Mastering The website development and design process
The web design processes that a company defines are the most important elements of your company’s success. The definition phase of a project is the most important element of building a great web site.When I first started writing proposals and meeting with clients it was a nightmare. It was not until I really took a step back and looked at the requirements and needs of the client from the very beginning that the transition became smoother. When starting Blue Light Labs in 2000 we were undercharging and overselling our services in a desperate attempt to stay in business. It took me 5 years to iron out the kinks in our web design company’s business model. After spending time with other Atlanta web design companies and comparing and contrasting notes, our proposals and processes have matured. These concepts allowed our business to grow while providing a quality service that we are proud of. Here are a few ideas I have on improving your web development company’s process and approach to customers.
Approaching the client
Upon reception of a lead, whether it is a form, a phone call or a recommendation, keep 4 things in mind: Listen – Listen – Reflect – Identify. This psychology is amazing. One of the biggest mistakes I made when selling our website services was overwhelming the client with my company pitch.
Listening has three major bonuses
- You get a gist of the potential client's needs, background and expectations
- It shows respect and patience
- Allows you to absorb what is important to the client and reflect with only the necessary comments and suggestions
You should be packing as much information in as little conversation as possible. Always remember that most clients are there to hire you for your expertise. Most of the time they do not want to get an earful of technical jargon, they are there to allow you to provide a solution via their communication with you.
- Stay focused on the clients needs and expectations
- Interject ideas that might improve on the project
- Be personal and confident in your ability to be a great consultant
Identifying is a collection of listening and reflecting. After learning your potential client’s expectations and needs you have a much better chance of selling your products and services.
- Try to get a good idea of what type of person/client you are dealing with and respond accordingly
- Let the client know you have been listening by going over what they said and how it can work with the proposed project
- Be professional but friendly, give your prospect a reason to want to work with you
- Make them feel comfortable
Building a better web design and development proposal
A good proposal is modified several times from the original proposal template. The original template, however, is a well thought out outline that contains specific major information in addition to a service outline and price quote. The continual refinement of the proposal template while taking into account other competitor’s proposals is also a very important. We have basic outlines and templates for brochure websites, ecommerce websites, custom backend development and Internet marketing. Proposals can also use a capability that is built into Microsoft Word that allows the author to set up variable fields that will always change from proposal to proposal.
- Uniquely brand and layout clean headers and footers for each section of the proposal
- Build a general scope outlining the prospects requirements and notes
- Whenever possible, give detailed reference to the agreed project definition and stay away from making it appear like a template, even though you started with one
- Customize the proposal template by citing the client’s name, company and appropriate contact information
- Add a short blurb about your company standards and practices that reflect your dedication to quality and support
- Give the client options showing possible add-ons and updates to the service
- Try not to add unnecessary jargon that will dilute the purpose of the project
- Follow up with a letter of intent – outlining the deliverables and requirements needed from the client
This is what dictates if your business is going to tread water, succeed or fail all together. It does not matter if you are a one-man show or a full-blown design and development firm; the process is the meat and potatoes of what makes a business run smoothly. Even with a vast amount of leads pouring in everyday you have to create and keep fine-tuning the process.
My definition of a process is “A procedural list of executable tasks that are organized. When defined correctly this will allow the simplification of your company’s procedures and help to organize a project “. The more you tweak and tighten up your process the better. A process outline can change from company to company and in some ways defines its service and product output. These points are points I personally think are most important when defining a general process for your web Design Company.
- Define your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Breakdown what parts of a project are areas that can be improved upon.
- Time is always an issue; figure how much time or resources an average company’s tasks take. Brainstorm on simple concepts that can cut the fat out
- Learn from past projects. You can examine areas where there was a breakdown in communication or misunderstanding. Use that as a road map to explore what areas can be improved upon.
- Stick to your process and don’t stray from them
Because each company has its own personality and niche, the processes associated with it change. There is not a perfect global process outline that works for everyone. Your company’s process is a huge part of its soul and ability to be successful.
I hope this article was helpful
Cheers and happy processing,
About the author:
Markus Nelson is CEO of Blue Light Labs Multimedia in Atlanta Georgia. He is a self-made entrepreneur of 10 years and works with DIGITAL ASSOCIATIONS, a think tank devoted to improving digital media and design.
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