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Cost of responsive design

  • # March 30, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Hi there!

    Im a frontend dev at a charity and I’ve been trying to make sure all the work I do is fluid and makes an effort to support different screen sizes. It ain’t gold standard work, but I think it does the job. I also dont find it adds massively to the time I spend on a project. For a recent 10day project, I think I only spent half a day, to a day, dealing with smaller screen sizes.

    So I was a bit shocked recently when working with an agency who charged about £1500 for the basic desktop pages then quoted additional responsive work at £4500, taking the total to £6k. This seems ludicrously expensive to me but im interested to hear other peoples views on it.

    Does responsive work cost 3-4x more than a basic fixed desktop only? Or does responsive not ‘work’ without doing it to the highest level?

    Cheers!

    # March 30, 2013 at 9:57 am

    It really depends on what the client requests. If the specs say that the site has too look different on desktop, mobile, tablets, etc. and it’s clearly specified how different it should be, many companies still consider every breakpoint a wholly different site.

    Because of that, all the costs go up: extra design, extra development, extra QA, and so on. It’s not uncommon to charge so much more, but I do think this will change in the future when responsive designs will get more “mainstream” and default.

    So yea, 4500 does seem ridiculously expensive but it probably has to do with the fact that this company doesn’t really have their responsive skills properly integrated yet.

    # March 30, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Hi Senff,

    Thanks for your feedback.

    It’s my hunch that they aren’t really tooled up for responsiveness – or that it’s not been made clear what our expectations are when we say we need the pages to be responsive (pretty simple really, usually just an adaptation of the desktop site so it’s not a zoom-in-out job for the user). We also only have 3 simple breakpoints and we’d provided our boilerplates which already did the header, footer & main nav already.

    Anyone else work in an agency have a view? Whats your usual when the client says “make it, like, responsive ‘n’ stuff”? :)

    Cheers!

    # March 30, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Where I work, we add about a third extra to the cost if it’s responsive, so a site for 9k would be 12k if responsive.

    # March 30, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    > Anyone else work in an agency have a view? Whats your usual when the client says “make it, like, responsive ‘n’ stuff”? :)

    If the client actually says that (which is actually quite often — usually they don’t even know what it really means), my first response is that they should give us additional designs. Something like: “The design you gave us is how it will look on desktop, so if you want it to look different on phones, please provice a separate design for that. If you want it to look different on tablets, provide us a design for that too.

    That’s when most clients get a better idea what responsive really means. And usually, they realize it requires THEM to do extra work first by coming up with additional designs…. and then all of a sudden their requirements become a lot more flexible: “Oh, just make sure it looks good on phones and tablets.

    And, while working at a pretty big agency, I’ve NEVER had a client come up with separate designs for desktop, mobile, tablet. The “best” I’ve seen from any client, is them saying “OK on phones the menu should be a dropdown and the sidebar should go to the bottom” or something as generic as that.

    In short: a lot of clients just throw the word “responsive” out there without knowing what it entails because that makes their site “buzzword-compatible”. Same with “HTML5″. Clients need to be instructed what it really means — boosting up the price a lot usually opens their eyes a bit more. :)

    # March 30, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Extra time = additional cost.

    > but I do think this will change in the future when responsive designs will get more “mainstream” and default

    I agree with that statement by @Senff. However, I believe responsive layouts should be default already. We have the technology at our fingertips and we should use that to our advantage. I think unresponsive/fixed layouts will eventually be looked at like IE. Especially now that we use our mobile devices in more ways than ever.

    # March 31, 2013 at 1:56 am

    I do think charging more than the actual project cost for making the layout responsive is crazy. I’m pretty straight forward with people about what “responsive” means. I definitely agree it’s one of those buzzwords that gets tossed around. I big piece of what great designers do with their clients is help educate them. I think sometimes I forget how many things people actually hear on a daily basis that just isn’t true. I had a client the other day tell me a salesman pitched them a restaurant menu product on the premise that without this product, they could never have a menu button on places like Google or Urban spoon. It’s crazy out there :)

    # April 2, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Although there will be significantly more time in the build, other costs can add up based on client requirements. I’ve worked on projects where the client needs to see pixel perfect psd’s for each major break point in order to get the web project signed off. That’s three times more artwork time at the concept stage there…

    Also you have to consider testing…I spend significantly more time testing RWD sites as there’s so many potential issues. Then adapting a fixed version for older browsers…

    It’s all time…an hour is an hour

    # April 2, 2013 at 9:55 am

    I totally agree with @Senff with this comment..

    > So yea, 4500 does seem ridiculously expensive but it probably has to do with the fact that this company doesn’t really have their responsive skills properly integrated yet.

    I am new to responsive an offer my clients a breakdown of prices, with a responsive website as an additional feature. I charge double for a responsive website due to the amount of time it will take me, using best practices, conditional loading/fast performance etc.

    As my skills in responsive design become stronger, maybe I can afford to roll this out in my standard workflow for all clients.

    # April 2, 2013 at 10:02 am

    > I’ve worked on projects where the client needs to see **pixel perfect** psd’s for each major break point in order to get the web project signed off. (emphasis mine)

    This is something that I find… I’m not sure if “odd” is the proper term, but let’s use that. Too much bureaucracy, and missing the point of responsive design. But yes, if that’s what the client is requiring, then that should be taken into account when it comes to the final price, since that’s going to take a lot more time than “make it look good”.

    # July 18, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Our Company would charge You for about 5k – 6k Euros (its about £4.2k) for responsive website.

    # July 19, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Responsiveness should be included in website project by default nowadays, unless there is a pressing reason not to.

    # July 19, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Probably true but it does involve extra work and that should be reflected in the base cost.

    # July 19, 2013 at 9:32 am

    If it’s involving too much extra work (for a standard site) then you need to review the code base you’re using. For WP sites I work from a starter theme that makes everything fairly straightforward, so there’s minimal if any extra time required.

    There are obviously always exceptions – responsive or not – where some special feature is needed …etc.

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