Susannah’s blog

Is revamping your website like building an airport?

New Berlin airportNot exactly, but what they have in common is that most building projects take longer and cost more than originally thought. It doesn’t have to be an extreme case, such as the new Berlin airport – nine years late and billions of Euros over budget – but even quite small website projects usually take longer than originally envisaged.

A recent example I know of was a revamp of a website that took three times as long as the original estimate and cost a good deal more than the owner had expected. Luckily the result was satisfactory, but it could have been a disaster.

To some extent, as with building works on your house, these problems are inevitable. Once you start taking things apart, you discover more things that need doing.

Also, you may get new ideas after the project has started. When my house was being rewired and a new floor laid in the main room, I thought “While they’re here, I might as well have a new floor in the kitchen too”.

How do we deal with these problems?

Most important of all is to spend time planning and discussing the project before the work starts. Both sides need to be clear what is wanted and what the work involves. Does the client want a mere refresh or does he/she really want a new site? Does the developer understand the existing site well enough to give a fair quote for the job?

Generally speaking it’s easier to build a new site than to substantially alter an existing one. That’s not to say that you should leave the obvious flaws in the existing site untouched until you get a new one but, as with real-world building works, one can underestimate the difficulties of a partial improvement.

When it comes to the price, avoid being charged by the hour. After what should be quite detailed discussions, agree a price for the project and what is included in that price. You can always provide for extras that come up after the work has started, along the lines of my kitchen floor, but there should be a price specified for these too and that could be an hourly rate.

The time spent in planning should save you money in the end, as you avoid paying to correct mistakes. You also avoid misunderstandings that can damage the relationship between the parties and leave one or both feeling hard done by.

If you’d like help planning a new website or revamping your existing one, please contact me.

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