CSS developer working with two monitors, one with CSS code and the other showing a visual translation of that code

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So you need to hire a CSS developer to code the front-end design of your website—how much is it going to cost? CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is the language behind the style of a website. From colors, to fonts, to the way content is displayed on a web page, CSS is responsible for the overall look, feel, and presentation of your web app.

How can you estimate a budget for how much it will cost to hire a CSS developer for your project? In this article, we’ll look at a few cost factors to consider when drafting a project description and reviewing proposals from potential freelance CSS developers.

First step: Why do you need a CSS developer?

Before you can set a budget, you’ll need to understand your project requirements, and that entails defining what it is you want your CSS developer to do. If you already have an existing site and are looking to add new features, revamp your visuals, or migrate code to a new platform, chances are you already know what technologies and therefore what type of developers are required to get the job done. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need more than CSS to build a modern web app—visit the Hiring Headquarters for explainer articles and comparisons between front-end frameworks and languages to get an idea of what suite of technologies you’ll need to bring your project to life. Also, you can read up on How to Write a CSS Developer job description for some more information.

The key is to write a clear, detailed project description that potential CSS and front-end developers can review to decide if their skills, experience, and interests are the right fit for your job. Learn how to write an awesome job post on Upwork here.

With a clearly defined project in hand, it’s time to build your budget. Here are some important cost factors you may want to consider when determining the cost of your project.

Cost Factor #1: Project Scope

Defining what work you want your developer to accomplish is the first step towards establishing your project scope. If you wrote that project description, good news: you’ve already tackled a major component of your project’s design budget. There’s a big difference in scope between swapping the color scheme of a small business’s landing page and engaging a CSS developer for a bigger project, like getting your new social media app off the ground.

Defining a time frame is the second major component to determining scope. It has an impact on how you’ll handle milestone payments for each phase of development (if you’re dealing with fixed-price contracts), or the overall cost of a project if you have an hourly contract. The more accurately your project description describes the scope of your project, the easier it will be for interested freelancers to provide accurate cost estimates in their proposals.

Tip: You can often manage a limited budget more effectively by going Agile. Start with a minimum viable project (MVP), the bare bones of the application you eventually wish to create, gather live feedback from the market, and let validated data guide the development of your project. This is will help you avoid that dreaded pitfall of sinking cost into a product the market doesn’t want.

Cost Factor #2: Experience

When it comes to experience, the same is true of CSS development as any other trade—cost rises with expertise. Your project scope naturally leads you to the appropriate level of experience you should look for in your freelancers. Sometimes it can be more cost effective to hire a less experienced freelancer at a lower rate, particularly if a job is time-consuming yet simple to perform.

It’s important to note that CSS developers are really front-end developers who excel at CSS. They may be familiar with preprocessors like Sass or frameworks like Bootstrap. There are probably other front-end skills you will need to consider when tackling any web project—things like frameworks, libraries, and other technologies will also impact your budget, and the cost of those skills will change with the ever-evolving world of front-end development. You might initially set out to update the web presence for your business with a CMS like Squarespace, but ultimately realize you require a CSS developer with design skills to create the unique look and feel you want.

The following table breaks down the rates of the typical types of front-end developers you can find on Upwork.

Typical Rates Charged by Front-End (CSS) Developers*

Type of JavaScript Developer Description Average Hourly Rate
Basic Front-End Front-end fundamentals (HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript), familiarity with libraries like jQuery, and CMS’s like WordPress. $15-50 +
Intermediate – Advanced Front-End Beyond fundamentals, also skilled in one or more chosen front-end JavaScript frameworks like AngularJS, CSS preprocessors like LESS/Sass, and CSS frameworks like Foundation. $35-100 +
Full Stack Developer Mix of front-end and back-end technology expertise. Expertise working with MEAN (MongoDB, Express, Angular, Node.js) $30-150 +

*Reflects rates charged by freelancers on Upwork in North America with over 1,000 hours and 90% success rate.

Tip: Since most front-end developers will probably list CSS as a skill, it is especially important you specifically state why you want a CSS developer and not just general front-end help. For example, you might want someone experienced in in a CSS framework like Foundation because that’s the technology your existing app is built on. You would specify this requirement in your job post.

Cost Factor #3: Location

Location is the other big variable in determining how much it will cost to hire a freelancer. A big advantage to working with freelancers on Upwork, is that you gain access to a talent pool of CSS developers from around the world. You can pick from the best and brightest, or play off cost of living differences between countries, cities, and states to get yourself a better deal on a skilled freelancer.

For example, the first page of listings for CSS developers in the United States with greater than 1000 hours of freelancing experience, and 90% success rate through Upwork will yield rates ranging from $35 – $160/hour, whereas the first page of listings for CSS developers with the same search filters in Eastern Europe is more in the ballpark of $25 to $75/hour.