How to estimate website project cost when relatively inexperienced?
April 2, 2014 9:41 PM Subscribe
I have a client who has an existing website written in PHP spaghetti code and has been through a few developers. He wants to add features and upgrade to a modern framework (Django). The website is quite involved (tests, shopping cart, user authentication) and the requested features would add another layer of complexity (teachers and students). I have experience working with Django but I'm not confident enough to estimate the whole thing. Worse still, my client is non-technical and keeps asking for updates while remaining cagey about cost/ trying to lowball instead of considering technical difficulties. How does one proceed?
posted by bodywithoutorgans to Work & Money (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
1) I'm new to project planning. I've worked as a full-stack developer before though this is my first time "dealing with a client" and discussing rates. The codebase is a mess and without clairvoyance of knowing what will break what, I've drawn up a functional specification and given a rough estimate (~100 hrs) though the client wants to hear total cost and has budgeted only 5-6K (a bit low in my estimation). I try to explain to him that testing, deployment (Amazon EC2), bug fixes, transitioning PHP to Django code/middleware, feature requests also play a role. Is it better to work hourly or project based in such a situation? Also, though he seems like a reputable guy, what prevents him from screwing me over, adding new features last minute outside contract scope or expecting functionality and then paying? I've already spent many (unpaid) hours setting up a development environment that have not been factored into total cost. Does one need a legal contract (begging the question of having agreed project budget/hourly rate) or can one split up the project into quarterly installments and get paid upon achieving milestones?
2) As I get better at this, is the next logical step incorporating as an LLC? I've been paid a W-2, Paypal, checks and cash for services as an independent contractor before though many friends have formed 1-person web-dev LLCs. Is there any reading material for this process to think in more business savvy terms?
Thanks a bunch MeFi!