Appropriate Prices for Web Design

Perhaps, you’ve been working with WordPress long enough that you’re ready to make a move. You’ve learned the ins and outs of Flash and you’re so good at Illustrator that it’s unbelievable! Those programs are really fun once you get the hang of it, and they are essential to web development.

But, if you are looking to take the leap to becoming a professional web designer, you have to start viewing this as a business. With that comes the most important part of a business, the pricing.

There are not exact or easy answers to how much you should charge for a particular design or project, but there are some factors you can take into consideration that will help you determine a good price.

One factor is the time factor. How long does it normally take you to complete a project? More specifically, how long would it take you to complete this certain project? If you’ve never logged your time, all you can do is estimate, so it might be a good idea to make a project for yourself and detail how long it took you to do what.

As a web designer and developer, many juggle more than one project at a time, which is another factor to take into consideration. Let’s say you’ve begun a project but have to stop because you need information from the client before proceeding any further. You shoot them an email, and start working on a different project in the meantime. Then they reply and want to speak on the phone, so you’re caught up in a conversation for several minutes. Here, it is difficult to determine how much time you spent on which project, but that’s just what you have to do. Log all the time, and each time, you worked on a project. You have to keep track of them all. More or less, this will become a habit and you’ll be able to see how much time you spend normally on things.

You may be thinking, “but why bother doing that?”

Here’s why: Someone may be willing to give you $500 for a web design project. However, if you spend 70 hours on this particular project, that $500 wouldn’t cover it. You would be quite sad to find out that equaled to about 7.5 cents per hour. However, if it only took you 5 hours to complete, you’d be making $100 an hour.

To be able to correctly get the right amount of money your project is worth, you have to track your time and know how long it takes you to do the simple things as well as the difficult tasks.

There are many ways to keep up with your time from creating an excel sheet to downloading time management tools and clocks via the Internet. Whatever you choose to do, keep the date, hours worked, exclude your lunch or other breaks and keep tracking. Sometimes you may only be logging certain minutes, but at the completion of a project, add them up to see your time spent.

After you’ve done this for a project, you’ll be able to properly estimate future projects, which will help you to determine an appropriate price for your services.

OS X Utilities To Aid Any Developer

Apple’s OS X operating system offers a great platform for software, web or other developers. Combining an intuitive user interface (UI) with a BSD-based underlying architecture, Mac OS X is a pleasure to develop on.

Though as a child, I grew up around various computers, such as old Apple Macintoshes and IBM PCs, my Information Technology career started off predominantly supporting Windows computers. I love computers, no matter what the platform, and a lot of my troubleshooting and development skills were first honed on initial versions of MS Windows. When I first started using Apples though, I got hooked on their intuitive desktop operating system. From OS 7 on pre-PowerPC CPUs, through to the current OS X on Intel hardware, Apple has had a very different approach to the desktop environment and user interface design than their competitors. I find it enables me to be more productive and be less stressed while developing, designing, writing or being entertained. Here, I will present to the reader some lesser-known utilities built-into the OS X operating system which can especially help web developers in their daily tasks.

Locking the screen quickly from the menu bar

As a developer or any professional working on clients’ files very often, I like being able to quickly protect my screen from prying eyes. When I get up to grab a snack, go to the bathroom, etc, I am able to lock my screen quite quickly. While you can assign an applescript to do the same thing and assign it a shortcut key, I am happy to use the following method:

  1. Open the Keychain Access application ( This is inside the Utilities folder which resides inside your main Applications folder ).
  2. Open the Preferences panel via the Application menu.
  3. Set the “Show Status in Menu Bar” to enabled.
  4. Done. Now you may close both the Preferences panel and Keychain Access application.

Now at the top right hand side of your screen, you should see a tiny padlock icon. Click once on this to open the menu, then choose “Lock Screen” to ensure your privacy before stepping away from your machine. This is not the same as logging you out, so when you come back to your computer, simply press a key or move the mouse to prompt for your password and resume work as you left it.

Applescript for web developers

On Apple’s OS X operating system, there are, of course, many ways to do one task. But, there is also one way to do many tasks – it is called AppleScript. AppleScript has been made available by Apple since it’s legacy operating systems were sold. It allows for creating automated workflows between the OS X system and Apple software, and also 3rd party software, which has opened up scriptable control for some parts. An example workflow would be that every time you turn your MacBook on, it would automatically open your favorite news website and read you the first 3 headlines. While this may sound a little gimmicky, many daily tasks for web or software developers can be automated using AppleScript and save you hours of time and energy over the course of a week.

A great example AppleScript which my team and I use very often is a custom dialog which allows us to bring up a list of all our clients’ domain names ( 400 and counting! ). Once a domain name is selected from the list, we are presented with a myriad of options, including:

  • Open in browser
  • Copy URL
  • Copy IP
  • Copy user
  • Copy password
  • Display all info
  • Login to SSH
  • Login to SFTP
  • Login to FTP
  • Download SQL
  • Connect to SQL
  • Connect to MAMP SQL

These commands and more are a huge time saver and negate the need to input each domain’s information into FTP clients or lookup login information in a text file each time we need to connect to a remote server via the Terminal application. For SSH logins via the Terminal, we simply click the button to connect and AppleScript enters the appropriate commands sequentially, waiting for the required delay before inputting passwords, etc. This also eliminates the need for us to maintain security keys for each domain for each user in the company – a great time saver! For high latency servers, we can simply click the button to connect and go back to working on other things while AppleScript handles the slow, boring login process for us.

Choose the Right Web Specialists

A very common feature of a lot of web design agencies is that they will claim that they can do everything, from web design, to web development, search engine marketing, pay per click and even email marketing. Unless the agency is huge with lots of specialist departments, it is highly unlikely that they will be specialists in all areas.

Web design requires a creative flair and being able to use graphics packages. Good web designers usually have an artistic bent and training.

Web development on the other hand involves being trained in computer programming and knowing various languages and technologies. It involves being able to program efficiently in languages such as PHP, C# and Java as well as how to interact with databases such as SQL Server and MySQL.

There is a degree of cross over. Both designers and developers are likely to be efficient at registering a domain name and setting up hosting but it is useful to think of designers as people dealing with the “front end” – the things that look nice in your web browser – and the developers as the people who are making it all work behind the scenes.

It is common for a digital agency to have specialists in both design and development however you may find that a one man operation is unlikely to offer top quality in both.

Then there are the Search Marketing specialists which splits into Pay per Click and Search Engine Optimisation. Both of these niches require a full time job to keep up with the latest news. PPC specialists need to acquire the qualifications for the large Ad agencies and SEO specialists need to keep up with all the latest news on changes in algorithms to provide the best possible services to their clients.

It is impossible for a single person to claim to be a specialist in all fields – be wary of anyone claiming to do so. Investigate how they can provide all services. It may well be that they outsource to other agencies to provide the other services which is a great solution and gives you a single point of contact – however make sure you have the full picture before signing on the dotted line.