Even if a web designer's price is perfect, they may not be the perfect choice to design your website. When choosing a web designer money is important, but equally important is making sure you're comparing apples to apples, and you understand what you're paying for.

Flat fee vs. hourly rates

Some web design proposals include cost estimates for the project, along with their hourly rates. These estimates are generally lower than flat fee quotes. If the project ends up taking longer than estimated, it could go over budget and may end up being higher overall than flat fee quotes.

Content list and functionality

The web designer's proposal should make it clear what you're getting in terms of content and functionality. A proposal that lists more content and functionality will be more expensive than one without these same features. To compare apples to apples, proposals should have similar content and functionality.

Design

Some web designers create custom web designs, while others re-use design templates. The web designer providing a custom web design will be more expensive, but their design is more likely to convey your unique brand identity.

Sometimes it can take a few rounds of comments before you're satisfied with the design. Does the web designer have limits on the number of revisions that can be made to their mockups? If so, this could be a hidden cost.

Another consideration is the number of design mockups you'll be able to choose between. A designer who provides you with more mockups will be more expensive, but there's a better chance one of their designs will be a winner.

Content management system

Open source content management systems like WordPress or Drupal do not have licensing fees, unlike proprietary or SaaS content management system. Licensing costs can add up over the lifetime of a website, so it's important to factor in these costs.

Depending on the CMS you choose, there may not be many qualified web designers with experience using your particular CMS. This would make it difficult to switch to a different web designer should the need ever arise. To maximize flexibility in the future, it's best to use a CMS with a high availability of developers. For example, WordPress or Drupal are the most popular content management systems in the world, making it easy to find a replacement web designer.

Proposed services

Web designers typically bundle a variety of services into their quote. These services increase their web design quote, but may be a worthwhile investment.

  • Usability & information architecture - how much time will the web designer spend on making the website easy to use?
  • Internet marketing - will the web designer help generate traffic to the website?
  • Training - will the web designer train you to maintain your own website?
  • User guide - will the web designer provide a user guide for completing common administrative tasks?

How do you decide if the price you've been quoted is fair?

Choosing a web designer shouldn't be based on exclusively on price, but instead on the value the web designer brings to the table. The topics discussed in this article will help you determine a web designer's true value, and make sure you get the most bang for your buck.

What's your take? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Johan Johansson is a web developer at Pixelmade, a Vancouver web design + internet marketing firm.You can find him on Twitter and Google+.