When you are hiring a freelance web developer to work with, understanding their website development process helps set expectations on both sides. I want every project to be a success by delivering what we agreed on in a realistic time frame. I have outlined the steps in my website development process here.
Define the Scope
The most important part in the success of a web development project is to clearly define what needs to be done. What is your goal? Who will your users be? Communicating your needs initially drive the entire project.
I often use the term “project spec” when requesting specific details of the project. This phrase sometimes intimidates people thinking I need a formal document. This is not the case. I simply need to understand the project details beyond a high level overview. Because software development is all custom work, I need to know all details of how the application should work. Don’t make assumptions that something will be included it you did not describe it to me. Sometimes during website development I am asked, “Is it going to do xxx?” If you did not tell me you wanted the code to behave in a certain way, it won’t. I have another post that includes a website questionnaire that gives more details of the type of information I am looking for.
Are We a Good Fit?
Working independently, means I am going to work one on one with you. I want to work with people that have a vested interest in their project. Again, communication is a key factor here. I don’t want to invest time into a project that is going to be complicated due to miscommunication or doomed to fail from the start. Not telling me your budget up front is a big red flag. I will spend several hours over email and phone conversations, and then writing a project proposal for you. To invest this kind of effort, and then get a response that the budget is the reason you are not going to move forward is frustrating to say the least.
You know coming into the project what you are willing to invest. Communicate this to me. I can build a website for $2,500 or $25,000. Obviously you will not have the same website with these two budgets, but I will work within your budget to offer a realistic solution.
I recently had someone contact me that wanted to add ecommerce to his website for a single product. When speaking to him I asked questions like; how will you accept online payments, will tax need to be collected, how will shipping charges be calculated. He had no idea. He cut me off and said “I am a bottom line type of person, I just want it done and don’t want to know all of the details. All I need is for you to give me a price for me to sell my product on my website. I don’t have time for this. Email me a quote.” I said fine. I did send a follow up email, but did not provide a quote. This project was doomed to fail.
Once I understand the requirements, I will write up a detailed website proposal explaining what will be accomplished based on our conversations that define the project scope. There may be more questions for clarification and revisions during this step. A website quote and timeline will be included. Once this is delivered we both have an understanding of what will be accomplished. If we had discussed it and it’s in the proposal, it will be delivered when the job is complete.
Agree to Terms
If you agree to the proposal, I will then send over a contract defining the terms we agree to. I will send an invoice for deposit (usually 50%) that can be paid by check, PayPal, credit card or bank transfer. My contracts are pretty straightforward, protecting both you and I. I agree to do the work we define, you agree to pay me.
This loops back to the initial step of clearly defining the scope of work. For the project to be a success, contract terms need to be clearly defined in order to be met.
Once I receive a signed contract and deposit, the project begins and I get to work.
Web Design and Development
The website is built during this step in the process. Ideally at this point, everything is clearly defined and I do not need much input from you. Understandably this does not always happen. If something needs to change during development, I require the addition/modification in writing. I will let you know if there are additional costs involved and will not move forward with them until you approve it.
Website Testing and Review
Once the website is built, I plan for a week of testing before a project is scheduled to be released live on the Internet. Website testing by you is the most important step of the process after defining a project scope. This is your project. Ultimately you know it best. While I test throughout the entire development process, I know how it is supposed to work and use it differently than a non technical user may use it.
Website testing is meant to catch potential programming bugs, grammar errors, broken links, form functionality, cross browser issues. The more “sets of eyes” that review the website, the better it will be.
Ideally you creating a punch list of items to address, rather than sending an email each time something is found, helps keep this part of the process manageable.
Once testing is complete and you sign off that you have reviewed and accept the job as finished, a final invoice is sent. The website is then released live on the Internet when payment is received.
This website development process works. We both understand the requirements. The project will run smoothly and you will be happy with the final product.
Other parts to the web development process.
Sometimes you will see other steps in a web development process. It really depends on the web developers or web design company’s skill set and strengths. My process here focuses on the building of a new website, and not services after a website is built like website maintenance, and/or marketing. No doubt if you want to have a successful website, a lot effort still needs put into it. Once it is live, if you want people to find it in search engines and generate new business there is still work to be done.
If this makes sense to you too, contact me so we can discuss your website project.
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