Project Flow

September 25, 2016
Tips and Tricks Web Development

Prior to starting a relationship with a client, I like to walk them through the website design and development process. Often times, a lot of standard business practices are implemented, however, there are a few things unique to web design that (in my experience) have come as a surprise to the client.

The first step: Quote Request/Initial interaction

Normally, the first thing a potential client asks for is a quote. They give me a five minute breakdown of what their site needs, a timeframe, and a possible budget. They communicate this after hearing that I build websites, in a hasty email, or through the contact form on my website. They usually end their sentence with “How much will that cost???”. Unfortunately, I usually don’t know without some more back and forth, so I suggest we move on to step two!

Step two: Project Discovery

Project discovery helps me answer a potential client’s first question: how much will their website or app cost to build? My quote depends upon a lot of things, generally:

I’ll break these variables down.

What Technologies Need To Be Implemented

I work mainly in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and MySQL. I work with CSS preprocessors, PHP libraries, and SQL extensions for PHP. Each of these skills has their own cost associated with them. A half hour of HTML & CSS work costs less than a half hour of PHP Programming, which also costs less than a half hour of MySQL programming.

I determine the technologies necessary to build your site from learning what problems your site needs to solve. Is there a lack of information in the world? Do you need a static, informational site? HTML, CSS, and JavaScript oughta do the trick. Do you need a blog attached to it? Add in PHP and MySQL. Do you also need your site to be translated? There’s an extra week (or two or three depending on which languages you need). Will your site have users with privileged access (such as admins to edit, delete, and add posts)? Tracking and analytics? All of these things add up.

Basically, the more complex, the more expensive, to a point.

The Site Itself

Site features and design complexity take skill to build, test, rebuild, debug, deploy, maintain and hotfix. The more complex your site or design, the higher your price point will be. I also have to consider your content – has it been predetermined, and just need to be transferred in? Is it a lot of content, or a little? Are you moving from one WordPress site to another, where content can be transferred with a few clicks and a quick overview, or does a content transfer include re-typing your entire back catalog? Lots of content to transfer means lots of time adding up.

How Long Will It Take To Build Your Site

A big factor of your quote is time. If your site is going to take a lot of time to complete, it will be more expensive. If your project deadline is in a short time frame and you need work turned around quickly, that will also increase the cost.

Generally, I work out time based on a few things. First, I take a look at the pages, functions, design, and every other aspect of the site and use my previous experience to gauge how many hours it will take me to build it. I then compare my hours estimate to your project deadline and see what I can do to make them align.

How Busy I Am

At any given point, I’ve got a few projects on my plate. Since I like to give each project the attention it deserves, I want to make sure that we’re prioritizing things correctly and I’ll be honest if I can’t fit you in my schedule and get things done on your timeline. If I’m excited about your project, I’ll do my best to make things work, though!

What Type Of Client Are You?

Some of my clients are super hands off, and some are super hands off. I never take a project with a client I can’t see myself working with, but sometimes, clients over or under communicate. There are times that I can see this coming, and I’m happy with both, but I will account for back-and-forth in my quote.

Finishing up with Project Discovery:

Usually, at the end of project discovery, I’ll ask a few questions pertaining to design and UI/UX. I’ll ask what sites, colors, designs, artists, and designed objects you like. This helps me get a feel of what I’ll be aiming for design wise. Usually, I’ll try to sketch out some design elements, bring up some ‘inspiration’ sites, and explore some design patterns and UI/UX patterns using the demos that I have already built (mostly with CodePen). This really helps me determine project complexity and how it is to work with you as a client.

Once we’ve finished project discovery, I’ll be very clear about whether or not I think we could have a good relationship and start talking about the quote and the contract that I’ll be sending over for review.

Step Three: Quote Delivery

After we’ve determined all of the things that factor into the price of your site, I line-item the total quote and break it down by milestones. Typically, I work in 4 distinct phases: Wire framing, development, content, and launch, which I’ll review with the contract (but also later on in this post).

The content phase includes more than just inserting and transferring content. It also includes putting the finishing touches on features and functionality, optimizing all aspects of your site, including my code, images, and the server, and testing on all the devices we’ve agreed to. This stage is pretty much getting your site ready to launch.

Due at Signing:               $   950
1st Milestone - Wire framing: $ 1,250
2nd Milestone - Development:  $ 1,250
3rd Milestone - Content:      $   850
4th Milestone - Launch:       $   450
Total:                        $ 4,750

This quote is further broken down in person so I can explain why and how I came up with these numbers. I’ll email this quote to you and request a meeting to answer any questions and discuss our contract.

Step Four: Quote and Contract

Once we’ve agreed on a quote, we can start talking about the contract. Generally, I bring up a template I have and we talk it through, discussing the stipulations and applying any changes unique to our relationship. Doing it this way helps avoid confusing and lets the client know that I really am there for them. I never want anyone to feel like I am taking advantage of them, so I always let them take a copy of my template contract home with them. I never accept a signed contract without first ensuring the client understands everything. I know legal talk can be difficult to process sometimes, especially when it comes to copyright law, so if you’d like to invite a lawyer to the meeting, by all means, please do!

After we negotiate the contract, we’ll set a date for our next meeting to sign the contract.

Step Five: Contract Signing

This is the legal start of our relationship! At the contract signing, we sign the contract and you pay me 20% of the total quote. Then I run away in a frenzy and start building your website.

Step Six: Wire Framing

During the wire framing stage, I’ll get a build together of your site that has generic content. I’ll use this to set direction. A lot of functionality won’t work and you may experience issues on some devices. This will not be anywhere near the finished product. Once we’ve agreed on a direction, we’ll move on to the next stage, development.

Step Seven: Development

In the development phase, we’ll work on specific functionality and design, and I’ll start to pull in cornerstone aspects of your site. I’ll get most of the functionality working and get the biggest features down. The most important things during this phase to me will be the 3 biggest takeaways from your initial consult. We’ll go over this stage more than once – it’s sometimes referred to iterative development, and this method is used to hone in on a design/interface, as opposed to the “spaghetti/wall” method. Once we’re comfortable with the final direction, we’ll move on to content.

Step Eight: Content

The content phase includes more than just inserting and transferring content. It also includes putting the finishing touches on features and functionality, optimizing all aspects of your site, including my code, images, and the server, and testing on all the devices we’ve agreed to. This stage is pretty much getting your site ready to launch.

Step Nine: Pushing the Site

The final phase is site launch, which includes me keeping a super close eye on your site for the week or so after it launches. Common problems shortly after launch include DNS errors, floods of bots, crawlers, and people trying to break into your site. There are also some things that could happen with your web server configuration that need adjusting. That’s what this first week of being live is about – finding those things and fixing them before they become too much of a problem.

Step Ten: We’re Done!

At this point, we probably won’t talk for a while. Surely, you could have some updates, but not always. If I’m hosting your site, we’ll touch base in about 11 months, when it’s time to look at how your site is doing and whether you’d like to continue hosting with me.

No Comments...yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Post

Mobile Menus

From September 23, 2016

Mobile menus are seen throughout the internet. The way mobile menus collapse is summarized by one image: the hamburger icon.

Read This Article
Next Post

Collapsing Content

From October 6, 2016

The cornerstone of responsive design is collapsing (and expanding) content to fit on differently sized screens. But what’s the best way to do it? 

Read This Article