Sep 4

Realistic Project Times And Estimations


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We’ve all been there. You’re not alone! Project time estimates are one of the most uncomfortable pressures we face as designers and developers. It’s tough to estimate the time when so many variables are involved in the process, but we interviewed some of our top developers and designers (including our CEO) to gain some insight and perspective. Welcome to the break down of time estimations and jungle detours!!

Break it UP 

Our jungle guides coincided that the best way to estimate time on a project is to subcategorize each section of the project. The smaller the sections, the more precise the time estimation. Major divisions should be set for design, development, and Q&A interviews. NO BRAINER, right? 

Within those major sections, our team aims to break it down even further. For example: the Header, the Hero, the About Us blurb, the Contact Section, etc.. Seems like a lot of work, but it’s better than underestimating or overestimating a project time! Plus it keeps your team in check …We mean on schedule!!!  *cough*

By dividing up sections within subsections we can equally share the workload. At CreateApe we all collaborate together on a project. There is an interdependence among each of us and if one falls-we all fall. Okay maybe we don’t fall, but we can miss a step and trip sometimes. When we subdivide and break up the workload, we can then point fingers at who dropped the ball!! Just kidding…maybe! 

You get the idea, break it down don’t guesstimate a project. 

Consider the Coconuts

Another thing all of our designers and developers mentioned as an important key part of the estimation process was: to leave room for adaptations and unexpected issues. In an ideal jungle, we’d love to have no coconuts blocking the trail as we progress, but the truth is we live in a NOT ideal jungle!! 

A great example of estimating the unexpected issues is whether a designer will animate a website using some “new effects” and then consider how much time this adaptation would take as well as the “new effects” deliverables. 

Considering the coconuts always makes sense because as our CEO would say: “it’s always better to overestimate than to underestimate.” 

THAT being said, he also boasts that “the reality is if you’ve done this long enough– you should be able to estimate effectively as long as the client gives enough information.” 

Which brings us to the next part of estimating time: jungle detours

Jungle Detours

This is where you need an expert guide like us! Not to toot our own horn, but TOOT TOOT! 

Remember how we all collaborate and work together? Well, sometimes there is a flat tire which causes an unforeseen detour.. When this happens it’s all hands on deck to get it back on track. 

As expert jungle guides we need to be able to detour and switch gears to last minute changes. That can mean putting an assigned project on a brief hold to help a guide out when they’re stuck on the road. We know all too well to have a spare tire available (and spare time). 

Other common detours that can occur during the process are cloudy briefs or goals, delayed asset returns, and new destinations that are realized mid-project. These can occur in all three sections of the estimation process and in the not ideal jungle!

For example, in the design process–when a client approaches us with just a vision and no direction on what they want, we spend a little more time on designing – a lot more back and forth. 

In the development process, it depends if we are building a new site, or using the client’s current site– issues normally arise when we update a client’s old/current site. 

Q&A interviews may also take a few hours or a few days – depending on client edits. Leave room for the detours, they are bound to happen!! 

Jungle Retainers

What in the world is a retainer??!? Well…here’s the deal, as experts in the industry we know first hand how much time a project will actually take because we’ve been doing it so long. TOOT! As leading professionals we saw that there was an indefinite need when it came to business objectives, and that is where we developed retainers for our clients. 

We offer a competitive retainer option for larger projects requiring ongoing support, or projects with ambiguous scope and frequent changes. This retainer helps our clients save money on a large project while also providing us ample time to cover all of the business objectives. 

It’s a win-win for all involved and we usually offer it to all of our clients. The only time we don’t offer it is if we really don’t like them …or if it just doesn’t make sense for their project. ? 

If a client has a small project or a project that has a really definitive start and end date that doesn’t encompass a lot of hours (let’s say 80 hours or less) then a retainer doesn’t really make sense for them. 

THAT BEING SAID: We take pride in offering our clients more than just developing and designing their project. We love the feeling of business success for our clients and ongoing support to see the results through and through. 

Sure we can design and develop what you ask, but we’d love to deliver success to your project investment through continual support and maintenance. Retainers help us do this and that is why we developed them for our clients. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our retainers or starting a project with our team feel free to contact us at

Jungle Guide Tips

  • Create a brief that breaks down the project into the tiniest sections possible.
  • Have a personal process, it can be messy or stupid, but if it works for you it should save you a lot of time.
  • Estimate based on the things you know:
  • Complexity
  • Does it have icons?
  • Should I design icons?
  • Should I do animations or prototypes?
  • Illustrations
  • Quantity
  • Does the client need a specific format that can slow you down?
  • Plan for the unknown, ask questions (those are always free).
  • Always always leave room for possible issues. 
  • Learn from each project you estimate and complete (Estimating for time gets better and better with experience, so learn from each new project): 
  • Were you off? 
  • Did something go wrong? 

There ya have it: time estimations should be a piece of cake now!!! ..Okay, not really..but time will help. If you’re just starting in the industry give yourself time, EXTRA TIME, to learn how to estimate projects. Time takes time (ironically). But – we hope this guide helps get you started!

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