[thelist] What would you do? -- pricing and estimating

Erik gozz at gozz.com
Wed Apr 11 22:25:38 CDT 2001

Well, it's working out groovily now because we had decided that the 
client would add the HTML for a Flash navigation movie to the site 
themselves, but it ended up they wanted me to do that as well ... and 
there is still room to the ceiling. So there's no one getting upset 
about having to do work for free, or having to pay "extra" for the 

To me - the developer - the value of the work is based on how much 
time goes into it - but to the client the value of the work is in the 
end product - they think of it more like buying a car rather than 
compensating for the time it takes to make it.

If a range in dollars is given, it allows me to be compensated 
accurately for my time without putting a whole ton of effort into 
finding out exactly what the client needs and estimating how long it 
is going to take (and wasting time putting together an appropriately 
specific bid/quote/contract), and it gives the client a comfort level 
as well because they know the final bill will not exceed $X dollars. 
And gives some leeway to change the nature of the work performed 
without making either party unhappy.

If a potential client can't be really specific about what they 
want/need but want to know how much it will cost, you can use that to 
lead into asking for an hourly rate: "What we could do is put a cap 
of $X on the project - we could say they project will cost between 
$2000 and $3000 and I'll keep track of my hours and bill you for 
whatever the hours are, but it won't go over $3000 and from what 
you've told me it will probably be somewhere in the middle anyway."

And even if the client knows EXACTLY what they want, if it involves 
anything with graphics or layout there is still a big unknown in the 
number of changes it will take before they like it. That way you'd 
put it as, "We'd probably have to change things a bit after you see 
what I come up with, but if we put a ceiling on it, neither one of us 
has to watch the clock too much and we can concentrate on making it 
look good."

This is the wording I use in the contract:

"Notwithstanding any prices listed in literature or on Web pages, the 
Client and Gozz agree that the services described above shall be 
rendered at a rate of $_______, the total not to exceed $______ or be 
less than $______. Work will commence upon the payment of $_____ as 
an advance against the hourly rate."

So that's what I mean by a ceiling/floor thing.

>| I've been doing a "ceiling/floor" thing recently, which has been
>| working out way groovy ...
>would you mind explaining the effects of "ceiling/floor" things.
>especially those working out groovy.
- Erik Mattheis

(612) 827 3963

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