Knowing how much a WordPress fix, tweak or a customization of any sort will cost you is hard. How often have you had to undertake a WordPress development project but had no idea how much it was going to cost? A tad too often for some people! I know, sometimes, it is common to be unaware of what something will actually end up costing you.

The main reason is that you're not sure or just fail to see what's involved in a given project because you might be unaware of the technical details involved or other aspects that directly affect the end price.

This doesn't mean that having no clear picture of how much something would end up costing should stop you from working with a WordPress developer. In fact, it can even become a learning experience you can improve your budgeting skills project after project.

So, how can you get a project estimate when you don't have a budget yet? Here's a short list of tips on how to achieve that, all backed by a developer's experience.

Let's have a look!

Tip #1: Talk with the developer directly

As the ancient philosopher Seneca once said: "If you don't know, just ask."

It might seem a silly advice here, but it's not. At Codeable you have the possibility to engage with a developer and talk directly with them on your project. Specifically, consultation sessions are set up for the very reason of clearing out confusions and plan the next steps, if what you got out of it sounded like a good plan. WordPress developer and Codeable expert Daniel Stanojevic explains:

My main suggestion would be to do a consultation so that the expert can work with you to get to a rough idea and then, at the end of it, just ask: 'What price range do you think my project falls into? What budget would be good for it?'

Having the possibility to ask directly is an ideal way to get a rough estimate on how any project will cost you.

Tip #2: Be as clear as possible on what you want

It is okay to be unclear about the budget. However, being confused about the details of the actual project won't lead you anywhere. It’s not necessary to be aware of all the technical aspects right off the bat, but you have to know exactly what, for example, the new theme or the custom plugin you're looking for needs to do. Daniel elaborates:

I think a ballpark estimate is something most experts are comfortable doing as long as you're not giving them just a few paragraphs of text and you're trying to build the next Facebook. It doesn't have to be technical, that's the key component of it. You don't need to worry about plugins, about the themes, about any of that. All you need to worry about in the specification is what it is you want to do. So, for example, let's say you want to build a site where people can upload and view videos. We'd start from what you clearly have in your head, and then we go through the whole site and discuss the main pages, what elements need to be there, what functions you'd want, and roughly how they all connect.

The more analysis and reasoning you've done around that new feature, that new plugin, or your new website, the better you'll be able to share your idea with the developer you're engaging with.

And, on top of that, you'll be able to craft a detailed project brief covering all those crucial aspects that could directly affect the outcome you'll get.

Tip #3: Clearing up someone else's mess is costlier

In your quest to gather a rough idea on how much something is going to cost you, there's an important truth that you should know in advance: discussing a new project from scratch is different from discussing one that has to start from something that's "already there".

More often than not, when you're considering working with an outsourced developer, you had someone already started working on that new functionality, or your new theme, in the first place.

Maybe it was because a new developer intern had just started at your office, or you were confident one of your in-house developers would have been able to deploy it. But then, for whatever reasons, that project got stuck in a limbo and now you need it done.

If you have no clue on how much fixing or finishing that project is going to cost you, you should be aware that having a new developer working on it will surely cost you more than if you had started working with them in the first place.

It's a hard truth to take. I know. But this is one of the biggest mistakes business owners make when approaching a new developer. Daniel points this out:

The most common thing I get myself is 'We've tried to do this ourselves and now we want you to fix it.' This ends up being way more expensive than just having an expert do it from the start because fixing things is way more different than it is to do things from scratch. In order to fix things, you first have to learn how that thing works, how it functions, how it's set up. Whereas, if you're doing a new thing from scratch, then you already can decide for yourself how things are going to fit together.

Wrapping up

When working with an outsourced developer, good communication is the currency. The more room you leave to uncertainty and useless information, the higher your chances to get something different from what you requested.

Not all types of development projects might require a consultation before starting them, though. And if you already have some sort of previous experience working with outsourced developers, you can figure out the required budget more easily. But what if you're in need of a new feature, a new template, a new custom option for your store, or even a whole new store eventually? Even if you have no idea on the budget, you'd realize these are examples of more complex development projects.

Well, it is with these types of projects, or when you have little to none experience, that talking with a developer shows its real value. It becomes a great cost-effective option for you to get their help defying what's involved in a project and what you might haven't thought of because you simply didn't know. Luckily, not for long.

This blog post features Daniel Stanojevic who is the co-founder of pixelDuo, a small development agency focusing on quality over quantity and long-term client relationships. They’ve worked with WordPress and have created countless solutions helping businesses all over the world thrive for over a decade. Since 2013, they also build web applications with the Laravel framework.