How to calculate costs and delivery time of a web project?

After having established with your client the general structure of the website and the objectives behind its creation (type of content, number of pages, etc.), you will have to create a detailed budget estimate, which will include the costs and the estimated time of completion for the project at hand.

How should I calculate the costs and delivery time of a web project without misrepresenting these figures?

The best way is to work on a project-basis.

Web development is not an easy task, as someone who is misinformed might think. Rather, it is a complex endeavor that requires the collaboration of various professionals, each of whom is assigned a specific role in the development of the project.

Let’s take a look at some of the most important positions we will find in web development.

  • Project manager: is in charge of managing the project by coordinating the work team, coming up with a budget for the project and establishing the types of resources, costs and delivery time.
  • Development team: depending on the complexity of the project, it can include the following positions:
    • web concept designer: is responsible for giving shape to the project, starting from the initial idea, the communication strategies and the business objectives.
    • web designer: is responsible for the layout of the entire website. He or she is in charge of curing the look, the user interface, colors and the main navigation tree.
    • graphic designer: working with the web designer and/or the client, the graphic designer is in charge of the page layout and the overall graphics of the website. The graphic designer’s main responsibility is to convey a range of emotions to the user through his or her choice of images and graphics.
    • web developer: is in charge of structuring the various web pages. He or she is responsible for the correct transfer of a web designer’s ideas into a page that can be viewed online. This is done using a series of codes, as well as by using XHTML, CSS, ASP, PHP, JSP, SQL for script development and to encode the dynamic part of the website.
  • Contents team: in charge of writing. Using the notes collected from the client, the contents team is to come up with a language that pertains to the web project, is specific to the needs of your client and that can also help embellish the site.
  • Marketing team: is responsible for advertising the website, making sure that there are enough visitors and that the website reaches its intended goals. The marketing team is involved in the project from the very beginning, working alongside the web and graphic designers, and the web developer.
    • Web Marketing Strategist: is in charge of the communication and web services that are part of the project. Mostly, it involves: coming up with a business idea, product/service placement, technological aspects, and partnership creation. It also involves a continuous monitoring of the various services offered by the web site.

These specific positions are tied to the complexity and overall budget of a given project. So, a small project that has a limited budget could have one person cover more than one of these positions.

Now that we have looked at the various positions involved in web development, let’s get acquainted with the role of the Project Manager. Let’s begin by listing the objectives, creating a list of needed programs, defining the various phases behind the web development process and attributing a specific task to a given position.

Our client has hired us not only for website development but also for other services such as copywriting and site indexing.

Main aspects of the project plan

These are the main aspects that a project plan needs to consider:

  1. project objectives: what needs to be done (in this case, website development);
  2. steps involved: how should it be done (what are, in detail, the steps needed to complete the project);
  3. necessary skills: what skill set is needed (what kind of professional does the project need to hire);
  4. dividing the work load: who is in charge of what (each task will be assigned to a specific role);
  5. project schedule: what is the timeline (outlining the various phases and how long each of them should take to finish);
  6. budget divisions: how much will the project cost to make (cost of project is calculated based on the resources involved and the deadline for the project);
  7. control mechanism: how to verify (checking up on the completion status of the project);

Let’s move on to the practical side of things: it’s clear that these various phases cannot be managed manually, otherwise they would be prone to mistakes and errors. Therefore what we need is a valid support tool which can automatically take care of each phase, managing it correctly and in an organized manner.

Project management can be done by using an open source software such as Planner and Gantt Project. In this case, we will rely on Microsoft Project since we have used it before.

What follows is a full screencast that shows how one is to manage the development process of a website. It will show you how well you can work on a project if it is done in an orderly and organized fashion. Also, take a look at how to use the software.

1st video – Introduction and task list creation – (length: 9′ 29”)

After a brief introductory note, you will be shown how to add a task list to the program, which details the activities that need to be completed.

2nd Video – Adding all the tasks that form a project – (length: 16′ 32”)

In this video you will be shown how to add all the single tasks that constitute a project. I suggest you watch this if you want to know about all the phases that are part of the web development process. Otherwise you can skip and go directly to the third video, which will show you how to add the various resources to your project and how to assign a resource to a specific task.

3rd Video – Adding resources and assigning each to a specific task – (length: 7′ 15”)

Once you have added all the activities, you can start adding resources assigning a pre-defined resource to a single activity.

4th Video – Complete allocation of all single tasks – (length: 5′ 24”)

Now you can finish allocating the remaining tasks. If you are only interested in learning how to assign a single resource to an activity or task, you can jump to the fifth video in which you will learn how to define the length of each activity so that the cost can be automatically calculated by the software.

5th Video – Defining the length of each activity – (length: 10′ 47”)

In this video you will see how to set a specific timeframe for each activity, so that you can get an idea of how long it will take to finish all the activities that define a project, thus knowing what it will cost.

6th Video – Linking various tasks – (length: 12′ 46”)

This last video will show you how to connect the various tasks between one another. It will show you which activities deserve priority and need to be completed before tackling others as well as showing you which ones can be realized simultaneously.

Conclusion

We hope this article was helpful to you. We have finally come up with an answer to the query we posed at the beginning of the article. Now we know how to calculate the costs and delivery time of a web project without misrepresenting these figures.

Next week we will look at an important aspect of web development: how to avoid second thoughts from a client once a project is completed.

The other articles in this guide:

  1. How to understand the client’s needs on the first encounter?
  2. How to calculate costs and delivery time of a web project?
  3. How to develop and organize the structure of a website?
  4. How to find inspiration and design the layout of a website?
  5. How to present the graphic draft to the client?
  6. How to make the internal pages after the draft’s approval?
  7. How to export a psd into xhtml and css without losing your soul? (part1) (part 2)
  8. How to index a website without being SEO experts? (part 1) (part 2)
  9. How to make sure of not having committed errors before launching the website online?

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    The Author

    Nando is administrator of Edi Group, a Sicilian web agency founded in 2005. He deals with the development of web applications in php language and the implementation and administration of databases. And besides Microsoft Trainer with years of experience in regional and private training courses as a designer and lecturer.

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