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 generally, web designers/developers typically charge between $750-$3000 for a standard 4 to 6 page website. Costs vary based on experience and the amount of content on each page. For complex websites, especially dynamic ones, the cost can be $10000+ at a minimum. Development time for dynamic websites can vary widely, and developers are often hired to work on the project until it is complete. It's important to consider if a dynamic website is the best option or if there are more cost-effective alternatives that achieve the same goal without sacrificing viability.

At Mesmer Design, we prioritize static websites whenever appropriate. These websites have simpler pricing models and can be more easily estimated. With a fixed number of pages and sections, we can accurately determine the development time for each section. We are committed to providing a free estimate and being transparent with our pricing. We will break down how we determined your estimate and work with you to ensure you get the best value for your investment.

How do you determine your estimates?

We calculate our prices based on a $75/hour baseline and take into consideration factors such as initial design and planning, the number of pages/components, project difficulty, and any additional factors that may arise. Our pricing structure reflects the time invested in development and deployment from start to finish.

Our estimates are transparent, and we are happy to break down how we determined an estimate. Since the final quote depends on various 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, which is calculated based on the project estimate. The remaining payment is due within 30 days upon completion. If needed, we can discuss and create a payment schedule that suits your specific requirements. We understand that this is a significant investment, and we are here to assist you in budgeting for the expense in the most convenient way possible.

Currently, we send estimates and invoices using Square Invoices, but this is subject to change at any time. You can pay directly through Square Invoices or by sending an e-transfer to our email address.

How well can you work within a specific budget?

There are so many factors that can affect the cost of a website, which is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that there are many ways we can work with you to determine the best value for your money. The curse is that it can be hard to determine the exact cost of a website without a lot of information. We are happy to work with you to determine the best value for your money, and we are committed to providing a free estimate and being transparent with our pricing. We will break down how we determined your estimate and work with you to help you understand what you are paying for.

Generally speaking, there are alway ways to meet a budget. Don't hesitate to reach out to us if you have a specific budget in mind, and we'll work with you to determine the best value for your money. However, if we are building a new website for you, it's important to note that there is a minimum amount of work that has to go into building and setting up every new website.

No matter your budget, one thing we will never compromise is the quality of our work and delivering a complete, working website. Your website will be fully functional, usable by your customers, and implemented using the same best practices and standards as any other website we create.

What sets you apart from other designers/developers?

Many North American web agencies use WordPress and other website builders for simple websites, but this often results in issues like website bloat, slow load times, poor SEO, and high maintenance costs. These agencies quickly build a site with no-code page builders, charge high upfront fees, and then demand steep maintenance fees. We believe small businesses shouldn't have to pay $3000+ upfront and $500+ annually just to maintain their website, and to be honest, relying on drag-and-drop builders often means that the designer doesn't understand web development.

Interestingly, many web agencies rely primarily on graphic designers and marketers to build websites, rather than experienced developers. This works because they typically use no-code page builders like WordPress, which don't require coding knowledge. Plus, they build teams that are better at sales than web development. This approach often prioritizes aesthetics and marketing strategies over technical performance and functionality, leading to sites that look good but suffer from issues like slow load times, poor SEO, and higher maintenance costs. By focusing on design and marketing, these agencies may neglect crucial aspects of website development, resulting in a poor user experience and increased long-term expenses for their clients. Their only goal is to make money as quickly as possible, and they don't care about the long-term success of their clients.

Our approach is different. We specialize in static site generators, which are modern code frameworks used to create incredibly fast and optimized websites. For most small businesses, static websites are by far the best tool for the job. Wordpress and other site builders have their place in certain situations, but for most small businesses, they are overkill. We are familiar with all of the usual tools, including WordPress, but we choose the best tool for the job. We build websites that are fast and optimized, and we charge fair prices for our work. We care about the long-term success of our clients, and we are committed to providing the best value for your money.

Our mission is to ensure your website benefits your business without breaking the bank. For instance, if your website is completely static, we can help set up free hosting (subject to reasonable conditions), and you'll only need to cover the domain name cost, typically $10-25 annually. In comparison, mid-range WordPress hosting can cost $50+ per month. Choosing a static website typically leads to significant long-term savings.

What tools do you use to create websites?

We specialize in static site generators (SSGs), which are frameworks that primarily fall under the JAMstack architecture (JavaScript, API, Markup). SSGs allow you to build websites in a dynamic way, but instead of serving content dynamically, they compile your website code into optimized static files. This results in extremely fast and optimized static websites that don't require any kind of server-side processing, and deliver your website files directly from the hosting server. All modern SSG frameworks offer flexible practices to create robust and powerful websites.

Our favorite SSG frameworks include:

  • Astro (the fastest SSG that still provides developer flexibility)
  • Next.js + React.js (when you need additional flexibility)

If you want 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 CMSs are:

  • Sanity Studio (current favourite. Very extensible with minimal setup)
  • DecapCMS (Also extensible with minimal setup, but is designed to work best with only one host: Netlify)

We've had the best developer experience with Sanity Studio, and from our experience, you'll have the best experience with it too. It's easy to set up, and it's very extensible. We can also use DecapCMS, but it's designed to work best with only one host: Netlify. If you're not using Netlify, we recommend Sanity Studio.

It's important to note that the choice of technology depends on the specific business needs. These tools are well-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 understand any of this, don't worry. We'll handle all of the technical aspects. What matters is the end result: Your website will help you generate business, address your customer's questions/needs, and build your business' brand and image.

Do I need to register my own domain name? What website should I use to register my domain name?

For legal simplicity, we request that you register your own domain. It's very easy to do so and we'll help you with the actual setup. This ensures that you legally own the domain name, it is linked to your name and contact information, and you can transfer it to another registrar if needed.

When it comes to registering a domain name, first and foremost, use a reputable registrar. We won't name and shame the bad registrars, but just know that the shady registrars will "buy" domains as you search for their availability, and "sell" it back to you at a higher price. This is unfortunately a common scam, and it's best to avoid these registrars.

In order to best avoid this, we recommend searching if your domain is available directly on ICANN, a non-profit that maintains databases of domains and accredits registrars, and is not affiliated with any specific registrar.

There are many different registrars, but there are only a few we recommend and trust:

  • Porkbun
  • Cloudflare
  • Namecheap

These registrars offer free WHOIS privacy protection, which is a must-have for any domain name. They also provide free SSL certificates, allowing your website to be accessed through the secure, HTTPS protocol for no extra cost. These registrars are also the most reputable that we have worked with, and we regularly communicate with other developers for any potential issues related to registrars.

All registrars offer add-ons for a cost, and most are not necessary. The only one we typically recommend is a domain name email, e.g. [email protected]. While many businesses operate perfectly fine with a free email, like Gmail, some individuals will consider an email domain that matches your website to be more authentic and/or reputable.

If you already have a domain name, we can help you transfer it to a new registrar. This is a simple process that requires a few steps, and we'll guide you through it. Depending on your existing registrar, you might not even need to transfer anything.

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, if data needs to be stored, if this data is used to dynamically generate content, how 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 needless costs!

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. In effect, you are freely permitted to use our code as long as this agreement isn't abused. We simply state that our code cannot be redistributed as your own for profit. This really only refers to reselling our code, for example, selling our code as a paid HTML theme. 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 keeping your long-term costs low. However, we use static site generator frameworks, which can be harder to learn than builders like WordPress. While we can enable text content editing without coding, structural changes require coding knowledge. We can provide resources and guides, but coding is time-consuming and bug fixes can be difficult. Often, hiring a developer is more cost-effective.

We can discuss this early on to find the best solution for you. Static site generators may not be ideal if you plan large updates yourself. We are always an email away for any updates.

Remember, any code edits made by you after the site is live are not covered by our warranty, as outlined in our standard project contract. This applies only to code changes; text edits in the CMS are fine. Our warranty covers bug fixes missed during development for up to one year after delivery.

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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