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Prevent Price Creep Of Website Development Costs

What can be done when a programmer provides a quote and then comes back 15 months later and says they now need 4 times the original estimate to finish? This question has been posed in LinkedIn groups and it begs the question of "why did you wait so long to investigate delivery?" While the developer is most likely at fault, would anyone hand off the construction of their house for a year and a half without getting weekly (if not daily updates) on the construction? But the other question is, were additions to the project continually made without getting estimates from the developer? So, it can't easily be said what to do in this case without having the full details, but here is a look at what is needed to prevent this from happening again.

1) WRITE a detailed request for the website development (or as best as possible with the knowledge that is available).
2) REQUEST proposals from a variety of website development companies (both large and small) and if time allows, evaluate 3-5 proposals.
3) QUESTION AND ANSWERS before the developer submits a proposal. If there are no questions, it can indicate that this website development company may not be as detail oriented as needed for the project.
4) USE PHONE/SKYPE CALL - There's nothing like the human voice behind the computer. In person pitches are even better. Going back to the home contractor...would anyone hire them through email? So much for the digital age.
5) INTERVIEW after proposals have been received. At the very least, be sure to phone interview all potential website development companies to verify all the functionality and web services and go over any details that may have been left out of your initial request, or may have been left out of their proposal.
6) REVISIONS may be necessary after the IT can happen because their original estimate might be too low (or too high) after this conversation about the website development.
7) REFERENCES - Ask for verifiable references from the website development companies whose websites they've built.
8) SANDBOX - Have them show you the actual workings (admin panel, content management system) of a similar website they have built.
9) **DISCOVER: this can take 4 hours or 4 weeks depending on the complexity of the project. Yes, the website development company will charge for their time during this phase, but it will save time and pain later in the project. Some website development companies don't usually charge if the discovery is under 4 hours. Hopefully any unexpected changes or additions come up during discovery. Many times, once digging into a project some clients want to add rather than have a phase II.
10) PROCESS - How will they make sure a project will get what was promised? This should include project scope, project plan with delivery dates, wireframes, website design, approvals, and iterations.
11) COMMUNICATE - Have a minimum of 1-2 meetings per week (SKYPE/PHONE). The progress should be evident at every meeting. If it's not, make sure there are documented reasons about what the issues are. Document the discussions and make sure issues have a delivery date.
12) PAYMENT - Do not pay for the site upfront. Depending on the length of the project, it is recommended to split payments up into milestones, for example - deposit, end of design, beginning of website development, QA and Live.

And last and most important,

13) THE DEVIL IS IN THE CONTRACT - This is not about Force Majeure or Acts of God. Although recently between the earthquakes and hurricanes in NY, it's probably not a bad idea to include that!

Make sure that ALL details of the project are outlined in the contract including timing, costs, detailed functionality, number of creative changes that are included, costs of any purchased artwork or photos, testing and Quality Assurance (this can add 2 weeks to make sure site is stable) guaranteed functionality (we guarantee our work for 3 months) and project plan. Sometimes a developer will add a 10% clause. This, with customization, can provide a degree of uncertainty in the length of a project. Both sides SIGN THE CONTRACT. And keep it in a safe place.

Even if the website development company is someone that is personally known, get a contract. Even friends make mistakes and it's good to have a piece of paper to make sure all parties are on the same page.

About Author Lori Shecter :

Appdrenaline is a young and thriving <a href="" target="_blank">web design</a> company rapidly becoming a leader in the industry. Through unmatched innovation and customer service, Appdrenaline continues to solve complicated <a href="" target="_blank">website development</a> problems with simple solutions.

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Article Added on Saturday, February 18, 2012
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