Howdy, it’s been a while.
So you want to make a website? let’s …
All of us techies have been there: “yeah, OK, that looks pretty simple. I’ll code it up in a week, don’t worry about it”. You’re probably right. It probably is pretty easy to do, like I always say, anything is doable, when it comes to the web. With the likes of Facebook and Google pushing the triple W forward, making a website is pretty simple.
Or is it? let’s take a step back for a sec. If completing a project is so darn easy, then why do we often fail? Why is it that more than 60 percent of all attempts to build a website fail, and almost all of them are never delivered on time. Why is it that your client, more often than not, ends up unhappy with the final result?
I’ve been hovering the web for quite some time now. I started my web career way back when I was a student as a freelancer. Then I moved on to work for the Government of Canada, and now I’m with hiretheworld.com. I’ve learned a thing or two over these years that have helped me turn my latest project, HiretheWorld, into my most successful one to date. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Understand your abilities
Every project is unique in it’s own ways. The web and the technologies that make up the “Internet” are so vast, that you, me or anyone involved with it can only comprehend and digest a small portion of it. So it’s important to understand what you’re good at and what you’re not. Don’t take on projects that are outside your “comfort zone”. I’m not saying you should be content with what you learned a bigilion years ago, but don’t expect to deliver your finest product, if you’ve just started learning it. Do go out and learn new things ( as a matter of fact if you don’t, then you will soon be without a job !! ), but do it on your own. When you’re picking a freelance project, for example, pick one that you understand, and feel comfortable with its requirements and the technologies involved.
Understand the Project
Read thoroughly and understand the project requirements. You should know enough about the project, as if it’s your own. If you were to go out and pitch it to someone, could you do it in 6 slides and less than 15 minutes? The answer should always be yes!
Scope, Scope, Scope
Oh boy, here we go again. The biggest problem with projects, especially software, is scope creep. We all know what that means right? I want a blog, turns into a blog and a gallery, to “hey, where do I upload videos”, to “where is the page to sell stuff”, and on and on and on. Back to the previous point, you should fully understand the project so you can scope it out and preferably write out a scope document.
Set Milestone, Expectations
Once you’ve got your scope document, make sure your client understands this document. It’s super important for both parties to know what to expect. If you’re both clear on what’s the scope, the final outcome, and you produce fine milestones, with deadlines, then you’re almost there. You should break the project down into deliverables, and go over them with your client. Set the expectations early and often!
Did you forget Testing?
Aha! you have your milestones, and everything was already routine and expected, then why are you always late? because you forgot testing, didn’t you. It’s one of the biggest parts of any project, and the part that gets ignored more often than not. What I usually do, is add an extra 25% in man hours to each milestone, for testing, and then allocate a testing time right at the end of the project. That usually works pretty well for me.
Make sure you’re in constant communication with your client. You’ve done all this work, and you’ve set all the expectations, but just to add that little extra insurance, keep demoing your product to your client, iterate the expectations, and get them involved in the project early and often! They usually like getting updates anyway, so why wouldn’t you right? and, lets face it, if you guys didn’t quite understand each other in the early stages, well, it’s a hell of a lot easier to get everything sorted out, when there’s a working module for you both to look at.
Happy You, Happy Client, Better World
This is really important. You must be happy doing what you do. You’re going to be doing a project, potentially for months, so if you’re not happy, for whatever reason, like your client is a prick who refuses to cooperate, communicate or pay, then get out fast. If you’re not happy, man you will fail.
All this being said, nothing is written in stone. Again, each project is unique in its own ways, so it’s pretty important to devise a plan that fits the unique circumstances of your project. You know, like what if your client is not at your disposal all the time? well then you need to spend a bit more time perhaps, setting those expectations up front and all.
Anyway, hope this helps whoever reads it.