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It’s an issue that comes up many many times, working out what a client wants and more importantly, what they’re prepared to pay for the work they need doing. In this post from by Tiffani Jones at Blue Flavor, she discusses just how important knowing budget is to an agency/freelancer; the comments posted show far more about the issues involved:

  • Clients might be price-shopping and so won’t reveal their budget
  • They may not have done their homework and so aren’t sure what they need or what kind of ball-park figure to have in mind
  • They may’ve been ripped off by another company in the past and are (justifiably) unwilling to share financials until further down the line

I know certainly when I started developing I had no idea what to charge for a site but so often the first phrase from these mostly small businesses would be ‘I want a website – how much?’. Over time you get a sense of what might go into a job but aside from actually coding or designing, there are other tasks which eat up time within a project, all of which need to be paid for. A former colleague of mine had a great post about this.

Another issue is about the value of a website. With a product like a car, it will have a fixed price, which you may be able to barter with but the expected cost is known up front and you can choose to take it, barter or leave it. So what should a client expect to pay for a website? Why is asking £300 for something like eBay so out of whack?

As anyone within the industry will know, there’s potentially hundreds of jobs that can go into a site. A freelancer will either take all of these on themselves or farm some elements out to other freelancers; an agency will likely have many differently talented people making up their production team. So for a client outside of the industry it’s got to be a tough job to wonder why a friend could knock-up a website for them for next to nothing or an agency could charge several thousands. It’s all about associated value.

It’s true that almost anyone can make a website. You could make a webpage from within Word for nothing but the difference with a professional is in understanding why the client needs the site and help them to find a way of using web technologies to answer that need. In doing this the budget is important; anything is possible given time and money but making use of the technology to meet the client’s need can be compromised by a budget that doesn’t reflect their aspirations. Sometimes you can help work around budget in order to do a great piece of work but often running with aspirations and ideas beyond the client’s budget can actually choke a potentially great project.

The comments on Tiffani’s post have shown a well known axiom of “Budget, Timeframe, and Scope: you can have two, but not all three”, which is absolutely true.

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18th August, 2008