Being on the same page with your website design team is mission-critical in the launching of a new website. Proper communication ensures that there is a clear path forward, roles are understood, and the project will progress in an agreed-upon timeline.
Successful website projects rely heavily on good project management processes, and for this to take place there needs to be an organized checklist of items that need to be covered. This checklist focuses on the human element, agreements on scope of work, and timelines – all of which are essential in establishing a base of communications for you and your website team.
Roles and Responsibilities
This might seem obvious to you in making the assumption that the website design team is responsible for everything, but that is often not the case. In order to keep your project running smoothly, it is integral that you have clearly defined roles and responsibilities for both the customer side and agency side.
Each project is different, each client brings unique skills to the table, and assuming responsibilities can lead to a breakdown in both communication and progress for the project. We offer full-service packages including the content and images, but some clients prefer to use content they provide along with images from their business. This can help with both the budget and the timelines.
Areas that the design agency is typically responsible for, but not limited to are:
- creating initial design concepts
- developing the website
- adding content and images to the site
- building in SEO best practices
- continuity and consistency throughout the site
- following client brand guidelines if available
- project management and deadlines
Areas that the client may be responsible for, but not limited to are:
- content creation and writing content to fill the website
- providing images and biographies of their team
- images to be used throughout the site, including services, products, property, etc
Ensuring that there is a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities helps keep the project moving forward and that there are no surprises once the project is underway.
Vision for the Website
One item that we like to discuss with our prospective clients is having a clear vision for the website. Most importantly we like to know what is the end goal of the website, and what success will entail. Talking this through will also ensure that you have all the requirements of a good website.
Some clients want a simple informational or brochure-style website that highlights their product offerings or services. For other customers, they may be attempting to grow their newsletter list to drive future business growth. And sometimes the client just wants to simply drive more leads through from their website to their phone.
Having this clear vision ensures that everyone is on the same page from the outset of the project.
A red flag for a project is if there isn’t a clear vision for the website. This can lead to frustration for the designer when they are trying to build functionality and clear action pages. And for the customer, they may end up with a website that doesn’t build value for their business. Have the conversation so that the vision and objectives are clearly thought out and can be referenced throughout the project.
Having a clear budget for your website project is crucial. When we provide a quote for website projects we include a total quote for the project along with a defined scope of work. Having these two items ensures that the dollar amount you’ve budgeted will cover the work and results that you expect. The scope of work and budget are always approved before we begin working on a project to make sure we’re aligned in what is expected and what we offer.
One note of caution is to be careful with accepting quotes for website projects that are priced by the hour. While this isn’t common, we have seen businesses with incomplete websites because they’ve run out of budget as the agency has used up the number of hours they’ve allotted and did not quote the client on a completed project.
You should have a clear agreement on the total cost of the project, what is going to be delivered in the scope of work, and an hourly rate to be expected if the scope of work is increased or changed during the project.
Timeline & Scope
Having clear timelines and milestones in place is crucial in a project moving forward towards completion. In establishing roles and responsibilities for the project, there should also be a timeline for each item. For clients, that means providing content, images, and feedback in a timely manner. For the website designer, it means hitting benchmarks and delivering on the schedule that has been agreed upon.
If the scope of work changes, review the timeline and change where necessary. This step is often overlooked resulting in missed deadlines.
One question we like to ask our clients is if they have any events, special dates, or anything that is important for them that they’d like to have the website live for. This helps us establish a timeline that is either urgent and pressing or a little slower in pace. Having that timeline and expectation in place ahead of the launch of the project helps establish clear deadlines.
This is a vital point. As we’ve mentioned above, communication is key to any good website project. Having scheduled meetings to check-in with everyone helps you pinpoint roadblocks, get approval on design elements, and ensure that we’re all heading in the right direction.
We have a few standard check-in points with our clients:
- project kick-off meeting where we establish goals, timelines, expectations
- site mapping and content strategy for the website
- initial design review after a few key pages have been designed and laid out
- website review after the content has been filled
- pre-launch review to ensure nothing has been missed
- project wrap-up once the site is live for final review and sign-off on completion
These meetings give you all the opportunity to do some show and tell, listen to concerns, and make sure that the project is heading in the right direction before you hand over a completed project that misses the mark.
Picking a Website Design Agency
Choosing a partner that is experienced in delivering high-quality websites for businesses or organizations like yours is vital for finding success. Start with a conversation to talk about your vision for your website, your business goals, and listen to their experience and what they offer to help you meet your expectations.
A good match will bring up the items we’ve mentioned above, be clear on expectations, and offer you a well-defined scope of work and quote.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss your project with us, please get in touch.