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Working With Your Web Developer Stephan Spencer Managing Director, Netconcepts

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1 Working With Your Web Developer Stephan Spencer Managing Director, Netconcepts

2 Guiding Principles This is the customer’s site, not yours! A web site is something people do, not something they view. –Events, not pages. Participants, not users. Make it easy for the customer to do business with you –Instant gratification –Web-enable your business processes

3 Where Did We Go Wrong? 42% of all high-traffic Web sites either don’t respond to email, don’t have a mechanism to respond, or take longer than five days to respond. - Jupiter Communications “90% of web sites have very poor usability. Since most other sites are bad, you can attract loads of customers if your site is easy to use and satisfies real user needs.” - Jakob Nielsen, usability expert

4 Seven False Economies of Web Design Web design is an extension of our current marketing collateral - we can reuse the text and graphics from our print pieces. If more people work on it, we’ll get it done faster. The Web is a place where you just try things and see what works - I have a friend who designs web sites in his spare time. Documentation is a waste of time and effort.

5 Seven False Economies of Web Design (cont.) We can design the site ourselves and save money. We just want a group that will make the web pages we sketch out. We’ll send out an RFP and get lots of good ideas back for free. Web sites don’t need much maintenance. We can do it ourselves. It’ll be fun!

6 Ingredients for Web Redesign Success 1.A reason for being 2.Brilliant ideas 3.A process 4.Resources 5.The team 6.A qualified web vendor 7.The website brief 8.The specification 9.The “User Interface” 10.Content 11.Communication 12.Legal bits

7 Ingredient #1: A Good Reason for Being Online Is it going to improve your life or your customer’s? –Saving the customer time or money? –Making it easier for the customer to do business with you? –Cutting transaction costs? –Bringing in more prospects? Some companies just shouldn’t bother “Because the competition is online” is not a good reason

8 Ingredient #2: Brilliant Ideas It’s your web vendor’s responsibility to come to you with brilliant ideas throughout the relationship – at no extra charge –From reading –From attending conferences –From other clients –In the shower

9 Ingredient #3: A Process Got a (site) map but no compass? Two models: – The Internet Marketing Plan (by Kim Bayne) Executive Summary, Statistics, Strategies, Budget, Task Force, Program Implementation, Summary – Secrets of Successful Web Sites (by David Siegel) Starts with a Project Profiler The Briefs and the Specs

10 Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse Objectives before strategies Strategies before tactics Web site brief before specifications Not “technology for the sake of technology” “Site map” should come much later in the process

11 Evolution of Web Site Strategy This type of plan: Your corporate brochure A “site map” Strategic brief, functional specs, project profiler, etc. Results in a: First generation web site Second generation web site Third or fourth generation web site

12 Think “Digital Strategy” Concept comes from Unleashing the Killer App by Larry Downes Traditional strategic planning is dead! The plan is obsolete by the time it’s finished. Instead, conduct “experiments.” Test, evaluate, and repeat. Be ready to turn on a dime.

13 Ingredient #4: Resources Balancing time, money, and quality (the budget, the team, the vendors), a.k.a. the “triple constraints” Which of the three constraints is the “driver”? How much does everything cost? –ISPs, in-house servers, Web design services, software, new hires, etc. etc. –How long is a piece of string?

14 Ingredient #5: The Team Cross-functional? Are the members vested in the project’s success?

15 Ingredient #5: The Team Client-side –Team Leader –Decisionmakers –Contentmaster –Editor –Webmaster –Contributors Contractor-side –Producer (Project Manager) –Account Manager –Design staff –Production staff (Programmers and HTML) –System administrator

16 Ingredient #5: The Team Cross-functional? Are the members vested in the project’s success?

17 Ingredient #6: A Qualified Web Vendor A “Bill of Rights” – both for the client and the vendor Give them a completed “project profiler” and your budget Review their portfolio sites – usability, search engine visibility, design, functionality, etc. Should have recent experience doing similar stuff Check references Use a “selection matrix” to help choose Fixed bid vs. time-and-materials? Don’t buy on price! Set deadlines and hold them accountable

18 Clients’ Bill of Rights 1.Good estimates 2.Honest, constant communication 3.A written contract 4.Immediate notification of delays, problems, and extra expenses 5.Pay only for work authorized 6.Audit hours if paying by the hour 7.See the project as it develops 8.Reasonable turnaround and response 9.Reasonable security and privacy precautions 10.Deliverables that work as described in the contract 11.Own all appropriate rights to the site

19 Contractors’ Bill of Rights 1.Know what the budget range is up front 2.A completed project profiler 3.A written contract 4.Have their time valued - client delays cost contractors money 5.25-50% of the bid/estimate up front 6.Prompt payment 7.Manage the process without being micromanaged 8.Make up for their mistakes 9.Be paid for consultative work or ideas 10.Be told when they are out of the running for a job 11.Retain all appropriate rights to assets created for the site


21 Project Profiler Goals, requirements, and constraints Audience Content Functionality “The Field Trip”

22 Ingredient #7: The Website Brief Strategy Creative Content Functionality Technical Constraints

23 Website Brief: Strategy Section Describes the strategic direction for the site –Mission of the site –Marketing goals –Competitive analysis –User requirements –Branding strategy –Measurements of success

24 Website Brief: Creative Section Describes visual directions to explore –Objectives of the upcoming creative exploration –Audience –Story the site should tell –Tone –Imagery –Benchmark sites

25 Website Brief: Content Section Lays out who is responsible for what content and when –Name of page that requires content –Content provider –Writer/editor –Date content due –Date content sent –Priority May help to plan out a site map using Post-It Notes

26 Website Brief: Functionality Section Describes what the site should do for visitors, now and in the future Separate functionality from execution Avoid “feature creep” (use multiple “releases”) Keep technical constraints in mind Vendor could use this to ‘hang you’ mid-project if you’ve left key bits out

27 Website Brief: Technical Constraints Design for the lowest common denominator –Monitor size of 800x600 –Connection speed of 56K modem –No Plug-ins installed If site will be database-driven, don’t use “?”, “&”, or “cgi-bin” in the URLs Browser compatibility –Browser-specific Cascading Style Sheets

28 Ingredient #8: The Specification Typically, the spec is part of the proposal that the web vendor produces for you Details the actions of the site but not necessarily how those actions are to be accomplished A continuation of the Website Brief It should avoid technical jargon Keep the spec up-to-date as the project progresses Should you pay for this or not? Careful: all these documents could just be an exercise to increase the vendor’s billable hours

29 The Web Vendor Turns the Spec into Reality For each task, the producer and relevant staff sit down and determine: –Time estimate (get three time estimates and use statistics to improve accuracy of estimate) –Deliverables –Resource requirements –Milestones –Deadline

30 Estimating as a Science (not an Art) The clever web vendor uses statistics to help nail down timeframes even when the project is filled with unknowns: –Three time estimates for each task -- T(optimistic), T(pessimistic), T(most likely) –T(mean) = ( T(o) + T(p) + 4*T(m) ) / 6 –Standard deviation = ( T(p) - T(o) ) / 6 –Add 2 standard deviations to T(mean) to get a 95% accurate time estimate

31 Ingredient #9: The “User Interface” Site design should be intuitive, appealing, fast- downloading, informative, engaging, consistent with brand identity, etc. At the “Comp Meeting”… –Reiteration of goals –Site structure –Several versions of core page & a secondary page –First pass at navigation Choose the winning mock-up using a “Criteria Matrix”

32 Ingredient #10: Content Must be value-added, compelling, interactive, fresh, well- written, concise, readable, tailored to the individual’s needs. And skip the marketingspeak! Content needs to be written as much for search engines as for humans –Incorporate relevant keywords in the right places (page title, headlines, first sentence of first paragraph, hyperlink text, etc.) –Make sure those keywords are popular (use & –Text-rich, constantly updated home page

33 Raise your hand if you’ve got brochureware

34 Ingredient #11: Communication between Client and Web Vendor The one thing worse than bad news is no news Calls and meetings between Producer (contractor) and Internet Team Leader (client) Project meetings Project reports: actuals vs. budget; % completed, etc. Extranet / “Project Site” Ongoing maintenance requests responded to daily with estimate & completion date?

35 Extranet A password-protected web site with: –detailed invoices –archived e-mail communications between client and vendor –scheduled downtimes and upgrades –tasks on the docket to be done –mock-ups and pages pending approval –reports – progress reports, web site brief, change orders, spec, site map, traffic stats, etc. –after-hours contact information

36 Ingredient #12: Legal Loose Ends Web Site Development Contract Terms & Conditions of Use –Disclaimers of liability, ownership of user-contributed content, etc. Copyright and Trademark Notices Proper acceptance of terms Security Policy Privacy Policy International law

37 In Summary A successful website redesign requires… –A reason for being, brilliant ideas, a process, enough resources, an internal team, a qualified web vendor, a solid website brief, a detailed specification, a great user interface, great content, constant communication between client and vendor, and the legal stuff sorted –Phew!

38 Where to get more information Secrets of Successful Web Sites by David Siegel The Internet Marketing Plan by Kim Bayne Unleashing the Killer App by Chunka Mui

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