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EP. 4 How to avoid scope creep in your Design Studio

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It’s every designer’s worst nightmare. You get 30% into a Project, and the client starts dropping hints about changing the direction for the project, or they want to revisit or change the work you’ve already done…. It can put a strain on your timelines, on your profit margin and most importantly, the relationship you have with your client.. The project goes from exciting, flowing and fun to annoying, resentful towards the client and even confrontational if the client didn’t know they couldn’t just add things on or change their mind every 10 minutes.

In this episode I want to talk about what scope creep is, and how to avoid this from happening so you can enjoy your projects, have healthy profit margins and projects that run on time.

SO WHAT DOES SCOPE CREEP LOOK LIKE?

In my experience these are the most common forms of scope creep.

For website design projects these might be things like:

  • The client has provided you with all their images & some copy, you’ve confirmed with them you have received them, and begin designing out the site. You send across perhaps your home page for approval & the client the comes back to you with a heap of revisions on the copy, and 4 new/different images to use…..Essentially you are now spending DOUBLE the time designing out a home page, instead of the original plan of doing the home page design once, getting approval on the overall format of the site, before forging ahead with the rest of the project.
  • Another example is the client expects they can add pages on, even ” simple pages “ like just a sales page, or just a few products
  • A complete change in Branding after you’ve designed out most of the site.
  • If you’re a client who is super strict in booking out your calendar for Projects, scope creep can also include when the clients dont get assets to you in time and you end up missing out on other projects because the time you had booked for that client, is empty and now you will probably find yourself doubling up on client work when said clients decides to eventually get you their assets.
  • Scope creep especially for Shopfiy eccomerce builds can be adding a heap of new products, or not disclosing that every 1 of their products includes 25 variants in 2 different styles
  • Scope creep can alsoooo look, like a client who has said they will provide you with all their ‘branding’ but then sends across a logo in jpeg… This is not branding and nowwww you are having to either re quote them for an actual brand.. Or use your valuable skills (without getting paid) to basically create a brand for them to ensure their online store looks any good.

All these aspects are painful & a complete drag, not only on your time, but profits, and mental health.

HOW DO WE AVOID SCOPE CREEP?

It comes down to three simple things (I say simple, but it takes consistency & sticking to your boundaries)

TERMS & CONDITIONS, INTENSIVE DISCOVERY SESSION/S ie COMMUNICATION & YOUR INCLUSIONS

Let me explain.

My process for avoiding scope creep starts at our discovery call. I ask strategic questions to dive really deep into how prepared the client is, if they’re organised, if they know what they want or can clearly communicate the direction they want to go. I also ask questions to decide if they actually value the skills and experience I bring. I dive deep into how much of their brand they have fleshed out. How many products, variants and collections they will have, and if they cannot provide these key indicators & factors that will ultimately determine the price I quote them… Then they either get back to me when they know, OR I ONLY quote on a figure they give me, I only ever include actual, tangible inclusions in their proposal.

When I create my proposal for the client, I am so incredibly specific, I note what functionality, customisations & number of pages are included, if custom pages will be included or standard pages, and I explain what these terms mean to the client so they know exactly what they are getting.

I also explain the design process, I will say to clients to avoid doubling up on work (and eventually costing YOU more) its ideal if they can add in their copy, completely sign off and approve copy, and I will then add it to the site, ANY changes from here will either need to be done by the client, OR there will be a fee.

Another way to handle add ons is for any elements of the project that you may suspect will creep into the project at a later date, ask the client openly if they would like to perhaps include these things as an al la carte add on to the project, that way they know straight up how much an additional 2 pages will be, and then it comes as no surprise to them when they eventually ask for it, that it will be added to their final invoice.

The other really important aspect is feeling comfortable with the client to speak openly, and also reassuring the client that you welcome communication. You want them to verbalise their thoughts and ask questions, they need to be open about their goals and vision for the site, to ensure you can include all that you need to on your proposal.

The other integral part of avoiding scope creep is: ensuring your terms and conditions are uptodate and cover all the important things.

These clauses might include:

Details around timelines, urgent work requests, after hours fees, additional pages costs, if you need to terminate the contract, what are the terms around these events. Cover yourself for all the many different scenarios that can play out, and make sure you have avenues to go down to keep your clients goals on track, you remain on time, and ultimately maintain a really healthy & enjoyable client experience, not only for you but for them as well.

Sometimes It really is about education, your client may have never had to hire a designer before, and sometimes we can get in the trap of forgetting important details or assuming the client knows our processes.

💜 April