Five Questions You Need to Ask About Your Web Design Project
The process of web design project is usually a collaboration between experts on the subject, and complete amateurs. Even if the client’s team is educated and highly skilled in other areas, they will likely know little to nothing about the website development process, search engine optimization techniques, or the psychology of their website’s users.
Normally, a new web design project or redesign will be undertaken by a team including graphic designers, programmers, marketing experts and others, but at least they’ll speak the same language well enough to work together. Assuming that the client shares the same assumptions and knowledge is a sure path to disaster, so clear communication right from the outset is very important. If some effort is not made in this area, the relationship will quickly sour without it really being anyone’s fault in particular. As a client, you should at least get clarity on the following five points before work starts on your web pages.
Project Timeline and Milestones
This should go without saying, but these aspects should be thoroughly understood by everyone, and be put in writing. There will likely be several intermediate deliverables before the final version can go live; web development is a process that isn’t not done one day and complete the next. To keep everyone on the same page, the criteria for each milestone must be unambiguously defined, e.g. the client should not be able to say: “We just had something else in mind, like maybe more orange,” while the development team can’t use excuses like “Well, we always do it like that.” Evaluation by a third party, or at least user testing, should be part of any large project, and have defined outcomes.
No, Really, How Much Will It Cost?
Unfortunately, the scope of the project often changes as the client’s requirements are refined or the developers think of different ways of doing things. Contracting for a flat rate is normal and usually no problem, but there needs to be provision for extra work, including maintenance or alterations once the project is handed off. Specifying an hourly rate for developers of varying levels is one way to make sure no party loses out.
Examples of Previous Work
Just as you wouldn’t employ a builder without checking references, there are better and worse web development companies out there. The better ones will be falling over themselves to put you in touch with prior clients and show examples of their past work. This is how they market their services, after all.
What Other Skills Do They Offer?
You may need nothing more than a simple informational page written in HTML. On the other hand, you may require a comprehensive e-commerce package with ongoing support. Not every company can do every thing, and you might need to spend some money on a consultant, just to firm up your specification, before you hand over cash to a web design project firm that can’t deliver what you need. In particular, you will probably need a company with dedicated SEO specialists.
How Much Will They Outsource?
You will want to meet with the entire team that will be working on your web design project. Not only can this reduce communication errors, but it allows you to get a feel for their level of professionalism as far as core activities go. Outsourcing some functions saves money and is standard within the industry, but it’s a huge red flag if the company’s own staff have difficulty explaining what they’ll be doing and which tasks they’ll outsource.