In the first blog of my five-part Website Launch Blog Series – How to Launch a Website, I covered the basics of launching a website and touched on the 5-Step Website Launch Process:
In this first blog, I stressed how important a Website Project Plan is to the outcome of your website project – regardless of the project’s complexity. Taking the time to complete a detailed briefing document at the start of the project will give the developer direction, and ultimately determine how smooth the future phases of your project will go.
In this second blog of the Website Launch Blog Series, I will continue to delve deeper into the 5-Step Website Launch Process and discuss what happens after the Requirement Stage, and the events following the completion of the Website Project Plan.
Bridging from Briefing to Website by finding the right vendor.
If you missed the first blog of the series, a Website Project Plan is a document that you will provide to a web developer that outlines the requirements of a web development project. The plan should include at least some of the following items:
- Who is the website target audience?
- What will the persona call to action be?
- What is the outline of the website structure?
- What is your website project plan?
Now that you have completed the Requirements Phase and have a complete Website Project Plan that you can give to your potential web developer, what’s next?
Enter the proposal phase. In this phase, you should approach at least three different vendors for your RFP (Request for Proposal). During a RFP, provide each vendor with your Website Project Plan. Each vendor will review the briefing document and will provide you with a proposal illustrating recommendations for your project as well as how he/she will solve your website challenges.
Each vendor proposal should include the following:
- Cost – What the cost of your website project will be.
- Timeframe – How long it will take the vendor to complete your project.
- Project Scope – How that particular vendor understands your requirements and how they will solve your functionality requirements. * This is very important as it will also give you an indication of how well this vendor understands your needs and how capable they are of meeting your needs.
- Design Requirements – Detailed information about design and requirements.
The proposal size can range depending on the complexity of the website. For a large enterprise, the proposal can be a complex and technical document, but if you are a sole proprietor with a simple WordPress site, it may be a smaller document outlining cost and design.
Ask for references
During the Proposal Phase, it’s a good idea to ask for references. Ask each developer for some past and current customers that you can contact. If they have happy customers, these customers will be more willing to go out of their way to help provide a referral. Ask for contact-specific information about the relationship with the developer, including communication, resources, results and deadlines met. Some questions to ask include:
- How often did the developer communicate with the client?
- How many resources were assigned to the client’s website?
- Were deadlines met?
- Did the developer achieve the projected goals?
- Was the client happy with the results?
- How was the working relationship?
- Would the client hire the developer again?
- Does that particular client recommend that you work with the developer? Be specific as to what your needs are and ask them directly if they think that the developer will work for you.
Project Assignment Phase
Once you have compiled all of the information from the three vendors, now it’s time to compare the proposals and make a decision. The easiest way to do this is to create a grid or use an excel spreadsheet to map out the details of the proposals in one, easy-to-read page. Identify column headings for all of the proposal categories and list how each vendor will fulfill each requirement, including: cost, timeframe, scope, design requirements and references. Don’t forget to include a personal assessment for each vendor – ie: How you would feel about working with him/her. Remember, you will be spending a lot of time with the developer, so make sure that you rate how you feel the working relationship will be with them. Lastly, be sure to note any time constraints, including any large projects they are working on, holidays etc. that may impede the timing to deliver.
Now it’s time to make your decision. Congratulations, you have selected your vendor of choice and you have completed the Proposal Phase. Be sure to check back for our third blog of my five-part Website Launch Blog Series, where I’ll continue the 5-Step Website Launch Process and discuss the Project Phase.