How much and when??? If I only had a dime for every time I’ve been asked that question. Of course, most of the time, I wasn’t provided enough information to make an accurate estimate. This is certainly not an uncommon situation with web and software projects; many others have been, and will continue to be asked the same question.
I’m going to embrace the fact that I’ll know more about your project tomorrow than I do today.
In Let’s Do It! What Are We Doing?, Matt Griffin offers some sensible advice on how to reply to (potential) clients that are asking the “how much” question, especially those clients that haven’t provided enough project detail. He recommends a small initial research project to nail down the details of a project before taking on the entire project. This discovery project gives an ample amount of time to properly scope the project and will provide a much better estimate.