Former United States First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once declared, "It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan".
There are some common things we hear from prospective clients as they consider developing a new website: "we need a new website, it's not very complicated, maybe just five pages or so, a contact form and maybe some news..."
But what happens when the client doesn’t get what they thought they were getting? Or if the 'wish-list' grows un-checked through the development phase? What if the website actually ends up being 20 pages? Or the client wants forms, media galleries, a social media strategy or e-commerce functionality after the development has begun? Who foots the bill for the extra work? The developer, or the client?
The only way to prevent time and budget blow-outs is to plan, then review and plan some more before you start development.
There are many reasons why Red Cloud puts so much emphasis on the planning stage of producing a website. It is in fact often 60, 70 or even 80 per cent of the total timeline of a build. More often than not, by the time the planning phase is complete, our clients have identified functionality and features they would like on their new website that far exceed their initial ideas. But probably the most important thing is not having to go back in the process and re-do something you have already paid for, or worse, completely trash parts of the website you no longer need (and you have paid for).
It's our job to work with clients to help the figure out what's possible, what it costs and how long it will take to get the job completed. The old adage has never been more appropriate, "pay peanuts, get monkeys..." Great websites cost money, settling on a fair price for work means the client gets what they pay for and the web company services the client properly. No cut corners. No misunderstandings. No disappointment.
How everyone can be happy with the end product
There are a number of phases to building a website, but the most important phase has to be the scoping or planning phase. Just as you wouldn't build a house without a set of plans, nor would you embark on a web build without a full understanding of the client's needs (and wants). The planning phase must adequately resolve the:
• Budget for the project;
• Timeline to launch;
• Existing branding or re-branding needs;
• Current business activity;
• Business outcomes from the web build process
• Aesthetic preferences; and
• Return on investment objectives.
The only way we find out about client's needs is to talk to them, review the information, then talk to them again, (and again and again if you have to!) the more we understand the client and their business needs, the more accurate our quote and timeline will be, and inevitably, the happier our clients will be with the end result.
Turning a client's wish list into an action plan
Once we have an idea of our client's needs and wants we can sit down with them and help them work out how to prioritise them, but more importantly we can cost them out individually for our clients. This provides a clear way for our clients to see exactly what they are getting and at what cost. We've all been there... thinking we're getting a good deal only on reflection we discover it wasn't what we wanted, it didn't work properly or we really didn't like the colour.
Our goal is our client's success. We want them to realise their business goals. In fact, a large part of our own business success lies in the on-going success of our client's business. With careful planning and scoping it's just one of the ways we aim to create valuable long-term business outcomes for both us and our clients.