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Feb 22

Scope Creep: Why Your Web Designer Might Have To Put You Back On The Clock

Imagine that you’ve just contracted a house builder to build a new home for you. Once the home is completed to spec, you can probably imagine the reaction that you’d get if you told the builder that you needed them to throw up in a shed in back—at no extra charge. The home builder would balk at the idea of extra materials and man-hours for a part of the job that they had never bid.

Yet this is the kind of thing that web and graphic designers face all the time. Any extra request, however small, means them using their time and expertise to solve their problem, so you should never be offended if you get some pushback. –

More often than not, pushback never occurs because your creative vendor wants your business and doesn’t want to jeopardize the project or the prospect of future business by getting everybody’s backs up over 10 minutes worth of work. But more often than not, those “little requests” you make snowball into lots of extra hours of client management and unbilled work that is over and above what they promised to perform.

“Why should I care?” you might be asking yourself now. OK, fair question. If your designer happily does extra hours of work to make you happy on your project, there’s no reason not to expect it would continue.

But in the event that you do get some pushback, here’s why you should be understanding:

  • Just like building a house, it’s the responsibility of both parties to understand what they have agreed to provide or pay for. If you have asked for deliverables that weren’t outlined in your agreement, you can be expected to pay for it—whether it’s a new shed or a new web page.
  • Ask questions up front so that you align with your vendor’s understanding of what design, implementations and review are included in your project. Vague areas of understanding are fertile ground for frustration—for you and your web design team. Make sure you understand your vendor’s pricing, and how potential “extras” will be dealt with. Many a project has gone south with the simple phrase, “I thought this stuff was included.
  • Realize that your vendor doesn’t just push magic buttons to make your requests a reality. You’re asking them to leverage their technical knowledge, business acumen, and investment in hardware and services to achieve even the smallest out-of-scope requests.

This situation rarely comes up in relationships where clients are used to web design shops bending over backwards to accommodate every request—whether its within the agreed scope of work or not. But if you’re the maker of those requests, don’t be surprised if you find out that they will cost you money against the shop’s hourly rate and, just like your housing contractor, your vendor will expect to be paid for their time and talent, too!