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Tips for Estimating Web Development Projects

written by: Haley Montgomery•edited by: Robin L.•updated: 7/7/2011

The first question web development clients often ask is "how much will my web design cost?" That can be a hard question to answer since web development projects can be very involved. This article offers tips on how to provide accurate web design estimate.

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    Web Development Project Estimating Tips

    Web development projects are often extensive and implemented in multiple phases, which can make it difficult to determine overall web design costs. Beneficial relationships with web development clients, however, depend on accurately estimating the costs involved in website design, programming, content development and launch. Following are a few web development project parameters to consider when finalizing web design costs.

    Will the project require sub-contractors?

    Web development professionals regularly contract with consultants to accomplish various tasks in a web design project. Sub-contractors and consultants each have their own fee scale for web development projects, and it is not uncommon for website design coordinators to "mark up" consulting fees prior to invoicing the client. The up-charge normally covers the time required to interface and manage sub-contractor relationships during the course of a web development project. Obtain estimates from contracted services such as programmers, hosting, domain name registration, database consultants, and graphic designers that may be required for the web development project. Be sure to include those costs when producing your web development estimate.

    What licensing costs are involved?

    If the website design requires the use of stock photography, purchased software or special scripting, licensing fees may apply. Include those royalty or fee licenses in your overall web development estimate.

    How much content development is required?

    The time required by a website developer to prepare final content for a website depends greatly upon how organized the client is. Check with your web development client before preparing your estimate to determine the form in which content will be provided. Build in applicable costs for organizing content, writing, suggesting or researching content, locating additional resources and converting files to downloadable formats. Many web developers offer a fee scale for content production based on word count.

    Will you provide search engine optimization?

    Research of key words, writing of page titles and meta tags, submission to search engines, and researching cross-links are tasks to take into consideration when estimating the SEO portion of website development projects. Optimization contract services are available, but with the proper up-front planning, SEO can be easily implemented during the content development phase to minimize time and website design costs.

    What is the website's approximate page count?

    Determine a scope for the published website before finalizing your estimate. Many web development companies establish a per page cost for programming or a range of fees for sites containing various page counts. By setting a limit on the number of pages your web development estimate will cover, you will safeguard against costly misestimates if the scope of the project changes.

    What kind of approval process is required?

    As a website developer, you know your client's history and the internal process each encounters when managing website projects. Take a client's review methods into consideration when finalizing a web development estimate. Multiple rounds of feedback and approvals by committee generally require more time, and therefore, more web design costs.