How much does it cost to hire a web developer?

  • Tips for Hiring
  • Engineering, Dev & IT
Contra Tips
· 18 min read

You've got a brilliant idea for a website or web application that could take your business to the next level. You're excited, motivated, and ready to bring your vision to life. But then reality hits you like a ton of bricks: you need a web developer to make it happen, and you have no idea how much it's going to cost.

Suddenly, you find yourself drowning in a sea of questions.

  • How much should you budget for a web developer?
  • What factors influence the overall website cost and hourly rate for design?
  • How can you ensure you're getting a fair deal without sacrificing quality?
  • Can't I avoid a high website cost with a DIY website?

The uncertainty is enough to make you want to throw in the towel before you even start on your custom website - let alone buy a domain name.

But don't worry, you're not alone. Many business owners and entrepreneurs find themselves in the same boat, struggling to navigate the complex world of website design cost. The good news is that by understanding the key factors that impact web development costs, you can make informed decisions and find the right developer for your project without draining your bank account.

Bringing your website ideas to life requires more than just knowing who to hire - you need to know what goes into website cost - be it the website builder, the website design, or the hourly rate of a freelance web pro. The good news? Once you know a bit about the role and the process, you can land the best freelance web designers without breaking your budget (and paying an excellent rate for top-tier talent!)

So, whether you're a small business owner, a startup founder, or an enterprise decision-maker, this guide is for you. Get ready to take control of your website builder and website design cost - and unlock the secrets to finding the perfect developer at the right price.

You get what you pay for - what does a web developer do?

"You cost how much?!" - it's easy to imagine a web developer simply pulling up website builder software and dropping buttons onto boxes. So why not just DIY website design? 

But the reality is that website design and development is far much more - and so are developers themselves. Here are just a few of the factors that go into the overall website design cost.

1. A website designer knows how to build from the ground up

First off, they've got the technical chops to make your website sing. I'm talking about a deep understanding of all the programming languages, frameworks, and tools that go into building a website that looks great and works like a charm.

Whether it's front-end development with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript or back-end magic with Python, Ruby, or PHP, a talented developer has the skills to create a seamless and engaging user experience.

But it's not just about writing lines of code. A great web developer is also a problem-solver extraordinaire. They can take your complex ideas and requirements and turn them into a reality. They think outside the box, anticipate potential roadblocks, and come up with clever solutions to keep your project on track.

2. A website design guru creates customized solutions for your target audience

And let's not forget about the importance of user experience (UX) design. A website that looks pretty but is a nightmare to navigate? No, thank you! A web design expert with UX design skills knows how to create intuitive user journeys, optimize navigation, and craft interfaces that are both visually stunning and user-friendly. They put themselves in your users' shoes to ensure that your website is a joy to explore.

3. Web developers can combine custom website design with long-term results

Now, I know what you might be thinking. "But what about getting my website to show up on Google?" Don't worry; a savvy freelance website developer has got you covered there, too. They understand the ins and outs of search engine optimization (SEO) and can work their magic to help your website climb those search engine rankings. From optimizing your website's structure and content to making sure it loads lightning-fast, a developer with SEO knowledge is like having a secret weapon in your online success arsenal.

4. Your freelance web developer is your developer

A web developer isn't just a lone wolf coding away in a dark room. They're also fantastic collaborators and communicators. They'll work closely with you, listening to your ideas and providing valuable insights along the way. They'll keep you in the loop with regular updates and are always open to your feedback. It's like having a partner in crime who's just as invested in your website's success as you are.

5. Web developers are masters of digital safety and security

And last but certainly not least, a skilled web developer is your website's guardian angel when it comes to security and maintenance. They know how to implement tough security measures to keep your website and data safe from cyber threats. Plus, they'll be there for you long after the initial launch, providing ongoing support and maintenance to keep your website running smoothly.

So, when you're on the hunt for a web developer, remember that you're not just paying for someone to write code. You're investing in a multifaceted professional who brings technical expertise, problem-solving prowess, UX design skills, SEO knowledge, collaboration, and security to the table. They're the secret sauce that can take your website from "meh" to "magnificent!"

Types of web developers and their rates

Now that we've covered the incredible value a skilled web developer brings let's break down the different types of developers you might encounter and what you can expect in terms of their rates.

Front-end Developers

Front-end developers are the wizards who make your website look and feel amazing. They specialize in the client side of web development, using languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create visually appealing and interactive user interfaces. Think of them as the designers who bring your website to life and make it a joy to use.

Rates for front-end developers can vary based on their experience and location, but on average, you can expect to pay between $50 to $150 per hour. Keep in mind that more experienced front-end developers with a strong portfolio may command higher rates.

Back-end Developers

While front-end developers focus on the visible parts of your website, back-end developers are the masterminds behind the scenes. They work on the server side of web development, using languages like Python, Ruby, PHP, or Java to build the underlying structure and functionality of your website.

Back-end developers ensure your website can handle complex tasks, process data efficiently, and integrate with databases and APIs.

Back-end developer rates typically range from $75 to $200 per hour, depending on their expertise and the complexity of the project. Highly experienced back-end developers with specialized skills may charge even higher rates.

Full-stack Developers

Full-stack developers are the jack-of-all-trades in the web development world. They have a comprehensive skill set that covers both front-end and back-end development. Full-stack developers can handle every aspect of your website, from the user interface to the server-side logic. They are versatile problem-solvers who can take your project from start to finish.

Given their extensive knowledge and ability to handle complex projects, full-stack developers often command higher rates compared to specialized front-end or back-end developers. Expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $250 per hour for a skilled full-stack developer.

Specialized Developers

In addition to the broad categories of front-end, back-end, and full-stack developers, some developers specialize in specific platforms or technologies.

For example, WordPress developers focus on building and customizing websites using the WordPress content management system (CMS). Shopify developers, on the other hand, specialize in creating and optimizing e-commerce stores on the Shopify platform.

Rates for specialized developers can vary widely based on their niche and level of expertise. WordPress developers typically charge between $50 to $150 per hour, while Shopify developers may charge $75 to $200 per hour. Keep in mind that rates for specialized developers may be higher if they have a proven track record of delivering high-quality results in their specific niche.

It's vital to note that these are general ranges, and actual rates may differ based on location, project scope, and developer experience. In the next section, we'll explore these factors in more detail and help you understand how they impact web developer costs.

Remember, when it comes to choosing a web developer, it's essential to consider their skills, experience, and track record rather than solely focusing on the lowest price. Investing in a skilled developer who aligns with your project requirements can save you time, money, and headaches in the long run.

What factors affect web developer costs?

When it comes to determining the cost of hiring a freelance web developer, several key factors come into play. Understanding these factors will help you navigate the pricing landscape and make informed decisions for your project. Let's dive into each of these factors and explore how they impact web developer rates and the potential website cost.

Experience and skill level

One of the most significant factors influencing web developer costs is their experience and skill level. Developers with more years of experience and a proven track record of delivering successful projects often command higher rates. They bring a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and problem-solving abilities to the table, which can be invaluable for complex or high-stakes projects.

On the other hand, newer developers or those with less experience may offer more affordable rates. However, it's essential to carefully evaluate their portfolio and references to ensure they have the necessary skills to handle your project effectively.

Location and market demand

The location of the web developer and the market demand in their area can also impact their rates. Developers based in major tech hubs or cities with a high cost of living may charge higher rates compared to those in smaller towns or regions with a lower cost of living.

Additionally, the demand for web development services in a particular location can influence pricing. If there is a high demand for developers with specific skill sets, such as expertise in a particular programming language or framework, their rates may be higher due to the competitive market.

Project complexity and scope

The complexity and scope of your project are crucial factors in determining web developer costs. A simple website with a few pages and basic functionality will typically require less effort and time compared to a complex web application with multiple features, integrations, and custom functionality.

When discussing your project with a potential website designer or developer, be clear about your requirements and provide as much detail as possible. This will help developers accurately estimate the time and resources needed to complete the project and provide you with a more precise quote.

Urgency and timeline

The urgency of your project and the timeline you require can also impact web developer rates. Developers may charge a premium for their services if you have a tight deadline and need the project completed quickly. Rush jobs often require web designer freelancers to prioritize their projects over others and work additional hours to meet the deadline.

On the other hand, if you have a flexible timeline and can allow developers to work at their regular pace, you may be able to negotiate more favorable rates.

Additional services throughout website development

Web development projects often involve more than just coding. Many developers offer additional services such as design, testing, and maintenance, which can impact the overall cost of the project.

If you require design services, such as creating wireframes, mockups, or user interface designs, this will add to the project scope and cost. Similarly, if you need extensive testing to ensure the website or application functions properly across different devices and browsers, this will require additional time and effort from the developer.

Post-launch website maintenance costs are also important considerations. Some developers offer ongoing maintenance packages to keep your website up-to-date, secure, and performing optimally. These services may be priced separately or bundled into the overall project cost.

When evaluating web developer costs, it's essential to consider the full scope of services you require and factor them into your budget. Be clear about your expectations and discuss any additional services with potential developers to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the project requirements and associated costs.

Pricing models for web development projects

When it comes to pricing web development projects, there are several common models that freelance web designers and clients use. Each pricing model has its own advantages and considerations, and the best choice will depend on your specific project requirements and preferences.

Let's explore the four main pricing models you may find across freelancers in web design: hourly rates, project-based pricing, retainer agreements, and value-based pricing.

Hourly Rates

Hourly rate pricing is a straightforward model where a web designer charges a set rate for each hour of work they put into your project. This model offers flexibility and can be suitable for projects with evolving requirements or uncertain scopes.

Advantages of hourly rate pricing:

  • Flexibility to adjust the project scope as needed
  • Transparency in the amount of work performed
  • Suitable for ongoing maintenance and support


  • Difficulty in predicting the total project cost upfront with an hourly rate
  • Potential for scope creep and higher costs if the project takes longer than expected
  • Requires careful tracking and management of hours worked

Project-Based Pricing

Compared to hourly rate pricing, project-based pricing involves agreeing on a fixed price for the entire project based on a well-defined scope of work. This model provides clarity and predictability for both the client and the freelance professional during the website building process.

Advantages of project-based pricing:

  • Clear understanding of the total project cost upfront
  • Encourages efficient work and timely delivery
  • Simplifies budgeting and planning for the client


  • Requires a detailed and accurate project scope to avoid misunderstandings
  • Less flexibility for changes or additional features once the project begins
  • Potential for developers to build in a buffer to account for uncertainties

Retainer Agreements

Retainer agreements involve paying a developer a fixed amount on a regular basis (e.g., monthly) for a set number of hours or a specific scope of work. This model is suitable for ongoing projects or long-term collaborations - such as a client hiring a web design expert for a variety of web design services for different clients.

Advantages of retainer agreements:

  • Guarantees a certain amount of work or availability from the developer
  • Provides a predictable monthly cost for the client
  • Allows for a deeper understanding and familiarity with the client's needs over time


  • Requires a long-term commitment from both parties, which can impact overall website cost
  • May not be suitable for short-term or one-off projects
  • Requires clear communication and expectation setting to ensure value for both parties

Value-Based Pricing

In most cases, it's not about the website cost - it's about the website builder and their skills. Value-based pricing focuses on the perceived value and impact of the project rather than solely on the time and effort required. This model aligns the developer's compensation with the client's goals and the outcomes achieved.

Advantages of value-based pricing:

  • Aligns the developer's incentives with the client's success
  • Encourages innovation and high-quality work
  • Can result in higher earnings for developers who deliver exceptional results


  • Requires a clear understanding of the client's goals and desired outcomes
  • Can be challenging to quantify the value delivered
  • Requires trust and transparency between the client and developer

When choosing a pricing model for your web development project, consider your project's specific needs, timeline, budget, and the level of flexibility you require. It's essential to have open and honest discussions with potential developers to determine which pricing model aligns best with your expectations and their working style.

Remember, the pricing model is just one aspect of the overall collaboration. Building a strong, trust-based relationship with your chosen developer is crucial for the success of your project, regardless of the pricing structure. Whether it's a business website or an ecommerce website, you want to know that your web development is being handled by an expert.

Why hire freelancers for your website design?

Whether you're looking to build a new website, revamp an existing one, or create a custom web application, hiring freelance web developers and designers can offer numerous benefits compared to working with an in-house team or a large agency. Let's explore some of the key advantages of collaborating with freelance talent.

1. You can reduce the website cost with freelancers

One of the most significant benefits of hiring freelance web developers and designers is cost-effectiveness. When you work with freelancers, you only pay for the specific services you need, without the overhead costs associated with maintaining an in-house team. You don't have to worry about expenses such as employee benefits, office space, equipment, or training.

Freelancer web designers also offer flexibility in terms of project scope and duration. Depending on your needs, you can hire them for short-term projects or ongoing collaborations. This allows you to allocate your budget more efficiently and avoid long-term commitments when your requirements are uncertain.

2. Access to a wide pool of website builder talent

Hiring freelancers gives you access to a vast pool of talented web developers and designers from around the world. You're not limited by geographical boundaries or the local talent market. This is particularly advantageous if you're looking for specific skill sets or expertise that may be scarce in your area.

Freelance platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr have made it easier than ever to connect with skilled professionals from diverse backgrounds and locations. You can browse through portfolios, read reviews, and communicate with potential candidates to find the perfect match for your project.

3. Flexibility and agility are the name of the freelance game

Freelance web developers and designers offer unparalleled flexibility and agility compared to traditional hiring models. They are accustomed to working on multiple projects simultaneously and can adapt quickly to changing requirements or priorities.

When you work with freelancers, you have the freedom to scale your team up or down based on your project needs. You can bring in additional expertise when required and release resources when the workload decreases. This flexibility allows you to respond swiftly to market demands and take advantage of new opportunities without the constraints of a fixed in-house team.

4. From website design to website maintenance, freelancers bring fresh perspectives

Freelance web developers and designers bring fresh perspectives and specialized skills to your projects. They have worked with a diverse range of clients and industries, exposing them to various challenges and solutions. This breadth of experience allows them to offer unique insights and innovative approaches to your projects.

Freelancers often specialize in specific areas of web development or design, such as front-end development, user experience (UX) design, or e-commerce solutions. By hiring freelancers with specialized expertise, you can leverage their knowledge and skills to create high-quality, impactful digital experiences for your users.

5. You avoid DIY and enjoy a faster time to market

Hiring freelance web developers and designers can help you accelerate your time to market. Freelancers are often highly motivated and dedicated to delivering results quickly. They understand the importance of meeting deadlines and are willing to go the extra mile to ensure your project is completed on time.

Moreover, freelancers are not bogged down by the bureaucracy and internal processes that can slow down progress in larger organizations. They can focus solely on your project and work efficiently to bring your vision to life.

6. Your website design cost comes with quality work and professionalism

Freelance web developers and designers stake their reputations on the quality of their work. They understand that delivering exceptional results is crucial for attracting future clients and building a strong portfolio. As a result, they are highly motivated to provide top-notch services and maintain a professional demeanor throughout the project.

When you work with experienced freelancers, you can expect a high level of professionalism, clear communication, and a commitment to meeting your expectations. They value client satisfaction and are willing to go above and beyond to ensure your project's success.

The best website builders live on Contra

Are you ready to find a freelance designer or developer who can help you bring a professional website to life? Skip the DIY and find quality, vetted freelance web design talent on Contra - the premier online talent marketplace connecting soloprenuers and clients every day.

With no commission fees and tons of excellent tools, Contra helps reduce your website concerns by bringing you the best freelance web designers and developers with years of experience creating custom website solutions. And with the growing online talent pool of SEO experts, hosting provider professionals, and content writers, you can build websites fast.

Enjoy a lower average cost for web design and meet your next favorite freelance on Contra today. sign up and see why freelance website developers and their clients choose Contra.

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