In a recent discussion with a then “prospective”, now “new client”, I was pleased to hear him say, “I’m talking to several potential partners, you guys seem very concerned about making sure I understand how you work”.
We have all heard of, and experienced, projects that fall off a cliff.
This is often caused by poor planning or miscommunication of expectations. The implication for the client is an increasing timeline and escalating costs. For the agency, this can lead to changing specs in process and endless manhours which are not always fairly compensated.
Over the course of 20 years and hundreds of website development projects we have developed some models that work and are designed to realise projects of all sizes in a way that supports long-term client partnerships.
Most of our corporate clients must stay within a fixed budget, and hold their agencies to fixed deliverables and timelines
The first phase is Project Definition, this defines the full vision and scope of the project in as much detail as possible, including:
Often, we will already set out the goals for the MVP version of the product within the scope of the complete final product.
Project planning is supplemented by a few product specification documents.
Phase I: MVP Definition & Design
Phase II: Technical Specifications
Phase III: MVP Development
Depending on the size and complexity of the project we will often pursue design development in two phases:
In this phase we present three unique design directions each consisting of at least 2 fully designed pages.
Once the client selects a direction, we refine it to the extent necessary to get final approval.
Note: Until this point, no invoicing has occurred. This is done to ensure that the client has a full understanding of what the website will look like when it is done, minimizing any potential insecurity.
Design Prototyping Tools
We believe in taking the extra time to fully design every single page of the website and present it as a prototype in a tool such as Invision.
The client has the ability to comment and change to the extent necessary. We are also able to perform simple user-testing to confirm basic user flows, such as purchase processes.
Note: Again, this step is designed to ensure all sides are fully clear how the website will look at work before development begins.
Once development has begun, we encourage our clients to be involved to the extent they are willing. At a minimum we will include the client in a weekly sprint planning session.
This process has the advantage of keeping client an agency fully aligned with the myriad of tiny and larger decisions which can arise in development. Potential issues can be solved collectively, and priorities can shift, with full understanding of the implications.
We try to encourage our clients to view software development on a continuum. After the MVP, we will try to plan a series of smaller releases. This has the advantage:
After the launch of a website most clients require some level of ongoing development and support. Even simple websites built in WordPress or Drupal will have periodic security updates. Which need to be performed by a professional.
Many clients, however, also want to be able to continue to expand their website in terms of both content and functionality. This expansion is critical to SEO as well, as google favors dynamically updated websites.
We will typically agree on a model which provides some level of dedicated developer time. In this retainer the client can be ensured of:
We bill this time on a quarterly basis, actualised against time-sheets. Depending on the agreement we usually plan a minimum quarterly release update with some new functionality.
Example Retainer Staff:
Interested in starting a web development project?
Independent and International