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Web Site Development: Creating a Comprehensive Plan, Part 2

August 20, 2007

Continued from Phase I: Develop the Project Plan

Phase I continued: Develop the Project Plan

Site Hosting and Implementation
  • domain name search, selection, registration
  • web host selection:
    • anticipated traffic
    • custom features needed
    • cost
    • configuring web hosting:
    • browser access
    • FTP access
    • e-mail accounts
    • site statistics
    • etc.
  • Search Engine Optimization
Web Site Promotion
  • manual web site submission to leading search engines
  • automated and/or manual submissions to other search engines; client to specify how many
  • sitemap submission to Google, Yahoo, other sites
  • submission of RSS site feed to RSS feed sites
Approval Process, Timelines and Payment
  • specify completion/approval timeframe, for intermediate milestones as well as final product
  • specify due dates for text, images, other content
  • specify payment schedule, i.e. by
    • development phase/milestones completed
    • monthly or other interval
    • project completion
  • specify early completion bonuses
  • specify late-delivery credits back, if any
  • establish clear upper limits for
    • costs
    • development time
    • page count
    • other features, as needed
  • specify who is responsible for proof-reading final product for spelling/grammar/content
  • work out arbitration mechanisms if it's even remotely possible you might need them - and consider these if you won't
  • consult with a legal advisor re:
    • web site content and ownership
    • liabilities
    • business negotiations
    • etc.
Changes, Upgrades and Maintenance
  • new features or content:
    • specify cost for new features or content requested during development
    • specify upper limits for additional features or content
    • specify amount of site customization allowed by client after site completion, timeframe and cost for same
  • estimate anticipated time/cost required for ongoing maintenance and content management
  • specify role in subsequent site maintenance, schedule for same
  • identify outcome metrics
  • implement mechanisms for measuring outcomes

Phew. Please note that this list is not exhaustive: other areas to address may well open up during the discussion. Pursue these! Make sure both you and the client have a good handle on the scope of the project.

The process may seem long and daunting, but it's worth it. You'll look like you know what you're doing; that you're worth the money you're asking for. You'll have few unanticipated surprises, and you and your client are more likely to walk away satisfied.

Phase II: Web Site Development

is the actual development, and price is based on the signed project spec. developed on Phase I - if the customer accepts it. Of course, they may decide to take the specs to (a more naive) someone else, and they can - they've paid for it. It's theirs.

(If they'd rather not work with you, let them go. You're better off without them. A client with unrealistic expectations is impossible to satisfy.)

Two excellent, complementary resources I highly recommend: Web Style Guide, 2nd edition by Patrick Lynch and Sarah Horton, available in its entirety on-line, as well as in print, and the book Robin Williams Web Design Workshop. The former addresses virtually all technical aspects of site planning and design, and the latter is a great resource on visual design for the web.

If I haven't entirely dissuaded you from proceeding with your next web site project - good luck!

Back to page 1 of this article: Phase I: Develop the Project Plan - Basic and Advanced Site Design

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