In this chapter, you learned that several key events happen during pre-production and that each of these events are crucial to the success of the website design. First, the initial interview allows you to get a good understanding of the client's business and what expectations the client has for the website. It is important to listen carefully to the client and to ask many questions. The size and scope of the website is determined by this and subsequent interviews with the client. Next, the brainstorming session takes place. Here, ideas for the website's content and style are generated.
After the brainstorming session, the general look and feel of the website is developed. Then the designer must also determine the information architecture: how the site will be organized and how the user will navigate around the site. Your proposal for the website is then developed and presented to the client. If all goes well, a contract is then negotiated between you and the client.
The pre-production phase is extremely important because it is here that you develop the relationship with your client. A website that does not meet the needs of the client is not a successful website. The knowledge you gain from the interviews with the client and other employees is essential for you to design a website that fits the client's needs. Open communication between you and your client throughout pre-production is vital. Consider the client as part of your design team and include them in discussions and decisions. A site that is organized poorly and difficult to navigate can lose users; this translates to lost revenue for your client. Clients should never lose customers because of a poorly designed website.
Organizing all aspects of this project is critical from the start. A well-executed preproduction phase will save you time and allow you to anticipate problems that could arise during later stages of the project.
Now that you have a firm understanding of the pre-production phase, you are ready to begin production of the website. The time you have spent preparing for production during this phase makes this next phase of the project relatively easy:
Gather as much information as you can during the initial meeting with the client.
The brainstorming session generates ideas for the website.
The most important member of your web design team is your client. Remember: Your client has employed you to design the website to meet his needs.
The audience must be determined before you begin the design process.
Discuss the scope of the website with the client.
Research competitors' sites to gain an understanding of how they are representing themselves on the web.
Discuss time and budget constraints with the client.
Your proposal should address the client's concerns and demonstrate how you will meet the client's needs.
Create a site flow chart to organize the website.
Create a content update plan and discuss with the client your role in updating the site.
A requirements document lists what the client needs to do and what you will deliver.
It is important that you develop a filenaming scheme to manage the files.
Always back up your files to several sources.
A project management scheme is necessary to keep the project on schedule.