How Do I Charge?

I wish I could give you a short answer that answers all your queries but I can’t. Nonetheless, here’s my short answer to how I charge for my services.

I charge per template and I don’t charge per page.

The cost of your web site will depend on the number of templates required for your web site. The templates I am referring to are the web design templates and code templates of your web site, which you can find out more below.

If you already have an existing web site design made in a Adobe Photoshop PSD file, you only need to hire me to work on the code to create a web site. If you have neither a web design template and code templates of your web site, I would need to create them all from scratch.

I really need to fill up this page to explain to you the benefits of my pricing format and educate you on the following:

  • How other web designers are ripping people off by charging per page.
  • Why I consider the creation of “static pages” a backward practice that belongs in the early to mid 1990s and not in the year 2010 and beyond.
  • Why you should make the transition to free and open source content management systems like WordPress to manage your web site.
  • Why you shouldn’t pay a web designer monthly maintenance fees to update the content on your web site.
  • The skills, time and work required to create a great web site.

The business of web design is filled with a lot of people who think they can prey on people who know nuts about web design. I’m the type of person who believes, “Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should”, instead of being a typical web designer who does not go into great detail on how he works and shies away from breaking down the individual charges of his services.

I decided that I wanted to share as much knowledge as possible so that people can gain a deeper understanding of web design/development and appreciate the fine art of creating great web sites.

Number of Templates Vs Number of Pages

Almost every modern web site you see on the internet is database-driven and template-driven. What that means is your content is stored in a database and it is retrieved from the database and displayed on your web site’s pages.

The Difference Between Dynamic and Static Pages

A single file, usually written in HTML and a web scripting language like PHP, can be used as a template to generate hundreds or more pages of content. These pages are called dynamic pages because the content changes depending on what it is required to display.

Static pages are usually HTML pages that contain content within the HTML file. They generally do not content from a database. If you want to have 5 pages of content with static pages, you need to create 5 files. This requires a lot of work to create and update because you have to change a lot of files to update the content across your web site.

An Example of a Template in Action

You don’t have to look very far to see an example of a database-driven web site because you’re already looking at one.

I’m going to show you the screen shots of 2 of my blog posts below and I want you to spot the differences in the 2 screen shots.

How Do I Charge?

1&1 Offering Web Domains for Only $4.99
http://www.maverickwebcreations.com/2010/11/08/11-offering-web-domains-for-only-4-99.html

How Do I Charge?

Where Can I Get Cheap Web Domain Names?
http://www.maverickwebcreations.com/2008/06/10/where-can-i-get-cheap-web-domain-names.html

Did you spot the difference? The only thing that is different in the 2 screen shots is the content!

Both of them share the same basic layout and only the content on the right side of the page is different. They have their post titles and file names in your browser but the magic is they are both using a single file, ironically called single.php in my WordPress theme.

It is also important to note the file names 11-offering-web-domains-for-only-4-99.html and where-can-i-get-cheap-web-domain-names.html won’t be found on the web server because they are not real file names but virtual ones. In WordPress, this is done through PHP and the Apache web server’s mod_rewrite module.

That is why a database-driven web site may seem like it has thousands of pages on the web server but you can’t find that many files on the web server because the content is delivered through templates.

Start Counting the Number of Templates Instead of Pages

This web site uses 7 general templates:

  1. Templates for the header, menu, footer and sidebar.
  2. Home page template.
  3. Page template for the services, products, terms of use, privacy policy and about me pages.
  4. Contact page template.
  5. Sitemap page template.
  6. Blog index/archive template.
  7. Blog post template.

Start looking at your existing web site if you have one and count the number of templates your web site uses. Most of the elements of a web site stay the same and most pages follow a consistent layout. You should be able to visualise how the content of your web site will look like on these templates.

Why You Should Ditch Static Web Pages and Use WordPress or Other Content Management Systems (CMS)

I don’t recommend the creation of static web pages unless you only wish to create a web site that’s like an online brochure. If that is the case, you are seriously missing out on the massive potential of the internet for interacting with your customers and visitors.

There are lots of reasons why you should use a content management system and here are just a couple of reasons I can think of.

  • You save money because you don’t have to pay a web programmer a small fortune to create a CMS for you from scratch when most PHP CMSs are free, open source, mature in development and user-friendly.
  • You save time because you can easily add and manage the content on your web site yourself without the need to learn to code in HTML.
  • You save even more money by not paying a web designer monthly maintenance fees for updating the content of your web site.
  • You can connect your web site’s content to other social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter via the RSS feeds generated by your CMS.
  • You can expand your web site easily with plugins to extend the features of your web site over time if required.

If you’re still creating HTML pages and manually uploading them to your web server via FTP, stop doing it! You’re wasting your precious time by doing that because there are more efficient ways to create content on your web site today.

That is why I don’t charge per page because if you’ve got a CMS and the ability to create a page on your web site yourself within a few minutes, why should I be charging you for all the pages on your web site?

Web Design Templates and Code Templates

It is important that you understand the differences between a web design template and code template before we talk about actual prices.

An Example of a Web Design Template

How Do I Charge?

The screen shot above is a design of one of my web sites in Adobe Photoshop CS5. The design was made in Photoshop in the PSD file format.

It is filled with dummy content to fill up the space and to get a feel of how the content will look like once the web site has been completed. The design template is built to almost pixel perfection, which means it is built to scale so that I know what to code when I am creating the code templates.

An Example of a Code Template

How Do I Charge?

The screen shot above is the home page template of this web site in Adobe Dreamweaver 8. The source code has a combination of PHP, HTML, CSS and jQuery (Javascript). The file name was saved in the PHP file format and it will only run on a PHP-enabled web server.

The source code controls not only the look and feel of a web site but also the behaviour. All the interaction between the user and the web server is done through the programming code of the web pages.

Okay Vince, How Much Do You Charge?

Thanks for taking the time to learn about the differences between a web design template and a code template and the different skills required to create them. Please check out my rates page to find out how much I charge for my services.