Q. How often do you exceed the number of hours you quoted on a project?
Unsurprisingly, this happens quite often. While web developers and agencies put a great deal of effort into building thorough road maps for project completion, getting everything done on-schedule and in-budget is something of a rarity in this industry.
Whether the client changes their mind mid-project or designing a particular feature just seems to drag on, there are plenty of reasons why you might end up working more than you have to. But there is a way to address this problem – highly developed processes.
Building websites, developing web applications, and creating beautiful experiences are all engineering tasks that rely on process development. Implementing a carefully designed system for achieving each individual step along the way is imperative.
What’s Wrong with the Processes I Already Use?
Focusing on process development doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with your current processes. It means that where there is room for improvement, you have a clear motivation for dedicating time and resources to achieving those improvements.
When you regularly work longer hours than you quote on web projects, it’s a sign that you can improve one or more processes in your workflow.
Times change, tools change, and people change – do your processes accommodate these changes in a meaningful way? The highest-performing entrepreneurs develop processes for improving other processes – like Kaizen, which offers a stable framework for continuously improving just about anything.
If you don’t have a system for feedback and improvement, you may be working harder than you have to, and producing less than you could be.
Lead by Example – The UnlimitedWP Process Explained
At UnlimitedWP, we didn’t always have a solid process development scheme in place. However, years of experience working with clients and web agencies gave us the motivation we needed to implement a detailed, high-impact system for improving processes.
To illustrate by example, here is a rundown of the 5-step process we use to create beautiful web experiences:
1. Project Discovery
When a client or web agency contacts us, we try to learn everything we can about the project before submitting a proposal. This is an incredibly important process that takes the guesswork out of understanding a particular project.
The project discovery process is a carefully planned roundtable discussion involving all principal stakeholders in the project. It can take anywhere from one to two weeks, but the result is having everyone on the same page, with each step documented along the way.
For instance, for an e-commerce WordPress website, we might begin by documenting all of the features and plug-ins the website may need to address its target audience. These will be categorized into standard plug-ins and ones that need to be custom-coded. This way, we can develop a rough idea of how much time it will take to implement each plug-in.
In the end, we use an amazing app, Proposify, to complete the proposal process. A phone call follows, and it is during this call that we’ll go over the proposal document with the client and address their concerns. We can add or subtract features at this point, arriving at an accurate estimate of how many hours it will take to complete the project.
2. Design Finalization
Once the proposal is clear, we are ready to begin the design process. Unlike many other web developers, we call the client and verify website designs before moving on to coding and development. We’ve found that if the end-user doesn’t approve the design at this stage, there is a good chance that they will ask for design changes after coding is complete – leading to unnecessary costs.
Once the design is ready, our team moves on to coding. This is where the most time-consuming snags can occur in any web development project. As such, UnlimitedWP has a clear process in place for addressing unforeseen coding issues.
First, we have a policy of honesty concerning issues that occur – if it’s our mistake, we’ll own it and offer solutions. Usually, more than one solution exists and our clients appreciate being given a list of each, alongside its respective benefits and drawbacks. If a particular solution costs extra, now is the time to be clear about that – not at the end of the project.
Testing is the most important step in any web development project. It is also the one that usually benefits from the least process development in the web agency space. Most developers only look for functionality and will deliver a website if it offers the bare minimum discussed at the beginning of the project.
But a process as important as testing needs to benefit from continuous process development. We carefully document each testing step to find and resolve bugs throughout the entire finished product. Since our outlook on web development is firmly experience-oriented, we need to offer more than pure functionality.
We look at every element of the user experience, from spacing and image placement to navigation and device compatibility. Overlooking even the most basic of issues – like a simple spelling error – can end up costing 50 percent of your online sales or conversions.
5. Delivery and Maintenance
At UnlimitedWP, we deliver our projects on-time while minimizing changes and hassles for each party. Clients enjoy a 30-day grace period for asking for changes included in the original scope of the project proposal. Beyond that, we offer subscription-based site maintenance services that help drive the growth of the business.
Having clear processes set in place before you start a web development project is a win-win situation for any business. While running a web agency can make it tough to implement clear-cut processes, it helps you avoid dividing resources and losing out on efficiency. Process development, combined with a keen eye for efficient workflow organization can help you simplify your workload.