I recently bid on a large web development project in tandem with a web designer. The client had an ambitious vision for the site. The developer and I brainstormed and added a few ideas of our own. The estimate to make it all happen was just over $15,000.
When all was said and down, the client wanted to spend around $3500 for a site. This meant axing all the features the client was super-enthusiastic about. It also meant that the client decided to write it himself, so I wasted about six hours estimating the project.
Budgets Keep Expectations In Check
If the client had given us a budget, we could have circumvented these problems. We would have been able to advise him right off the bat that mega-site would not be in the cards. We would not have set his expectations beyond his budget, and we would not have disappointed him by scaling back on deliverables.
Yes, Creative Teams Needs Budgets
Some clients dislike disclosing their marketing budgets because they think the creative team will inflate their prices. But this is not how things work. Generally, creative teams have a pretty fixed idea of how much it costs to produce specific deliverables.
So, when given a budget, they are much more likely to think about assembling deliverables than about inflating costs. If a budget is too low, they will politely decline your project. If it is low but within reason, they will focus on how to make the right choices.
In this particular case, there are 50 must-have pages on the site. I doubt the client will be able to organize them so the navigation makes sense. But most of the content is technical in nature, so he certainly can write it. I would have recommended this, because some of the development costs are critical to having a successful site and cannot be sacrificed.
Budgets Are The Basis For Realistic Estimates
It is not up to the client to determine the workflow of a project. We should have, at the outset, asked for an idea of the marketing budget and then worked our estimate out based upon that.
“Yes, absolutely, we would have spent every penny of the marketing budget. But we would have done so in the best possible way.”
The point of a budget is to spend it. When you have a budget for a house, a car, or a new computer, you expect to spend that budget…even though you hope to spend less.