Estimating the actual costs for a fix or for adding a new feature to a WooCommerce store can be tricky and depend on a number of factors. As a client, you should be able to obtain clear figures on the amount of money that you'll need to budget for.

The clarity and accuracy of the estimate that you receive will be directly proportional to the attention to detail with which you describe the issue or feature that needs to be added.

So how can you get the perfect estimate for a fix or new feature for your WooCommerce store?

Enrich your brief with a test case

A test case helps the developer identify the ideal circumstances and what has gone wrong with the problem. It allows them to understand how much work will go into fixing the problem and, as a result, how much it will cost. WordPress developer and Codeable expert Ashley Shaw highlights this point:

If you want a solution to a specific feature or fix on your WooCommerce store, first of all, provide a test case. The test case should be very specific. The more information about the user journey to where the issue occurs, the better. If you're requesting a feature, on the other hand, you'd need to explain in just normal user terms what your desired feature should do and if some of the base functionality already exists on the site.

The more details the better

Details are everything. They are extremely crucial for developers to be able to tackle your request and give you an accurate estimate. And when you're engaging with a developer to help you fix an issue on your WooCommerce store, the more details you'll be able to provide them, the better your task will be understood.

So, for example, some additional information you should be adding can include the process that the user who encountered the issue followed, where exactly the problem did occur, a screenshot of the issue and what browser the person was using etc. Ashley further explains:

It doesn't have to be all in technical terms, you can simply describe what happened in plain English: 'They go to this page, they add this product to cart, but when they click this option - or whatever the case is - there's an issue with the checkout page when they're using a certain browser.

Add screenshots with annotations to your brief

As you should already know, screenshots are incredibly helpful when communicating with developers. Ashley also stresses this:

Including screenshots for the fix or the required features can really help the developer's work, especially if they have annotations. You take a screenshot, and then you circle the problem area or the thing you like, and then you put in little comments on the screenshot. That always does give a visual indication. And I can't stress enough the importance of explaining what browser is being used when you're doing things.

There's never "enough" information when communicating with developers

When in need to find the perfect developer through outsourcing platforms, it's common for the clients - you - to publish their project requirements and brief and then wait for the developers to start engaging with you.

Codeable only allows up to 5 developers estimating on the same project so you don't get overwhelmed by offers. It's a controlled environment in which you and the developers applying for your project can discuss your requests more in-depth.

As important as within your project brief, even during this pre-work chat and communication you should share the most information you can and answer questions coming your way.

To get a good estimate, keep in mind that the developers you're chatting with are keen to understand everything related to your WooCommerce project at their best. Ashley comments:

When you post the project on Codeable and you start getting questions from the various developers, hopefully, they will re-explain how they understand your user journey and then ask questions. Try to answer those questions proactively. More often than not, being explicit in your communication about what you need can help extending the brief that you've written because your understanding might not be technical. And we - the developers - might then mention technical aspects that we need to consider for achieving an accurate estimate. So, in my opinion, it's always important to be as verbose and explicit as possible.

Provide links to the actual sites or staging environment

There are a couple of things people miss out on when they're looking for estimates for a fix or a new feature for their WooCommerce store.

You probably won't believe it but this is true and one of the crucial elements clients miss probably because they're too busy focusing on the issue or the feature they want to have. As Ashley reminds:

There are many clients who don't provide the exact URLs to their actual site or their staging environment. So, very often I have to ask: 'Which site are you referring to?' I realize sometimes you're working on a development site or staging environment, but it doesn't prevent you from sharing a link: I can't work on something that I don't know about.

I can (partially) understand the client's little distraction because maybe they were caught up in the number of problems the issue had already caused to their WooCommerce store. But not providing the URLs you're referring to either when asking for an estimate for a fix or a new feature makes both lose time with back and forth communications.

Wrapping up

Running a WooCommerce store and business is already a major and tough task on its own. That's why you should make the process for getting a precise estimate for a fix or a new feature as smooth as possible.

At the end of the day, whatever the issue or feature your WooCommerce store might need, little room for misunderstanding and effective communication with the developer are always what is going to win the battle for you.

This blog post features Ashley Shaw who is the founder of LightSpeed, a web agency that has been developing WordPress websites for over a decade. They can take care of and manage different areas of any business, such as frontend or backend development, WooCommerce support, MailChimp and Systems Administration.