Quoting For WordPress Projects
Aside from working with WordPress I am also a software developer. I develop desktop applications for the Microsoft Windows platform using Embarcadero's Delphi. When I started freelancing as a Delphi developer I came across a book entitled "The Software Developer's Guide" by Will Hentzen. What I took from the book is the process of bidding for software development projects. Now that I am in the WordPress space I continue to use the same approach in trying to get hold of WordPress projects.
The Job Advertisement
An email arrives in your inbox from a site job referral site that you subscribed to. You read the details, it looked interesting enough for you to pursue it. After getting the details of the advertiser you have to arrange for a face-to-face meeting whenever it is possible. Why? The simplest answer would be so that you can get a clear idea of what they actually want or you can deliver something that does not meet their requirements. People would seldom describe what they want done in their home to a carpenter or painter via the telephone or worse, email then why would a website be any different?
To make it really productive for you and your prospective client you have to prepare for it. You cannot go into this meeting without any preparation. The client's requirements will serve as your guide (since every web site is unique in some way you cannot have a one fits-all approach). What are the things you need to prepare? Here are some suggestions (hint: the technical bits do not play a major role at least initially);
- If they have an existing website visit it and find out more about them.
- A whole series of questions that will give you an idea of who they are, what they do, what their vision is etc. Specific questions about what they want to see and have in their website etc. Here is a great site with a whole list of questions you can ask (edit them for your needs).
- Investigate other sites that are in the similar business space. Note down the features that you think will be useful and those that will not.
- Forward the list of questions you want to ask them in order to give them time to prepare their responses.
The Meeting Day
Impressions count a lot and it is no different for you. Make sure that you present yourself well. Try to remember everything your mother told you about meeting people for the first time.
You have to make it clear from the onset of the meeting is that you have limited time and that you want to get into the gist of things as soon as possible. This is to prevent the meeting to go on indefinitely and possibly prevent your prospective client from picking your brains and getting ideas on how to go about doing what they want. This is also to save you time (since time is money, right?) in case they do not end up using your services.
It is best to keep to your script (i.e. your survey questions) to make sure that all bases are covered. Make sure that you clarify with the client what their expectations are; what things they want and do not want; etc. Here is a list of things (not exhaustive) you can and cannot do:
- Do suggest web hosting companies that can host their site.
- Do suggest domain name registrars.
- Do suggest a time when you will get back to them with your quote.
- Do not say that this or that feature can be accomplished by means of a plugin (your client doesn't care about the plugin, they care more about if it can be done or not).
- Do not volunteer additional feature or features if it is not needed or beneficial for the client. Doing so may just give you more work that what is necessary.
- Do not give an estimate of the cost or timeframe immediately.
Preparing Your Quote
Using the outcome of the meeting you can now prepare your quote. At the end of the exercise you should have a document which include:
- A detailed description of what the client's requirements are. Do not forget to list all the features needed.
- A mockup design (on paper) of the site including the relationship of the different pages, images, etc. You can use Balsamiq to do this.
- A list of paid plugins and theme that will be used in their site.You can either shoulder the cost and pass it on to the client or let them buy it instead. Here is an article that presents both sides. And here is one that states that clients should purchase the plugins themselves. You have to be clear upfront with this.
You should also include in this document key delivery dates. You can structure these dates as:
- Proposal or quote submission date.
- Response date - date you need a response by - this is to prevent the client from dragging its feet. Oftentimes this is also the signoff date.
- Start date - date you actually start working on the site.
- First draft date - date when you show the client the site for the first time. It's up to you how complete you want the site to be at this point in time.
- Second draft date - date when the site is again shown to the client. Site must be almost finished.
- Delivery date - date when the site is delivered to the client. The site will be in test mode i.e. not yet live to the world.
- Acceptance date - date when the client accepts that the site is complete and can go live
You do not need to have the date mentioned above. You can vary them according to your needs. Any change requested before final delivery must be determined whether or not it is a new feature or function since this can add more time to its development.
You should also include in your quote a warranty period. I usually quote three (3) months from acceptance date. You must make it clear that during this time any errors or omissions will be fixed without charge but any additional feature or functionality not covered in initial quote will be subject to a new cost and time estimate. It is a good idea to offer a maintenance plan once the warranty period is over.
A major part of this document is the payment schedule. Of course this assumes that you have determined how much you need to get paid for this gig. This is usually tied in with the delivery schedule. I leave it up to you how you would structure the payment schedule but what I usually do is:
- Require that 1/3 of the total cost be paid upon acceptance of the quote. This is to force their hand into committing to the project. You can also mention that you will commence work when you have confirmed receipt of the amount.
- 1/3 be paid when the first draft is shown to the client (usually by this time you already know how much work is remaining).
- 1/3 be paid when they accept the site as finished.
Once all of these things are in place you can send it to your prospective client. To make it easy for them to respond and signoff on the project you can suggest that all you need is an email confirming acceptance of the quote and payment of the required amount.
Good luck and now get busy...