Making our clients lives a little easier
Published by Tom Perkins on 31st January 2012
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We’re passionate about making our clients lives and their experience of working with us as enjoyable as possible. We think that giving clients a single place to go to see the progress of their new website helps in making that experience a good one. Below I’ve detailed some of the features of the Custom Studio client area and how this helps.
Keeping things simple
When we start working with a new client, the first thing we do is to set them up with an account in our client area. This is the place they’ll go to check on the progress of their website and all they need to remember is a simple url: clients.customstudio.co.uk. Once they enter their username and password they then have access to a selection of items that enable them to see progress and to give feedback if required. Below I’ll talk about a few of these.
No more long & complicated URL’s
One of the things that inspired us to develop this system was the problem of web developers sending multiple (and often very complicated) URL’s to clients. In the past, web designers & developers have worked on a development server, meaning until the website goes live the URL’s are very often long and complicated. This isn’t a problem in itself, but when these are sent to the client, and very often a number of different URL’s can be sent, it can become very complicated and overwhelming. The beauty of this system is that they have just one, simple URL to remember.
The Roadmap: Understanding what lies ahead
The first item our clients see in their client area is the Roadmap. This is a simple plan of the various steps that their project will take. By displaying these steps in a logical way and by keeping these stages updated with the progress of each stage, it makes it much easier for our clients to understand how their project is progressing.
The Sitemap: Planning from the top down
The next item that our client’s see is the Sitemap. This is a very basic view of how the site will be structured. By starting the planning of a new website in this way, it enables both us and the client to make some of the key decisions that need to be made about the structure of the site, without getting ‘bogged down’ in the detail.
The Wireframe: Taking colours, fonts and images out of the equation
The next item in our client area is the Wireframe. A wireframe is a working version of a website, created as the name suggests using only ‘wires’. This means that we can quickly and easily plan the layout of the site and make some key decisions on how the site will be used without having to worry about colours, fonts or images. Our clients seem to really enjoy this stage as they can see their website coming to life very quickly. They’re also able to click around the site and make decisions and changes, knowing that we can very easily make adjustments using this wireframing technique.
The Design Stage: This is the part we really enjoy!
Once we’ve worked through the above stages, we can then start the part that we all enjoy; the design stage. We use our client area to present flat visuals of how the site will look. If we simply presented these visuals at the beginning of the project, our clients would have a huge amount of unanswered questions about the structure, navigation and usability of their website. By tackling those items in the earlier stages it means that we can both focus on the appearance of the site, knowing that key decisions on things like structure and navigation have already been considered, discussed and agreed.
The Build Stage: Where the site comes to life
The last stage in the process is the build stage. This is the stage where we take all of the above items and combine these to create a complete website. In the past this was one of the stages that would result in multiple, complicated URL’s being sent to a client. Using our client area, our clients can check in whenever they choose to check on the progress of their project.
Project Tools: Making collaboration and organisation simple
In addition to the above stages, our client area also features a number of tools that come in really useful for us to manage the project and for our clients to give their input. These include notes documents where we keep all meeting notes meaning our clients don’t need to worry about keeping notes during our meetings. We also include documents where our clients can start to gather the content for their new website, plus schedule documents meaning they can easily see the project schedule and deadlines.
Hopefully that’s given you an insight into how we work and maybe even a few ideas or techniques for the management of your projects. We’d love to hear what you think or hear about your experiences using the comments section below.
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"Last week I gave Custom Studio the challenge of designing and printing a 12 page Brochure. Not only did they meet the deadline (in fact it was delivered early), but they also designed the most stunning brochure we have ever had. Once again Custom Studio has exceeded our expectations."