What Does a Web Designer Do, exactly

You can build a website free or for very little cost on many build-it-yourself platforms so why should you hire an “expert?”

What exactly does a website designer DO that justifies the cost of a professional website?  I’d like to address this issue and clarify just what it is I do.

You aren’t paying for my time, you’re paying for my experience, expertise, and artistic talent!

Here’s a list of what I do for a typical 5-page website design project and the approximate time each step takes. It takes a lot of software and a lot of knowledge.

  • what does a web designer doHave a meeting or screen share with the client to help them decide what they want (and don’t want) their website to look like, and discuss the main goals of the website – .5 hour
  • Install WordPress on my test server – 1.5 hours
  • Find the right premium theme and plugins for the client’s website needs and goals – 2 hours
  • Install the theme and set up WordPress general settings – 1 hour
  • Design custom graphics (including a custom favicon) and purchase stock photos where appropriate – 12 hours
  • Re-size, touch up and optimize client’s photos to use on the website including brightness, color hue, saturation, gamma, and contrast.  Sometimes this requires changing the format of the photo if it makes sense. Read my article on Formatting Photos for the Web for more details on this.  – 3 hours
  • Place all of the graphic elements on the website and come up with the best layout for the client’s needs, goals and future growth based on our screen share and conversations.  – 3 hours
  • Build the navigation and pages from the information supplied to me from the client –  5 hours
  • Install and configure all necessary plugins that go on all websites. this is usually about 12 plugins for things like site backup, forms, traffic counter, caching, security, image optimizing to make the site load faster, SEO (a must have) and an Email Address Encoder (so the spam bots won’t see your email address) – 3 hours
  • Add page content in an easy to follow layout that will be interesting to your website visitors. – 3 hours
  • During the time I am building the website, I am receiving feedback from the client and usually need to make adjustments – 3 hours
  • Search Engine Optimization is considered throughout the content building, but when the website is close to being done, I start optimizing each page for the best keyword phrase, adding alt tags to images, making sure the keyword phrase is used enough times on the page and add the page title and description that will show up in google searches. 3 hours
  • Once the website is approved and ready to go live, I need to change the nameservers on the domain name to point to the new hosting servers. –  30 minutes
  • The site is now complete so now I need to set up the hosting account, set up email accounts and take into consideration how much server space and bandwidth will be needed. –  30 minutes
  • Next, I need to make a backup of the website and upload it to the new hosting.  I need to set up a MySQL database before I can upload the backup file. Then I can upload and install the website on its new server – 1 hour
  • Woo Hoo, your website is live, but my job isn’t done yet. I still need to optimize all main pages with the best keyword phrase possible to drive Google and other search engines to the website – 2 hours
  • Then I need to create an xml sitemap (sometimes more than one) so the search engines can easily crawl the site.  The last step is to get the website verified by Google and Bing/Yahoo (they are now the same company), submit the website and the sitemaps to Google and Bing/Yahoo so they know it needs to be indexed into their search engines. 1.5 Hour

website designer

What Does a Web Designer Do?  A lot of techie stuff most people don’t even want to know about!

If my math is any good, this is about 46 hours of work.  At my hourly rate of $60.00 that comes out to $2,760.00, which is more than I charge for a standard 6-page website.  Out of that $60.00, I need to put away $20.00 for Uncle Sam because I am self-employed.  I also didn’t figure in things like animated image sliders, website photo galleries, long forms that need to collect a lot of information, Google maps, embedded videos, shopping cart, event calendar and many other common features my clients want on their websites.

Now let’s consider what it cost’s me (annual average) to do my job.

  • Premium WordPress Themes: $800.00
  • Premium Plugins I have developer rights to so I can use them on your website:  $900.00 a year
  • Screen share program: $250.00 a year
  • Graphics and other software I need to build websites, format videos and lots of other tasks:  $500.00 a year to stay up to date
  • Super High-speed internet & long distance phone:  $1,500.00 a year
  • Stock Photos: $600.00
  • Training classes to keep up to date o current web design and SEO: $600.00 a year

So there you have it, in a nutshell, this is what I actually do to design a website.  In order to build an effective website that will help your business grow, I am a graphic designing, coding, researching, all around geek.  I love what I do – mostly because I thrive on learning and change and in the past 19 years the changes in website design have been incredible!

You may also like to read – Following A Web Design Process at Smashing Magazine.