You have hired your web professional, and now it’s time to dig in and get to work!
If you’re working with a freelancer (independent contractor) you probably know your contact person. It’s the person who is doing the work. If you’re working with an agency, you should ask to be assigned to a consistent contact person who will be your contact for the duration of the project, and beyond. Working with the same contact person should help keep your project on track with as few bumps as possible.
At one of your first meetings, you should review all project goals and expectations. You should ask for a project plan that includes milestones (steps in the web site design process), completion dates (when each milestone will be completed and responsible person (who is responsible for each action item).
During your meeting, you will talk about project scope. This is important because keeping a project within scope will help to deliver your project on time and on budget. Just like when you are building a house, when you add or change elements of the project, you will (most likely) see costs increase. So, be sure to talk about all project specifics and expectations at one of your first meetings. Hopefully, this will eliminate any surprises and any project scope creep.
One of your first assignments (as the client) will be to identify any content that needs to be included on the new site. If you have a large site, this can be a painful process. Just take one step at a time. Go page by page to identify any text and images that you want to keep. If you’re in doubt about whether to keep content, take a look at your analytics. If that particular web page gets a lot of views, then keep the content. And, if the page gets very few views, then maybe the content doesn’t need to be on the new site.
To stay organized, you may want to create a separate file (using Microsoft Word or another word processing program) for each page. That way, you can share this information with other staff who may need to review the text or help with copy editing.
Take a look at your personal image library to identify any images that you may want to use. Too much text on a web page makes the page heavy (and tough to read). Imagery helps by breaking up the text and engaging your audience.
If you need more images, you can purchase stock images (there are tons of stock photo sites) or, if your budget allows, you can hire a photographer. Original photography is awesome because the photos are yours. When you hire a photographer, be sure to talk about copyright and ownership of the photos. Be clear about your expectations.
Maintaining good communication throughout a big project like this is essential. Take the time to review the project plan regularly and check in with your contact to be sure no one on the project team has any questions.
by Paula Mottshaw