Offboard Web Design Project in 5 Steps: How to Guide

Offboard Web Design Project in 5 Steps: How to Guide

Offboard Web Design Project – 5 Steps

As you draw closer to the finish line with a website, does your client see it just as clearly as you do? Or are they still wavering on design and copy choices even while you’re in the final stages of QA, or talking about additional features they’ll want to add to the site “some day”? It’s time to offboard web design project.

Unless you are getting paid — and paid well — for every single hour you put into a website, you have to be willing to enforce a final stopping point. If you don’t, your client will undoubtedly play the “What about this? Or this?” game for as long as you allow them to.

And you can’t afford to do that. You have other clients whose websites deserve your attention.

Just as you have created an onboarding process to smoothly kick off a new website project, you must do the same with an offboarding process.

Step 1: Collect Your Final Payment

Once the client has given you the approval on the finished website, you push it live. After some light testing to confirm that all is well on the live domain, it’s time to initiate the offboarding process.

You’ll do this by sending along the last invoice. Better yet, your invoicing software should automatically be configured to do this upon reaching the final project milestone.

One my favorite tools to do this with is AND CO.

AND CO

That’s because you can do everything in here:

  • Create a proposal;
  • Send the contract;
  • Track your time;
  • Send invoices.

Because each of these elements exist within the same place, setting up and scheduling invoices based on your project’s milestones (including the launch date) is really easy to do.

Don’t move on to the next steps until you collect the payment due though. Letting a client go any more than seven days after the project’s end without final payment simply invites them to ask you to do more work.

Step 2: Send the Wrap-up Email

Upon confirming receipt of payment, send your client a wrap-up email.

This doesn’t have to be lengthy. The goal is to get them to schedule the closing call as soon as possible. Something like this should work:

Greetings, [client name]!
I wanted to thank you for the opportunity to build this website for [company name]. I hope you’re just as pleased with it as I am!
I know you’re excited to put this website to work for you now that you have it, but I have just a few things I want to show you as we wrap up.
When you have a moment, please go to my Calendly and schedule a 15-minute Wrap-Up Session for some time this week. 
During this call, I’ll give you a behind-the-scenes tour of your website and show you how to edit your content. Afterwards, I will send along the login credentials you need to manage your website along with all of your design assets.
Talk soon.

As I mentioned in the message above, Calendly is the tool I use to simplify my scheduling with clients.

Calendly

All you have to do is create an event (like “Client Offboarding” or “Client Onboarding”), set up your availability, and then send the link to your clients to pick a time when you’re free. It makes life so much easier.

Step 3: Do the Wrap-Up Video Call

This final call with your client needs to be done over video or, at the very least, a screen-share. For this, I’d suggest using Zoom.

Zoom

The above example is how I used to do my offboarding calls with WordPress clients.

I’d log into their website and then give them an orientation of all of the key areas they needed to know. I’d show them how to create a post, how to create a page, and explain the difference between the two. I’d also show them important areas like the Media folder, the area to manage Users, and maybe a few other things.

This “training” call is yours to do with as you like. Just make sure the client walks away feeling confident in taking the reins over from you.

Step 4: Deliver the Remaining Pieces

The website is done, you’ve collected the payment, and you’ve had the final call with your client. Now, it’s time to deliver the remaining pieces you owe them.

Logins – If you created any accounts from-scratch (e.g. WordPress, web hosting, social media, etc.), send along the login credentials.

Style guide – Did you create a style guide for the client? Package it up in a professional-looking PDF and send it over in case they decide to work with another designer in the future.

Design assets – Again, on the off chance they work with someone else, you’ll want to send along the design assets you created in their native formats.

Licenses – You may have licensed certain assets during this project, like stock photos or design templates. If that’s the case, you’ll need to bill them for the licenses (if you haven’t already) and transfer ownership to them now.

While you could send these along before the wrap-up call, you run the risk of the clients taking the materials and running away… Only to show up months later wanting to know what all this stuff is, what they’re supposed to do with it, and wondering if you’ll have time to walk them through the website now.

Or they don’t open any of it and then message you months down the line, urgently demanding access to their site, files, etc. To avoid this from happening, clearly label everything and send it along in a shared Dropbox folder.

Dropbox

Even if they lose the link to the Dropbox folder at any point, you don’t have to repackage up all their stuff again. You can simply grab the link from your end and resend.

Step 5: Follow Up in 60 Days

Set a reminder in your project management template to follow up with website clients 60 days after the wrap-up. This will give them enough time to sit with the website and either:

  • Become really comfortable using it;
  • Realize it’s too much work.

Either way, it’s a good idea to check in.

If they’re taking good care of the website and using it to promote their business, that’s great. This email will simply serve as a reminder that you remain their trusted ally and you’re here if they ever need anything.

And if they’re not taking care of it, this is an excellent opportunity to offer your assistance in providing (paid) support and maintenance.

Bringing Projects to a Close with an Offboarding Process

If you’ve done a good job of setting expectations with your client from the start, bringing a project to a close should be no problem.

Then again, you know how clients can get. They’re so excited to actually have a website now that they can’t stop imagining the possibilities. So long as you’ve delivered what they paid for, though, you are under no obligation to keep this project open to entertain those ideas unless they start a new contract with you.

Use this offboarding checklist to ensure you give each of your web design projects as strong and final a close as possible.

references: webdesignerdepot, and co, calendly, dropbox

What is WordPress?

What is WordPress?

WordPress is the world’s most popular tool for creating and managing websites — any kind of website, from a simple blog to a full-featured business website.

You say you’ve never built a website? No problem! With WordPress you don’t need any coding or design skills to create a professional looking site. There are thousands of free site designs to choose from (known as “themes” in the WordPress world). With WordPress it’s easy to build your website without writing a single line of code or knowing anything about HTML.

Unlike traditional desktop software, WordPress runs online (in the cloud, so to speak). There’s nothing to install on your computer and you don’t need any special tools. You can update your website from anywhere that you have an Internet connection – even your smartphone.

Best of all, WordPress is free in every sense of the word. It’s both free to use and free to modify. So, if you are the sort of person who likes to tinker with code, you can dig in and make WordPress do just about anything you want it to.

Unlike other free website building tools, WordPress is completely portable. That means you can host your website anywhere and move it at any time (something that can’t be said for services like Wix or Weebly).

Speaking of web hosting, there are a couple of different ways to host your WordPress website:

WordPress.com is the hosted version, meaning your website runs on the official WordPress servers. You can go there right now and create your own website for free in just a few minutes. This is the best place to start if you just want to see what WordPress is all about.

You should be aware of a few limitations to WordPress.com. You’re limited to only the themes that are pre-installed and you can’t use plugins (those are mini-programs that add features to your website). There’s also a small fee if you want to use your own domain name.

Don’t worry though, if you decide you like WordPress and want to take full advantage of everything it has to offer, you can easily move your site later.

WordPress.org is the self-hosted version. This is what you’ll use if you want to run WordPress on your own web hosting account. When you use this version you have complete control over the design and functionality of your website.

There’s a reason why 30% of all websites are built with WordPress. Take a look at the WordPress showcase and you’ll see everyone from The New Yorker to the The Rolling Stones using WordPress to run their website. While you’re at the showcase you may even find some inspiration for your own website.

So now that you know what WordPress is, it’s finally time to start building your website.

Combine the Power of Data and Design to Maximize Results For Your Website

Combine the Power of Data and Design to Maximize Results For Your Website

In today’s digital era, having an impactful and compelling website is a critical component for any business or organization. A useful site that connects with your audience instills trust, screams authority, and drives action, can mean the difference between remaining relevant and competitive or falling silently to the wayside.

Despite the critical importance of websites in today’s competitive landscape, many web designers find their creations falling short on the performance matrix, under-delivering on KPIs and leaving those in charge scratching their heads for an answer.

Simply put, sometimes innovative layouts and stunning visuals aren’t enough. Lack of data in the design process can create a disconnect between what “works” and what looks or feels appealing.

The marriage of data and design makes for a compelling approach to data-driven design processes and can act as a guiding force for strategizing and implementing site architecture and design elements that not only look great but meet or exceed performance expectations.

Market Research – Where it all Begins

In life, as in business (and web design), having a clear direction and goal in mind from the outset will make for a predictable journey to that end.

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable

~ Seneca

Market research is all about understanding your audience, analyzing the competition and competitive landscape, and looking introspectively inward to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

MARKET DEMANDS

Your “market” represents the gameboard, along with all of its components and pieces upon which your design strategy executes. As it relates to market demands, what elements are vital, required or expected of your design and website?

Examples:

  • Visible accreditations or licensure;
  • Prominent reviews and ratings;
  • Specific contact or support channels;
  • Information such as guides or training materials;
  • Product/service visuals or demonstrations;
  • Transparent pricing.

Market demands vary and will be particular to your specific industry, geographic location, and other factors.

COMPETITION / COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE

You know what they say: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. While you don’t need to become best friends with the competition, monitoring their activities, strategies, updates, offerings and other prerogatives can provide you with insightful and useful information.

Competitive data can be used to leverage the time, resources and hard work of other brands to identify those activities or strategies that either perform well or fail in the market.

By doing so, you can learn from costly mistakes, while benefiting from winning concepts already battle-tested in the market and proven to either work.

Further, understanding the competitive landscape in its totality will help you understand what you’re up against, and can help you formulate ways to uniquely position your design in the market such that it stands out among the sea of competitors vying for the same business.

TARGET AUDIENCE / CUSTOMER AVATAR

Without a deep understanding of your target audience, any web designer is prone to missing the mark badly, failing to connect with, engage, inspire action, and meet the needs of their visitors.

Considerations with regards to your audience should include both demographic and user behavior data.

Demographic Data to Consider:

  • Gender
  • Age brackets
  • Income
  • Geographic locations
  • Family size
  • And other relevant data
  • Behavioral Data to Consider:
  • Needs and wants
  • Pain points or complaints
  • Issues/problems
  • Desired solutions
  • Likes and preferences
  • Purchase habits
  • And more…

The specific types of behavioral and demographic data that will be most useful and relevant to your design will be mostly dependent on your brand, vertical/niche, offerings, and other particulars.

PRODUCT / SOLUTIONS AUDIT

Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees as it were. Taking a step back and assessing your product/solutions and other offers can provide perspective on necessary design elements, positioning, and framing that can help turn a non-performing offer into a critical source of revenue.

Utilizing information uncovered in the previous steps, cross-reference your offers and take a hard look at whether or not your products or services meet market and user demands, needs and want.

In what way do your offers stand out (or in what ways can you make them stand out) from those offered by the competition. Utilize this data to formulation unique positioning and strategic approaches to incorporate your offers’ USP or value proposition.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is a vital component of the design process, and will largely dictate how information is architected, organized, presented and delivered on the site.

Approach keyword research from a bottom-up or top-down funnel approach.

Necessary components of keyword research include:

  • Keyword competition;
  • Keyword intent (buyer vs. research vs. informational, etc.);
  • Stage of funnel each keyword targets;
  • Organization of content for search engines and user experience;
  • Link modeling for internal link and ranking strategies.

Types of Content May Include:

  • Sales/landing pages;
  • Service/product pages;
  • Resources, guides, tutorials;
  • Informational and supportive blog posts or articles;
  • Information Architecture.

Information architecture is essential for user experience, search engine optimization, and conversion rate optimization. Utilizing data from the previous market and keyword research phases you can begin to optimally architect information in a way that is conducive to better performance.

ELEMENTS TO INCORPORATE INTO YOUR DESIGN ARCHITECTURE

Site Structure: Determined by both market and keyword research, your site’s structure can be first mapped out by using an organizational chart for ease of visualization.

URL Mapping: This step, while mostly administrative and somewhat tedious, involves the creation of each URL structure optimized for both readability by users and optimized for search engines to understand. Once created, assign designated keywords to their respective URLs.

Page Flows: An understanding of user behavior and the ideal buyer journey should also shape how information is structured and organized, helping both users and search engines to “flow” seamlessly through information in a way that answers their questions and solves their problems with the least amount of “friction.”

Value Propositions: An understanding of the problems and pain points facing your target audience will enable you to architect, draft and present unique value propositions tailored to each individualized problem or issue.

Topic Clustering: Once you’ve mapped out your keywords, pages, and content, group or “cluster” those topics that are semantically relevant to each other. Clustering your content can help with search engine categorization and relevancy metrics.

Interlinking: Once mapped out with pages and content clustered, seek out opportunities to link between related pages.

Closing Thoughts

Tailoring design to user needs and expectations is never far from any designer’s thought process, yet knowing exactly which strategies or tactics have the best chance of performing well is often unclear. By utilizing a data-driven decision-making process, web designers can leverage information in a way that helps them formulate a plan tailor-made to perform and exceed expectations. Designs using data versus personal opinion, experience improved levels of engagement, higher conversions, enhanced user experience and overall performance.

As a professional web designer, you have a responsibility to both the users, and to the organization for which you are working, to use and implement all available tools to deliver the best end product possible. Data is one of those tools and one in which there is an excellent potential for success when used correctly.

references: canva, webdesignerdepot, klipfolio

What is HTTPS and When To Use it?

What is HTTPS and When To Use it?

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is an extension of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). It is used for secure communication over a computer network, and is widely used on the Internet. In HTTPS, the communication protocol is encrypted using Transport Layer Security (TLS), or, formerly, its predecessor, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). The protocol is therefore also often referred to as HTTP over TLS, or HTTP over SSL.

The principal motivation for HTTPS is authentication of the accessed website and protection of the privacy and integrity of the exchanged data while in transit. It protects against man-in-the-middle attacks. The bidirectional encryption of communications between a client and server protects against eavesdropping and in practice, this provides a reasonable assurance that one is communicating without interference by attackers with the website that one intended to communicate with, as opposed to an impostor.

Historically, HTTPS connections were primarily used for payment transactions on the World Wide Web, e-mail and for sensitive transactions in corporate information systems. Since 2018, HTTPS is used more often by web users than the original non-secure HTTP, primarily to protect page authenticity on all types of websites; secure accounts; and keep user communications, identity, and web browsing private.