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5 Sure Fire Ways To Keep Your Web Design Projects On Track

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Armed with my five top tips to keep your web design projects on track you’ll finish your jobs on time and on budget every time. By doing so you’ll gather a loyal following of clients who consider you their web expert and are happy to enthuse about you to anyone who’ll listen.

1. Set expectations

This is perhaps the single most important thing you need to do. Your clients will rarely be as web savvy as you are so you need to hand-hold them through the project and to some extent educate them.

Firstly, always provide a written quotation for your client and make it quite detailed so there are no nasty surprises for them, or awkward explanations for you, once they’ve signed up. Make sure you talk your client through each aspect of the quote to ensure they understand what’s included and what each part means.

Always build in some contingency to your quote, I add between 10-20% depending on the budget and nature of the project. No matter how good you are at scoping jobs, unexpected things always crop up during a project and there is nothing more irritating to a client than you asking for more money every time they ask for something doing.

2. Use a 10 step process

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Whether you realise it or not you will follow a similar process every time you undertake a website project. If you can’t think what yours is, use mine as a basis and adapt to suit…

    1. 1. Initial briefing (phone or in person)
  1. 2. Quotation
  2. 3. Kick-off meeting & deposit paid
  3. 4. Designs
  4. 5. HTML/CSS coding
  5. 6. Content generation
  6. 7. Build
  7. 8. SEO
  8. 9. Testing
  9. Final balance paid & website live

Talk your client through your process at the same time you explain your quote. This is also really part of setting expectation but is important enough to warrant its own tip. The reason it’s so important is that many clients don’t understand how websites are constructed and therefore the implications of things like making design, layout and navigation changes once the site has been coded up.

3. Never tell your client they can’t have somethingnote-2-client

Telling your client ‘no’ is the quickest way to annoy them and once this happens it’s very hard to get them back on side and get the project running smoothly again.

If a client wants something that is going to put the deadline back by weeks and add hundreds to the cost, no problem, take a deep breath and simply explain to them that of course it’s possible, it will cost £X and delay the live date by X days/weeks.

Always have a compromise ready too, suggest what you could do for minimal extra outlay and disruption to the schedule. This makes you appear helpful and reasonable and more often than not the client will go for the compromise as they rarely want to extend the budget and/or deadline!

4. Spot when your client isn’t happy and fix it… quickly

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Leading on nicely from tip 3 is this; if your client is making noises about not being happy about something whatever you do, don’t ignore them and hope it will go away. If you don’t deal with it head on, it will only get much worse.

Being able to spot the cracks is very important and the minute you do, call your client on the phone to talk it through – don’t try to deal with problems via email. It’s hard to convey a sincere tone in email, your reaction can too easily be taken the wrong way but being polite and helpful on the phone soon disarms the most explosive of situations.

When dealing with problems tell your clients you understand their concerns and don’t be afraid to say you’ll get back to them with a solution. I find it’s also a good idea to give a bit of extra value at this point – go above and beyond and your client and project will soon be back on track.

5. Managing suppliersmanage

The last word has to be on managing your suppliers as they too have the power to disrupt the smooth flow of your project. The best way to avoid this happening is to agree a price, scope and deadline with your supplier – obvious really but when you come to factor these things into your costs and timescales… add a contingency.

If a programmer says they’ll take three days to do a job, add five into your schedule – the chances are you will want to make some tweaks once you’ve checked over their work or they may not have interpreted the brief exactly as you envisaged.

I’ve deliberately called this tip managing your suppliers. You can’t afford to manage by abdication i.e. give them a brief and then leave them to it for days on end without checking in with them. Just as you set milestones with your clients, set them with your suppliers. Keep on top of the job, manage it and check the supplier has everything they need, that they understand what they’re doing and that they’re on schedule.

So that’s my top five sure fire ways to keep your web projects on track. Most jobs will run into issues at some point or another but problems are always much easier to overcome if they’re spotted and dealt with quickly. And one last tip, no matter how frustrated you are, never let your client know it, take five to collect your thoughts, smile before you pick up the phone and all will be well.

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13 thoughts on “5 Sure Fire Ways To Keep Your Web Design Projects On Track

  1. I agree with all 5 items. People should never right off the bat say no to anything, they should say let me look into it and get back to you. When you go back to the client with the answer provide options and risks.

  2. Some very useful advice. I also agree with everything written here. Especially with the point where you should be ready to offer a compromise to a client rather than saying they cannot have what they want. I also believe regular contact with the client can help avoid many problems.

  3. It can be a juggling act at times, be honest and give your clients the best service you can.

    Build up the trust factor and if all goes well you end up have a very happy customer.

  4. hi i am a brazilian webdesigner and i am seeking for some content for my blog (not ready yet)

    and i was wondering if i can translate this post and put on my blog with the properly credits for the author.

    so, can i?

    Sorry about my bad english.

  5. Thank you for mentioning “Setting Expectations”.

    This is by far the most important aspect of project management and also one the most missed by similar blog posts.

    Now I don’t have to go and rant about it.

  6. Great article! I use a similar structure myself with our projects. For numbers 6 and 8, this should really be done together, in my opinion. It’s actually a catch-22 sometimes, what comes first, the content or SEO? If you have no content, it’s harder to research SEO, but if you already write the content you will probably have to update it later with your SEO terms.

    I love your item #3 – don’t say “no”. That is definitely a project killer. I love taking on new things that I haven’t done before and seeing how I can improve functionality. If by chance the client comes up with a “bad” idea, I offer some similar alternatives that will work better for them.

  7. I think point 4 is particularly important. It goes against your natural reaction to throw in some added value with some demanding clients but all they need is to feel loved a lot of the time!

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