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Why the hours?

An array of clocks

"Tick, tick, tick, tick, BOOM" - Will Smith

Breaking our recent trend, this is an article that is neither empowering nor sensationalist. Yep, you’ll find no commentary on gender diversity or testicular fortitude here (I’m pretty sure the latter negated the former, anyway). Shame, I know. What you will find though is a bit of an insight behind a feature on our lovely new company web site: why we decide to display how long our projects took us to do.

In case you live under a rock – or were completely immune to our Twitter charm offensive (more likely) – you will have seen that with the launch of the new Primate site at the end of last month came the inclusion of a little clock icon beside every project we feature. Not to be mistaken with poor time telling, the digits beside the icon represent the honest grand total of time we spent on each project, expressed in hours.

Of course, we had a few questions as a result.

Before I dive into our reasoning behind the inclusion of such candid figures, it’s worth pointing out that the numbers account for all of our time on a project, including other related activities we carried out that may not be particularly apparent. On Harviestoun, for example, we also created (and still maintain) a Facebook app for their competitions, designed and built an email newsletter, created a custom on-site competition form, provided social media background imagery etc, etc. The time displayed represents more than just the web site itself and is the entire number of hours we, as a business, spent on that project, give or take.

But then no one really asked us that question. What they did ask though, was ‘why are doing it?’. Followed swiftly by ‘how long do you spend on projects?!’ which, yes, isn’t so much of a question as eye-popping rhetoric. I’m not even going to answer it anyway as we all know good work takes a good amount of time and that there’s no substitute for thought, consideration and attention to detail.

To properly answer the first, and very reasonable, question of ‘why are doing it?’, I need to explain a little bit of our general thought processes. We, of course, prize honesty as one of our core company values so being open to the world in how long our projects take was just a natural extension of that logic. However, going deeper than that, it also springs from one of the things I find quite interesting/frustrating about our industry: the general lack of transparency that surrounds many projects. Agency hourly rates are closely guarded secrets, client budgets are locked up tight in impenetrable fortresses and the total effort exerted on a project is often never disclosed (or, sometimes, even known).

Now, we’re not completely perfect at keeping records of time ourselves but we certainly try. Hence displaying the hours on our projects. It helps us consolidate how long we spent on a project, give an indication of the value of our work and generally express to the world the level of detail and diligence that we like to undertake.

We did consider displaying budget instead of hours but pretty quickly decided not too. Partly because we didn’t think it would be very fair to our clients to show this sort of sensitive information and partly because the number of hours doesn’t necessary match a simple formula of hours done multiplied by hourly rate. Aside from occasionally taking equity to offset costs or sometimes (‘sometimes’, ha) overrunning on fixed cost projects, how much we charge has also changed since we first started the business 2.5 years ago. Equally, individual projects need to be individually priced as, like I said at the start, they can often entail many more facets than what’s apparent at first glance on the site itself.

So whilst not exactly the Holy Grail of cost metrics, in an industry of such massive variety, it’s our hope that by presenting this little tidbit of information, we can help shed some light on an often obfuscated topic. And, if nothing else, hopefully it will prove to be of some little interest.

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Author: Gordon McLachlan

Gordon is uncomfortably good looking.



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  1. Spirits Martzoukos September 25, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    May the CharltonHestonesque ape gods bless you. Honesty and boldness are two main aspects of companies I love and you continuously prove that Primate has the special weight to leave its dent in the Web Design Universe.

    Thank you!

  2. Stefan Dorunga November 26, 2013 at 11:50 am

    That is one awesome feature, I’d actually missed it at first glance. It’s quite a refreshing dab of honesty in a prime position where a ‘natural’ decision would be to ‘fib’ a little and put yourself under a fake light.

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