I often get enquiries along the lines of: "Hi. I dig yer shizz mister wizz. I need a website. How much do you charge?", which is fair enough, but obviously I need more information to answer that question accurately.
Here is a list of questions that I would need answers to in order to give you a decent response. The questions will basically build a brief which I can then write a proposal to. If you have a brief already, double check it based on the information below to ensure everything is covered:
Do you have a budget?
That is right. Straight to the nitty gritty. In order to take an enquiry further I need to know that what you require matches any budget you have in mind for the project. There is no point putting together a proposal if the budget is not there. It would be a waste of time for both parties.
Proposals can often be written to get a balance between your budget and the requirements of the project, with non-essential elements removed - or perhaps shelved - to be a stage 2 consideration once the initial project is completed, signed-off and paid for.
Do you have a set deadline?
Being a freelancer, my time is often booked up months in advance - especially when considering large scale projects (such as web projects from conception to solution). If the deadline is not achievable - based on the time that would be required to complete project - and considering my schedule at that time, then it may be best not to take the enquiry too far, so both parties are not wasting time.
Again, projects can often be staged to some extent to suit deadlines, and - depending on the project - in some cases my schedule can be adjusted to suit project needs.
I try to avoid 'cramming' in terms project development. If the time isn't there for me to do the job properly, and in accordance with my quality control procedure, I will be inclined to turn the project down. Booooo!
Do you require a logo?
Often I get enquiries where the client does not have a logo, and they require a logo as part of the project.
I treat logo design as separate to the needs of a web design and development project, as there are considerations outside of mere web application to consider. A logo design will, therefore, be planned and have a cost that is separate to the web design and development project. See my article: "Let's not wate any ink" for more information on my logo design service. You can also read more and view examples on my Graphic Design Services page.
Do you have a list of pages you need on your website?
It is helpful if you already have and idea of what pages you feel you need and the elements you expect to see. This will give me an idea of all the elements that will need costing in to the project.
Will you require a content management system, and/or more advanced dynamic modules such as a blog and e-commerce facilities?
I recommend that all sites have a content management system, so the client can update content themselves, although doing so does have cost implications. Obviously if you are looking to sell online you will need some kind of e-commerce solution, and - with social marketing such a massive part of online marketing - a blog can often be a requirement on a website.
There are many other content managed modules that can be put in place to match the client's needs.
Do you already have a web presence?
Be it just a holding page or an entire website (perhaps you have contacted me regarding re-design and re-development of a site), the implications of already having a site will affect the decisions made on the next stage of development, I tell thee.
Do you require hosting and a domain name?
I would recommend that if you are starting from scratch on a project, that we (myself and my programmer) deal with your hosting and domain name requirements. I am also happy to give some advice on the best domain name to go for.
Would you be the sole decision maker / point of contact, or is there a committee?
This can often affect the project timeline and therefore the deadline, mainly as milestones require feedback and sign-off from more than one individual if there is a committee to 'please'.
To be honest, with medium/large companies/organisations, if a supplied brief is vague and brand guidelines non-too-specific, I tend to air on the side of caution for taking on the project. Indeed, an agency may be better suited to handle your needs.
A single point of contact for the sign-off of stages, and also a detailed brief and brand guidelines, will ensure a better flow to the project, and also less of a chance of things getting held up.
If you wish to read more ramblings on the subject of 'brand guidelines' head over to my article: "Camel anyone?" where I write candidly and possibly, at times, incoherently about the subject :P
Would you be able to supply all resource and background material in a digital format?
This would include logo and branding material (perhaps brand guidelines) and also a brief / spec / background. It is also useful to have any content and images.
Are there any online points of reference?
These could be other websites that you feel are useful in terms of look, feel, functionality, features etc. Or perhaps competitor websites. If you don't have any at this time, I would recommend the following gallery websites that showcase the cream of the latest websites as a starting point for inspiration and research:
Obviously these will only be points of reference at this time, with considerations such as: your brand, your target audience, the intended content on the site etc., having the biggest 'say' on how your site looks and feels.
Do you have Skype?
"Blah blah. Oh, and blah". Communication is the most important part of any project. I find a combination of e-mails, telephone calls, skype messaging / conferencing, and online document sharing to be the most efficient methods of managing a project from both the developer and client perspectives. For more information on why I recommend these digital technologies read my article: "The Skype's the limit".
Right. That's yer lot. Now get out! Only joking. Any thoughts, my little penguins? Comment away ...