I have put together a 5-step guide for one method of creating a succesfull website, when working for a paying client. It is just a guide that I thought may be helpful for some people... Feel free to add your own suggestions...
Building a website for a paying client.... useful guide.
The first step toward effective web design is creating a detailed outline of how each stage of the project will be tackled. This can be quite difficult when you first start designing sites for money, but it is essential to ensure that you get paid correctly. It is also important for good client relations.
1. Getting Information from the client
This is the first stage in successful development. This is when you gather specific information from the client regarding their exact requirements. This is what you should base your initial quote on. A few things you should establish are:
- What exactly will be included in the site?
- What is functionally required?
- What images will be provided?/ Will I have to create graphics?/ Who will create graphics?
- What are the goals of this project?
- Will the website need to be maintained? How will this be achieved?
- What bugetary constraints apply to design and promotion amongst other things?
- To what exteny will I have to deal with post-build issues?
- How will the site be hosted?
- How additions during the build will be phased?
After you have gathered all of the information you deem neccessary from your client, you will be in a position to provide a quote, and if accepted, ask for a deposit.
2. Design and Planning
In this stage of development, alot of client negociation is involved. You should work closley with the client to come up with a satisfactory design and a plan on how the content will be presented.
One of the most important things is designing a site architecture and navigation system.
You should ask your client to gather the relevant site content and provide it to you in an agreed format.
For the planning of your site build, you may wish to do some internet research on sites of a similar sort, and possibly create a flowchart describing each stage of the build in detail. (http://www.gliffy.com/
- free online flowchart builder)
3.Building and Testing
During this stage of development, you actually build the site, and as you progress, continually work alongside your client, testing and improving specific elements as you go along.
This stage includes adding all the functionality required, creating or working with images and copy, ensuring that the code is valid and correct, adding things such as meta tags to your scource code etc. Generaly honing the site ready for public viewing.
It is possible that usability testing may be required. If so, this is the time when obvious problems/ deficiencys should be resolved before the site is launched.
Browser compatibility testing is a MUST.
4. Going Live! (Launching The Site)
In some cases, this stage may overlap with the previous stage, but primarily involves publishing the site ready for viewing by the public. It also involves dealing with any problems that may arise, search engine submissions, and continuous usability testing.
You could even ask public viewers of the site to complete a usability survey, so that you can evaluate the site from a different perspective, and make the relevant changes.
5. Maintanance and Updating
Some allowance may have been made for this in the origional quote, but in any case details of website maintanance needs to be defined clearly as part of the whole project definition.
If a CMS (content managment system) is used or if the client wishes to update their site using a WYSIWYG software package such as FrontPage (I would't let them use frontpage...),
then training and/or support for the client should be considered.