How do you start?

How do you start your design projects?

I first like to meet the client if possible and find out what they want to do with the site. Then I talk about who is going to use the site, followed by asking how they would like to manage it.

Then I create a wireframe to get a sense for where the content elements should be placed. After I like to pick out a set of colors or make a set at which I then share with my client to see what they think. If they like them I then make a mockup of the homepage which includes homepage content and main template design. Upon the clients approval I do the other pages and upon their approval I then begin making the final design into HTML, PHP, etc…

How do you start your designs?

Ofcourse this post deal. The billing is different for different clients, but here we are talking a full project cycle and possible maintenance, changes and upgrades. I am not the accounts or sales person here its from what I know so I may have gaps in information.

Lets say the final accepted quote was 200$ for e.g. It would give an estimated cost to them. You have to work it our here how much it costs you per hour. because in this business its all about time spent and $ earned. You get that right and everything is ok in my experience. Now they very well know from the beginning the charges for additional hours. There is trust that professional are good at the work based on established relationships and work delivered. Additional hours could be negotiated. So now lets say you quote 200$ based on 200 hours ± 10 hours as acceptable limits. The changes or delays in their part required additional 50 hours so they will be billed for the same, the cost is now 250$.

If we delay the cost is lowered, because we are taking longer for the same amount of work. Its a status quo. Which is why we give as much transparency as they need.

We are not doing small projects so you are right it already costs a fortune and any delay or change in requirements can make figures of difference. But we do have small projects and follow the same principal which is why we stayed in business and keep getting better. I was pleasantly surprised when I joined this company and learned some of the most valuable things in this field I know today. This is the only successful business model I have come across after working with so many different contractors and companies.

I think this discussion makes me more interested and good questions from you all requires me to go in details of how my company is operating , maybe talk to the people involved directly in the process.

This is a serious multimillion dollar and profitable (PHP only ) web development company and doing some very legit stuff for good brands. So yes I am going to dig deeper and get you more information this week. [Questions? powerpoint slide goes here]

Establish the client’s goals and requirements; write all of this down and brainstorm. Then I would look at similar sites and identify strengths and weaknesses. I’d move onto paper, sketch out designs/logo ideas then move onto Photoshop where the real work starts :slight_smile:

I’m lay and I just use a template and modify thing to the way I like it. Why rinvent the wheel

We start off with asking clients to fill out a Project Worksheet. Based on the information gathered, we start planning the project. Once the plan is signed off and we have received an initial payment we start the work.

That’s probably true, I will definitely keep that in mind for the future.

one problem I run into a lot is getting content or project specifics from the client in a timely fashion.

I think this is the biggest problem and although I like JayZawrotny’s approach it’s so many times impossible to follow it. I have the feeling that in the current situation sometimes clients need to have made decisions for them. This sounds maybe very blunt but that’s how I see it. There is always a reason to wait a bit longer.

In early days you had to deal with one peron responsile for these kind of things. Today i sit sometimes at the table with four five different people

Yours is a valid approach, I’d say. I’m not going to weigh in here with anything specific yet, because I’m not a professional designer with gobs of clients, and I’d like to see what some other pros have to say. It is important to approach this from the standpoint of determining the client’s needs and figuring out the best way to serve those needs, but you address that.

I think it would be interesting to see some of the different specifics that people have in their design processes.

I see, so you’re saying your company bills them after the site is done. I guess that would be a great way to make sure you’re getting paid properly. Though the client can end up paying a fortune if they’re picker than their budget permits. Has that lead to any problems?

What my company did is pretty simple. We give estimated target and what will be done without specifics like size of boxes etc etc we get concept design or PSDs done. I dunno whose doing them us for them or they get it done from artists or what.

Features and logic etc is already stated like most of your mentioned above. We include clients and if they have QA people in our development process. So they can see each issue comment on it and decide if it fits what they wanted with intervention from QA (if they be changing the specs within the ticket again and again we be dying :confused: )

If they need something done the team lead will list all things and create issues including changes, new feature request, client’s team can report bugs as well directly. We key in the hours we took to do the work. The client is billed accordingly. This is the best way I believe to stay in business. We have clients who changed the entire website design 4 times. These are no small sites they ranks #1 in their category of sites.

Sometimes transparency might work in your favor as they realize the true value of work being done and also help them understand whether one small thing is worth the time and money over others. But then again it may not.

  1. Meeting or email discussion or questionnaire or combination of all three to get the specifics of what they want. Goals, rival sites, any and all info I can get my grubby little paws on.

  2. Contract.

  3. I generally decide on the wireframe myself since I’ve got enough info to know what they want, and only get the client to give feedback on an almost finished design. I find giving them choices like colour scheme too early just slows the whole thing down, and colours can be changed in about 30 seconds flat in Fireworks anyway with find and replace.

  4. ??

  5. Profit.

Hah yeah I read that article expecting an army of PS fanboys to come trolling the comments (not that you’re a fanboy, but there are a lot of them out there) and was pleasantly surprised. The author has made the world a better place :slight_smile:

Personally I think any client who doesn’t want to sign a contract is a bit dodgy and knows it’ll stop them demanding more and more for the same price as the job continues. Contracts don’t have to be stuffy and overly formal, they just have to be effective.

Yeah, I can see where it would be really useful to get comfortable with since it makes a lot of things easier. Like the exact size measurements on rectangles.

Though I had a problem when I was trying to use the eraser tool to fade out a pattern into the background in spots. It was erasing in a weird way so I went back to photoshop on that project.

This article is what originally convinced me that I should get familiar with fireworks.

Thanks for that article on the contract, hopefully I can convince my boss to let us use one. He is concerned that they would scare away a client but frankly I think we could have used on my current client.

I also just found this buried in my google reader blog subscriptions, I hope these can also be of use to someone.

Fireworks girl through and through :smiley:

I used to use Photoshop, then one day a few years back my boyfriend gave me a Fireworks demonstration and I was like “…holy ****”.

Never looked back, I HIGHLY recommend giving it a shot. I use PS for photo stuff or advanced effects, Illustrator for vector work, Fireworks for web design. Use the tool intended for the job you’re doing :slight_smile:

My contract started out as something I basically copied from the internet and tweaked to suit myself, but it’s grown as I’ve had more experience and added more detail. most of it stays the same from job to job with just a bit of filling in the blanks, but I’ll always take the time to read through it and make sure everything still applies to the current situation before sending it across.

Ah, you’re a fireworks person. I read an article about why it may be a better choice than photoshop and it convinced me to start learning it. I can definitely see it working well for making a mockup, but I’ve put far more time into photoshop and am very comfortable with it.

May I ask what kind of contract you use? Is it a template? Is it changed based on what hte client wants or is it just based on the time it will take you?

I definitely like what you said about getting their feedback when it’s near completion as it wont take much time. Plus it will be much easier to sell them on it probably in the end. I’ve had to redo a template 3 times because one of my current clients didn’t like something, although one of them was a finished mockup.

Wow, that’s a really good system. You get what you’ve earned, the client gets what they want. Everyone wins. How did you go about creating such a contract? I know I definitely need one, and I think I might be working on a client right now where that would have been a really good idea.

I’ll take all the requirements from the client and before starting to work on project design, I’ll like to discuss it with the team members & will determine the prominent areas to focus on. I’ll also define a strategy as to how to move forward with the project design and what are goals and how they are to be achieved?

one problem I run into a lot is getting content or project specifics from the client in a timely fashion.

How many of us have heard. ‘Oh yeah, I want it to do this and this.’ Well that wasn’t in the specs and now you are doing work that you never originally intended to do free of charge.

What I like to do is after initially speaking to the client to find out what they need, I have them fill out a form asking for details regarding the project. Do you have content? Do you have images/logo? etc.)

I also use a generic list of questions in a simplistic format to interview the potential clients. It’s always good to explain things in layman’s terms so they don’t get overwhelmed. I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve picked up because of this.

After I’ve received everything I need I present them with an itemized and outlined contract stating EXACTLY what they get in a certain time frame while requiring a 50% deposit. This helps keep things moving and shows my clients that if you snooze, you lose. It also states that payment is due in a timely manner or they get nothing.

Of course the key question, for me at least is budget. I’ve run into a LOT of people who want an entire database driven web site with eCommerce for under $500. This will save you a LOT of hassle and trouble if you find this out up front. Package your project around the budget and emphasize it in phases. That way you can do enough for them to be happy but at the same time leave a window of opportunity open for additional work.

Bottom line is make a contract that covers ALL bases, good and bad so you and client are aware of what the ENTIRE project entails without surprises.

First things first. :slight_smile:

Well, as a sales and support staff of a company, I always get the complete details of the project. Once I received the information, i’ll be checking who among our staff meets the qualification of the client. Once agreed with the terms, agreement and payment, we will now start working on the project.