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Staying “in Scope” with your Website Design Provider

What are the three most dreaded words in web development? “Out of scope.” What does it mean, and why should you (if you’re a client of a website design firm) be annoyed by this term? In a nutshell:

Because it means you are about to be charged more money.

Basically, “out of scope” is corporate language designed to send the message that a particular request or project element was not factored into the original proposal and cost estimate. Sometimes, it’s intentional and mutually-agreed upon; if a client decides he wants more or different than what he’s already been quoted for and is willing to pay for it, then being told those changes are out of scope may not be dreaded after all.

When it is dreaded, though, it’s usually because the client didn’t expect the web development professional (or other service provider) to consider the extra work to be, well, extra. Either the requirement wasn’t interpreted the way it was outlined, or there was an assumption that there was some latitude in the way a requirement could be executed. The ensuing disagreement can be frustrating, and in some cases, a deal breaker.

Here’s how to avoid being told your website design requests are “out of scope” after you were quoted a price for the work:

Plan for everything: When it comes to a web development project for your business, there’s no such thing as too much planning. Have a clear vision of what you want before your first appointment with your website design company. If every detail is accounted for, nothing will fall outside the scope of work.

Draw it out: Flow charts, storyboards and combinations thereof create a detailed, visual and indisputable point of reference for everyone involved, throughout the entire duration of the project. There’s no room for argument when both client and designer can see the plan at all times.

Everything in writing: This should go without saying, but when it comes to creative services like website design, many smart people let all good business sense go out the window. Don’t! Any detail that is not put in writing is a detail that is subject to misinterpretation of scope once the project commences. What you, the client, might think is simple and unworthy of added cost or worth mentioning, the web development professional might interpret very differently.

Following these guidelines can help everyone stay happy and engaged in a highly professional, uncontentious working relationship. Your website design provider is far more likely to deliver a product you are satisfied with if you both understand the scope of the project from beginning to end.

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