A (Nearly) Bulletproof Web Design & Development Project Checklist for clients and designers.
If you’re aiming to agree a fixed price for the development of the website, as we do, ensure the project goes smoothly before you start, by communicating with your client at the outset.
They’ll appreciate you for it, there will be less surprises, and you may be able to start making a profit from fixed cost website design jobs again;
1. Prices can change even for a fixed cost website
- Web Design Costs are dependent on how many hours is spent working on a design and how many times the client asks for changes to it
- Show the client your portfolio - that’s the type of sites you build, do they like it?
- Has the client supplied examples of the sort of site they are looking for?
- Estimate a cost for a job, based on early discussion.
- Ensure the client knows you can quote for a job only on the information you have available to you at the time
- Confirm a job cost on reviewed client requirements
- 50% of job before start, 50% on completion
- Ensure the client knows you are costing the job by hours and you do have other clients
- Make sure all your costs are approved before starting a job (remember VAT)
- Ask the client to send you an email notifying his acceptance of the project scope and cost
2. It’s impossible to make a site that will look the same in all browsers;
- Specify which Resolution / Screen Size the Website Should Be Designed to
- Specify a fixed width or fluid layout
- Inform the client which browser versions you support
- Ensure the client is aware of website font restrictions or recommendations and web page download considerations
- Ensure the client is aware websites look different than on paper
3. Content should be supplied by the client in a form easily used
- Who is supplying the text?
- Who is supplying the images?
- Get the client to supply all text, photographs and content in electronic format
- Make sure text supplied, if formatted, is in a web-ready format
- The client should supply an example site-plan, in a bulleted list
- The client needs to specify any specific functionality required at the outset
4. ‘Milestone’ dates for the project should be agreed
- Communicate missing any milestone date for supplying content / adding new content will have an impact on launch commitments and costs - both of you have businesses to run
- Agree content delivery date
- Agree Site Architecture Freeze Date
- Agree Site Functionality Freeze Date
- Agree Design Freeze date
- Agree Launch Date
5. Changes to the brief should be communicated and costs agreed / timings considered in electronic form
- No Favours - The road to hell is paved with good intentions and the bodies of well meaning web developers
- Everything should be charged out, agreed and accountable
6. Websites can go down every now and then
- Who hosts the current site?
- Get Contact Details
- Hosting is a recurring annual charge
7. Domain transfers sometimes 'go a bit Pete Tong' wrong
- You are at the mercy of third parties
- Who controls current domain(s)?
- Domains need registered every year
- Get Contact Details
8. Emails might go down for a period of perhaps 24-48 hours
- Who controls current email(s)?
- Get Contact Details
- How many email accounts to you have/need
9. Launching a website can be about pressing buttons and…. waiting
10. Websites Get Hacked
- All CMS needs kept up to date
- In most cases hackers seek to deface the site
- A hacked site can mean disaster in Google
- A site that has been hacked can be rescued
- Who’s in charge of security / CMS updates
- Agree maintenance fees
11. A Winning Website Is never ‘Finished’!
- The client should keep his site up-to-date with news if he has a CMS
- Training for the CMS should be quoted if required
12. A website is subject to Laws of The Land and the client should investigate these
- The UK Companies Act
- UK Distance Selling Regulations
- Website Accessibility Recommendations
13. Agree ongoing responsibilities
- Who is responsible for the client’s email, hosting and domain management
- Do you ‘guarantee’ a website is fit for purpose for say 1 year?
- When will annual billing start and occur
I’m sure I’ve missed some things out, but I wanted a post on the site I could point my clients to, to educate them on some of the less talked about aspects of developing a website. I expect to modify this page every now and again.
Take responsibility, agree the scope of the project, recognize the requirements to meet the brief within allocated time-frame, and bill for your time.
I’ve learned this the hard way. Now I aim at all times to communicate with the client as much as possible to ensure any web development job doesn’t get out of control.