If WordPress Is Free Why Do “Web Designers” Charge For It?

I can’t answer for them. What I can say is that it does appear as though some web professionals do seem to “pretend” they are doing a lot more work than they actually are. I have seen “designers” charge $1400 or more for very simple installs and customization of WordPress installs. It seems mostly to affect the Real Estate and Restaurant worlds, but I’m sure it spills into others.

The truth is most WordPress setups and customization jobs take less than 4 hours and should not cost more than about $280 plus hosting and theme costs. There are plenty of free graphics, public domain, available. Most themes cost $60 or less. Let me take a hard left here and explain what you might pay $1400 for:

  • WordPress Install (with basic plugins) – $65
  • Theme – $60
  • Web Hosting – $100
  • Graphics – $65
  • CSS modification – $130
  • (that’s what you get from me on most basic WordPress websites)
  • Additional custom graphics – $130
  • Text content/page creation – $650
  • Additional plugins/customization – $200
Screenshot of a custom WordPress website.

Screenshot of a custom WordPress website.

If you paid $1400 and didn’t get about 10 articles or additional pages of content written for you, more than just a them installed and a custom header created, and at least have the colors of the them components like buttons, backgrounds, menus, and frames, changed to match your specifications: You probably over-payed.

WordPress Installation/Setup

This means I will install either through FTP or your hosting control panel 1 copy of the WordPress framework. I will also install 6 essential plugins that I recommend outside of the ones which come in WP as a standard. You’re not paying for WP or the plugins–just the time to install and configure. You could take over from this point and do everything yourself.

WordPress Theme

Actually you select your own theme or I select one for you. Either way you simply pay the cost of the theme. If it’s a free theme (there are thousands) then you pay nothing. If it’s a $199 enterprise designed theme…you pay $199.

WordPress Web Hosting

You can host anywhere they support WP which means a web server that runs PHP and MySQL. Both of these are essential to WP and you cannot use WP without them. I recommend this WordPress hosting service for many reasons. There are thousands but I have great success for this one with the majority of small websites.

Custom Graphics

I am not, I repeat, I am not a graphic guru. I create most of the graphics for my small business clients and they are web optimized but I will never win an award. Conversely most graphics people, as much as many of them like to think otherwise, are not web developers. To create a custom header to match your basic theme I charge $65.

CSS Modification

To make the theme look more like it needs to when truly customizing your installation it takes time to create a child-theme and make the necessary changes. This controls font size, font type, font color, border colors, background colors and graphics, button colors, etc. This is where web developers generally separate themselves from the heard of cookie-cutter “web masters” and “web designers”. In fact I am often hired by graphic designers and project managers to only do this portion of WordPress. Something many people don’t know needs to be done or don’t know how to accomplish is making sure the design is responsive. Responsive design means the website displays well on any device and browser including mobile devices and tablets. (This is VERY important in today’s world.)

Additional Custom Graphics

Sometimes clients want sliders or other slideshow effects. This means sourcing, re-sizing, and doing typography. This takes a couple of hours to complete for the standard, simple customization and generally costs around $130 to complete.

Text Content, Page Creation

Many times my small clients don’t have time, don’t know what to write, or simply want professional copy to get their site started. This often requires phone conversations (interviews) and research to complete in a professional manner. This is enough to create about 10 solid “pages” of information which could also include well written blog articles. Because high quality graphics are now available royalty free I always include at least one matching graphic per page.

Additional Plugins and Customization

While this figure could jump dramatically the fee of $65 covers enough time to install more plugins or make additional theme customization changes. All in all for $1400 you should have a very bang-up website fully functional with contact forms, security measures, an automated backup system (archives), social engagement functions, and a good overall appearance that works well on all devices. If not, you may be dealing with the wrong WordPress developer!