You’re hiring a web designer or providing web design services, what’s included in a normal project? In other words, what are the deliverables?
Let’s start by defining what a deliverable is. Wikipedia defines a deliverable as:
…a tangible or intangible good or service produce as a result of a project that is intended to be delivered to a customer.
Deliverable might sound like you’re delivering something tangible. In actuality, deliverables can also be tasks with no assets at the end. A sitemap is a digital asset and tangible. Site-care is just a repeating task, but would also be classified as a deliverable.
When it comes to providing professional website design services, projects (at a minimum) should include the following deliverables:
- Visual and experience design
- Functionality / build
- Content integration
- Quality assurance
We typically recommend the two additional deliverables:
- Site care
Although not all projects call for them. Let’s go into each deliverable in more detail.
All projects should include some element of discovery. You can’t build a website if you don’t understand the problems you’re hired to solve.
The simplest form of discovery could be reading a project brief or having a discovery call with the client. Complex projects might include multiple stakeholder interviews, user research, competitive analysis, etc…
When I sat down to write this article I planned on listing strategy as a recommended– but optional– deliverable. I changed my mind.
All web design project should include strategy. You need to identify how you’re going to accomplish the defined objectives. Without strategy you’re not designing, you’re simply creating art.
Similar to discovery this can be a small portion of the project or one of the largest.
If nothing else, create a strategy brief that outlines the objectives with a brief description on how the objectives will be addressed.
More robust strategy deliverables can include a host of assets including:
- Key performance indicators
- Feature specifications / story cards
- User personas
- User journey maps
- Empathy maps
- Competitive audit
- Positioning maps
- Calls to action
- User flows
- Wireframes / block frames
- Mood boards
Visual & Experience Design
These deliverables bridge the gap between strategy and execution. Strategy describes direction and approach, visual design dictates the execution.
Typically visual design concepts are represented as mock-ups and experience via interactive prototypes. The mock-ups convey how the site will look at various states where prototypes convey the experience of various interactions.
These deliverables are used to foster buy-in from stakeholders and to communicate to the development team what should be built (in conjunction with feature specifications.)
Functionality / Build
At a minimum the visual and experience design need to be converted into production ready templates. For simple projects these could be static HTML documents, hand coded or generated using a tool like Sketch.
Typically there will be additional functionality requirements such as a content management system, eCommerce, or custom features. Deliverables could include an existing third-party solution like WordPress or custom coding a feature from scratch.
With the functionality complete you have a “new house,” but no furniture or people inside. Websites need content.
If the project includes a content management system, this step might be handled by the client to save on budget. It could also be handled through a data import.
Sometimes it’s just a master of copying and pasting the content delivered into the website manually.
Building a website is similar to building custom software. Users will be accessing the website from a wide range of devices, browsers, screen sizes, and different situations. Time must be spent ensuring the site performs in the most common and important situations.
If you’re familiar with our Six Layers of Design methodology, this is the reliability layer.
Quality assurance is not limited to browser compatibility and mobile experience. You should also test:
- Assistive technologies
- Slow internet connections
- Out of date software
- Large traffic volumes
- Site speed / performance
- Functional acceptance
- Third party technology integrations (what happens if the integration fails?)
It’s important to note it’s unrealistic to build a site that’s reliable in all situations. Even the largest budgets fail to justify testing and accommodating extreme edge cases.
Define your success criteria based on impact. It’s rarely worth supporting browsers and devices that represent a small segment of your target audience.
After the first round of quality assurance testing the site is reviewed and revised in collaboration with project stakeholders.
With quality assurance complete the project is ready to deploy. Simply put, this is where the files, data, and various configurations are transferred from the development environment to the live environment where users will access it.
This deliverables include a final round of testing to ensure performance is consistent on the live environment and the migration was completed successfully.
Training is an optional deliverable because not all projects include a method of managing the site. The most common examples include static sites or dynamic sites populated entirely be an external data source.
If training is include it can be as simple as a training session. If budget or complexity allows training deliverables could include take-away assets like videos and documentation.
Similar to training, not all website need on-going maintenance. Static sites on managed hosting for example. There is no underlying software powering the site itself and the hosting environment is managed by the hosting provider. In other cases a business might choose to care for the site in-house.
Site care is an on-going deliverable, executed weekly or monthly.
Depending on the company and what package you select, site care can include:
- Managing back-ups and restores
- Uptime monitor
- Software updates (content management system)
- Software updates (hosting environment)
- Malware / security scans
- Content edits
- Site optimizations (speed, SEO, etc…)
- Website hosting
Summary: Modern Website Deliverables
These are the most common and essential website deliverables. Depending on the project there could be significantly more deliverables including usability testing, on-going conversion rate optimization, search engine optimization, etc… it will largely depend on the project.
If you have a website project you’re researching, contact us to discuss what deliverables are right for your needs.