It can be very hard to hire someone for even a small project and try to know all the ins and outs. Are you getting charged fairly or not.
One thing that is important is that people sell value. That is usually not what people want to pay, they want to pay for effort/time on the project. Keep in mind its normal to spend effort on another project that translates to yours as well. So even effort is hard to guage, since a programmer can easily claim effort, and will claim effort, for another project that helps this one go quicker. Call it experience. If you want to be kind.
One thing you SHOULD do is shop around. People you know and trust are good, but they can think they are giving you a good deal because it is more effort for them then someone who specializes in your project.
Programming is an art, some people do it better than others. You might get the same result from a worse programmer, but likely future changes to the code will be more painful (best case scenario).
I have been hired to add code to an already existing leaning tower of code. It was horrible, the database code was written badly enough that even while demoing their product it crashed! Massive amounts of code from an amateur over years had made a mess.... I avoided any of the original code when adding mine. They claimed they dealt with big data, but that was the CTO lying to possibly even himself because they couldn't handle simple data issues.
The best thing you can do is shop around.... Be clear what you want and you will get a price you can compare otherwise programmers will guess what you want, and some will be devious and charge you exactly what you ask for ready to charge more for later addons.
Common Features for Webapps:
- User Login/Register
- Social Networking (adding friends, sending messages, sending files)
- File Upload
- Shopping Cart (Coupons, deals)
- Delivery System
Try to get a Deal:
Some of these are easier than others, you can also follow up and ask if it is custom coded or are they using libraries and plugins. The more they itemize the more amateur programmers will feel embarassed to charge you. Why? Because using someone elses work to build a website looks unprofessional and lacks value.
This can sound cruel, but if you want to pay, you should be payign for value. Most of our code is custom done, not built on Wordpress, it works, and works well, customized to customers. Thats not a sales pitch, if you're here, you are probably not looking to pay more, you're looking to pay less. We try to recoop costs by having people work from home and not having traditional staff like a secretary. Lesson is that you should ask why they can be better/cheaper than competitors.
And of course, ALWAYS ask if they have done something similar, or what work they can look at. Not just pictures, but interact. Test parts of their other code....
Shopping around is easy, do it. I personally think that the going rate of an average website (little functionality) by an amateur-average programmer is around $1,000. I try to avoid these jobs personally because custom solutions aren't worth it for me or the consumer usually. That works out to be around 10-24 hours depending on the programmer's rate and experience. Two or three days to write the code and text for the website. Keep in mind they probably include some safety net for the consumer changing their mind and all the annoying things programmers do to make customers happy "without charging".
To be fair when I first started I might have been willing to charge less even with experience because I needed to build a portfolio, which can be a great idea if your looking for a deal! Find someone with experience starting on their own who needs some work. Its win-win, just don't be too mean you get what you pay for sometimes.