I want to hire someone to set up a website. What do I ask to determine competence and integrity of the individual? Is there a chart of reasonable charges/costs? How do I know if I am being over-charged?
What do I ask to determine competence and integrity of the individual?
You should ask for past work experience, examples of his/her work, and maybe education. Don't be too intrusive, or he may raise his prices.
Is there a chart of reasonable costs?
This depends entirely what is being done. Just some examples:
You could spend anywhere from $250 for a few static pages, to $800 for a decent-sized site, up to $2k+ for custom CMS and applications.
How do I know if I'm being overcharged?
You can consult other web developers for an appraisal: ask "what's the value of my [new site]?" But your gut will tell you. If you think you're getting scammed, you probably are. Individuals who do web development tend to charge more than companies, because the companies have many employees and can do a "cookie-cutter" type of thing -- take previous designs and adapt them to your site. You'll want to pay for a domain and hosting yourself because it will ALWAYS be cheaper. (One link above was $120/y for a domain and hosting. In real life, it's perhaps $50.)
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I tried to make the below as general as possible for the individual looking for a small website or someone looking to undertake a large web project. It is meant for someone who knows little to nothing about web development.
Questions to ask and think about
Rates and Costs
The easiest is to find locally owned web firms in your town or close to where you live. Just look in the phone book or yellowpages. Pick a few places and walk in or call them up asking for a price break down. Sometimes it's good to have a face to face chat to get a feel for things. Since you are new to this, take a note how helpful they are with you and if they take the time to explain things in ways you can understand them if need be.
As for charts, checking salary.com you can find various professions and how much the salaries are for certain titles. Here are two:
"Web Software Developer", U.S. National Median Salary: $73,054
"Webmaster", U.S. National Median Salary: $67,144
So lets do a little math. If I hired someone to work for me full time 40 hours a week and I gave them 4 weeks off (unpaid for this example). So a 40 hour work week multiplied by (52 weeks in a year minus 4 weeks for misc whatever) = 1920 hours
A good decent pay range according to this data point then would be from $20/hr to $60/hr. Rates vary so the upper level of this would probably be in the range of $75/hr to $150/hr.
Then if you're a freelancer it is not uncommon to charge even more then that based on amount of experience like if they are a well known web ninja and this rate climbs fast. For example someone high profile like Thomas Fuchs charges $800 an hour. The best freelancers have the luxury of picking and choosing their clients so don't be offended if you get turned down if your web project doesn't interest them for whatever reason.
You may not know Thomas, but a quick google search on his name will reveal that he's been involved in some big projects and can be trusted to get a job done. Do the same with the freelancers you find or the companies you talk to. Search google for any bad signs or complaints from previous clients. You basically do not want to search for them and find some horror story.
Of course you could also go to your local schools or university and see if you can get an eager student that needs work experience doing their first project. They might even do it for free. Some schools even have programs where the students are required to go work at a company to complete their degree. These kids usually want to impress you and do a good job since it effects their education.
If all else fails and you still feel incapable of handling the techside of things youself, hire a consultant that will get these things done right for you and concentrate on other parts of your business.
Being overcharged for a website is very dependant on the work that was done and who was doing the work. It's hard to tell if you don't know anything about web sites. Also if you demand a certain deadline you might be expected to pay a higher rate if it requires the allocation of more resources (humans, machines, etc).
You may not get the quality of work you anticipated from someone charging the lowest rate versus someone charging more.