A development project is an extensive activity, one that requires considerable planning and research before it can actually be executed. That clashes majorly with one of the most common requests around any new WordPress project: how much will it cost me? How long will it require to be delivered?

It might be hard to hear this out loud but, usually, clients are seldom well-versed in the estimation process that goes on behind a website development. It's understandable, though. There are important reasons driving their requests for costs and development timeline.

You - as the client - do so because you need to understand key elements of a new WordPress project before making the choice of hiring a developer for that. You need to know what costs and timeline will be involved in a given project to being able to evaluate it as a feasible solution. Or, in other cases, you might need such information because a client of yours is asking for a project you want to (partially or entirely) outsource.

You have to gather insights on costs and timeline because you're not at the right stage to commit and make the choice of investing in a developer.

So how can you get a clear picture of how much a new WordPress project will cost you, if you aren't ready to hire a developer yet?

Knowing the costs involved up front can be quite tricky because of the nature of development work

It all starts with you wanting to know how much a new WordPress website, a new custom theme, a fix to that awful issue will cost. And you want to know that before you commit to hiring some developer.

These are real pain points you're trying to address so there's no trouble in that at all. The only thing here you need to be aware of is how development work occurs. WordPress developer and Codeable expert Milan Latinović highlights:

On one hand, clients need help to figure out how much their project will cost them before moving forward. On the other hand, the developer has to share knowledge to help clients make informed decisions. The problem here occurs when, at some point, a developer might be concerned when they start thinking they're sharing 'too much' without being compensated or ensured that client is willing to proceed with a project and not only seeking for 'free advice'.

In fact, if a developer can provide you with a specific estimate right off the bat (with no research, no additional information, etc.) either one of two scenarios is happening:

  • a) You're a recurring client and you already have a solid project brief in your hands
  • b) The developer you're engaging with isn't a professional developer and just want to give you some numbers to win you as a client. When this happens, usually poor work gets delivered or the estimated budget will need to be re-touched.

If scenario a) applies to you, you already have a channel of communication with that developer and you know how to approach and request estimates to them. Just be sure your project brief doesn't have any red flag that might scare away your trusted developer!

If scenario b) is the one better describing your current situation, run away and just pick another developer. A good one, this time.

Project estimate
A project estimate is a serious thing (via Dilbert)

Obtaining detailed estimates without hiring a developer can be problematic sometimes. This is because every client request, such as yours, is different. Some clients are inquiring about something that has to do with their WordPress website, others are gathering information related to their client's. Some might have a lot of technical knowledge, others might not have any at all. On top of that, you also need to add all that a developer has to go through and analyze to understand what you're asking them to deliver.

As a result, getting an estimate before hiring a developer requires you to engage with the developer from the ground up for as long as they have all the needed information lined out.

There's no other way for you to get that coveted realistic estimate.

There has to be a middle ground

In your quest to getting a costs and time estimate for your new WordPress project without hiring any developer, you need to be aware that the more you put in, the most you get out.

One of the ways forward is that you try to find common ground between you and the developer. And you do this by engaging directly with them. Based on how big/advanced your WordPress project is, you can do this two ways:

Option #1: Engage with them via chat (not always a viable option)

If what you'd like to build isn't too much advanced, and you have already a basic project brief where all important information is available, then chatting with the developer might be good enough for you. Not all platform to find outsourced developers are powered with this features, though.

On Codeable, after you've posted your project, you have the chance to fire up a chat with prospect developers who will help you refine your budget (or other aspects of your project) by making you aware of missing yet important information or wrong assumptions you might have.

Posting a project is free, chatting with some developers is free as well, but don't try to exploit this opportunity. Developers have a sixth sense for users who aren't a good fit and who just look for free work. Be transparent and open about your request so you'll have higher chances to get more answers back.

Option #2: Jump on a call (always the best option)

Another way to get a costs estimate for a project without hiring a developer is to talk with one directly. On Codeable, you can pick a 1-to-1 private call with one of the 300+ WordPress developers for a fixed price, and a fixed 1-hour time slot.

By jumping on a private session with a Codeable expert, you can have detailed and in-depth discussions about every aspect of your soon-to-be website, plugin extension, or anything you're in need of. You'll receive appropriate replies and course of action that can help you make better decisions onwards. As Milan further explains:

A client might choose not to post a project on Codeable because they simply need to know more before making any further decision. So they opt to jump on a consultation task. These 1-hour private sessions sometimes evolve into 2, 3-hour consultancies or whatever is needed to clearly define the project. Once the project has been clearly defined through these private calls, the client will have everything set up in terms of research, infrastructure, project needs, and most importantly, budget and timeline.

What are the benefits of this process? You get a costs estimate but not only that

Finding a middle ground between you and the developer you're engaging with can really be the secret recipe to knowing project costs without having to hire a developer. But all doesn't stop there, as Milan points out:

As a developer, I generate PDF reports and proper documentation for clients I've consulted with. Specifically, they'll be delivered to-do lists, a solid project scope, a precise budget scope, and a roadmap, all tailored to their project. With all this documentation, clients can then decide whether to hire me (or not) and maybe look for another developer. Even on a different platform.

Costs are just one piece of the pie. Having a solid scope defined, a roadmap for your project, and all that documentation and planning is surely something useful to have.

Wrapping up

The costs involved in a WordPress project can vary tremendously. That's why you keep hearing that (serious) developers need to know more details about what you have in mind, about your new website, about your issue.

They don't have the power to provide you with an estimate without such information, much like any other professional you've engaged with in your life. A painter will never tell you how much repainting your house will cost without having seen it first. A tailor will need your height, chest, waist, and neck measurements at least to give you an estimate. They need information before providing you with an estimate.

Same happens within the (WordPress) development world. Delivering an idea of WordPress development costs is ordinary life for a professional. So, if you're looking to get an estimate before committing to hiring a developer, you're doing something they're prepared for.

There needs to be a common ground established between you and the developer, though. One through which both subjects benefit from the situation: you'll be getting your costs estimate, along with a solid documentation around your project, and the developers will be able to showcase their experience and be compensated for their work.

As with other professionals, the more information you'll be willing to share with a developer, either by chatting or talking with them, the better the estimate you'll receive from them will be. As Milan summarizes:

Clients and developers should both try very hard to find a middle ground to handshake. If this middle ground doesn't happen, the project won't likely happen either. Or, even worse, it will happen in a very poor way.

And this, essentially, is a result you don't only want to ever occur but also one you should stay away from with your business.

This blog post features Milan Latinović, a software developer and team lead with 8+ years of experience and strong technical background in PHP, GIT, infrastructure (virtualization, provisioning, integration) and security. Experienced both in technical and the domain of management (project scoping, planning and implementation), Milan specializes in WordPress optimization, WooCommerce, Security and LSPs - large scale project deliveries. He is also an official WPML contractor and Phd researcher in the field of semantic databases and SQL optimization.