An important part of working with developers is that you’ll want to have an idea of how long things will take. Either because they are on your team and you just want to know when things are done, or because you hire a freelancer and he is charging you by the hour.

Here are a couple of things you can do to get better estimations:

  • First, acknowledge that estimations are probably the hardest things to get right. Secondly, while estimating things is essential, developers like to develop stuff, not estimating how long they will need.
  • The most important thing you can do to get better estimates is by breaking up the work. Obviously it helps if you have a technical background, but with questions like “what exactly are the steps you’re going to take?” or “if you have completed [step 1], is feature X ready to go live?”, you can split up each larger block in smaller pieces. You have now achieved three things: the developer did already think through the process and was able to ask you some questions on how things should work, you both will have a blueprint of the work that needs to be done, and the total estimate will be more reliable, because each item can get a number of hours attached.
  • Be prepared yourself: the more things you have crystal clear, the more information you can feed to the developer. This input is invaluable for him to know if everything is on the table. If you have wireframes and user stories ready, you can have the bulk of the work done.