Keeping your website project on track

An article I wrote for http://LiDrake.com/

Finding the right person to design a site for your business is just one small step when beginning a website project. You do plenty of research to find a good Web Designer and/or Web Developer, but once you have one, what’s next? Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your designer, help them to best represent your brand and keep your project on track.

 

Stay Within Budget

At the start of a new project, professional Web Designers/ Developers usually provide you with a firm fixed price proposal or contract. In most cases, it should have a timeline containing a Statement or Scope of Work (SOW), project milestones and Deliverables. Anything outside of the SOW is subject to additional charges, so it is imperative to review your contract in detail.

Some key points to be aware of:

  • Website copy is not regularly included in Web Design contracts, and you will likely be charged an hourly rate for any copy service requested, unless otherwise noted.
  • Stock photos and other resources are often not included, and image licenses can vary greatly in price.
  • You can also expect hourly rates on any [extra] revisions you might request.

Be sure to plan out your project accordingly, and due diligence to account for any items not covered in your contract. Ask questions if you’re unsure, prior to starting any project.

I’ll continue with some details on things can do to prevent going outside the SOW, and avoid scope change request costs.

 

Research, Research, Research

Web Designers can’t read your mind, so it’s best to give them some comprehensive direction. Don’t be vague! Explain what your objectives are, but try not to go overboard and stifle their creativity.

For custom designs, most designers will create 2-3 different website mock-ups for you to review- based on your specifications. Depending on your contract, you can make around 2-3 revisions of those preliminary mock-ups before they’re finalized. It is beneficial to get the most out of those initial designs, or risk getting charged additional fees in order to be satisfied.

A good place to start is to provide your designer with a list of several good website references. Keep in mind that it is for inspiration, and not exact copies. Search online for designs, layouts, elements (like Call to Actions, sliders, forms, etc…), navigation, color palettes and user interfaces you like. List URL’s and explain specifically what you like and/or dislike about each site. It is always helpful to include some competitor URLs as well.

Think about how each site you like relates to your project, and mention any ideas you have in mind. What features do you like on those websites, and how can they be applied to yours?

 

Keeping the Go Live Date

It’s not just on the designer to keep things on track. Each project’s timeline relies heavily on client’s response time when it comes to feedback, decisions, and signing off on Deliverables. Projects are easily delayed just waiting on a clients’ correspondence. Be prompt when giving feedback on mock-ups and answering any questions your designer/developer may have.

Any content that is to be provided by the client (you), should also go to your designer right away.

 Items you should have ready:

  • Website copy you will be providing for each page.
  • Graphic content, including a Vector version of your logo- if you have one.
  • Pay on time when there are payment schedule deadlines on certain milestones.
  • Create your social media presence(s)- provide links to each
  • Any login info and URL’s needed to access your web host server and/or Content Management System

 

Working closely with your Designer/Developer is vital to your project’s success. Of course, being overbearing isn’t necessarily conducive to producing the highest quality results possible. Most important to getting everything you want out of your project:  have quick response times to questions, reviews and approvals. Give detailed specifications at the very start, and provide all of the content you’re responsible for imediately.

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