Web Design Methods: How Do You Start?

So we all pretty much know about the typical stages / phases of a Website Design project but obviously there’s much more to these stages. When you’re starting out with a new Website project how do you start it off?

  • Do you have a checklist that you go through? (Maybe you call it a to-do list)
  • Is there a specific routine that you go through? Some sort of methodology?
  • Perhaps you just do whatever you think you need to do when you come along that bridge?

I personally go through the first two myself. I’ve got a copy of Deliver First Class Web Sites: 101 Essential Checklists which is a great read but the actual checklist documents that come with the book is the best part of it. I’ve used the checklists before on new Web projects along with other documents to really go into detail with the planning stage.

I also have a little routine in addition to these checklists that I use as both a checklist and a to-do list. I have a few A4 black portfolio wallets that I use to store the documents, print-outs, idea sheets and so on for every new project. These are important for new projects. Once the project is completed all of the printed documents go into a foolscap plastic wallet along with the disc with the project work on.

This thread is specifically for starting a new Web project because I’ve got an idea for doing a little series of these topics, so watch out! :wink:

Andrew Cooper

Really, so you think my little list in post 6 is actually ok then because it’s MY way of doing it?

I think using your own method is the best policy, we all have our own ways of doing things and to follow a strict standard would only undermine our productivity. Of course that doesn’t mean I’m against standards, just I feel when it comes to organisation it’s highly personal and there’s no right or wrong way to do the task. :slight_smile:

[Note: Bumping because it was originally in General Chat forum - Hoping for some more responses in here. :)]

Wow! Some great responses…It seems we all have very different methods for starting a new Web project! Do you think it’s good that we each start new Web projects with our own crazy methods or should we have a standard project management methodology that we follow in the Web industry?

Andrew Cooper

Andrew, I have to admit that I’m one of those highly organised loonies who documents, files and archives everything! I have a filing cabinet dedicated to all my web design projects, any documentation, emails or items/discs associated with each project is all in there! I find if I don’t keep it organised I get really confused because there’s only so much you can retain at one time especially if you have a couple of projects running concurrently!

My approach varies with the project but usually I start off meeting with the client on a face to face basis with a checklist of questions and take it from there really, I’m pretty down to earth so I prefer the meetings rather than emails/calls because alot of things can get lost in translation whereas I find having a sitdown chat is more productive, friendly and you can get a better sense of what your client is looking for too!

On the organisational side of things, I have an organizer and write out a to do list and just cross them off as I deal with each issue/item - I’m not one to follow an electronic checklist or filing system - I have to just tick them off otherwise I’m completely lost! :stuck_out_tongue:

ps: I go through alot of post-its and highlighters too :lol: :shifty:


  • Present the client with your Terms of Service - important
  • Esablish the requirements of the website
  • Ask for examples of websites the client likes
  • Present the client with a Photoshop design for feedback
  • Begin programming when the client is satisfied with the design

My web projects:

  • Think of a good idea and check competition
  • Look for scripts on the internet that can be modified or start from scratch
  • Come up with a trendy name
  • Logo and website design
  • Program to completion
  • Promote and advertise

I tend to let my imagination run with my ideas and get ahead of myself. It’s fun. :slight_smile:

If you mean when building websites then yes… I first start with the client and talk about what they need / want, do some research of their competition, produce the documents they need to sign, await the fund transfer for the percent as a deposit and give them the list of stuff I’ll need and what they’ll need to-do (just the general process stuff). Then I begin the work… get an idea, do some sketches and mock-ups, get some feedback, start coding (HTML > CSS > JS > whatever), run standards / accessibility / UX / usability tests, sign off on the work, pass it to client, get paid the rest, done! Unless of course they want me to market and or maintain it, to which there’s either the additional step (with payment) or sequentially a debit setup so I get paid the monthly fee for keeping things running smoothly. :slight_smile:

Oh my goodness. I have a folder on my hard drive and it’s a mess. If it was a real filing cabinet, it would be unmanageable.

My development process has changed over time. When I worked with clients, it was:

  • Do a mock up
  • If got the project, agree with a feature list via email and possibly make a to-do list if the project is big enough
  • Program frantically
  • Check in with the client, get feedback
  • Program frantically more and repeat the above step until the client is happy

Then I moved to developing products so it’s gone down to:

  • Create a to-do list
  • Program frantically
  • Repeat the above

Later added SVN to the mix to keep better organized as the projects grew bigger.

Now I don’t work with clients nor do I develop products. My projects are simple and based on WP. So it’s:

  • Install WP with whatever plugins, themes
  • If special non-existent plugins are necessary, program frantically
  • Post content

It seems that the process is getting simpler and simpler over time. Wouldn’t say that about my folder dedicated to development. :lol:

I have a definite approach to new projects:

  1. Tell the client what they need.

  2. Explain that they’re paying me 4x what everyone else quoted because I’m worth it and they’ll be stunned by what I produce for them.

  3. Create a contract then tear it up in favour of them paying a deposit instead.

  4. Invoice them for a 90% of the fee deposit to ensure their financial commitment to the project.

  5. Immediately become impossible to contact.

  6. After several days minimum send them a photoshopped design that looks nothing like what they had in mind.

  7. Become impossible to contact when they tell me that it’s nothing like what they had in mind.

  8. Build the site anyway because they don’t appreciate my advice and they’ll change their minds when they see it in the flesh

  9. Become impossible to contact when they don’t change their minds

  10. Increase the fee because they changed the project scope from what I wanted to do for them to what they wanted from me and just for generally being unreasonable and high maintenance clients.

  11. Contact them non-stop to chase payment of the extra fee

  12. Take down the site when they refuse to pay and sack them for being so unreasonable and keep the deposit as settlement for my time.

  13. Change my phone number

@saul - i didnt think you would be the messy type! :scratch: there’s an awful lot of franticness happening with ur approach to project management - perhaps you need to address this in the future :lol: I love WP too :smiley:

@JJ - :shifty: I think I’ve worked with you before! :eek: “because I’m worth it” I can’t stop picturing you in a L’oreal advert now :lol:

That’s my style. :smoke:

Aha! A convert!

:lol: yeah Saul I am, wow I remember saying I’d never have a blog so many years ago when I first joined SP, now I’m loving it, lost without it! - funny how we can change isn’t it? for the better :smiley:

Using WP for your projects, how is that working out for you on the whole? I’ve wondered that myself if it’s feasible to depend on that as the basis of the site mockup! :scratch:

It’s working out very well. And not only for a mockup - I don’t do mockups when I’m my own client. And what’s more, the plugin system hasn’t been a problem as far as more indepth customization as well.

Should I ever have to do a project for a client other than myself, I wouldn’t hesitate using WP unless I’d be told not to.

:lol: of course! I will definitely follow this approach too - now I just need clients but I don’t want them yet :rofl: