When starting a new project, it’s always tempting to just jump in and get started, but proper planning can save you time and potential headaches with the final product.
This should be the top priority when working on any site. Find out what your client is looking for with questions and industry research. Chances are, the client won’t know exactly what they’re looking for but they can give you insight into their customer base and an overview of how they interact with their customers. Researching competitor’s sites can tell you almost as much as client in terms of what they need and what to leave out.
Analyse your research to determine the best platform for the final website; this is where your expertise and knowledge of modern technologies comes into play. Take the client’s needs into account and don’t oversell, you may be a Magento expert but an ecommerce store with 20 products won’t need a platform as robust as Magento so WooCommerce or Shopify might be a better solution.
Another thing to take into consideration is how feature rich the final site will be. What features will you need to create a robust site and what can you leave out. You might want to add a blog, but if the client has no intention of updating it regularly, it’s best to leave it out. Remember that this is unfamiliar territory for most people and don’t take advantage of ignorance.
The look and style of a site can change over the course of the project but having a strong initial design will prevent problems down the road. Try to make mockups of each page style so that the client will know exactly what to expect: explain features like dropdown menus, animations, hover states and any sticky elements. Also create responsive versions so that they know that the mobile version will vary slightly from the desktop version.
Make sure the client is happy with the design and remember that you are designing for their client base, not your portfolio. If they seem hesitant, find out what they don’t like and adjust or explain your reasoning. It’s also important to let them know that any changes after the final approval may increase cost.
Create a comprehensive development plan and don’t be afraid to defend your decisions. Some minor headbutting can make a better final product. If you don’t agree with a feature they want, do you research and show concrete numbers to prove that it’s a bad idea. Remember, you’re the expert!