy and paste replies.. If you look at some clients projects you will see that they have well over 100+ proposals from different freelancers. And most of these workers charge bare minimum rates making it impossible for real talented web developers to compete. Make sure when adding a job on a site like this is to request a proposal to say "when submitting a proposal title it ...... " so you can see who actually read it and didn't just copy and paste.

I have posted jobs before asking a freelancer to join my team, then I will get several replies from off shores workers saying "Id be glad to do your project". I'm like I didn't say I had a job, I said I needed someone to work with.

I simply write in my proposal that with bare minimum rates you will get bare minimum quality.

Next Case – Test Projects

Why would any client ask to do a test project? Isn't that what our portfolio is for? To show we can do the work? Anyone who asks to do that most likely wants free work and will try to steal it once you show it to them. If you do this, you need to watermark the image or create a website and do a screen shot so they can not use it.

Someone once asked me to do that, and I said I can’t do that and of course they did not reply again. Enough said. Our time is valuable, we don't do "test" projects.

Now I will try and explain why they do this.

First and foremost, I believe most people, or the average person, does not know what designers and developers are worth. They think anyone can do this. This is not the case. It can take years and years of schooling, training, certifications, research, online courses and more – all of which cost money. And this is probably just a quarter of what clients are paying us.

Then another quarter of what they are paying for goes into advertising and marketing. Do they know how much time it takes to find new clients. This is a very competitive business, that is very challenging to get new customers. You spend almost half of your time marketing, advertising, and designing campaigns. This is not billable, but we charge more due to this work we are doing.

Say you work on projects 40 hours a week which might be too much. Then say each day you devote 2 hours to marketing and advertising. So your billing them for 40 hours but you need to charge more or else that advertising work you have done was basically for free. That’s probably another quarter of the budget. And the last half of what you charge for is the project work your actually doing.

Well I believe this just about ends the rant of designers and developers charging clients pennies to do challenging work. Remember – you get what you pay for, and if you only pay a freelancer $3 an hour, you won’t get the quality of work you expect. And for freelancers to only charge that amount – well that's on them. A web designer and developer is worth more then someone who works at McDonalds, no offense to anyone.

What is the average rate you charge per hour?

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© 2016 Jason Seman

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