Fixed Cost vs Hourly – How to Pay a Contractor to Redesign Your Website

Chris McIntosh March 17, 2017

Let’s face it, websites need to be redesigned regularly and the adage “you get what you pay for” applies big time. Any business professional will recognize these two truths. You just want to get the biggest bang for your buck. That’s why how a web design contractor charges for the service is just as important as choosing the right contractor in the first place.

There are many ways that website design and development projects can be priced, but it often boils down to a choice between paying a fixed cost “package” for the work or paying by the hour.

So, let’s examine the differences between paying the “time and materials” way for design services and a fixed cost website.


Fixed Cost Website

Fixed Cost Basics

As the name says, the price is set in stone. You, the customer, figure out your requirements for website redesign and the contractor works with you on a fee. It’s about meeting the customer’s requirements, while the contracting company has to figure out its own investment in doing the job.

Simple Security

With fixed cost, what you agree on is what you get. The price shouldn’t change and should involve no surprises because both parties signed a clear contract. So, if the customer has done his homework well, his expectations will be met, as will the expectations of the designer.

Limited Flexibility

If you need something that goes outside of the deal’s parameters, you will have to pay extra for it. Therefore, before signing the contract, read carefully, again and again, to be 100% certain that it is what you really want and will work for you. For example, look to see if a follow-up service – for debugging and tweaking – is included in the price or is extra. It’s not a problem for the company you will hire to adjust some details in the contract. So, if you need a change, make it.

Who Should Go With Fixed Cost?

A fixed cost website is a good idea for someone who has a very clear idea of the site they want without special extra requirements.

Hourly Rate Website

Here you pay a set amount per hour that the contractor spends working on the website redesign contract. You don’t pay for specific services done, but for the time and materials consumed to do them.

Risk: Unclear Price Throughout the Project

With the hourly way, you could pay more, perhaps without even realizing it. With a fixed cost website, the price is laid out and you can plan around it and perhaps allow for extras. With an hourly rate, you don’t know how long it will take the contractors to finish and thus it’s difficult to estimate what the total will be. Some agencies know how to take advantage of this kind of situation, especially if they make things extra complex and use up your budget with only half the job done.

Hourly rates have details like travel expenses, maybe even overtime rates and special overheads. These are things that you cannot track. You can ask for an estimate of the total, but they’re not held to it.

You are paying for time, not for specifics or results. You could pay more. Of course, you also could pay less. There’s the risk or the “gamble”. There is higher risk with the hourly approach.

Some Flexibility

Paying hourly provides the opportunity to change your mind as often as you want and ask for other services. Just so long as you’re aware that you may be adding time to the job.

Who Should Go Hourly?

If you need more freedom or are unclear about the direction your website redesign should take, paying by time is the way to go. Making changes is easy, just ask.

Otherwise, if you know exactly what you need, a fixed rate website is to your advantage.