We’ve explained how to assess the quality of your web designer in our previous post. In this step of “Bringing your web design project to life”, we’re going to talk about the budget component. And try to see if your candidates are a good fit for your project in financial terms.

Do you remember our first post on this subject talking about what type of a web designer you should hire? In that post, we’ve mentioned that there’s usually a trade-off between the time you’ll spend on a project and the budget.

  1. Do it yourself – Most time consuming but the cheapest
  2. Web design freelancer – Time consuming and average budget
  3. Web design agency – Less time, but the highest budget

Okay, there’s a trade-off, it’s common sense. But the question is how do you find the most balanced solution for your unique project? We need to measure a couple things to be able to answer that question.

What is Your Spare Time Hourly Rate?

Read the title again carefully. This is different than what you make in your job per hour. We’re asking about your spare time rate. The time that you spend with family, for entertainment or sleeping. In other words, 16 hours you spend out of your office. If you’d put a price tag on those hours, how much would it be $10, $20, $50 or $100? Or maybe an extra hour you’ll spend with your family is priceless for you.

How Much is Your Spare Time Rate?

When I was asked this question the first time, I had trouble answering it, too. But don’t worry, there’s a quick way to determine this. Think about a situation like this:

They’re giving away $100 to everyone, but there’s a big line. How many hours are you willing to spend on that line waiting without doing anything else?

Now answer that question and divide 100 with that number to find your hourly rate. If you’ve answered 5 hours, your spare time hourly rate is $20 and if you said 1 hour it’s $100. Take a note of this number, this is going to be a major factor in our final decision.

How Fast Do You Learn?

This is totally a subjective matter and there are no definitive answers. But from my experience, I’ll try to give you a range of hours you’ll probably spend with each method.

I’m going to start with web design agencies this time. Let’s break it down:

  • Searching for the right company, checking out their portfolio, reading reviews, decision – 3 hrs
  • Initial meetings, project brief, answering questions – 3 hrs
  • Communication during the project – 2 hrs per week (12 hrs)
  • Wrapping up, details – 2 hrs

So for a typical project expect to spend 20 hrs of your time if you’re working with an agency. Feel free to adjust these numbers according to your needs. For instance, you may like more thorough research and decision-making process and may spend 10 hrs to find the right company.

Let’s see how much you’ll approximately spend if you hire a freelancer or team of freelancers:

  • Creating a detailed project brief – 5 hrs
  • Searching for the right freelancer, checking out their portfolio, reading reviews, decision – 15 to 20 hrs (Freelancer selection should be more thorough.)
  • Initial meetings, answering questions – 3 to 5 hrs
  • Communication during the project – 1 hr daily (40 to 50 hrs) (Freelancers need more direction than agencies.)
  • Wrapping up, details – 2 to 5 hrs

So interacting with a freelancer takes around 75 hrs. If you’re going to use more than one freelancer (for instance a designer and a developer), you can multiply this with the number of freelancers you’re going to hire.


Now let’s check out how many hours would you spend to create a website on your own. (For these numbers we’ve also included the research hours, for instance for media selection, a freelancer or an agency may already have great resources but you need to put much more effort into finding good resources.)

  • Creating a detailed project brief, project steps, milestones – 10hrs
  • Choosing a platform to develop your website – 20 hrs
  • Learning the platform you’ve decided to use – 50 to 100 hrs
  • Wireframing – 10 to 20 hrs
  • Copywriting – 10 to 20 hrs
  • Media selection – 10 to 20 hrs
  • Design & Development – 25 to 50 hrs
  • Details (Social Media, SEO, Pagespeed, Conversion and other optimizations) – 40 to 50 hrs
  • Testing – 10 hrs
  • Wrapping up – 5 hrs

So on average if you’re a tech savvy person and a quick learner you should expect to spend around 200 hrs to create a website. This number may go up to 300 for an average internet user.

Let’s Do Some Math

Now you have everything you need to make a decision about your budget. Let’s clarify it with an example.

For example, Mike’s spare time rate is $10 per hour and Jennifer is at $50 per hour. Mike know how to login to his facebook account but not tech savvy at all so he’ll complete his project around 350 hrs. Jennifer on the other hand, has some knowledge of HTML from the computer classes she took in college and she can complete the project in 200 hrs. If they hire a freelancer it will take about 75 hrs for both of them and if they hire an agency it will take about 20 hrs.

So Mike will create $3500 (10*350) worth of work if he chooses to create a website. If he collaborates with a freelancer, his work in the project will be $750 (10*75) and if he goes for an agency his work will be valued at $200 (10*20). The same numbers for Jennifer are $10000, $3750 and $1000 respectively.

Maximum Budget

We’re going to reach to maximum budget numbers by subtracting the management time from the total price tag of the project.


Mike’s maximum budget for an agency will be $3300 (3500-200). If he goes above this number it wouldn’t be a smart decision for him. If he decides to hire 2 freelancers (designer and a copywriter) his budget for them should be maximum $2000 (3500-750-750).

On the other hand, Jennifer should be willing to pay up to $9000 for an agency and up to $2500 for 2 freelancers.

Jennifer and Mike may have different maximum budgets for the same job, but the real budget should be the same (in a perfect world). If you’re Jennifer and going for an agency, you shouldn’t pay $9000 for something you can get at $3300. So what can you do not to get ripped off?

Transparent Pricing

Look for the agencies with more transparent website pricing. For instance in our agency we have different tiers of websites for different needs and we don’t price according to the budgets of our clients. Try to find pricing information in your preferred agency’s website, if there’s no pricing page it should be a red flag.

Know What You’re Paying For

Let’s go back to Mike and Jennifer. Let’s say they both decided to hire an agency and Mike got a proposal with a budget of $3k and Jennifer’s proposal was $5k. At the first look, some may think that Jennifer got ripped off. But the price tag isn’t the only criteria here. If Jennifer got a deal including 3 revisions instead of 1 revision in Mike’s proposal and if she got SEO optimization, quality checks, and deployment services actually her proposal may be a better one. So you should also ask for a price breakdown of the services from your agency or freelancer if you decide to hire one.


There are millions of books on this subject and I can’t really go into the details in a blog post. But especially if you decide to go with a company or freelancer that don’t advertise their prices, you have to negotiate. You can easily find 20-30% discounts if you do and that amount may be a great addition to your PPC budget. So don’t be shy on this.


Every website project is different and has its own requirements and needs. In this post, I’ve just tried to give you a methodology about determining your budget. The numbers are just to give examples or to provide you a rough guideline. You should carefully consider the unique aspects of your project and determine your budget accordingly. Actually, after calculating everything it makes sense to leave some room for errors. At the end, this isn’t an exact science. But we hope this post will help many of you to save money on your website projects.