Budgets. Everyone knows how important they are and how vital it is to stick to one. When budgeting for custom web design and development, businesses small and large rely on the project manager’s estimations regarding timelines and costs. Since every custom project is by definition unique, there is no magical estimation formula that applies, even for design projects that appear to be very similar. But there are certain events that seem to consistently push a web design and development project over budget, and being aware of these items may help you recognize them and take steps to avoid them before they wreak havoc on the project’s bottom line.
Underestimating The Cost
This may seem pretty obvious, but there are a multitude of elements that make up a custom web design project budget, and it’s easy for certain line items to either be underestimated or forgotten entirely. Topping the list is failing to estimate the number of hours certain tasks will take to complete. It’s important to remember that the key phrase here is CUSTOM web design—that means time devoted to learning about each individual brand and catering to its unique needs. A workaround for this is to go through and estimate the project’s features one at a time. You may want to anticipate an increase of 25% to 30% for each estimation, depending on the intricacy of the web design component, to prepare for things taking longer than expected.
Change is inevitable, and it’s bound to occur as a custom web project moves forward. Next to underestimating, midway changes are arguably the primary reason projects go over budget. At their so-called best, they extend deadlines and, at their worst, necessitate starting a project from scratch. If a project’s direction is changed after key elements have already begun or been completed, it logically follows that more time (and thus more money) will need to be invested above the original estimation. There are many reasons change happens, but generally it’s a result of either too many people in the decision making process or an unclear vision from the start.
All projects need to be approached with the anticipation that things will change. If good mechanisms and methodologies are in place to estimate, track and account for changes, your original budget will not take a substantial hit when those shifts occur.
Project Management Billing
Budgets prepared for custom web design and development will normally include estimations for info gathering, planning, development, design, maintenance, and testing. What’s often left out is project management hours. There’s a big difference between managing the project and doing the project, and the time spent in managing the creative process should be compensated. Tasks that are included in managing a project include client correspondence, emails, and meetings, as well as subcontractor management. A good rule of thumb is that estimations increase by 20% to 25% to cover project management expenses.
There’s a reason the saying “time is money” is used so often—it’s true. There aren’t many people who can make the claim that their projects ALWAYS come in on time and on budget. If they do, they are probably grossly inflated to begin with, which may be a tempting approach, but will cost them clients in the long run. Budgets that work (and often come in as estimated) can be consistently created if you learn to accurately assess a project’s profitability, and doing that requires knowing how much time will be spent. Time tracking does not have to be difficult, but it is a necessity. There are online apps available that will help in this process, and the data captured will indicate the time spent on each component and also whether the entire project is maintaining profitability. More sophisticated software can even break down projects to show exactly where cost overruns occur, and this type of information can prove to be extremely helpful when budgeting future projects.
By taking these factors into consideration when budgeting for custom website design and development, you’re likely to realize more on-time, on-budget projects, and that's good for everyone's bottom line.