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How to make site design profitable (part3)

November 06, 2014

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Previous articles dealt with the issues of routine and their solutions for the topic “Meetings”. Let us now consider solutions to the following problem. 

Today’s topic is “Problem formulation” 

I would agree with you, but then both of us would be wrong. 

Let me remind you the kernel of the problem. You have a signed contract. You have ideas in your head, but they more look like muddy water after storm. There are many ideas of what you can paint. There are plenty ideas of how to impress a potential visitor of a new resource, for him to come, exclaim “WOW, it’s cool”, and the next moment you see him putting "likes" and sharing it with his  friends. You are already dreaming of how you are awarded with thefwa, awwwards, orcssdesignawards (.com) prizes. Sometimes you even imagine yourself leaving with a contract in your hands and advanced payment on your bank account: music is playing, the sun is shining, everybody is smiling at you. 

Problem analysis

You come to the office (home/work), and you become aware of how much you have to do. You sit down and start thinking: what to start with?, how not to forget something?, “have we discussed this… or forgotten?”, etc. You should tell everything to the designer (manager/clerks). You call them and start talking: “we have a project to make...”. Everybody is listening, then they put in their two cents, sometimes they listen and write down, sometimes they just listen and nod. At times, they pick on something, you get off the point, start jocking. As a result, the following day nobody remembers what is supposed to be done. At best, one or two days later the designer will bring the first ideas and ask, “what is there on the next pages?”.

Then you feel like asking, “We were reading the project statement together, drawing layouts on the board, discussing functionality...». But the fact remains the fact. Firstly, if you are a developer, you carry all responsibility, you know your business best, secondly, we are all humans, and it’s in our nature to forget something (speaking about your staff, they never forget, in which café and when they want to have tea or what film they don’t want to miss because of your new project presentation). Again, you would probably take offence and say that you have some kind of defective staff. If it is the case, you are lucky! :)

Let’s stop going over the project structure, what pages it includes and what should be designed. Certainly, there are points, which should be discusses and re-discussed. For example, the main page or the other service page that should be clear to everybody for sales purpose and all the rest key pages of the service. 

Structure your work from the very beginning

What is necessary for it? Having talked to the customer, you immediately create a Google document. Yes, somebody has to get clear with it. Do it right away, because those 30 minutes that you spend on it will pay off with the very first client. Register a Google account, create a document, name it, select nine-point size, single-space indents on the perimeter, and А4 formats – you can do it all easily and quickly. Do not forget to number pages,it will save your time when you want to refer to the document: 0020 “here is the link… you wrote in the comment on page 3...”. Learn to use shortlinks and give the client a short URL ( ( ! ) Send the link to your client and ask his Gmail account, and if the client is nagging, open the access to the document at the link. Do not forget to use comments.

“If a person cannot write what he needs, he does not know what he needs” -  I always frankly tell it to my clients and it works, it piques them and they stick to their principles (inform me if somebody else said this phrase before).

Next step: you need to overcome yourself and learn to write down EVERYTHING you want to do for the client in this document. And make your client write EVERYTHING he wants in it. Let’s remember the article from part 2 and what we have to do to save our and our client’s time. This file does not set any limits to a client, it does not push him to tell you something right now or to give you an answer. The client may get the link in the afternoon, read it in the evening and reply in the morning. Useful features, great functionality, support on all devices, group work and auto-update – you can google all these advantages of Google documents. There is no need to forward or compose letters or follow the version…or do whatever – send a link, and the client will be happy. Let’s remember another episode from part 2: the customer immediately sees that you use cutting-edge tools. It doesn't matter to him, what version of Photoshop or what RAM you have – he becomes aware of your skill through the tools you use for interaction with him.

What are the advantages of a “common document”

Freedom! You can grant access to your client, his assistants, or your employees even before a project starts. Compose it properly from the very beginning. Do not make it a dump. Take care of the formatting. The customer does not understand text-formatting rules. Format after him, he will notice and appreciate it. If your documents are in order it means that your work is fine-tuned. Do not give even the slightest chance to doubt it. 

Then you know the ropes… How do we keep our documents? It depends :)). But there is something in common: 

Information block – we include links to all resources, photos and documents provided by our client. We can create a folder with the project name on the Google drive and upload all materials there, granting different level of access. We can go as far as to upload links to contracts and accounts there (only stakeholders will have access to them). You should assign colors to different participants; 

Project structure block. Structured schedule of the project, of all pages and subpages; 

Block to be discussed. An important block. Taking extracts out of it, you can prepare the project statement, project documentation, annex to the contract (preparing these documents in Google docs also saves time; the accountant or the lawyer will quickly give you their comments); 

Question block. Separate the block of miscellaneous questions from the essential discussion above. 

Cost block. Everyone keeps this block individually. 

Similar freedom ensured by other serviceswe 
we will discuss later,
for example, (m) maquetter, Mock Flow


At the output, you have a signed contract and an advanced payment on your account. You have structured and up-to-date information from your client that you need to update every time he writes you something new. This advantage is available to all your employees. You have the contract and other Google documents in the same place. You go to see your friends, sleep with your lover, and enjoy your rest on a holiday. Suddenly, your client calls you and tells you that he accepts the first stage of your work and, if you give him an invoice in five minutes, he will sign it and the accounting department will pay it. Otherwise, you will have to wait for him for 21 days until he returns from warm countries to the winter cold. What you have to do is to switch on your computer, take your tablet, or even use your phone to copy a document and send a short message with the link. And you can go on enjoying yourself. 

A common Google document is a document you can open in the office and then just share the link. You can have tea while everybody is reading. You have already worked on putting everything together, structuring everything and handing it on a Google plate. After everybody has read it, you will answer all questions. Get everything clear on a board. And what will you do next? Record everything in the same document. Write down all ideas and questions to the client. Add some images and screenshots, if necessary (you can take a photo ofthe board). And you will tell the client, “Look at questions on page 3 of the Google doc.” THAT IS IT ( ! )

In the next section, we will talk about prototypes, why we might need them and how they will save time and help us earn more.

p.s. (_!_) Reminder tothe readers: we do not discuss question like “how, what and why to design”, I only describe organizational issues here. If you have not received the expected answer yet, wait till the next articles. If you know how to do it and use it, it is great, I am happy for you, let others listen. Those who have not tried the above – do. Sit down and try it right now. And the experienced ones will help you in the comments :) 

© Igor Abyzov
Project manager

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