Project management and requirements documentation

As you can see from the illustration, people tend to interpret things and manage expectations according to their own lens and from their perspective or point of view (POV).  If a client asks for something to be done on Friday, for example, the client probably expects it to be delivered Friday morning, the project manager expects it to be done Friday afternoon and the freelance designer probably thinks that as long as it’s done by the following Monday morning then everything will be okay.

It is very important, particularly when you get into proposals and contracts, that expectations are managed and requirements are clearly defined, specified and documented.  This applies not only to what will be delivered but also the process of development, timelines, milestones, responsibilities and costs.

One issue that we experience from time to time has to do with content.  A client may expect a finished website to include content uploaded and polished.  Designers, on the other hand, tend to think that content management belongs to the client.  Fortunately, when you deliver content management solutions (CMS) and build websites on top of CMS platforms then it is easier to separate content from design.

So, if you want a great web design experience, it is important that everybody have a meeting of the minds and that expectations are aligned and communication is transparent and open. In our experience, the best web project collaborations occur when clients …

  • Are web-savvy, tech-savvy and business-savvy
  • Know exactly who is their segmented target web audience
  • Know the purpose and objectives of the web site
  • Understand conversion, click-through and calls to action
  • Know what they want, i.e., sites they like and why they like them
  • Know what they do not want, i.e., sites or practices they want to avoid
  • Have a good understanding of their information taxonomy (architecture)
  • Understand their target audience’s language and search behavior
  • Know and appreciate search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Know and appreciate the power of social media

Armed with these skills and qualities, better Discovery occurs, better Contract and Requirements Specifications occur, better Design and Development occurs and in the end, a better and more effective web site is the result.