How To Be A Good Client … and get the most out of your web project
What do you need to know to get the most out of your web project?
As a Senior Project Manager at Executionists for the last few years, I’ve worked with a variety of projects, spanning a variety of technical objectives, including clients in many different industries with businesses of different sizes. It’s an art to be a “good client” in order to get the most out of your creative agency and make sure your web project goes smoothly.
When we work with you, we are not just waving a magic wand and at the end of eight to twelve weeks deliver to you this perfect, fully-realized new website. On the contrary, our process is highly collaborative and we need our clients to participate at key junctures in order to deliver a final product that meets your objectives and requirements.
Web Project Process
Client and Agency To Do’s
|Kickoff: Getting Ready||Client provides all technical information for hosting, DNS, 3rd party plugins. Client should test and check all credentials before sending to us.|
|Definition Phase||Client provides goals, objectives, and functional requirements for the project, along with visual references|
|UX – We create sitemaps and wireframes based on your goals, objectives, & functional requirements. We start a content checklist and share with client.||Client provides feedback and approves wireframes and sitemap|
|Design – We create initial interface design for the project||Client provides goals, objectives, and functional requirements for the project, along with visual references|
|Development – We build the site framework, install plugins, configure databases, migrate content, code all the custom functionality, front end styling.||Client finalizes site content and provides it to us in required formats.|
|Content Population – We input final content and style it.||Client may also want to input content.|
|Testing / QA – we test across platforms, and screen resolution, check functionality, fix front end styling issues||Client is invited to review the site and participate in user testing.|
|Training – we provide some documentation and training to the clients||Client identifies their key site administrators and those people receive training and support.|
|Final Review: any last minute changes edits are implemented.||Client provides final feedback and requests.|
|SEO / Metadata: We implement 301 redirects and metadata||Client may want to modify keywords and description.|
|Launch / Deployment to Live||Happy Client.|
|Next Steps: We recommend maintenance & marketing strategies to boost visibility, site security, and additional helpful functionalities.||Client continues to create new content,upload new product, create promotions, write blog posts, leverage social media to promote website, services, products.|
As a client who has hired us, or a similar web services agency, how can you maximize your role?
Designate a Team Lead
As the client, you may be a sole proprietor, working in a family business, or running a division within a larger company. If there are more than two of you working on this project, decide who will serve as the main liaison to us. This person will relay information, provide the feedback, use the collaborative tools to input comments, and officially approve our work. You can work as a team internally to arrive at decisions, but it works best if only one of you is the official “Approver” and chief communicator. Be sure to arrive at your feedback and decisions in a timely manner. Your team liaison should be responsive, comfortable with technology, a clear communicator, and organized.
Get Your Tech in Order
Who on your team manages your domains and hosting? When was the last time someone checked those login credentials, and to check that your domain is on auto-renew with a valid updated credit card? Do some tech housekeeping before we get started so we can hit the ground running.
Approve It, Please
Stay on top of the feedback requested. Let us know in a timely fashion if changes are required or if something is approved. Try to provide answers to questions within 24 hrs. The quicker we can move forward, the sooner we can launch your final finished website. Nitpicking will result in a higher cost to your project and a longer timeline. Make sure all of your internal stakeholders are held to this standard as well.
Schedule Time Daily / Weekly
If you’re investing money in building this new website iteration, then you will need to allocate time as well. Be sure to build uninterrupted time in your daily schedule to review items we share with you for review. Sometimes we send questions for which a quick reply is needed. If you need team consensus to arrive at decisions, then schedule time with your team on a regular basis to get together and make decisions. If your CEO is always traveling, come up with a method to get her or him to check in on a regular basis.
Use Digital Tools
Please don’t print out a page design, scribble on it and scan it back to us. Please. Just. Don’t. We’re using some great collaborative online tools to facilitate tracking tasks, visual feedback on comps, tracking status for the UX/ Design phase, and for file sharing. Find us anytime online at instant chat (Adium, GoogleChat, Skype, etc.). We can do a screenshare to show you something visually that’s hard to explain over the phone. When you use our free online systems, data is easily shared and transparent across your team and ours. It saves time, reduces static in communication, and allows us all a record to refer back to, if needed.
Write Your Content. Get Your Pictures Taken
Don’t wait until the end of our project timeline to finish updating your written content. Get started on that immediately. Do you need new photos of your team? Need product photos? Blog posts? Schedule those as soon as we kick off the project. We can recommend copywriters, photographers, and videographers to help. Learn how to resize images so you’re not sending us 5 MB raw photos when a 72 dpi cropped image will do.
Designate a Website Administrator
When you plan a project like this, you should identify who on your team will be managing the website on your side. Who will log in and update content, product, and articles? Is this person comfortable with web technology? Can she or he learn some basic HTML or do they already have some familiarity? This is the person we will be training and supporting at the end of the project lifecycle.
Keep Your Cool
Our goal is to help you achieve your goals. We have a process and a set of tools we use for an efficient workflow. We are professionals, not psychics. Keep in mind that we want to work collaboratively with you, not against you. We can’t guess at your assumptions. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at any time in the project, or not understanding what we’re asking for, stay calm and ask for help and clarification. Sometimes issues come up that require patient untangling and tech support. Generally speaking, web development is not life or death. We’ll figure it out, together. Take a breath and remember that we are on your side.
We’re in It for the Long Haul
We want to be your online partner. Establishing a working relationship that is effective, trusting, and efficient will help us both to achieve your goals in the online marketplace.