Estimation process for UX services by hours or by deliverables?

26 Oct 2010 - 5:26pm
5 years ago
1 reply
4780 reads
Juan Ruiz

Hello community

Apologies if this is a thread that has existed already, however, I would like to get your input on this.

One thing that we have noticed with clients when they ask for estimates is that they ask the UX team to detail every single action for each activity we suggest to perform (for the proposal), and because of this, the billable hours/days start to pile up and then we ended up with a massive quotation.

The nature of the UX work is not as streamlined as the developers (or even designers) work where they have to write code following a set of directions and with an outcome already agreed on. The developers start the work with existing documents (i.e IA, wireframes, functional specifications), UX consultants have to create those documents from scratch.

Hence, I've been suggesting that for proposals the UX side of things are estimated by Phase, rather than by activity.

For example. We can estimate a total of 3 weeks for the discovery phase (goal is to define scope and business/user requirements based on user research activities). During these 3 weeks, the UX consultant will perform a series of activities s/he sees necessary in order to achieve the desire results (ie. Workshops, focus groups, personas, etc). Of course we will detail the activities we will perform on the proposal, but we won’t break it down by hours for each activity.

In other words, the estimation process will be by results/deliverables rather than by hours

Would love to hear your thoughts on this matter and if you have found a better approach to this.

Regards, -Juan Ruiz User Experience Team Lead Hyro Ltd.

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27 Oct 2010 - 3:48am

Thx for touch upon this problem / topic ... It's always the same problem at the start of a new client or project ...

When I calculate a project I do it this way (in most cases):

I ask the client / project manager


  1. Is there a determined release date? - Then I check is it at all possible to achieve
  2. What about the budget? - Then I ask myself is this a viable budget and are these viable circumstances.
If both OK and fine ...
I think about the UX needs and efforts = deliverables
  1. What are the minimum requirements/deliverables and what are the best practice requirements/deliverables
  2. What are variable parts, efforts and deliverables
And then I do a mix calculation based on experience and empirical findings by former projects ( and clients ;-) ).
So - my answer is ...
1st - I think about deliverables and 2nd - I think and calculate the hours/days
I have also thought about this problem and wrote several related articles about it.
Additionally I can just repeat what you already said "Would love to hear your thoughts on this matter and if you have found a better approach to this."


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