This article is a Work In Progress, but I am making it available to help potential client's along. It may be beneficial to come back now and then and see if there have been changes. Or as I make updates, I will more than likely reshare the article on various social media services. After reading many horror stories on Reddit, and remembering some of my own experiences, I thought I would put together an article outlining for client's what designer's or developers require, whether they communicate requirements or not, and possibly add some ideas for clients and designers or developers that may not have realised what they should be communicating to clients. I've been building websites for a long time now, and have had a lot of good and bad experiences with clients, some of which my fault, and a lot where the client simply didn't understand what was required of them to proceed or complete work. I'd like to make something clear at this point, and that is the difference between "Designers" and "Developers". This is a term that is often blurred and confusing to clients and makes understanding what those roles are a problem for clients to understand what may be required from each. A "Designer" is someone that creates the layout of what the website will look like and may in some cases produce the HTML code that gets used or implemented by a Developer who makes the design work. At times some Designers may do some of the websites pages layouts inside an editor that may be built into the chosen Content Management System, or pass the layout onto the Developer to do. A "Developer" is someone that creates or modifies the underlying code that makes the website work. Whether that is a static website or a website that uses a Content Management System. A Developer may also set up and install the necessary software, services, or plugins required to make the website work and function appropriately. A Developer may also do the design process, but does the extra steps that a designer doesn't do to make a website work.In this article, I will most likely use the term "designer", but I am meaning both terms for the sake of brevity. I have found that in most cases with client's where relationships have broken down, and from stories from others, the main issue is communication between both parties. By this, I mean communication on things like who enters the website content, or the time needed for a feature to be implemented. Beside's communication, there is often a misunderstanding on the technical aspects, and what those mean exactly. As a Designer or Developer, we need to be mindful that client's will more than likely not understand different technical aspects of what they require, or what web technologies can be utilised. And in some cases what isn't possible. I remember a prospective client from my early days, where the client wanted to have their website do things that were not technically possible. It was very hard to explain to them and have them understand that what they wanted to do was impossible, and thinking about it while writing this, what they wanted is still not possible. And this is something that both parties need to be clear about as well.That said, though, as designers we need to listen, and document what a client's requirements, suggestions, and what they think is required to have their Website work for their business while keeping in mind to advise the client how visitors will interact with their business, and work out a public-facing interface that allows visitors to become customers. If the Website is hard to use, and understand what the business is offering, they'll simply go somewhere else.Some things to discuss with the designer, or they should bring up with the client what the Website should do may include:- Get more inbound leads / quote requests/ phone enquiries / bookings? Increase brand awareness? Educate visitors? Encourage sales? Collect visitor information to build a list for newsletters or chasing up leads? Encourage onsite or social media interaction? Rarely does the discussion of contracts come up as the first topic of discussion, but is something that is required before any work is undertaken or paid for. Without an agreed-upon contract covering what work will be done, a timeline for tasks to be completed, and a payment schedule, both parties are open to serious problems that can occur. A properly written contract will outline and make clear what is expected of both parties, and can also outline legal responsibilities if either part breaks or can't agree upon changes that may occur during the process of the contract. Part of the process is agreeing upon a design. In most cases, a client with an already established business will already have a brand that makes their business unique. It is not a good idea for a designer to recommend tampering with that brand, something, that the client will already have invested money in creating. For the client, it most helpful for the designer if the client can hand over not only design idea's, but also documentation that should include a guideline that outlines logo graphics, variations, colours, fonts used, and include files that may have been produced or licensed by the concept designer that developed the brand. Once the design, and what will be worked on is agreed upon, outlining to the client what Content Management System will be used and whether the client or someone else is going to be entering the content, such as articles, services, or products. I've had some clients be confused with this, believing it was my responsibility to produce content, even though I was sure I had made it clear to them that the content wasn't up to me. Without content, a website is pretty much useless and doesn't help the business grow via their website. There are options for clients who don't wish to produce content, and that is to hire a Copywriter who will write content for the client and hopefully do so in a manner that positively affects the Websites SERP (Search Engine Rank Position). SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is another subject that is very important to discuss. From choosing an appropriate Domain Name (if one hasn't already been registered), to deciding if the client is going to do their own SEO, or hire someone to do it for them. In some cases, a Copywriter will also specialise in SEO. Outlining how SEO is to be implemented on the website is also important. By this I mean, how the different aspects of SEO will be utilised, from ad-dons that will be installed, or like in the case of AuroraCMS, if it's built-in already, and how necessary fields can be edited.Where exactly the website will be hosted is a concern for some businesses. I've been made aware recently and depending on the type of business, that some business insurances can dictate where a business website is hosted. For e.g. a financial-based business in Australia is required to be hosted on Australian services. While the location isn't a factor for SEO anymore, it is a factor for legal reasons depending on the type of business. Ownership of content and materials should be outlined clearly as there is often confusion about this. Generally, while the design of the website is being developed, and if the designer is creating materials and graphic content for the website, those are usually owned by the designer until full payment and handover of the website are made to the client. If the client hands materials over to the designer, which usually aren't altered apart from resizing, those materials are owned by the client, the client should also indicate any legal permissions and whether the material was sourced from another service which may make altering or using material difficult from a legal standpoint, and whether permissions are required or forthcoming. The budget should be determined whether the designer works at an hourly rate or a one time fee and if a deposit is required before undertaking any work. A client's budget should also be taken into account with payment options where work will commence once a set amount is agreed upon, and how much work will be completed in a set time period for that amount. Incomplete payments should be outlined in the contract, and the consequences for both parties if those are not met. I've been caught with this in the past, where the client was unable to finalise payments to complete agreed-upon work. In those cases, I usually kept any completed work that I had undertaken but handed over material that was provided by the client, as I didn't own the rights to that material, but was able to protect the work I had completed by not having to legally hand that material over to the client. In some cases, it's better for both parties to come to an arrangement amicably rather than dragging the issue through the legal system. Ongoing costs should be outlined, and options discussed, which usually involve design changes over time or if requirements come up as technology changes, as well as ongoing hosting, and domain registration. Hosting can be done a few different ways, with the most common being that the designer hosts the client's website and either includes a time period of hosting within the design costs, or changes per month, annually, or whatever is agreed upon. Domain registration is much like car registration where it is most commonly year by year, multi-year, or can be paid for years in advance. Sometimes this is left up to the client, but in my experience mostly by the designer, where the designer invoices the client when the ongoing registration is due, and they will have an account with a preferred Domain Registrar.
I met Alan Raycraft online about 9 years ago (2010) through a business that was listing and encouraging other businesses to work together on Facebook, mainly Work At Home Parent types, they had a Website that had one of those old school link exchange systems on their site (something that Google doesn't like, so don't think about using one). It turned out that Alan was the owner of Raycraft Computer Consultants, and after some back and forth and friendly banter, we learned that we had a lot of similar interests, particularly in the IT (Information Technology) field. Both of us have a history of performing customer services, such as computer repairs, building new systems, and general troubleshooting of hardware and software. It also happened that Alan was interested in updating his Website and his online presence. While Alan already had a Website, he was interested in something more robust, nicer looking, and something he could easily maintain. And this is where I came in. I was at the time, providing hosting services, and web design using my own custom-built Content Management System which has now evolved into AuroraCMS. Since then, I have hosted and designed with Alan's approval a design for his business, that I believe works well for him, and in that time we have helped each other out in different ways, on a personal and business level.We've both let off steam about issues (that I won't go into here) that we have and still struggle with on a personal level, and give each other advice, that has helped us both greatly, and come to an understanding that we are not the only ones who struggle in similar situations. We have both passed work onto each other during this time, benefitting us both in as far as being able to earn a little for each of our businesses. Alan now does the hosting of his and my client's websites, and he has also brought more website client's into the fold for me to design. During my time as a Web Developer, I have also been able to use Alan's Website to test Search Engine Techniques, which I'm happy to report have worked great and have benefitted Alan's Search Engine Rankings positively. And those findings will enable us both to pass that information learned onto current and future client's. In today's mad rush of a society, where it seems that everyone is out to make a quick buck, do everything on their own, and be in competition with similar businesses, it is refreshing to be able to work with someone who is not only like-minded, but is also not out to simply make a quick dollar at the detriment of lousy work, or not caring about client's needs. Getting to know Alan on a personal level, even though we've never met face to face, we've been able to watch (via social media) our families grow and evolve in the past 9 years, and I believe we've come to trust each other on a level that other businesses or people simply don't. That seems to be a rare thing these days. We need more of it, and we need more businesses to work together even in the same industry as one another. Collaborating with other businesses, regardless if they are in the same industry or not, can be beneficial not only to yours and their business but also the local economy. Working together is less stressful and much better for long term health, physically and the health of your business. Actively putting your business against others can also mean spending a lot of time doing so, and not working on your own to it and your detriment. A great example of collaboration could go like this. A local coffee shop could display an impressive arrangement of flowers on its counter, provided by a florist located locally. The coffee shop receives a beautiful addition to their décor, while the florist gets to reach out to potential customers in the area that may not have otherwise been aware of its services. In this way, both businesses benefit. In my case, there is a local artisan that may need a website to promote their products, which is something I use in my everyday life. After building their website, I add it to my portfolio with links back to their website, and a purchase code the customer can use when they purchase one or more products. That code, could give the customer a discount, and indicate to my client where that customer came from, and in turn, also gives me a discount on that product. This collaboration works in a number of ways, not just financially, but also helps both businesses with natural links to my client's website, helping theirs and my SEO, as well as passing on business to my client on an ongoing basis (obviously as long as customers are filtering through my website onto the clients). The client can also pass business back when asked who built their website, in turn benefitting my business. Those are just a couple of examples, there's a lot of ways businesses can work together. In the case of businesses in the same industry, there may be situations where each specialises in a particular part of the same industry, and each can pass on customers that need that specialised service. Well, I hope this article gives you the reader some ideas that can help improve your inter-business relationships, and you can prosper in this tough economy. Just remember, not everyone is your enemy.
AuroraCMS is Diemen Design's premiere Australian Open Source Content Management System. It's built to be lean, fast, and easy to use, including built-in features that other platforms need Addons or Plugins to achieve.Built using PHP7+, PDO, Bootstrap (Administration). Let me, just for a moment, explain why AuroraCMS is different than other platforms. Size, it has a smaller footprint compared to other CMS's, esp. considering its features. AuroraCMS is not only Blog/Article capable, it also has a lot of other built-in features, such as: Pages. Portfolio. Client Proofs. Messaging (Full Email Client built-in) with storage of Contact Page Messages. Inventory. Shopping Cart. Rewards System. Services. Bookings. Full Invoicing System. Content Scheduler. News. Events. Testimonials. Portfolio. Newsletters. SEO including JSON-LD Built right in. Accounts with User Ranks with Permissions Options. Content can be reverted if other Administration Users change the content. Content Editing Suggestions. SEO's or other Permission enabled Administrators can suggest edits, that if accepted can simply be changed with an approval button Comments and Reviews require Approval before they are displayed on the Front End, and are also put through the Spam and Honey Pot Test. Built-in Security that checks submitted form data for spam, and checks users IP against Project Honey Pots Blacklist and can automatically block IP's with a 30day option to clear blacklisted IP's. Security options can also block IP's if known Wordpress attack attempts are made, to reduce hammering of the Website and to stop brute force attempts. Front end can use any pre-built CSS Framework, or you can roll your own. The front end uses simple HTML Style tags to indicate where database content should be used. You can view and download AuroraCMS for our GitHub Repository.