Minding the Details

[FONT=“Georgia”]This isn’t a question about the specifics of HTML and CSS, etc. but one about your approach to building a website.

We all know the phrase, “the devil’s in the details”. How do you manage them?

If you’re anything like me, you first focus on getting the website largely done, make sure all the features are working, then go around the website refining it, fixing margins, text sizes, line heights, how some things work, colours, etc. The details.

And fussing with the details can easily take as long or longer than getting the site up and running did.

Of course, all this while the client is waiting on you for feedback.

In the past, I used to just link the client to the “largely done” website, before I started refining, just so they’d know I didn’t take their money and split. But I’ve been wondering recently if that’s actually been a mistake.

Because inevitably their response would be along the lines of, “Could we make that space there bigger?” or “Is that font too small to read?”

These are issues I’d have eventually gotten to on my own. So I’m wondering if showing them the site “unfinished”, as it were, instead of giving the impression that I’m a hard worker, instead gives the impression that I’m blasé.

So. My question for you guys.

How do you go about “minding those details” ?

Do you, for example, have a checklist of details to go through and tick off before showing the site (or a specific page) to client?

Do you hold back on showing anything to client at all until the entire site with fussy details are finished?

Also, secondary question, what details have you found to be important to mind?

What gotchas are there in web-design that could be embarrassing while showing a site to a roomful of client staff ?


Your welcome… I like using a script because it gives the usability subjects a purpose that can focus on and then we have them answer questions like “were you successful”, “was it easy/hard to accomplish task x” and that sort of thing.

That looks like a great book… None of my local bookstores have it so I think I’ll have to go the Amazon route.

I was bitten by the usability bug about 6 years ago when I built the architecture for a bank (Credit Union) website. I worked with their usability expert and learned a heck of a lot.

If you have the time and the project requires it, “Card Sorting” exercises can be handy to see how people naturally organize topics. I’ve only done that in one project and it was conducted before anything else. We knew what topics we wanted in the site and the card sorting helped shape the website’s navigation.

[FONT=“Georgia”]Thanks for that point about a script for that kind of testing. I wouldn’t have thought of preparing that in advance. I’d stand over their shoulders and observe what they did, but it might make sense to just leave them alone and have them comment afterward.


[FONT=“Georgia”]What’s funny is when I first started making websites , I would get just random people to test it. My mom, for example, was a big help because she gets confused on websites easily; So if she could use it, most people could.

But as I started becoming a “professional” I completely changed and started doing all the testing myself. I never even think to let random people test anymore. Part of that is to keep the site quiet until launch, but there’s still my co-workers or girlfriend that I could (and should!) ask.

Nice suggestion.


I find that you are able to see the majority of all these little details as you are working on the site, however, inevitably there will be a few that you miss out. Saying to a colleague or a friend “Hey, can you have a look at this?” can help as they will see things you may have missed. We have been working on our new site and our html/css guy asked us to check out the site and laid down a piece of paper on the table for us to make notes on regarding the site, within half hour it was a good to-do list, not because he wasn’t doing a good job, just because he hadn’t noticed all the details.

We use a document called the ‘Critical Path’ for keeping things in check.

It’s like a checklist but it has dates and milestones and it names who is responsible for what. Too often a project is held up because copy/content doesn’t come in one time or changes or designs haven’t been approved. With a critical path, everyone has a copy and if a project goes off schedule because something hasn’t been achieved, it’s easy to see where it went awry and you can focus on getting it back on track.

* The critical path doesn’t have to be set in stone. Oftentimes excitement and expectations at the beginning of a project overshadow judgment, so if you find for some reason milestones aren’t being achieved, the critical path should be edited and tailored to suit the circumstances of your project. I find time and time again, copy holds up a project or once the copy has been written the stakeholders (clients) decide the sitemap needs to be rearranged to suit the content. At that point it’s wise to take a step back to see how that will affect the rest of the project and fine tune the critical path so as not to overload your schedule.

That said, there is always a great deal of activity at the very end of a project fine tuning or editing text, adding imagery, adjusting various processes so that they work just the way the client wants them too. The majority of times, our clients are very engaged in the development process and for really large complicated websites, it’s best to sit down or teleconference with them to go over the entire site. It can take several hours (for large sites) but it really is the only way to ensure that the project is up to their expectations.

We use ClockingIT for project management and host the sites while in development on our development server until it’s time to migrate to the production server. I like the looks of Redmine so I’ll have to give that a look.

Don’t over-think this, it’s not worth it. Rather than saying what you’re going to do/

As you find bugs fix them as you go along, give about 2 week leverage from the completion date to correct anything. I don’t know if I am a master tester, but so far I have not found any problems. Sometimes I do find errors weeks after the completion date, even after I have done my master testing.

If this happens give them a date when you estimate this repair to be completed, this normally calms them down. If they start saying that you are no good at your job, or anything like this, just tell them that you’re an honest person and sometimes complications arise. Would you prefer not to be informed, or otherwise let the bug go until even worse, you or a customer notices it.

They normally come round.

If you still have a problem, or are unsure let me know. I truthfully think you’re over thinking this.

[FONT=“Georgia”]The studio I do a lot of work for uses Google Calendar, Google Docs and Gmail.

It actually works beautifully when used together, for example they could set a meeting or an event on the calendar, invite specific staff, then invitations and reminders are automatically sent out.

With Google Docs, multiple staff can work on the same document, or access can be restricted easily. That becomes uber useful for keeping password lists for IT or the company’s social media accounts.


I manage projects using a Windows app called MyLife Organised, it’s the best software based project manager for Windows by a long shot (though it’s uglier than Things for Mac). In regards to checklists, I have a whole bunch of them I’ve produced for my auditing process (I do consultancy work on UX for other businesses and their sites) so I’ve got the framework in place not only to ensure my work is scheduled correctly but the quality control process to verify my work (and others). :slight_smile:

Well, getting redmine running on windows isn’t for the particularly faint of heart, but our instance is serving stuff up just fine on Windows Server 2008 R2 behind IIS 7.5.

If you don’t want to putz around with all that, there is also a redmine appliance at http://www.turnkeylinux.org/.

When I was new in this game I once re-designed their logo. Not a good idea.

Organisation has to be the worse for me. When you get 10/20 emails a day you can quickly loose grasp of your clients. The last thing you want to be doing so asking them to resend something, as a result of your incompetence. :nono:

If anybody has any tips on this please do share them. I use Thunderbird as my email client.


I hijacked your post… :frowning: sorry

We did not use a checklist to keep track of details, instead it was a painful procedure of coming back and forth to sales. I think a checklist would be the best solution.

Don’t worry too much about those details. As you find something you are sure to correct it. Just make sure you do a thorough test before it goes live, and when I mean test I really do mean test. So check on all browsers, test all links, test email form, test everything you could possibly test.

I tend to find once a site goes on the net I rarely do any adjustments to it, so maybe you have to do this.

Normally give 1 - 3 days for testing of a site. I tend to say this to my clients so they do not get annoyed in thinking that I am late.

Things like margins and paddings, will most of that is hit or miss, so do the best you can to make it look like the design. It really depends on how complex you classes/ID’s are and how good you are with Firebug and other debugging tools.

Last words, don’t worry about those little details, because as you are working on the site you will be correcting it.

[FONT=“Georgia”]Here’s one from my list, by the way.

Check the colours of your visited and unvisited links!

I built a whole site (and tested!) without realising that the unvisited colour for a heading link was this aweful hue of red! Why? Because on my browsers, because of my testing, all of my links were showing as visited.

I completely missed it.

This has now been added to my checklist (read first post).


On complicated projects I started making a spreadsheet which lists every functionality.
Then I check each one cross browser and have some one else through the list as well.


I probably will

Better yet, when it comes to testing for usability do usability testing. We don’t do it with all of our sites but every now and again we find the need and it is well worth it. The last round of testing we did was in 3 components.

1) Test the design/layout and navigation once the site has been designed and basic content is in place.

2) Test the advanced features, registration, events signup, search, blog commenting, etc…

3) General test with average web users (as unskilled as possible) once we’re sure we’ve got everything handled and we’re ready to launch to ensure that it really is easy to navigate and access the content or functions they need.

We or the client canvases for test subjects and we prepare a script for each round of testing. You wouldn’t believe how useful this can be. Even before you run the tests, you can identify areas of concern.

[FONT=“Georgia”]By the way, Sega.

I hope that didn’t come across like a rant.

I’m posting it in case you might find yourself stuck in my same situation in future[/FONT] :slight_smile:

The one drawback to Freemind, of course, is that you can’t use it to draw rabbits, smiley faces, or cartoon cats. :wink:

@Alex Dawson

I am going to try all the proposed solutions here, see what works best for me. The free version of MyLife Organised looks simple. I think maybe the benefits for an online version is that you can maybe share it with clients, so they can see what stage you’re on.

A stand-alone version is good for you, but maybe not for others. Depends how you look at it. We had a web-based one, but we hardly gave it out to clients, it was more like an internal management tool were we could all share projects and so forth. Come to think of it it was a pain working the damn thing! They used to use it to monitor our output. :frowning:

Has anybody ever tried Google Calender for management, just out of curiosity.

[FONT=“Georgia”]Just to get this thread back on topic, still asking about ways of keeping track of the “details” of a website.

I guess it still just comes down to good, old fashioned checklists, eh?