Posted by: ADsevenfour | March 10, 2010

Do I really need to tell you the budget?


The simple answer to this is yes.
Yes if you want to get the best out of the designer that you choose to use.

Recently I wrote a quote for a potential new client, trying my best to be as brief and specific as possible, detailing what the client could have depending on his business requirements and budget.
The client was very suspicious about the reason I asked outright for their budget, which I found strange. This was not done to try and discover how much I was going to charge / overcharge or scam out of the client as I had already given my hourly / daily rate up front. So, to try set the clients mind at ease from the outset, I explained that without this it was very difficult for me to establish if I could meet the business requirements without knowing what the budget was…

The reason for asking is (if I can use an analogy) the same as if you were designing and building a car, how many doors, whether you are carrying children, you want to know what it will be used for, if there are any specific requirements, “the boot must be big enough for my wheelchair”, where you are parking it. These are all perfectly reasonable questions that will allow the designer to understand if you outcome will resemble a Porsche, Range Rover or a Mini without a momentous amount of thought. This is the same when spec’ing out a website design, you need to know what sort of content is involved, how many pages, what the remit of the site is, how the content is managed, emphasis on aesthetic design over function, user personas, site traffic, futureproofing, etc etc. There are many many decisions that are subconsciously made by the designer before putting pencil to paper. By sharing the budget with the designer it will allow him / her / them to access the job and get an understanding of the kind of site that is required.

Website owners and marketeers looking to build a new website often have a list of requirements which they want included. Beware when reading this like a specification document, as the truth is often, that this list of requirements is not a list of business goals and objectives of the website, but a list drawn up by committee of must haves, flash, 3d, papervision, ajax etc etc. One of these most important objectives will be to achieve deliveribles within a well-defined budget. The budget will set what can be achieved in the list of requirements and what are nice to haves.

So again “Do I really need to tell you the budget?”, the answer is yes. Without a budget a successful understanding of requirements versus deliverable, is at best, guess work.

But I would also like to add that with the understanding of the budget and expected business objectives comes a greater need for communication. This is key in the design process, building trust and confidence in each other, making the design and delivery process less painful and more like a collaboration, allowing for easier communication in the long run. It is vital to establish who you are communicating with and consistently refer back to the business objectives in the delivery of any designs, this way there is no fear of reprisals and unexpected goals that haven’t been met. Clear meeting points, presentations and reviews will alleviate worries on both sides, making sure all goals are being met, within the predefined budget. It is at this point that you can start thinking about the look and feel.

andy@ad74.co.uk

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