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We could use some assistance in more accurately estimating our website development projects. Does anyone have any advice, tools, pricing guidelines, or any other resources that may help us to tighten up in this area?
This is a tricky one. We do a lot of web site work and we partner with a very good web firm who we engage at the very beginning at the proposal state. they as the questions to get us where we need to be. If the projects are not big, or complicated enough to partner with a developer, may sure you delineate a discovery phase in your proposal and state that eh cost could change after the discovery phase if anything is found that changes the scope. Websites are hard and often the customer doesn't actually know what it will take until you are all in there. We have to protect our selves with that. Hope this helps a bit. Deb
Once you develop a few sites, you will find the components that are predicable and can be scaled from project to project. In my experience, those are the overall project planning, site structure diagram, content input/migration, graphic design and special features such as social media integration, blog, maps etc . . . The project components that vary widely from job to job are the coordination with domain, web hosting, testing and emails. It just kills us at the end of some projects. Count on clients knowing nothing. Is the current server capable of the functionality and size of the new site? Are you changing providers that will affect email? Are there third party plugins that will work with the site and are they SSL compliant? I recommend language in your project estimates that leaves some room for these variables.
I agree with Debbie and Brian, Websites are tricky and do vary from site to site. We do things a little differently whereby before the proposal is developed, we conduct a half-day website strategy session. This is something we charge for so the client gets fairly committed. It includes a pre-strategy questionnaire that is given to the client and their team. The completed questionnaire gives us better understanding of what they are looking for and it also helps us get a lot of questions answered up front. After the strategy session, we can then develop a much more comprehensive proposal. But needless to say, there are always the unknown with websites, especially if you are dealing with any kind of data migration.