The Creeping Scope

Gwen was excited. Her $15,000 website proposal was accepted by her new client, LazloTherapy. It was a fixed bid project but the scope was simple enough, Gwen smiled to herself as she thought about what she’d do with the profit. First, she’d get a massage. Then, maybe a trip to the Caribbean. She hadn’t taken a vacation in two years. Maybe she’d pay off some of her student loans.


She biked to work feeling energized and excited to get started. Once there, she opened her email and saw a message from “Dr Susan Lazlo, Therapist, MA, MFT, phD.” The email included links headshots for the bio page. Gwen clicked on the link to download the headshots and got up to get her morning coffee. When she returned to her desk ten minutes later, the headshots had just finished downloading. “Hmm. Must be high res,” she thought as she opened the folder. She gasped. Inside the folder were  over seven hundred images, all headshots of her new client. Incredulously, she clicked through twenty of them. They were all shot from the waist up, in the same outfit, with only subtle distinctions. In some of them, Dr. Lazlo sported a wider smile, an upturned chin, a contemplative look. None were exactly the same.


The phone rang, it was Dr. Lazlo. “Did you get the photos?” Dr. Lazlo excitedly asked Gwen. “I couldn’t decide which one to use and since you’re the pro, I thought I’d have you pick. I like my eyes from #124 and the light from #431 and the pose from #650. Anyway, I wrote up a list of what I like. I’ll send it over. I’m sure you can photoshop everything together for me.” Gwen’s heart sank. Maybe this wouldn’t be the smooth ride she had anticipated.


The next two weeks were bumpy as they worked on the visual design of the website. Dr. Lazlo sent examples of websites she liked but each example was completely different from each other. When pressed as to what she liked, she responded “I’ll know it when I see it.” Finally, Gwen reluctantly told Dr. Lazlo that they had exceeded the creative budget and that she needed to settle on one of the layouts and designs Gwen had presented. Dr. Susan whined, “I’m not happy but as long as we can tweak it later on…” Gwen reluctantly let that go unchallenged. Gwen was not comfortable with conflict in general, and was especially conciliatory with clients. After all, she needed their business and referrals, and she wanted people to like her.


The designs were sent to the programmers and they started developing the website. Gwen’s phone rang. It was Dr. Lazlo. Gwen cringed, “I’m sending you some articles for my blog.” “Blog? what blog?” Gwen asked. “The blog that my articles go in, remember you said I needed that for marketing and you said you’d include it.” Gwen paused. She did remember discussing a blog but it didn’t make it into the proposal. “Ok,” Gwen sighed. “I don’t think that’s in the proposal but I’ll check it out.” “Well what’s the use of having a website if I don’t have a blog?” insisted Dr. Lazlo. “I definitely would not have agreed to all this if it didn’t include a blog.”


The beta site was complete, and it included a blog that took up an additional 14 hours of time, all on Gwen’s dime. Gwen presented the site to Dr. Lazlo who quickly reminded Gwen “You said we could tweak it, right?” Dejectedly, Gwen nodded. “Well, I think the design is too heavy. It needs more life, like Amazon and Google, but for therapy.” Gwen bit her lip, she had only been paid ½ down and now she was losing money with every second of additional work. With a heavy sigh, Gwen said she’d rework some of the design. “Good,” replied Dr. Lazlo. “Oh, and make sure it works on my mobile phone too.”

Richard Parr
by Richard Parr
Posted: October 30, 2014