Don’t Raise the Bar — Lower It!

The Easy Way or The Hard WayIf you’re like me, you feel like you can tackle any project, get it done on time or before and with stellar success. Unfortunately, this attitude has brought me nothing but pain & suffering when doing work for clients. In the past, I always used to underestimate the difficulty of my projects and would convey that to my clients in the form of unrealistically small estimates on time and budget.

Luckily, I was usually on a team of highly motivated, competent people — so we were actually able to hit many of our deadlines but the products we were delivering weren’t the highest quality and I started to get burned out. However, when I endured a hellish project that ultimately ended up in failure I finally saw the light. I started to realize that these tight deadlines were not only consistently making my clients upset but were ruining my life — it was then that I realized that I needed to:


Okay, by this I don’t mean that you should take advantage of clients or that you should be lazy … but that you under promise and over deliver. Make sure that when you estimate the scope of a project that you double or triple the number of hours you’d normally bid — so that you can account for any problems that you ABSOLUTELY WILL ENCOUNTER.

Clients don’t typically like seeing estimates for large figures so you’ll sometimes have to make small concessions — but if you aren’t up-front with your clients from the beginning then once you start the work, your life can become hell on earth and they will be consistently disappointed. Trust me — sometimes its better to just not get the job than to work off of an unrealistic estimate.

Don’t short-change yourself and do give yourself a chance to succeed by not pushing the envelope too much. Once the expectations and estimates have been set realistically and you actually come in under budget and ahead of schedule — you’ll look like a rockstar instead of a buffoon for blowing it! You’ll be happier and so will your clients.


  1. i think that inexperienced / junior people in their careers often fall into these types of mistakes. For me, estimates are just a way of life and easier to manage when i have a good relationship with my customers. I think that is the key

  2. Blair, Thank you for this and i do agree 100%, however ther are other way’s of unintentially falling into this black hole! As i had experience with a previous client. Dont let clients push limits with you, or wrangle you down on price! I had quoted a client on a slightly complex CMS website with the abillity to run a forum, chat system. this had all been quoted, accepted and started. Payment had been for phase 1,2,3, as i split the website into 4 phases. Suddlenly the client called a huge halt and a meeting was called. Now this is where i think designers/developers need to be VERY clear. We had discussed that there would be connectivity between users on the website, where this was made clean “to me i think…” Now i had the issue of my client not not wanting connectivity as such but… a social network :(. i have learnt and find that Clients as clever as they are, arn’t always. they really need to have lamens explanations re: everything to the last detail. or it will create a relationship from down under!

    Great Blog Blair, thanks for the info.. Ps hurry up with the Graphics :p hahah