How do you scope and define a project?
Before any project begins, I want to meet with the client (in person or by phone). I need to understand the goals for both your business and the project. I want to know what you hope to accomplish with this work. I want to understand how you anticipate that the project’s output will impact your business and marketing approach.
Once I understand the project objectives, I create a proposal outlining the tasks to be completed, as well as the expected sources of materials and information. The initial meeting and proposal are done at no cost to the client. We both need to invest the time up-front to be sure that I can provide the services you need, at a cost that fits within your budget, and on your schedule. After seeing the proposal, if you give me the go-ahead, then we start working on the project, and at that point begin tracking billable hours. If you decide that you’re not ready to proceed, or would like to get an estimate from someone else, that’s fine.
Many people can write, program and create graphic elements. My focus is on information organization, usability and presentation:
- How is the material organized?
- How will the visitor or viewer typically traverse the materials?
- What will they be looking for?
- How will we know that their questions are being answered?
- Does the style of the end product reflect the personality of the business?
How much will my project cost?
There is such a wide range of implementation decisions to be made, and many factors can influence project cost. Each project is unique and has its own requirements. For this reason, I cannot give you a price estimate until we have completed the initial discussion and proposal process. Then you can be sure that I have given the project the appropriate amount of review, and you have an accurate estimate.
How long will my project take?
When I write a proposal, you’ll see a number of hours listed. Those are the actual, billable working hours. Of course it would be fantastic if I could work all of those hours in a couple of consecutive days, and we’re done.
More realistically, the hours might spread over 2-4 weeks, or even longer, as I do some work, wait for your feedback, do some more work, wait again for your feedback, and so on. I’m usually working on anywhere from 2-4 designs at once, so while I’m waiting for you, I’m working on someone else’s project, and vice versa.
Be forewarned… I’m not usually the slowest factor in the process! I’ll have web pages ready and be waiting for clients to write content, find photos, etc.
When we start the project, if you have a deadline or goal to publication, we’ll figure out a schedule that works for you. I have completed 20-hour projects over a weekend, when necessary. Not my favorite way to work, but it’s possible!
What is the overall process to design a website?
1. We discuss your needs. Before any project begins, I want to meet with the client (in person or by phone). I need to understand the goals for both your business and the project. I want to know what you hope to accomplish with this work. I want to understand how you anticipate that the project’s output will impact your business and marketing approach.
2. I write a proposal and send it to you for review. The proposal will include a list of pages (or deliverables), a time estimate, a cost estimate, and some administrative details regarding payment policies, and so on. If I forget something, or you come up with additions, we revise the proposal as necessary.
3. Once you approve the proposal, you have some initial homework assignments: reviewing sites of competitors, looking through my portfolio to let me know what styles you prefer, and so on. I’ll give you a complete list at that time. We discuss your likes, dislikes and preferences. Even your gut-feel reaction to other sites is helpful input for me.
4. If you do not yet have a domain name, I will help you select and purchase the name, as well as hosting for the site. If you already have a domain name and hosting, I’ll just need to get the login info from you.
5. Once you have hosting, I set up a password-protected “sandbox” area to post ideas, that you can see wherever you are. No one else will see this — just the people working on the site will have the password (you, me, anyone else you want to include). This lets you keep an eye on my progress, and you’re welcome to log in and review at any time.
6. If we will be designing a logo and/or branding, we do that first, as it dictates everything else in the design process. If you have a logo, we start with that. I’ll need graphics files from the logo designer, or may be able to start with files you have (or even work with files from your current website, if you have one).
7. Starting with your logo and branding (plus having reviewed competition), I will come up with design concepts, which we will review together, and make changes as necessary.
8. I then build out the various pages of the site, while you work on content (writing text, selecting or taking photos, researching other items). Once the framework is built, we can drop the content into the appropriate pages as it becomes available. So don’t worry — you don’t need to have all of it written before I can start working with what you have.
10. When we have everything ready, I publish the site so that it’s publicly viewable. If we are replacing an existing site, that gets swapped out for the new one.
11. For the first few weeks after the site is published, you may want to get feedback from peers, family members, or friends — they will tell you if anything is missing, hard to find, doesn’t make sense, and so on. At that point, we will fine-tune the site as necessary to address any issues. It’s often true that after your site is up for a few weeks, you’ll have ideas for changes.
12. From here, we move to “maintenance” mode. If you need any changes — whether corrections, or just new information — you can let me know and I’ll update the site. Most updates can be made on the same (or next) day. I will always let you know as soon as a request is completed.