Scope Creep is when we find we are committing our time and energy to a project, only to discover that our clients responsibilities and expectations are growing far beyond the initial requirements.

This can lead to additional stress, time and addition costs.

What is Scope Creep?

Scope Creep is a term used when the magnitude of a project exceeds or creeps past the boundaries of its original goals and objectives.

Characteristics of Scope Creep in Web Design and Programming

Scope creep has many different appearances for our web developers. It is a result of our clients often wanting to add additional features to their original request as they have learned about them from colleagues or when they have visited other websites. Some of the common forms of scope creep include:

  • Fresh images on each site visit
  • Unlimited images, galleries and slideshows
  • Company Logo’s, Letterheads, Business Cards and Flyers
  • Page counters
  • Web copy and content writing
  • Creating additional pages
  • Ongoing page alterations
  • Change of look and feel of website once completed
  • Blogging services
  • Social media account set up and management
  • Social media icons and feeds
  • Periodic updates
  • SEO services
  • Training
  • Regular and time consuming meetings requested by the client
  • Programming additions

Clients make the error in assuming that the above are included in designing or redesigning a website or programming changes.

If clients want these services included they need to add them to their project agreement at an additional cost. Clients need to be very specific if they require periodic site updates and how often is “periodic?


Scope creep may appear in a variety of forms, these three causes of scope creep are common to our web developers and programmers.

  • Our clients do not always clearly tell us what they want because they simply don’t understand what we can do for them.
  • We find that scope creep can magnify as a result of a unclear web design project, this leads additional time, resources and costs.
  • We find that our clients like to slide in a few extra project requirements which does not form part of the original agreement. We find it much easier for us to communicate fees for extra work if we can point out that the work is outside of the agreed upon deliverables.

Impact of Scope Creep on Web Design and Programming Projects

Scope creep has many negative results. It can increase our workload and lead to stress for our design team as well as it could decrease the quality of our work. The added work can either pull us away from work for our other clients, or force us to pay wages to a subcontractor to complete the extra tasks. In some cases, it means us going back to make additional changes to work we have already completed.

Unless addressed by our design team, scope creep means spending more time doing more work but not making more money, thereby reducing profits. It is also more difficult for us to meet project deadlines, and the added stress can lead to strained relationships with our clients and between members of our development and design team. At its worst, scope creep can results in projects being incomplete and lost.