Freelance Web Consultant Bournemouth, Dorset
Web projects come in all shapes and sizes and there is no one solution that fits all criteria. Building a new project is a challenge for any team, but there is a lot more to consider when looking to get a project built by a third party company or companies.
These are some of the major things you will need to consider when scoping the project
– How much money do you have to budget for each phase of the project
– What are the timescales you are looking to complete the project or phases by
– What is necessary to be finished by that first deadline or phase
– User requirements (how do they need to access content)
This is a good start, you have covered what you perceive to be the big questions, but it leaves your project open to a lot of interpretation by the company or companies building it.
Why do you need a Web Consultant?
If you don’t have a web development team or at the very least one web developer on hand to help you in this process then you are at a big disadvantage.
You will hear a lot of buzz words in the pitching process for websites and you shouldn’t be required to know all of this. You will hear things like “This project will be built responsively, mobile first and using an agile methodology” So you are left either researching all these things or just blindly agreeing with them.
You need someone to steer your project in the right direction from the start, and to do that the next big questions should be
– What language will this be written in (licensed or open source)
– Is there a flexible enough platform we can run on to cut costs or do we want a bespoke build
– What servers will it run on and how much will they cost to maintain
– What browsers and devices are necessary to support (based on existing stats if available)
– Are there any one-off or subscription costs for any other part of the project
– How much will be charged for support once the project is completed
– Will this project be easy to handover to another company if needed
– Is the product I am paying for bespoke to me or something that will be licensed to other companies including my competitors
– Will this project be handled in-house or will it be outsourced?
A lot of these are things that you will not need to know or attempt to learn and you may think that is what you are paying these companies to work out for you. The fact is that they will, but they may not have your best interests in mind. A lot of companies out there will be pushing either their own products or something third party they specialise in (often on commission) and will try to make that fit your project. This will be damaging to your project in the long run and in some cases if you want to move to a new development agency then you may end up back at square one. This is not an sensible option for a progressive business whose clients rely on digital resources.
How can you avoid this?
I cannot promise you that your project will be completed on time or to budget, but I can stop you from making fundamental mistakes in the pitching process. This will reduce the risk of the project over-running on timescales and budget. The key things I would make sure of, are that you always retain control over the most important parts of your business and that you have a suitable and scalable product that can be worked on by another team if necessary. I know I keep mentioning transferability but you would be surprised how many projects don’t even get finished or are handed over to a new team to finish the work.
How does consultation work?
You are the one with the concept and the idea of what you want to be achieved, I will simply help you to pick the suitable technologies to get that done. This may involve me helping you to write a technical specification for the project, all the way to going to pitches with you to make sure that you are being sold the right solutions at the right price. I can also keep an eye over the project during the build process and even come in during the testing phases if needed. These are key points in the project to make sure everything is working as it should before signing off that part of the project and paying the final bill.
Common mistakes made by clients
One thing that is a huge mistake of clients I have met is to have a website designed by somebody and then try to pass it on to a developer to build it. More often than not there are many bits that simply cannot be achieved in the way it has been designed and this means the clients expectations must be lowered. This may be due to site speed restrictions, responsivity or it may just be poor interface design and not suitable for the user. The best websites are built by teams who all know the end goal and can work collaboratively on the project from start to finish.
These compromises must be met at an earlier stage so the client is not built up for disappointment and understands why. Its very hard to have to tell a client that the project will not turn out how they envisioned from the designs they paid for.
Building a project on the wrong technologies is a huge problem in modern websites. A lot of companies will try to sell an existing product and try to work the client spec in to it, this approach can work but your websites speed and scalability in the future will almost certainly suffer as a result.
In some cases companies will sell you something where they take full control over the website management and when it comes to wanting to move companies they will tell you that you cannot move it off their servers because it is their own product and must be hosted with them. This means that you are stuck with their hosting fees and that is it unlikely another company could work on the project due to security of that server. In real worst case scenarios some companies will even hold your domain name at ransom if you made the mistake of letting them register it.
A project is usually set to meeting significant milestones on set dates, this is generally linked to payments being made. Without somebody in-house to check up on the project and make sure that milestones are met then you are taking a huge gamble on meeting the agreed deadline. Your project manager doesn’t necessarily have to be very technical, although this can be an advantage. The Project Manager ideally just needs to be someone who understands the concept of the project and how all aspects of it should look and work. This allows them to test and give feedback at these crucial milestones in the project.
Testing is a very important part of the project because it happens so near to the end. You need to be very efficient with it and make sure everything is raised before the project gets the final sign off. This means running full user journeys through the site in every kind of possible way. The company will of course be testing this but I have never seen a project go out 100% bug free even with rigorous testing. But it is worth getting everything you can resolved there and then, otherwise it is likely to roll in to a ‘phase 2’ and be charged.
Want to talk about a project?
I know this is a lot to take in, but it is all important when you are investing your companies money in to new web technologies. You need to be smart in the way you go about it and make sure you are protecting your investment and future proofing it as much as possible.
Please feel free to get in contact using the form below if you have a new or existing project you would like to talk to me about, no matter how big or small.