My Web Development Process…Part 1 of 2

My Web Development Process

I recently came across an interesting new blog about web development and online business called Tutorial A Day. One article the author, Josh, wrote was about the process he uses when developing web sites for clients. Being that I am also a web developer and have my own proprietary process, I became inspired to write about my web-dev process from start to finish.

I understand that for 99% of established web developers, this process is already obvious and does not need to be explained. However, for those who are just starting out in web development, my goal is for this article to be a resource so newbie web developers can become better aquainted with the process of working with clients. By no means is this the definite guide to web development, just one small developer’s take on the process.

My web development process usually lasts between 2-3 weeks for each client. Needless to say, my optimal workload is 2-4 projects a time, depending on their complexity.

Before getting started, these are the steps I use for my development process:

Step #1: Finding and Contacting the Client
Step #2: Meeting the Client
Step #3: Starting the Project
Step #4: Managing Revisions
Step #5: Finishing the Project and Followup

As this is the first of a two-part series, today, I will talk about step 1 (finding and contacting the client), and step 2 (meeting with the client).

Step #1: Finding and Contacting the Client

The first step is to find the client. My web-dev business, infinFX, does not do any advertising. All of our business either comes from referrals or direct sales (face-to-face). I have one business partner who makes sales calls and occassonally does face-to-face marketing. The unfortunate thing is that direct sales are usually rare, so it is fortunate that 90% of our work comes from existing referrals.

The great thing about referral work is that most of the time it is already a done deal. People are much more likely to buy your services if someone they know already trusts you and relays that positive feeling to a potential client. I just recently started asking my clients if they would mind providing a testimonial of their experience working with me. I keep a page of the client testimonials on my company website here. Testimonials are, of course, a great way for potential clients to see that other people have been happy with your work.

Step #2: Meeting the Client

I like to meet clients at coffee shops because they provide for a nice and casual environment. Not to mention, most coffee shops have WiFi access, so I can show the client my portfolio and other website I have developed.

Anyway, when first meeting and talking with the prospective client, I like to ask them what their goals are for the web site. Are they looking for an informational site for their existing clients? Or is this a site they are going to attract new business through? For example, if it is an e-commerce website for a small retail shop, their goal would be to expand their business and attract new clients. However, if their website is going to be primarily informational, such as for a real estate community, their goal would be to increase brand-legitimacy and reach new clients who may have not known about their business beforehand.

Throughout this initial process, I am also taking notes and thinking about how I can not only meet, but surpass their expectations. For example, if the client is looking to attract more business, I will talk about how this is achieved, such as through search engine optimization or supplementary marketing campaigns.

Whatever the client’s goals are, it is important to clarify them and take notes. To best understand their needs, this is the list of questions I ask my clients during the initial sit-down meeting (in no particular order):

  • What other websites do you like or find especially attractive?
  • What colors do you envision for your website? (If they are not sure, have them choose 2-3.)
  • Do you already have imagery you want to use?
  • If not, would you like us to select imagery? (Get some examples.)
  • When will you provide informational content (copyrighting) to us? (Within a week is best.)
  • Would you like to have any email addresses set up for others members of your business?
  • Do you already have a domain registered? (If not, talk about this process.)
  • Do you have a logo you would like us to scan? (A digital copy would be better.)
  • What is your time frame for having this project ready?
  • Will you need frequent updates? (If so, talk about the benefits of content management systems, if that is something you offer.)
  • Are you looking to reach new clients or just serve as an informational resource for existing clients?

After I have collected this information, I am ready to start the work process. In the next part of this series, I will talk about how I start the project, as well as what tools I use and how I manage the workflow. You can read part 2 of this series here.

4 thoughts on “My Web Development Process…Part 1 of 2”

  1. Oh a good article. I recently had to do this with one of my clients, but its been via email. We’ve been trying to set up date/time to meet face to face but our schedules have been conflicting and i recently also severed my Achilles tendon so mobility has been a bit of an issue too.

    I will be following your blog because I am wanting to get more into the web design/development things for myself.

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