what's a fair amount to charge to build and maintain a web site for a small clothing boutique?


I'm a professional programmer. I've been asked to visit the owner of a small downtown clothing boutique because she wants a "web presence". Probably just a simple place holder web site with their contact info, hours, and so on. I'm pretty sure they don't want any online shopping cart or ability to take credit cards and so on.

My question is, what's a fair price to charge for such work? I'm guessing the actual design of the website will take me a good 16 hours -- in my professional "day job" I bill anywhere between $550 to $700 a day, so I guess that makes the design work worth about $1600 max.

But I'm thinking that if I'm registering the domain, hosting it for them, setting up email accounts, and responsible for maintaining the site, I'd like some kind of on going payment.

Would suggesting something like $100 a month indefinitely be a good idea? Or is it likely a small business would prefer to be billed by the quarter? Or would I be much better off just getting a lump sum up front?

So options are:

  • $2000 up front includes all hosting an maintenance (indefinitely?)
  • $100 a month indefinitely (I'm worried they'll be annoyed at the end of each month and it might prompt them to search out alternatives)
  • $400 a quarter indefinitely?

Or am I asking way too little (or way too much) for this kind of project?

Any advice is GREATLY appreciated.


Prices Charging Web Billing

asked Mar 27 '12 at 23:45
141 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • Please explain how you estimating the price to build a common website is related to startups. – Blunders . 12 years ago
  • This is not a startup question. – Net Tecture 12 years ago

3 Answers


I think your pricing is a bit extreme - and you've over-complicated the situation.

A store that "just wants a web presence" can be handled with a simple WordPress site, which should not take you more than half a day to set up, including loading all their information, tracking down a usable theme, and providing some customization.

Additionally, the maintenance costs you illustrate assume a fair bit of work - but maintaining such sites is usually close to no work.

I would lean toward a flat fee to set up the site, somewhere in the area of $500 to $1,000. Isolate out what you will not be including in that price (e.g. a new logo design, taking pictures of their products, cost of hosting, etc) and determine an hourly rate for that stuff. Since you won't personally be hosting their site, though you may arrange for it (and pay for it up-front), the fee should basically be a pass-through, with a small annual fee for that.

Regarding maintenance, you can either choose the retainer route, in which they pay a monthly fee, and you provide the work needed, or just be available when needed at a specified hourly rate.

Regarding your concern they may go elsewhere, this will be true if you either provide sub-par quality work, or if you charge them more than what the work is worth. If you aren't willing to work for what the work is worth (e.g. you don't want to do this project for less than $2,000), that does not mean that you should charge more - it means you'll need to demonstrate additional value to justify a higher fee.

answered Mar 27 '12 at 23:57
4,692 points
  • Thanks for the feedback. I had not thought of using something like Wordpress -- I think of that more for blogs, would Wordpress be appropriate for a simple 2 or 3 page "brochure" web site? – User11476 12 years ago
  • @user11476: WordPress has plugins for e-commerce but it wasn't designed to support it so back-end management is convoluted. – Dnbrv 12 years ago
  • If there's no e-commerce, then WordPress can be a perfect solution. You don't need to use the blogging functionality, and it would allow the customer to manage some of their content on their own. – Elie 12 years ago


"Probably just a simple place holder web site with their contact info, hours, and so on. I'm pretty sure they don't want any online shopping cart or ability to take credit cards and so on."

The fastest way to go out of business is to provide a price quote based on the information shown above. If you don't have an exact specification for what they want to do, any price you provide is an inaccurate guess. I suggest you set up a meeting with these people and find out exactly what they want. If they aren't sure, it's your job to figure out what they need and write up a specification for it. Your specification will let you formulate a correct price.

answered Mar 28 '12 at 01:42
Gary E
12,510 points


I think that WordPress would be your best option. Have a website setup in no time and using WordPress would enable them to have control over the content (a lot of people like this) if they wanted to, so you wouldn't have to be responsible for making simple changes like updating their business address, etc. Also, it is easy to integrate the WordPress blog functionality into the website, which most people enjoy as well and can lead to increased traffic on their websites.

answered Apr 11 '12 at 16:28
Crunch Sum
41 points

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Prices Charging Web Billing