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Average Cost of a Freelance Web Developer

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Bringing a website to life might seem like magic, but in truth, there’s a wide range of carefully honed skills and abilities involved in the process. If you are starting your business and want your website to stand out for all the right reasons, the web developer expense is one that you must factor in. It can mean the difference between a slow, unresponsive site that fails to attract attention and a fast-paced, quality site that is appealing to your customers and clients.

Whether you’re ready to hire a web developer today or are in the early stages of planning for your business, there are a few things to come to grips with to make sure that your budget is going to the right things, and that you achieve the results you desire.

Do You Need a Designer or a Developer?

The first thing to establish is the difference between a web designer and developer. Contrary to popular belief, these are two different roles, requiring different skills and abilities.

Web Designers

Web designers are responsible for bringing the visual aspect of the site to life. They will use graphics software such as Photoshop, along with image compression tools to design and conceptualize the site, according to the brief given to them by the client. They will also determine the way information flows across the site, so they may also be responsible for the site’s analytics.

There are three main types of web designers – User Experience (UX) designers, User Interface (UI) designers, and Visual Designers. UX designers focus on the site’s structure and layout, with the experience of the user in mind. UI designers focus on optimizing the site to maximize conversions, and Visual Designers combine these two responsibilities.

Web Developers

Web developers are then responsible for bringing these designs to life by using writing code to create a website that runs smoothly and operates efficiently. They will take the graphics and layouts created by the designer and transform them into a fully functional site.

Front-end developers create the user interface – the area seen by the site’s visitors – and are responsible for the overall look and feel of the site, as well as all the interactive components. This is the area that is most often confused with web design. The front-end developer is responsible for the way the text, colors, and images appear when the site is viewed on a desktop, phone, or tablet. The focus is on making the site aesthetically pleasing, well organized, and functional. Developers use programming languages such as CSS, HTML, jQuery, JavaScript, AngularJS and React.

Back-end developers are one of the most important factors in the development of a website. They work “under the hood” and are responsible for ensuring that the website runs correctly, by using server-side code to allow data to flow from the front end (the part the user sees) to the back end (the database and server). Back-end developers tend to work in Java, PHP, C#, MySQL and MongoDB.

The third type of web developer is known as a “full stack” developer. They are the ultimate web developers – they have the skills to program and work on both the front and back ends of the website and, if the brief requires it, create an entirely functional website completely independently. A full stack developer will have a range of programming languages under their belt and may work closely with both front and back-end developers, or totally independently, depending on the specifications of the brief.

The choice between using a web designer or a web developer is a personal one and will ultimately depend on your preferences and requirements. In most cases, you will need to hire both at different stages of the site’s creation. Designers and developers tend to work closely together and both are extremely valuable in helping to build a fast, responsive site, which appeals to your customers, runs smoothly, and shows off your business in the best possible light.

How Much Will It Cost?

Trying to determine how much a web developer will cost is like figuring out the length of a piece of string; there’s no definitive answer. One of the main considerations is the experience levels you are willing to pay for, and there are three levels here: junior, middle and senior. The more experience the developer has, the more you can expect to pay, and as a rule, the better the results.

Junior Developers: 1-3 Years’ Experience

Any developer with less than 3 years of experience is widely considered to be a junior dev and will handle basic tasks such as the management of interactive components – for example: sliders, buttons, fonts, and images. They may also work on outlines for pages, develop simple interfaces such as logins, and will generally have a basic knowledge of programming. In many cases, developers at this level will be working as assistants, but hiring one outright will save you serious cash. Junior devs will typically charge between $40 and $60 per hour, as they will take a lower pay in order to increase their experience.

Middle Developers: 3-5 Years’ Experience

Middle developers have a little more experience and tend to have skills in UX, UI, and responsive design, along with experience working on complex sites, with interactive elements, and troubleshooting problems in the code. You can typically expect to pay between $60 to $80 per hour for their work.

Senior Developers: 5+ Years’ Experience

If you want to hire a senior developer, you’ll need to ensure that you have a solid budget behind you. These guys are the experts in the world of web development, carrying out complex tasks including highly skilled and sophisticated animations, managing the overall site, and resolving code issues or developing fully customized sites from scratch. As a rule, senior developers in the USA will charge between $75 and $115 per hour.

How Do I Choose?

Ultimately, the best web developer is the person who can bring your design and brief to life – and they may not be the most expensive. Do your homework, shop around, and make sure you have all the facts to find the perfect freelancer.

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