Managing A Successful Web Design Project
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - April 13, 2005 Posted: 11:11:30 PM EDT
A lot of designers, be they freelance web designers or full-time web designers, often find out the hard way that effective communication and proactive project management are critical skills to have in the business of web design.
Come to think of it, which aspects of your life don't require good and effective communication? Good Web Project Management is grounded on a couple of fundamentals you need to get right from the outset.
Here they are in simple terms.
Be very very clear about what you are delivering. Define your job scope so clear that there's no room for misunderstanding and misintepretation. This is hard work but if you don't get this right, you will be having a hell of a time somewhere down the road.
Keyphrase is, 'Under promise, over deliver'.
User Requirements : Don't be a Psychic
You need to have a set of tools or survey questionaires to gather the user requirements in a comprehensive manner. At XiMnet, we have developed various Pre-Project Profilers for our projects, whether it is a New WebSite design, Website Re-design, Online Branding or Web Application development, etc.
Let me be honest. Your clients will hate to go through those questions. And it can be painful. But all our clients always say they are happy we ask them so many questions.
Because it makes them think. It forces them to stop and frame their needs within the context of the project. And that's a very important thing to do, for any projects.
Nobody likes to think things through, it takes a tremendous amount of discipline. Yep, its a pain. But with a well structured questionaire, any self-respecting client will work on it. Those who won't, beware! They will turn out to be your 'customers from hell'.
Prototype for Sign-offs
Remember, we all have severe limitations in our ability to imagine a design through words. Put simply, we are better at deciding when we see it as it is supposed to be. So, do prototype. Get clear feedback and rework. Listen with your mind. Put yourself in your client's shoes.
Everyone wants results. They want a website because they want business results. Align your efforts towards that direction.
Once he is happy, get his signature on a piece of paper. People have short memories. Or they change their minds without telling you. You need to remind them what you have both agreed on.
Update on Project Progress
Always keep your communcation channel open. Nothing breaks trust faster than AWOL behaviors. Unanswered emails, unanswered calls, undeliverable SMS messages.
Always keep your client updated about what's happening.
Be ahead of your timeline. But if you are going to miss a deadline, tell him ahead of time that you are going to bust it and tell him clearly why and how you intend to keep the project from spiralling out of control.
This is difficult work but it must be done.
Remember, before you make promises, always know that you must keep them.
'Under promise, Over deliver!'
That's a definite winner!