Client Manual: Web Design

Building a website the right way involves many steps, and it can feel complicated, so we’ve put this client manual together for you to help you quickly onboard to the process.

Press CTRL+D to add this manual to your web browser so you can easily access this guide at any time while we progress through the stages of building your project.

Project Planning Workshop

Standard Discovery (Free)
Simple website projects typically only require one meeting. This type of meeting is free. We provide one meeting, which lasts 1hr. During this time, we review your website and determine if the project is a standard basic website, or if it has features or design requirements that will require additional premium discovery time.

Premium Discovery ($150/hr)
More complicated websites often take more sessions to identify how added features and functions will work on the site. Meetings continue until the project is fully organized and there are no questions remaining so that a comprehensive proposal can be provided with a timeline and budget.

Discovery is where the web design process starts. The idea for the website is presented and we work together to answer all of the questions to get a clear understanding of what you need included in the project. When we’re done with this process, you’ll have the blueprint called a ‘Project Road Map’ that outlines the specifics of how your project will be built.

You’ll be on the call with a web development specialist who can guide you through this process, but we also have a kit that will help prep you for this meeting so we can make the most of our time.

Views Inventory
In the meeting, we’ll identify all of the views (screens or pages) that are going to be included in the application. If a page in your project has specific design requirements or has a unique layout, we’ll note that in your views inventory so we have a list of all of the pages that will require significant time to build out.

Design Requirements
During the discovery phase, we’ll work with you to identify 3-5 design examples that have qualities and traits that we want to include (or avoid) as we build out the project.

Development Requirements
As we walk through each view, we’ll build a feature inventory that details how features work on each page. We’ll also offer suggestions on how those features can be set up in the best way possible.

Content Inventory
The content inventory establishes what content already exists, and is fit for the new project. This helps us identify any new types of content (images, video, copywriting) that will be required for the design and development.

Content Writing
Before we can design your project, we’ll need the copy for all of the pages in the project. Even if you have content that’s already written, we’ll need to review that content to ensure it’s aligned with the project and it’s design requirements. This activity typically takes place in Google Docs. We’ll meet with you to get the information we need to write out these pages.

Our goal with this copywriting portion of the project is to get your copy 90% or better unless your project outlined specifically that it has specific writing requirements. In this stage, we’ll take one-pass over each page in the sitemap and use that for the project.

NOTE: In our experience, relying on the client to complete the content on their own is the number one reason why projects go long and get slowed down. Writing yourself seems like an easy enough task, but it can be hard to write yourself for a new project, especially if you’re not sure what the design is going to look like. We also recognize you also have other priorities and responsibilities, so the task typically takes longer to complete than you’d think. We’ve developed this stage in our process to ensure you have copy that is done. It can always be modified later by you or your team if needed. If nothing else we will have to review and revise existing content to fit the project. For the reasons above, this stage is mandatory for every project.

Gathering Media and Assets
After the content is completed and we have a more comprehensive guide to what we’re going to be communicating to your audience on each page, we’ll gather supporting media and assets that don’t yet have, which can include:

  • Your logo (preferably in .eps or vector format)
  • Images
  • Video

Shelf List
As we discuss your project, it’s important to be able to talk about all of the ideas you have. However, discussing ideas doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be included in the project. If it’s not assigned as a requirement, it will not be included in the scope and development of your project.

As we work together, we’ll keep a ‘Shelf List’ associated with your project which includes all of the features that are ‘wouldn’t it be cool if’ items that aren’t scoped in the project, but may be built later, and may have an impact on how the project is built now. Throughout the project process, we may ask you when something new comes up if you want to extend the scope and resources to include it, or if you’d like to add it to the shelf list to be prioritized for implementing at a later date. This way we can keep track of everything in one place, and remain clear on what we’re building as part of this project’s timeline and resources.

Project Road Map

Once we’ve completed the discovery process we’ll deliver this document which outlines the basics of your project.

This document includes:

  • Strategy Recommendations
    • An overview of our design process
    • Sitemap
    • Recommended Technology
    • Content Inventory
    • Estimated Timeline
    • Project Requirements
    • Project Budget
    • Marketing Services
    • Shelf List
  • Wireframes
    • Lo-fi blueprints of each unique view that details the structure of each layout

Signed Agreement and Deposit

Once a quote has been approved, you will be sent a contract to sign and your first invoice.  When these two items are addressed, we’re ready to get started.

Design

In the design stage we will create design mockups that will be the foundation for the development of your website. During this process we will find supporting imagery and stylistic elements, such as fonts and a color palate, for your website.

Initial Payment
Initial payment is required before the Build process begins.

Introduction to Applications
As soon as we kick off your project we’ll get you set up with a couple applications that help us communicate, share files, and stay on track with the project.

  1. TeamworkPM- Project Management
    This application tracks all of our tasks, timeline, and messages. You will receive an email with your login credentials at the start of your project. When you receive messages in your email from Teamwork, you can just reply to the email, and your answers will be sent back into the project management system.
  2. Google Drive – File Sharing
    Google Drive allows us to share images, documents, and all other types of files with each other throughout the web design process. If you have assets to share with us, you can request an invitation to the folder where we store your project assets.

Designing Your Project
In this stage, we’ll start designing all of the unique views and pages with unique design requirements. This is always done in an A/B concept format initially so you can compare and contrast two ideas of how your website can look, based on our notes from the Discovery process.

Once we’re completed with the initial A/B concept, we will review with you on a screen share the designs to get feedback.

Design Revisions
After our initial review, we will revise your design based on the feedback notes from that call. When we’ve completed those revisions, we’ll meet one final time to review to get the last revision notes to complete the design.
During your design reviews, please be sure to include as much helpful feedback as you can so we can keep the project on track, on time, and on budget. You will have 48 hours after each meeting to send further changes, within scope, that were not discussed during the review.

If you would like to continue working on the design to make even more improvements beyond the scoped two revisions, we can continue this process by entering the revision requests into our work order system which is charged on a time and materials basis as extended scope to the project.

Once the design process is completed, we’ll use the finalized designs to guide the development process. Once we move past this stage, it is far more difficult to make adjustments and changes to the project. Changing the design and outlining how the development process will work is much easier to do in the design stage. So, we’ll want to be quite sure we have the whole project outlined in as much detail as possible before proceeding to the Build phase.

Final Payment
Final Design payment is required before moving into the Build phase.

Build

Once we’re all set on the look and feel of the website, it’s time to move into development. At this stage in the project, it takes much longer to make changes to how the website is set up, so we want to be quite sure we are happy with how things are at this point before moving forward.

Initial Payment
Initial payment is required before the Build process begins.

Website Development Area
To begin building your site we will create a private development area online for your project. Using a unique link, you can preview the website’s progress. Your development area link will be in the format: staging.yourdomainname.com. We’ll provide this link during review meetings.

Development Revisions
Once we’re done with the initial build, we’ll schedule a time to review it with you by phone or in the office.
We will revise your development area twice to land on the final product – so please be sure to include as much helpful feedback during these revision meetings so we can keep the project on track, on time, and on budget. You will have 48 hours after each meeting to send further changes, within scope, that were not discussed during the review.

If you would like to continue working on the build to make even more improvements beyond the scoped two revisions, we can continue this process by entering the revision requests into our work order system which is charged on a time and materials basis as extended scope to the project.

Once the design process is completed, we’ll use the finalized designs to guide the development process.

Website Optimizations
All of our projects are designed responsively, which means that they shift their layout to respond to tablet and mobile phone displays. At this stage we ensure that your site responds and functions between varying screen sizes.
Similarly, we develop our sites using the Chrome browser, however, Internet browsers interpret and view website code differently. Near the end of your project, we will ensure your site looks and functions across all supported platforms.

Final Website Approval
Once the website is completed in the development area, we will prepare to migrate the website to the active domain name (yourdomainname.com) in the Launch Stage.

Final Payment
Final Build payment is required before the website is migrated live and the access is granted to the live project.

Launch

Training (Self-Managed Projects Only)
Before we grant access to the site to you we want to make sure you know how to navigate your way around the administrative dashboard and make small changes on your site. You can schedule your training pre-launch, or you have 7 days post-launch to schedule your included training session.
If you would like additional training on the project, we offer a standard one hour training sessions for $150.

Activation
The project is activated and access is granted to you, the proud new owner of your website!

Post-Launch

Self-Managed
If you’re self-managing your website, you’re 100% responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of your project. If you’re hosting with us, your hosting services cover access to the website via the domain name. Any other support services are available through our Support+ Program.

Plugin and Software Updates
Websites can become vulnerable to attack over time as those with malicious intentions figure out ways to exploit older platforms. We update websites as part of our hosting package. If you host elsewhere, however, we offer this service for $30 per month.

Support+
Includes: Phone and Email Support, Trainings, and small misc requests under 30m.
Our Support+ program allows you to pay-as-you-go for phone and email support. Activities covered under Support+ include: consultation, troubleshooting, investigation, support requests, or small adjustments you’d like us to make to your website on your behalf. Pick your limit, and we’ll be available to work up to that limit each month.
At the end of each month we invoice only for the time used up to your limit on your account.

Read more about Support+

Work Orders
Includes at least one of the following: Discovery, Design, Development, Deployment
As your business or organization grows and changes so to will the needs of your site. Just because your project is complete, doesn’t mean we stop working together. If you have any additional features or designs you’d like to add to your website we are happy to help.
These types of requests are evaluated for the time and materials required to complete your requests and added into our work order system. Work orders are sent to you for your review and approval before we begin work. Completed work orders are billed at the time of completion.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is SEO included?
Basic SEO is included. We use best practices when we build our projects so you have a solid foundation for your SEO. However, if you want to rank on specific keywords and phrases, you’ll want to get set up with a marketing program that includes research, copywriting, strategy, and reporting. We offer SEO as part of our suite of services through our Support+ Program
[Read More About Support+]

Can we just skip the Discovery stage and get right to building the website?
In our experience, and that of other creative agencies, skipping this phase ends up making the project take longer, and often things that were not mentioned in the beginning of the project are identified as requirements, which can completely alter the recommendations we’d give in a Project Road Map. For the reasons above, we always complete the discovery phase before working on a project.

When we’re done, do I own the website?
Yes. Our contracts outline that as soon as we receive final payment, the title of the project signs over to you.

What if we’re doing brand design also. Do we have to complete that before we can start on the website?
Not necessarily. We can start the discovery work and copywriting for your website while working on designing and completing your logo. If the brand design needs to be extended, we can pause your web design process until we’ve finalized. Working this way can speed up the overall timeline on your project.

Terminology

Below is a list of commonly used terms and phrases with their respective meanings:

Project Road Map
Wireframe
Scope
Shelf List
Views
Content Inventory
Cross-Platform Testing
Mobile Responsiveness
TeamworkPM
Google Drive
Sitemap
Success Strategy
Support+