20 Replies Latest reply on Feb 19, 2010 6:30 PM by John Waller

    How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?

    jonboy0000 Level 1

      I'm not a web-designer - I'm an architect (or will be). But I got into graphic design a little, and just recently web-design. To be honest, it all seems to be coming naturally, and I just finished recreating the company-site of the place I work, and my own portfolio-site...

       

      Now - a coworker wants a website for a small business he's starting up. I want to help him, but don't have the time to volunteer my services. And neither of us wants to throw out a price offer, because we don't want to offend one another..

       

      So what's reasonable? We're both fresh out of school with a mountain of student loans each - I need money, and he has little to spend.

       

      1) do I charge hourly or as a flat-price?

      2) how much is reasonable for: a simple 5-page (or so) design, with a flash intro, custom-animated flash buttons (as links), a slideshow, built-in contact page, and some photoshop work? Keep in mind - I'm still kind of new to all this, so it'll take me some time..

       

      Anyways, thanks for any advice!

        • 1. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
          Ned Murphy Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          Just my opinion, avoid it--a been there done that kinda thing.  Tell your co-worker to seek the help of people who have solid design experience and get some quotes.  Any freelance service such as Guru.com allows 'employers' to post projects and get offers.  That will give your co-worker some good idea of pricing and may help them to make better decisions at this early stage.

           

          Don't charge for something you have yet to learn to do.  If you haven't the skill to do the job without a learning curve, then you're more likely to end up in an undesirable situation, if not in the near future, then down the road... especially if the co-worker is a friend.

          • 2. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
            Rob Hecker2-uhQIgt

            Ned makes good points, but since you are an architect, you may have a better education in design than many web designers. What you may not have a background in is the marketing aspects of web design, but again, neither do many web designers.

             

            Constructing websites with css and html is extremely easy. Probably best not to use flash as much as it sounds like you intend to use it. There is very little that can't be done without flash or javascript.

             

            Your question was about pricing. Charge by the hour but give an estimate, and stay within the estimate unless the client asks for more features/work or something you could not have anticipated causes the job to take longer. If the price does go up, talk to your client sooner than later. Don't give them a shock on the invoice.

             

            Appropriate cost for a simple five page website where the design takes little work to create can be less than $1000. But if the client doesn't have their content ready, if they make many changes, if they want revisions to the design, if they flake out on you, etc. --and that's how it usually goes, even with good clients.

             

            Best of luck. Hope this works out well for both of you.

            • 3. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
              Ken Binney-GnPIX3 Level 4

              Lose the sure-to-be gratuitous flash intro and charge $100/page

              • 4. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                John Waller Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                Speaking from an alternative point of view, if I was in your position I wouldn't take the job on. I avoid mixing business with friendship. It always starts with the best of intentions but it's a rocky road if it's not managed well by both of you.

                 

                You've stated that the budget's tight. You could easily end up working into the small hours reading endless tutorials feeling increasingly guilty about not delivering on time. Or resentful about the dwindling remuneration you're getting.

                 

                I was offered a startup project for a good friend recently and I declined. I preferred to help her get a good product than do the work for her when I didn't really have the time even though she had the money in her startup budget. It also meant she could put the pressure on the company she hired (which was required at times) without risking our friendship.

                 

                I would help him (e.g. timely advice and knowing what questions to ask) to get a good product from an established web design company catering for startups and learn as much as I could along the way about how they operate and how they deliver the product (good and/or bad).

                 

                Perhaps your friend could pay you as a consultant instead?

                • 5. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                  Nancy OShea Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  Put this in perspective.  When you were a first year architect student, a friend/family member called and asked you to design a work studio for them.

                   

                  How much would you have charged?

                  If things didn't work out as planned, were you covered by liability insurance?

                  Did you have a legal department to help you in the event of a lawsuit?

                  Knowing what you know today, would you have taken the project?

                   

                   

                  Nancy O.
                  Alt-Web Design & Publishing
                  Web | Graphics | Print | Media  Specialists
                  www.alt-web.com/
                  www.twitter.com/altweb
                  www.alt-web.blogspot.com

                  • 6. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                    JoeDaSilva Level 4

                    If you do decide to take this on despite the sound advice already given I suggest you figure out how many hours it'll take and then quote that. For your hourly rate a good rule of thumb is to divide how much you make per year by 1000. So if you make $60,000 a year, $60/hr is a fair rate. Now the fact you're not a working visual designer and an architect instead clearly confuses things, but that'll at least give you an idea of where to start.

                     

                    Good luck!

                     

                    PS:

                     

                    Don't use Flash for anything other than video.

                    • 7. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                      mhtruflo Level 1

                      Interesting discussion - I'm especially interested in the comments about Flash.  Some of the experts here seem to feel that Flash is something which may soon be obsolete (except when importing video), or is that too strong a word?  I'm interested to know as a fellow relative-novice why this is, and what it will be replaced by?  I'm enrolled onto a 2 day Adobe Flash course next month so I hope I'm not wasting my money!

                       

                      On the actual topic of this thread, I think if you have the skills then you should go for it and charge $1000 which, in my experience, is a decent price for a website.  All the stuff about legal cover isn't quite as relevant as it is to an architect, if a building falls down or is build incorrectly it could kill people and take a lot of money / time to fix.  A website is comparatively easy to fix and won't kill anyone.

                      • 8. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                        JoeDaSilva Level 4

                        In my opinion the days of Flash are indeed numbered. A few reasons why:

                         

                        • It still doesn't work with the 'back' button
                        • Users with visual disabilities have limited or no use of full Flash based sites
                        • The ability for search engines to crawl Flash isn't fully understood and may be a detriment to search engine optimization
                        • Flash isn't supported on the Apple Ipod or Apple Touch devices
                        • Flash won't be supported on the Apple Ipad
                        • HTML5 allows for video content without the Flash plugin, Youtube currently has a beta running that doesn't require Flash at all
                        • You can acheive almost any simple effect that Flash can do with a JavaScript library such as jQuery without the problems listed above

                         

                        In short, JQuery and Apple have a stranglehold on Flash.

                        • 9. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                          bregent Most Valuable Participant

                          I'd advise you to either do it for free or not to it at all. Based on your level of experience you should not be charging anyone for your services. Use it as a learning experience. And as other's have mentioned, mixing business with friends is usually a bad idea unless you are very experienced with this sort of thing. If you do take this on, put all of the requirements and expectations in writing. You may think this is not necessary because you are friends, but believe me you do. I lost two very good friend over a similar business arangment.

                          • 10. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                            vwgn Level 1

                            Joey, I agree with your main point BUT:

                             

                            • swf address function does allow the back button to work
                            • swf address  allows every "page" image etc to be bookmarked (although it makes building the site MUCH more complicated)
                            • while the iphone and ipad wont support flash, there are workarounds for redirecting to quicktime versions of the video. Again not ideal but possible

                             

                            There are ways to get around it but I agreethat flash has lost it appeal and jquery is a much more practical solution. I was mad enough at how different as2 and as3 are, and I am sure that things will only get worse for flash. Once html 5 is standard, jquery and html5/css3 will be capable of so much that flash does now, it will seal the deal.

                            • 11. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                              Rob Hecker2-uhQIgt Level 2

                              It's not suprising that this has become a popular post.

                               

                              Yes Flash sucks, it has always sucked, and even though Adobe didn't give birth to it, they adopted it and have not made it more practical.

                               

                              Don't forget that our original poster has an education in architecture, which combines art and design. He may well have a better grasp of design than many web designers. And the skills required to create a simple website are within the grasp of children.

                               

                              People who have been giving advice here to charge by the page or the site are giving dangerous advice. Charging by the job/page is a great way to get into conflicts with your client. ALWAYS charge by the hour, but give a reasonable estimate. Never charge over the estimate unless the client adds to the work or something extraordinary and unexpected adds to your efforts.

                               

                              And as for doing jobs for friends, family or colleges, that's called networking, which is the primary way that independent contractors get business. So to those of you who have been advising the poster not to take work from someone they know, what kind of slash-and-burn business tactics are you practicing?

                              • 12. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                                John Waller Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                                function(){return A.apply(null,[this].concat($A(arguments)))}

                                        ALWAYS charge by the hour, but give a reasonable estimate.


                                Interesting how different business models operate. I would say NEVER charge by the hour to quote for a project. No client wants that pricing upfront. It's OK for extras but as an initial quote it's the fastest way not to win work.

                                 

                                Always get a full, accurate scope of work and give a per project price.

                                 

                                function(){return A.apply(null,[this].concat($A(arguments)))}

                                And as for doing jobs for friends, family or colleges, that's called networking, which is the primary way that independent contractors get business.

                                No-one said networking is bad. It's great, if you know what you're doing, what your time is worth, what you're capable of delivering, what the project entails and manage your clients well.

                                 

                                Working as a favour for friends and colleagues on a shoestring budget with no clear scope of work and a limited skillset is bad. That's what loses you friends.

                                 

                                 

                                function(){return A.apply(null,[this].concat($A(arguments)))}

                                So to those of you who have been advising the poster not to take work from someone they know, what kind of slash-and-burn business tactics are you practicing?

                                 

                                Not sure how you arrive at such a ridiculous conclusion from this thread but see comments above.

                                 

                                To reiterate:

                                 

                                Networking is great - if you know what you're doing, what your time is worth, what the project entails and manage your clients well.

                                 

                                Working as a favour for friends and colleagues on a shoestring budget with no clear scope of work and a limited skillset is bad. That's what loses you friends.

                                • 13. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                                  jonboy0000 Level 1

                                  I appreciate all the advice from everyone - but I think Rob Hecker has it right.

                                   

                                  Maybe I wasn't clear in my original post, but this isn't exactly a "friend" of mine, he's a coworker. And with that in mind, forget all your concerns about infringing on our "friendship" with this business agreement - because that's all it is - business. And we both understand that.

                                   

                                  Even if he were a close friend, though, where's the harm in helping each other out, including compensation for good work? He wants to start a new business, and I can help him do that, but of course, not for free! And I'd like to get into web-design and other services as a bit of a free-lance/side-business, so he becomes my client. It's win/win the way I see it, so if anyone can elaborate on why exactly this is such a bad thing, please do. But I can't turn down a job offer simply because I work with the guy.

                                   

                                  And Fred put it perfectly - this is networking. This is the perfect way to get started, build up a portfolio, and learn first-hand how to work with clients in the future - clients that I wouldn't know personally and would expect a higher degree of professionalism from me. Call it a bit of a practice-run.

                                   

                                  NOW, what am I going to charge? Well, I took in what everyone suggested, and decided to charge per hour, but give a reasonable time-estimation per page. In the end, I only expect to make about $400 or so... I don't want to come away with a huge profit, but I do expect to be compensated fairly for my work.

                                   

                                  SO let's conclude - I gain my first private "client," plus experience, a new contact, and $400. He gains a website at a great price.

                                  • 14. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                                    John Waller Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                    I agree with you. Go for it. It's networking. If he needs what you're offering and you're both happy with the service and price then that's win-win.

                                     

                                    I don't agree with charging by the hour, and clients normally are very hesitant with such open ended agreements, but different people have different business models. I just take issue with people making wild accusations about slash-and-burn practices without knowing the full details.

                                     

                                    Re: working for friends,  a couple of us were merely offering a cautionary note about mixing friendship with business. It often works well. Sometimes it doesn't, especially when his money's involved and your time takes much longer than you both expected. That's not an issue for you here - that's great. Ignore what was said.

                                     

                                    Whatever you do, set up a written contract between you so you're both clear on your expectations.

                                     

                                    Patty Ayers has some great starter tools for a small charge:

                                    http://www.webdevbiz.com/

                                    They may cover things you never thought about.


                                    Best of luck.

                                    1 person found this helpful
                                    • 15. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                                      jonboy0000 Level 1

                                      I also need to address this comment:

                                       

                                      "Working as a favour for friends and colleagues on a shoestring budget with no clear scope of work and a limited skillset is bad. That's what loses you friends."

                                       

                                      First, working for friends and colleagues is a great way to expand on a limited skillset. Also, with a "shoestring" budget, I think going to a friend/colleague who is eager to learn is a great way to get a quality product for a fair price - better than any web-design firm would charge, likely for the same quality.

                                       

                                      If I were not asking for any compensation, and this were in fact a "favor" for him - then I could see this becoming a problem. I'd do what I feel is enough to get him started, but if he wanted more, then (1) I'd feel obligated to continue to help him rather than leave him hanging, although at a certain point, I'd probably want to blow him off and do something more productive, and worth my time, and (2) I couldn't later ask  for payment after I already begin for free.

                                       

                                      But since there is a mutual agreement from the getgo - "I pay this amount for this product" - we both know what to expect and neither of us need to feel like we're being unfair to the other. I think that as long as I'm honest with him in the beginning, as far as what I can do and what I can't, then there should be no surprises in the end, and everyone should come away happy.

                                      But I can keep you informed on how this develops. Again, thanks everyone for your advice! 

                                      • 16. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                                        jonboy0000 Level 1

                                        Well maybe I'll have to give hourly charges a second thought. But the written agreement I think is a great idea, something I hadn't really though of since I know him personally. But a great way to avoid conflict..

                                        • 17. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                                          JoeDaSilva Level 4

                                          Hourly is the only way to go in my opinion. Let's say you set aside ten hours to design the homepage, spend eight on the initial concept and save two for revisions. If he keeps waffling on what he wants and you get into the 20 hour range you can go back (if you so choose) and say, "Listen co-worker friend, I budgeted for ten hours and have spent double that so far - if this continues on we'll have to renegotiate the quote". If you use a fixed-price model you're a slave until he's happy.

                                           

                                          Also:

                                          • Make sure you have a written agreement, even if it's simple - and that he understands what he's getting
                                          • Make sure he signs-off on the deisgn concept before you start creating the markup
                                          • Watch for "feature-creep"
                                          • 18. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                                            John Waller Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                            Good fixed price models should lead to the exact opposite of slavery. A clear product with a clear price in a clear timeframe. Web designer is happy. Client is happy.

                                             

                                            They depend on a clear scope of work and you putting an accurate estimate on it. It's not for novices for who have never project managed a client and are learning their web techniques as they go. It also requires you to discipline your client into establishing exactly what he or she wants before you start. Most clients have little or no idea. Your job is to cut through the fog and give them a clear picture up front.

                                             

                                            The scenario you describe encourages feature creep which may force you to renegotiate the quote part way through the project. Or decide to finish the rest on your own time and get rid of the client. If you allow that to happen, that's exactly where the client relationship falls apart.

                                            • 19. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                                              JoeDaSilva Level 4

                                              There's very little difference in the approach that we're each suggesting really. But my argument is that by basing the price on a number of project hours he has something to fall back on in the event the client gets out of control. If his client sends him a link to some random website he likes that has a feature that would take 20 hours to integrate mid-way through the project he can go back to his hours-based quote and suggest a change-order. With a fixed-priced, "all you can eat" model what argument is he to make then? What is he to do when the client has twenty of his friends providing feedback and going through weeks of revisions?

                                               

                                              You can certainly make the argument that if he's more efficient than he planned he could make *more* money per hour than he could with an hourly rate, but I get the feeling that probably won't happen in this case ;-)

                                              • 20. Re: How much do I charge to design a co-worker's website for a starter business?
                                                John Waller Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                Fair enough, Joey. Good points. There's plenty to agree on and discuss there but not in this thread.

                                                 

                                                Cheers.

                                                 

                                                Hopefully the OP has a good experience.