When a plumber quotes a job, he takes a look at the issue, can quickly identify what he will need to do, and get to work fixing the issue. The same applies to an electrician. The same applies to a carpenter.
The same doesn’t apply to a Web Designer, Web Developer, or a Programmer.
Here’s why. For a plumber, they simply have to ensure the pipes aren’t leaking, and are flowing straight. Simple really. An electrician, if he can get zapped by it, it works.
However, for a Programmer, or Web Designer, things are different. You get some vague idea off the client of what they want to happen. “I want a website” for example. That tells me a lot. Ok, you want a website, do you want annoying flash? Do you want a dynamic site, or a static site? Do you require images / multimedia to be produced? Do you require database design? Do you require maintenance?
All those factors come into play when you think, “I want a website”, for most jobs, it’s not as simple as opening word, putting a few bits of text together, and saying: Go to the Internetz. It’s a little more complex, if you do a quality job, and not a rush job, or a poorly coded job.
So, anyway, the quoting process isn’t straight forward, it requires us to think: How many times is this user going to say, no, I want this, no, I want that. Oh, I think I liked it before. As you can see, we could be going back and forth for years, changing aspects of a website, needlessly, until the client forms what they want. All those changes have to be paid for at some point of the chain, so prices are generally based on how well the client knows what they want. If they can sit there and demand specific things, and get them churned out quickly, you have a low cost client. Fantastic clients. If the client doesn’t really know what they want, or how things should work, you have a different issue, a more “Expensive client”. Such client’s require constant changes, constant maintenance, and as a result, need a higher cost for their website.
I think it’s a fair model, for the single reason that you get fair return on all those after quote changes that seem to popup with certain companies.
Some, you could swear by pulling out the original project requirements, and comparing those to a full print out of the email list, you would come to the conclusion they wanted two seperate sites rolled into one.
It’s not an easy process generating a quote for a new client, who might not know exactly what they want. You ask the right questions, you feel for the answers, and see how sure they are that they can specifically detail what they want to you.
With detail, you can significantly reduce the cost, and time, and contact, involved in development and testing.
So, if you ever want a website done, contact .. someone.. and obviously go to them with specific requirements. See if the price comes down compared to someone who might not know what they want.
It’s not an easy task pulling a number out of the back of your head that you might not like later on, or the client might not like right now. It’s certainly an interesting area to be quoting.