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Website Development: Pay by the Project or Pay by the Hour?

Having a website is essential in today’s market. However, having a website built or an old website redesigned can be a daunting journey for any business owner, especially when most business owners have little to no understanding of the internet and website design or how they work together. This article aims to list the pros and cons of hiring a web developer by the hour or by a price based on the overall project.

Project Based Website Design

Paying by the project is the only way I have ever quoted and built websites. Similar to any other contractor, I sit down with each new client, find out what they need, and then submit a proposal that lays out the project, scope of work and estimated cost. Having been in this business for a while now, I have gotten very good at estimating time and cost with regards to these builds.

Even though I still get asked about my “hourly rate,” my clients tend to prefer to pay by the project after we have had the consultation; I do not blame them. Having an estimate and knowing, more or less, what the website build will cost and how long it will take brings a sense of control to a situation / industry where most people are clueless.

One of the only drawbacks to paying a website designer by the project is to the actual web designer. Often, designers who give an estimate, especially if dealing with smaller companies or freelance designers, will seldom go over their estimated cost even if issues arise in the building process. It does happen from time to time though.

If you are purchasing a website on a “by project basis” be sure to inquire whether the quote is merely for the “labor” or if that includes all of the plugins, software, management systems, themes, templates, etc etc. Many times, people are caught off guard when they were quoted for a project and later receive an additional bill for all the hard costs associated with the website build (this only really comes into play if there was a decent amount of customization involved).

Website Design by the Hour

Paying for website design by the hour has both pros and cons. Most web designers love getting paid by the hour because, if a problem should arise, their pay directly correlates to how long they spend on a project. As a client, paying by the hour appear to be a better route when confronted with both an hourly quote and a quote for the entire project, but it can be deceiving.

Paying by the hour can be great for those clients who want to see exactly how their website build was broken down, itemized, and written down. Website design can be incredibly confusing to business owners; it can be comforting to have a receipt for each hour worked and what task correlated to each hour completed.

Paying by the hour can be dangerous for clients who are not familiar with the website design industry. Most website designers will include items in a “package deal” that may not be included in a by the hour rate. as discussed above. Another obvious peril of paying a website designer by the hour is that there are people out there who may take advantage of ignorant clients by dragging out their work in an effort to get paid more.

Choose Wisely

Whichever way you choose, always do your due diligence on the person / agency you are hiring. Be sure to ask for references and a portfolio.

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