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Problems judging how many hours it takes to theme a Drupal website

From Personal Experience with a Themer and Developer Working Together

A themer can work in parallel with a developer. It usually takes 20-30 hours to theme a site from a psd. However, with a different person theming from developing, a bit more time will be needed for theming.

I recently worked on a project, where I was the back-end developer and someone else was theming. It took them 10-20 hours extra then expected.  This was caused by the client first being shown a page that they were unhappy with the functionallity of.  Then, I would then go in and change the layout and code. Sometimes, when I did this, it would break the styles, causing unforeseen rework for the themer.

Another thing with this recent project, was that there were three different sites: a development site, a staging site, and then later, a live site. Because it was only a 2 man show, we did not use version control to push code from site to site. We thought we did not need it since we worked on separate groups of files for the site. At first everything ran pretty smooth, with both of us working on the development site. Then, when it was time to show the site to the client we copied the files and database to the staging site. The client wanted to see biweekly updates on this 3 month project. Over time, the client wanted to be able to make small changes and be able to see them. Multiple times, changes would be made to the staging site, as the development site was not in a stable state to make the changes, causing the themer to be updating the development site and the staging site separately. To try to keep things in sync, he probably spent an additional 5-10 hours extra to make these duplicate changes.

Also, the themer gave the client a fixed price. He might have been able bill the client for the changes they were unhapppy about, however; the unforseen duplicate changes he had to make could not be billed for.

What may work better, is for the themer to theme the site, so the back-end developer has something to work with, let the developer finish, and then for the themer to make his final tweaks. This would give less visibility to the client of the progress of the project, but the themer would be able to keep his bill lower. On the other hand, if the client wants more visibility then they will be informed of the additional costs for this upfront.

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