The process of project evaluation can be tedious and often boring. It requires a lot of man-hours from highly-trained professionals, time that is better spent working on current projects. At Fragment, we’ve been working with web projects for over 16 years. In order to optimize the evaluation process, we’ve subdivided it into several stages:
- Project analysis
- Visual sitemap creation
- Time estimation
- Final packaging and sending to client
Project analysis involves detailed examination of data provided by the client, which allows to piece together a blueprint wireframe. It’s usually a good idea to do this on small sheets of paper, listing the functions of each screen and grouping the screens accordingly.
Each sheet effectively represents a screen of a website, while bullets represent blocks of information on each page, allowing to plan ahead for the number of screens and connections between them. This is something that cannot be achieved through usual mindmapping, since there can be several blocks of information per page, and they all should be visible during evaluation.
Once the project’s scope is clear, its structure can be transferred using Sketch and put into a form that can be presented to the team and the client.
Following the designer’s input, each screen is assigned a time estimate needed to complete it, and man-hours are calculated. The data is then exported into Excel, where front end development, back end, and other work is factored in. We consider the designer’s work as the base rate that allows to project other costs. For instance, based on experience, front end development usually takes 90–110% of time spent on design.
After this, the project’s visual sitemap and cost estimate can be put into a visually appealing PDF document.
The entire process sometimes takes up to two days, including layout, approval, editing, and presentation.
We have come up with a tool that allows to do this in half the time or even less.
Octopus allows you to design the structure for websites and mobile apps, estimate man-hours and costs, and send it to clients in the form of a simple link.
In a nutshell, Octopus is visual sitemap with Excel integration and just the bare minimum of necessary functions. A designer or project lead can use it to set up a structure, fill in sections of content, and then evaluate man-hours for each page.
All estimates are then put into a table, where an hourly rate can be applied and the overall cost of the project can then be seen. Other stages are then added to this figure, including front end and back end development, management and other costs. These amounts for each page can be fixed or based on the cost of design.
Octopus makes the entire process of planning and evaluation easy and fun. An experienced client can use it to map out a structure themselves, and we simply add man-hour estimates — we have tried it several times. It also makes the process more transparent, which, from a client’s perspective, is always a good thing.
The tool was launched in late February, tested on our projects, is now ready for others to use. Try it: octopus.do