When we ask questions and, more generally when we communicate with others, we make tacit assumptions. We think the other person listening to us perfectly knows our current scenario, where our question generates from, and all the terminology we used. Because of these assumptions, the communication flow hits "hiccups" and we might get asked to specify and add some details to what we just said.

The same communication issues occur when we engage with developers:

  • "Can you help us with that? It's a small fix!"
  • "I'm a PHP developer myself and that should be just a small code tweak to do..."
  • "I just need a small [x]... should super easy for a developer"

These types of requests happen a lot to developers. Ask your dev friends.

In this blog post, I'd like to provide you with more insights on what small tasks and projects are in WordPress, how much they cost, and why a WordPress developer might disagree on calling something a "small task". To make it clearer, I'll also list out actual examples of small WordPress projects.

Are you ready, then? Let's dive in!

The definition of "small" varies from client to developer

There are instances when you reach out to a developer and list out a couple of requests for your WordPress website labeling them as "small" or "minor".
You honestly thought those tweaks to your company website were indeed not a big deal. I get it: it's not just you. We all have said something like this at least once in our life.

But, as we were wrong at that time, you are now as well because you're assuming all the details, which haven't been looked at, would magically fall into their place once you hire the developer.

When you ask something "small" to be fixed, you think everything else directly and indirectly connected to that element is 100% properly working. But that's just the tip of the iceberg: you're also taking for granted that the new tweak, once deployed, won't mess up something else and that your current customizations will keep working as they are right now.

If there's one principle that sits above any other else about communicating with developers, it's this:

Whether something is a small fix or small tweak lies in the hands of those who are going to take care of it because they have the tools and knowledge to determine what is to be considered small.

You maybe haven't realized it but this is happening already with all professionals you work with: plumbers, mechanics, painters. When you ask them for a price and an estimate on a "small thing", they give you a range of costs but nothing is defined before they have seen what you're asking about.

So, when you're trying to collect information about how much a small fix or small tweak on your WordPress website might cost you, you should reconsider if it even is a small project in the first place.

The definition of "small" varies from developer to developer

Things get a bit more difficult here as the definition of a "small project" varies from developer to developer as well.

There are different criteria on which developers base their explanation of what they consider small. Those can range from their interests, their preferences based on past and successful projects, to the type of engagement they like to build with their clients (shorter vs longer relationships).

With all that said, does it mean you can't have a price range on what a small task could cost you? Of course not!

How much does a small WordPress fix or tweak cost?

There are numerous WordPress projects that can be referred to as small or minor. Budget-wise, almost anything that falls below the $500 is almost universally considered a small WordPress project. As WordPress developer and Codeable Expert Daniel Stanojevic explains:

You can think of a small WordPress project, fix or tweak as anything in the $200 to $500 range. Some examples would be changing up the logo, changing the layout, just adding some stylized information. I often see clients having content on their website but it just doesn't look good, right? So, making their content look a little bit better, adding some padding and such can be referred to as a small project. Codeable is full of experts that love these types of projects.

It could be the case, though, that the developer you're engaging with usually works on bigger projects - like Daniel - and, to them, a small project might be anything that falls under the $1,000 price tier.

Now that you know how much a developer would price a small customization, tweak, or fix, let's have a look at actual examples of such WordPress projects!

Here's a list for your convenience:

Examples of small WordPress tasks

  • Creating a landing page
  • Adding a new form on a page
  • Adding a slider plugin
  • Adding a security plugin
  • Configuring a new plugin
  • Changing the logo on a website
  • Adding some style to a page
  • Changing the font
  • Add the latest post on the homepage
  • Content pagination tweaks

Small tasks have usually to do with HTML and CSS

For requests like those here outlined, you should expect to pay something in the $200 - $500, and in some cases up to $1,000. The costs of these projects vary from developer to developer because each of them ascertains their costs based on a variety of factors that include their hourly rate and the time required to successfully deliver. As Daniel highlights:

Usually, with small customizations the time required is the main factor affecting the end price. More often than not, it's about CSS and HTML tweaks, maybe a little bit of PHP for moving some elements around etc. The more complex the task the more the developer's experience starts becoming a prominent factor.

Wrapping up

A developer's definition of a "small task", whether it's going to be a tweak, a fix or anything similar, is usually different from yours - the client. That opens up the different expectations around how much a small task could cost you.

The best way to ask a developer for an accurate estimate is to wear the reporter's hat: just state the facts, i.e. what you want to be fixed/changed/improved, and let the developers go through them and understand your request at their best.

If something should be fixed or tweaked on your WordPress website, do you honestly think a developer will charge you less because you labeled it "small" or "minor"? Actually, you're hurting your business because those words are red flags to developers and lower your chances to get your allegedly small task fixed.

Small, medium, large make sense when you're ordering a menu in a fast-food not when you're looking for professional work to be done.

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.Quality: The Codeable Differene

  • wordpressguy

    Been there! Great post!

  • Sallie Goetsch

    Amen, brother!

    • 🙌, thank you… sister 😅

      • junis321

        A small task is something which any non-programmer can carry out and includes all the items you wrote in the list “Examples of small WordPress tasks”. Asking a client to pay more than $100 USD for one of them is a rip-off.

        • Frank McClung

          It’s also easy to give yourself stitches when you have a deep gash. But no, you go to the clinic and get a doctor or medical professional to do it in about 10 minutes. They charge hundreds. Why? Easy is relative and professional expertise applied to a situation should be paid accordingly. I once had a disposal stop working. Couldn’t figure out what was the problem. Called the plumber. He shined a light in there and pulled out a coin that had wedged itself in the disposal. Then charged me $90. Took him less than 30 seconds to solve the problem. But that’s expertise.

        • I had the same issue as @frankmcclung:disqus. It was on a Saturday, so not a regular workday and my faucet went crazy. I couldn’t stop it because of rusty pipes in the buildings so I had to call the plumber and ask him to run at my place asap. He did get there in 10 mins, tops. Looked at it, pulled out a wrench, temporarily fixed it, and boom a $150 invoice had already my name on.
          It took him 15 seconds to perform the actual fix. But I didn’t pay for that only… He had the tools, experience, good timing, he provided a quick solution to what it could’ve been a drag.

          Btw, why do plumbers always pop up when talking about WordPress and prices 😬?

  • Wrote something similar a year or two ago :) http://bbird.me/the-three-most-annoying-questions-asked-by-clients/

    • Great post you got there, Bruno. And you know what they say: great minds think alike 😬

  • Frank McClung

    Clients use the words “small” and “minor” to set low cost expectations. Sometimes it is innocent, sometimes it is a tactic. Of your “small WordPress tasks” list, I wouldn’t consider “creating a landing page” a small task. Some of the others like “adding a form” or “adding a slider”, depending on what they want, can be quite an involved task. And that’s why we shouldn’t think of pricing based on hours or tasks but value. How important is that slider to the site? How about that landing page if it is launching a new product? Move away from pricing based on not only what the client believes is a big or small, but how much time it takes you to accomplish but even how complex it is. Look at the value you bring to the client and price accordingly. Otherwise, be prepared to become a commodity.

    • junis321

      It is dead easy for a client to create a landing page themselves using the plugin ‘Elementor’.

      • Frank McClung

        That depends on the client’s capabilities, really. But you are right, page builders like Elementor will impact the types of requests that clients make in the future.

        • Yeah, 100% agree. There are other plugins and several third-party services to easily create landing pages.

    • Hey Frank,
      completely agree on the value-based strategy. My piece wants to share insights on a pretty common scenario where clients label their request as “small”, “minor”, “easy peasy” while they have no reals clue on why they to do that.

      I see some of them doing it honestly, and it’s completely understandable. While I don’t get the “strategy” of saying something is small – as I wrote – to score some sort of discounted price, which is never gonna happen. Actually they’re hurting themselves.

      As I wrote, whether a project/task/request is “small” has to be defined by the developer working on it.

      On my list of small tasks:
      of course creating a landing page for a website like the NYT is a bigger deal than my personal website, I agree. But that’s another game, that’s talking about projects for larger clients and websites, which is not the average nor what a small business owner will be able to identify themselves with.

      Creating a landing pages, whether via page guilders or even by duplicating a custom template via a plugin is easy for non-technical users. That’s why there’s plenty of page builders and landing page service providers like Unbounce, LeadPages, etc.

      • Frank McClung

        I hear you. All I work with is small business owners. You have to educate them not only that the project (say a landing page) is complex, but also how it is critical to their business. Page builders are great for the DIY business owner who is tech/wordpress savvy, but most smaller companies who don’t have an in house IT branch also don’t have the time or expertise to setup and run even a page builder. We call page builders “easy”, and they are if you are familiar with WordPress, plugins, etc. But for most small businesses, they are lost even with page builders.

        • It all comes down to how tech-savvy someone is, of course. Still, page builders found their place within the market to address the non-techies’ need to create “something” without having to always hire a developer. That’s one thing. The other, as you say and I again agree with, is the quality of what you can create through those tools and I do believe there’s a bunch of devs who are happy to “fix” or “improve” those pages being created via page builders.

          But we’re losing focus here: the core idea is to educate clients, and more generally, anyone who’s considering hiring a developer to work on WHAT THEY THINK is a small fix/tweak: it doesn’t matter how small/quick/easy they think that fix/tweak is, it’s the developer’s responsibility to educate them and explain them why that isn’t a small fix, or at least not as little as they thought in the first place.

  • Mark Hannon

    There are other factors that can affect the price. For instance, was the WordPress site created by another developer? Wading into someone else’s work and code can affect how big a “small” job might become.

    My standard analogy is a contractor who is hired to renovate part of a home. He/she knows nothing about any previous work done to the home. If the contractor opens the walls and finds none of the previous work was done to the building codes, they now own the previous contractor’s shoddy work. He/she will have to bring everything up to code before the new work can begin. What might have been a relatively small job just grew.

    • I agree with you, Mark. And, yep, I touched on that point in another recent post. Specifically, I say:

      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. […] 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.

      This is the link I’m referring to: https://codeable.io/get-estimate-without-budget/

  • newphonepc

    Great post!

    Totally agree from a WordPress developers’ perspective, it’s annoying to have a client tell you it’s small when they don’t know any better.

    And I’m all about value-based pricing.

    But I’ve run into it once or twice here on Codeable as a client where the quote was pretty high for a simple thing. Like a few hundred bucks for what turned out to be just a setting I overlooked within the admin panel.

    So I don’t know what the answer is, except that it goes both ways.

    (I know I’m going to get flack for this since there’s a lot of Codeable developers on here, but this is another perspective.)

    • Hey there,
      Appreciate your kind words!

      If you don’t mind, I’d like to know more about your experience as a client. If I take into account how you’re describing it, I see a “red flag” right there: you’re calling it “simple thing”. I presume you’re a developer, and that will give you a better understanding of a task but, as we both said, it goes both ways. Your “simple thing” meant differently in your mind and your dev’s mind. So, yeah, that’s what I’m trying to highlight with this piece :)

      It’d be a completely different story instead, if you had no idea about our pricing here at Codeable. And that’s something on our end, something we should work more on to make it easier to understand. Btw, here’s how we price projects: https://intercom.help/codeable/pricing/how-does-pricing-work

    • As a Codeable developer I’ll put myself on the line and say that to be the best of my knowledge, no one from Codeable or any of the Codeable experts would give you any flak for your comments, we’re all really nice that way. ;-)

      I would also add that sometimes it is often a case where a developer has to take the time to rule out all other possibilities before it is discovered that the problem is related to an overlooked setting.

      To give you an example, recently I had to fix an issue related to some CSS applied to a site. I spent over an hour looking through all the places where custom CSS had been added to the site (there were quite a few, including the Customizer, parent theme settings, child theme stylesheet and a few plugins that allowed custom CSS, all being used for different snippets) before I could remove the one CSS setting that fixed the problem.

      So often the real work in making one small setting change is larger than it appears.

  • Kathy Gannon Rainey

    I am a non tech-savvy client who has worked with about 8+ Codeable experts AND have been very satisfied. Your blog was helpful to me. And… I would appreciate some additional information on how we clients can better articulate our tasks — i.e. how to write good specs. The goal of course is to eliminate confusion and disappointment.