After the first touch with our client, it’s time for the official offer and agreement about the process and procedures. I suppose, now, you have a bigger picture of what your client needs. In this article, I want to offer a method from our experience. Of course, you can and have to modify this according to your company’s culture and type of the project.
#1 Meeting with your team
First, you should prepare complete specifications and the client’s needs in one document. After that, you should check all requirements with your team. Usually, during this meeting, I talk with the designers and programmers about their parts in this project.
For example, estimation for:
- Web Designer is 40 hours of work
- Developer (full stack) is 50 hours
- In total, that’s 90 hours of work
TOTAL = 90 working hours
- The project management part is, for a simpler project, about 15% of total working hours
FINAL ESTIMATION (for client) = 115 working hours
#2 Offer preparation – “core” parts of a web project
Great, sit down and write an offer. One of the important things, while preparing it, is dividing all components of your project. Why? It’s essential that the client is aware of all the parts of the project and how all of this impacts timeline and budget.
Dividing is a core thing during offer creation, but what about other components? It is important to include pieces of information about content, maintenance, terms and SRS document (if we talk about a more significant project).
Let’s see what’s hiding behind the content preparation.
#3 Offer preparation – content
Content first. For real, content is always first. It’s the first condition for every project. If you are a client and you don’t have any content, how could you expect the agency to start with the design? Or, from another perspective: what if you finished your design and already started with development, but the client sends you different content? The chaos for information architecture happens – and later on, the whole project, budget, and timeline are suffering.
Check these visuals for better understanding.
Wireframes with content A
The example of content you agreed upon with the client:
Wireframes with content B
Just imagine the following scenario. In “one-moment” client decided that he need an additional block of content.
But what happens with our project timeline? We are now in the development phase. HTML/CSS is almost finished.
Ask the client for all the pieces of content. (texts, video, etc.) This is the first reason for a lot of failed web projects. As a Project manager, you should set-up environment (project rules and behavior for both sides) that will gain the best results for both parties.
I want to give you a tip for content – all texts. Be careful with it, and always ask a client for the formatted documents. Why? Check this below (this is a part of our offer):
#4 Offer preparation – maintenance
Almost every web project needs maintenance. Why? And how to explain it to a client? Here is the reason. Every website (CMS = WordPress) needs:
- Updates (core, themes & plugins)
- Fixing vulnerabilities
- Cleaning MySQL overhead
- Website speed check
One of our important rules is – never do additional work on a website (or web app) that is not maintained.
For websites maintenance, we use Manage WP – an amazing WordPress management tool. Especially when you have a lot of websites, and you don’t have the time to do that job manually.
After we’ve gone through everything about offer creation, processes are waiting.
AGREEMENT ABOUT PROCESSES
If you want to stay within your budget and your timeline, it’s essential to prepare all process and workflow for the project. Try to be clear with your client from the start. As I mentioned in the previous article, talk with your client about the work process, additional hours and project scope.
So, let start with the procedures.
#1 Project scope & timeline
Write down everything you agreed with the client. All specifications such as pages (example: home page, about page, contact, etc.), functionalities (example: individual logins for premium users, protected premium content, etc.), and other specifications (example: site speed should be less than 3sec, supported browsers, etc.).
Timeline – define deadlines, project launch, and milestones. And you should establish deadlines for your clients as well (for example, a deadline for content delivery). Explain to the client how his part has an impact on the project’s timeline.
#2 Additional work (and change request)
Any additional requirements that come out of the initial offer will be redefined by a new estimate. After, a new proposal will be issued for the client’s confirmation.
Let’s say the client wants a new page with some animations and connection on a 3rd party service. The procedure for something like that is the following:
- If that’s a new request, you should prepare a new offer and the timeline corrections.
- A client should send a confirmation or rejection
- Only then, the agency starts working.
These conditions are a crucial part, and you should be clear about it with your client.
#3 Communication & collaboration
Collaboration between the agency and the client takes place in our project management tool (Productive). There, you can see the progress of the project and where we conduct the overall communication. Within the system, the client confirms all the changes and approves further steps in the project design process. The client receives all the information from the Productive system.
Communication (inquiries) take place from 10:00 a.m. to 03:00 p.m. every working day. The agency is not required, as well as the customer, to respond during the time not foreseen for queries.
If you need to discuss something a little faster, schedule a phone call or talk via Skype.
#4 Testing period and guarantee period
Involving the client during the testing period is essential. A client is not your tester; please be aware of that. But you should include them, nevertheless. After the test period, set the guarantee period.
- The guarantee period is 15 days from the date of delivery (after test period)
- Within that guarantee period, the client can request corrections
- Within the guarantee period, corrections are free of charge
- If additional functionalities or design elements (which weren’t included in the design approval phase) are requested, they are not included in the guarantee period. Instead, they’re additional functionalities charged additionally.
#5 Third party elements
- The agency is not responsible for any deficiencies that might arise on third-party additions. Based on the experience, the agency will incorporate plugins that are highly rated and stable.
- Plugins (e.g., SEO) significantly reduce development costs
- If you have maintenance, the agency will replace any third-party addition that is broken.
#6 Project Workflow
Project design goes into the next phase. But, only if the client approved the previous phase.
IMPORTANT! Before the start of the project, the client must submit all the texts to the agency. Since we use the “content first” philosophy and, we create the design accordingly.
1. Making wireframes – sketching all the pages in the web application.
2. Create a design template that will be implemented on all pages in the web application.
IMPORTANT! When the client approves the agency’s design, the programming starts. Returning from Stage 4 or 5 to design will entail additional working hours and extended deadlines.
3. Create HTML.
4. Implementation of the backend (WP’s making plugins)
5. Delivery and testing.
IMPORTANT! In the guarantee period, it’s vital that the client tests everything and reports back to the agency. All changes outside the guarantee period will be charged additionally. As I will emphasize below, the guarantee period lasts 30 working days for an individual client/project.
There are a lot of various types of payments schemes:
- for smaller projects, you can ask for 50% in advance, and 50% after the delivery
- for a larger project, you can ask for 30% in advance, additional 30% during the project, and 40% after the delivery
This part correlates with your agency’s cash flow and finance. In my opinion, it’s always better to split the payment.
Check this example:
The payment is made in two parts:
- Creation of a front page and one subpage is paid 50% in advance, and the other 50% upon completion of the project. Also, all additions (domains, certificates, plugins) not included in the price, have to be paid as well.
- Content preparation, processing, and implementation are charged upon completion.
- Development period is defined in the offer
- Delays are possible if no payment has been made in due time or certain materials have not been delivered to us
- Any additional requirements that come out of the initial offer will be redefined by an additional estimate, after which a new offer will be issued for the client’s confirmation.
I hope this post helped you, but please remember: there shouldn’t be any surprises if you’ve talked to the clients about all of this at previous meetings and explained it to them.