After the first touch with our client, it is time for the official offer and agreement about the process and procedures. I suppose you have a bigger picture of what your client wants. In this article, I want to give you a method and 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 client’s needs within 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 my:
- Web Designer is 40 hours of work
- Developer (full stack) is 50 hours
- In total, this is 90 hours of work
TOTAL = 90 working hours
- 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 an offer, is dividing all components of your project. Why? It is essential that client is aware of all parts of the project and how all of this impacts timeline and budget.
This is a core thing in your offer, but what about other components? It is important to include pieces of information about content, maintenance, terms and SRS document (if we talk about the bigger project).
Let’s see what is hiding behind content preparation.
#3 Offer preparation – content
Content first. For real, content is always first. This is the first condition for every project. If are a client and you don’t have any content, how could you expect us to start with the design? Or, from another perspective: what if you finish your design and already start with the development, but the client sends to you his new content? This is a chaos for information architecture – and then for the whole project, budget, and timeline.
Check these visuals for better understanding. This is an example project.
Wireframes with content A
This is content that you agreed 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 a development phase… HTML/CSS is almost finished.
Ask the client for all 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 best results for both sides.
And I would like to give you a tip for content – all texts. Be careful with this and always ask a client for formatted texts. 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 this 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 – amazing WordPress management tool. Especially when you have a lot of websites, and you don’t have time to do all job manually.
After we’ve passed everything about offer creation, processes are waiting for us.
AGREEMENT ABOUT PROCESSES
If you want to stay within your budget and your timeline, it is important 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 work process, additional hours and project scope.
So, let start with the processes.
#1 Project scope & timeline
Write down everything that you agreed with the client. All specifications such as pages (example: home page, about page, contact, etc..), functionalities (example: special 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 milestone, with a client. And you should define deadlines for your clients also (for example, a deadline for content delivery). Explain to a client how his part has an impact on project’s timeline.
#2 Additional work (and change request)
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.
Let’s say client wants a new page with some animations and connection on 3rd party service. A procedure is following:
- If that is a new request, you should prepare a new offer and timeline corrections.
- A client should send confirmation or rejection
- After that, agency starts working.
This is an important 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 (ActiveCollab) where you can see the progress of the project and where the overall communication is conducted. Within the system, the client confirms all changes and approves further steps in the project design process. The client receives all information from the ActiveCollab system.
Communication (inquiries) takes place from 10:00 to 15:00 every working day. The agency is not required, as well as the customer, to respond to the time out of the foreseen time for queries.
If you need to discuss a little faster, the client and the agency can schedule a phone call or talk on Skype.
#4 Testing period and guarantee period
It is important to involve the client during the testing period. A client is not your tester; please be aware of that. But you should involve them. After the test period, there is a guarantee period.
- The guarantee period is 15 days from the date of delivery (after test period)
- Within the guarantee period, the client can request corrections
- Within the guarantee period, corrections are free of charge
- If additional functionalities or design elements that were not in the design approval phase are requested, they are not included in the guarantee period, but are additional functionalities that are 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 phases, but only if the client approved the previous phase.
IMPORTANT! Prior to the start of the project, the client must submit to the agency all the texts, since we use the “content first” philosophy and according to it, we design the design.
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, programming starts. Returning from Stage 4 or 5th 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 is important that the client tests everything and reports to the agency. All changes outside the guarantee period are additionally charged. As it will be emphasized below, the guarantee period lasts 30 working days for XYZ Client project.
There are a lot of various types of payments scheme. You can ask for smaller projects 50% in advanced, 50% after delivery. For a bigger project, you can ask 30%, in the middle 30% and 40% after delivery. This part correlates with your agency cash flow and finance. In my opinion, it is always better to split 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) that are not included in the price, have to be paid.
- 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 helped you, but please remember there shouldn’t be any surprises if you’ve talked to them about all of this at your previous meetings and explained it to them.