Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions we've been asked.

Please note that before we begin your project, both parties must sign our Project Contract.

How much does a new website cost?

Every website is unique, and there isn't a single answer to this question. We estimate on the needs of an individual project, and we consider design complexity, number of pages/sections, and other unique business requirements (if applicable).

As we design for specific business requirements, we can only answer this after asking a lot of questions and determining your small business needs.

Speaking as generally as possible, web designers/developers typically charge between $750-$3000 for a standard 4 to 6 page website, with costs varying based on experience and amount of content on each page. The more pages and content, the higher the price. For complex websites, especially dynamic websites, expect $10000+ at the bare minimum and no upfront agreed upon cost, as development time can widely vary and developers are often hired to work on the project, and be paid a salary, until it is complete. Dynamic websites when coded from scratch can take months to complete, and it's important for both you (and the developer) to recognize if a dynamic website is the best option, or if there are more cost-effective options that accomplish the same goal without sacrificing viability.

At Mesmer Design, we opt for static websites whenever appropriate. These have much simpler pricing models and can much more easily be estimated, primarily because there will be a fixed number of pages, sections, and a good developer knows how long each section of the website should take to develop. We are happy to provide a free estimate, and we promise to be transparent with our pricing. We will break down how we determined your estimate, and we will work with you to ensure that you are getting the best value for your money.

The key takeaway is that static websites are cheaper for you, provide a better user experience, and are easier to maintain. Dynamic websites are more expensive, take longer to develop, and are harder to maintain, and are only necessary with specific use-cases. From the developer's point of view, static websites are also much less of a headache to code! Keeping it simple benefits both of us.

We are happy to provide a free estimate, and we promise to be transparent with our pricing. We will break down how we determined your estimate, and we will work with you to ensure that you are getting the best value for your money.

How do you determine your estimates?

We calculate our price using a $75/hour baseline, and use the following criteria to determine your estimate: initial design and planning, number of pages/components, project difficulty, and any additional factors that may arise.

Simply: our pricing structure reflects the time invested in development.

Our estimates are transparent, and we are happy to break down how we determined an estimate. Given that the final quote depends on a multitude of factors, we encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have!

How/when do I pay?

We require a 50% deposit at the start of the project, calculated based on the project estimate. For most projects, the rest is paid within 30 days upon completion. If necessary, we can work with you to set up a schedule that meets your needs. We understand that this is a big investment and want to help you budget for the expense in whatever way possible.

What sets you apart from other designers/developers?

Many web agencies in North America use WordPress and other website builders for simple websites, and unless there is a specific reason to, this leads to many issues: website bloat, slow load times, poor SEO, and high maintenance costs. They quickly create a site using a no-code page builder, charge way too much, and then charge their clients very high maintenance fees to maintain the site. Small businesses should not need to pay $2500+ upfront and $500+ per year to maintain their website, and we promise to offer more realistic prices while providing the highest quality websites.

We specialize in static site generators, which are modern code frameworks used to create websites that are incredibly fast and optimized. Unlike dynamic site builders, static site generators provide significant optimizations without requiring any additional investment. Additionally, most static site generators offer more flexibility since developers have complete control over the code. This enables developers to create websites that are not only faster but also more efficient and effective.

Our goal is to ensure your website benefits your business, and doesn't break your bank account. One example of what we do differently: If your website is completely static, we help you set up free hosting (as long as you remain within generous usage limits), and you'll only need to pay the unavoidable domain name cost (for standard domain names, typically $15-25 annually). Mid-range Wordpress hosts are $50+ per month - simply, static websites lead to HUGE long-term cost reductions!

What tools do you use to create websites?

We specialize in static site generators (SSGs), frameworks that mostly fall under the JAMstack architecture (Javascript, API, Markup). SSGs allow you to code websites in a dynamic way, but instead of serving content dynamically, they build your code into optimized static files. This results in extremely fast, optimized static websites, and all modern SSG frameworks allow flexible practices to create robust, powerful websites.

Our favourite SSG frameworks are:

  • Astro (by far the fastest SSG that still allows developer flexibility)
  • NextJS + ReactJS (when you need a bit extra flexibility)

If you'd like to include dynamically generated areas on your website, such as a blog, news section, or portfolio, you'll need an additional tool to generate these webpages as static files. This is where Headless Content Management System (CMS) software comes in. A Headless CMS is completely separate from the front-end code, allowing for easy updates and maintainability.

Our preferred Headless CMS is:

  • DecapCMS (previously NetlifyCMS)

DecapCMS is complete free, open-source, and saves your content alongside your website code. This ensures easy access and complete control over your resources without worrying about pricing.

It's important to note that the choice of technology depends on the business needs. These tools are suited for sites that don't change often or don't require a back-end. For example, an e-commerce store requires a back-end server to handle stock, payments, etc. We recommend WordPress or other no-code page builders only if you want to learn how to edit your website without needing to code.

If you don't know what any of this means, don't worry. We'll handle all of the technical stuff. What matters is the end result: Your website will help you generate business, attend to your customer's questions/needs, and help you build your business' brand and image.

How do I determine what kind of website I need?

Typically, this will depend on: How often your website content changes, if content needs to be dynamically generated (e.g. an e-commerce store), if there are products being sold on your site, what kind of ways customers interact with your site, and so much more.

We will ask a lot of questions to determine all of the features that your website should have. Our focus is to build websites that only have what they need without any unnecessary bloat, which will save you costs in the long run.

How much does it cost to maintain a site?

For a typical small business site, this is the sum of three things: domain name, website maintenance, and hosting. A domain name is mandatory (e.g. mesmerdesign.ca), and standard domains start at $15-25 per year. Website maintenance is when there are updates to your site, such as adding/removing pages or content, and varies depending on the amount of changes. Hosting costs vary greatly, and for small businesses, range from $0-50 per month. A static site (e.g. no back-end or database) that doesn't change a lot can be hosted for free on several platforms, as long as your site remains within the free-tier quota. A dynamic site with an out-of-the-box back-end (e.g. WordPress blog, Shopify online store) must be hosted on a paid server, and these range from $5-$100 depending on the quality of the server or type of service (you get what you pay for).

Additional costs may arise for certain online services like e-commerce stores. For example, fees per transaction.

We'll work with you to ensure that this is all set up properly, so that you aren't paying pointless costs for things you don't need!

Who owns my website and domain name?

You own everything that we, Mesmer Design, create or set up for you, except for certain third-party resources (see below). This includes the code we wrote and your selected domain name. If you send any assets to us that you own, such as images, you will retain ownership of these assets.

There are several important considerations when it comes to asset ownership:

  • Images, icons, and other visual assets: Usage/rights is subject to the original author of these assets. At Mesmer Design, we only use assets with commercial usage, and we try to use free no-attribution commercial assets when possible. It's important to read the individual usage guidelines for these assets(s) before choosing them. In certain situations, using paid assets can be beneficial, like premium stock images.
  • Code: Code ownership is a tricky topic. Any code we write is by default considered intellectual property per Canadian law. Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, symbols, names, and images used in commerce. When one writes code, one is creating a form of literary work protected under copyright law. However, per our standard project contract, this does not affect cost, functionality, or your website in any way. We agree to allow you to "own" our code and use it for the purposes of your business as long as this agreement isn't abused. We simply state that our code cannot be redistributed as your own for profit purposes. This really only refers to reselling our code, for example, selling our code as a paid HTML theme on a site like ThemeForest. Using the code on your website is 100% allowed of course, and does not require any extra hoops to jump through.
  • Code frameworks: We use various frameworks when building websites, primarily static site generators (SSGs) like Astro, Hugo, and Next.js. Each open-source code framework has their own license that dictates how their framework can be used by developers. Although most of the popular frameworks are quite permissive (e.g. the MIT license: can use at no cost, and you do not have to give attribution), it's important to know these licenses. As the developer, we always read the license, and we ensure we aren't abusing the license. For you, this will only be relevant if you ask us to use a specific framework or library that has a less permissive license.

For any third-party resources, usage/ownership is defined by the third-party's individual usage guidelines.

We ask that you register your own domain name (if needed, we'll show you how) so that you legally own it, and if we set up any hosting under our name, it will eventually be transferred to you. After the final invoice is settled, we'll provide you with the source code.

What if I want to maintain my site myself after it is built?

We encourage this! This will help you keep your long-term costs low. There is an important consideration, however. We specialize in static site generator frameworks, and since we code our sites from scratch using various frameworks, this is much harder to learn than a website builder like Wordpress.

This is something we can discuss early on, so that we settle on the best solution for you. No matter what, we are just an email away should you need any updates.

Please just remember that any edits made by you after the site is live and our development is complete are not covered by our warranty, per our standard project contract. Our warranty simply states that any bugs missed during development will be fixed at no cost to you.

I have a question that isn't on this page!

Please don't hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions!

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