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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.

Tom Perkins

Tom is founder and Creative Director of Custom Studio and evolve. He’s passionate about design, business and giving customers an unbelievable service. When he’s not working, Tom enjoys cycling, squash, good food & wine and anything to do with cars.

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Comments:

There are 4 comments for this item.
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  1. Steve Fisher
    1st February 2012

    This is great Tom.

    As a business advisor I speak to a lot of people who need a website or need to enhance thier online presence. For many people, it’s uncharted territory. Conflicting advice and information and other people’s ‘horror’ stories don’t help. The process that you’ve outlined here is really reassuring, it paints a clear picture of what to expect and when, and how each development stage informs the next.

    As a Custom Studio client, it was great - and very easy - to log-in to see how the Cibas website and the various design elements that we’d discussed were taking shape. The action planning and documentation of our meetings made it very clear for me to see what elements you were working on, what you needed from me and when you needed it. Your notes allowed me to track our discussions to remind myself of why we’d made certain decisions along the way.

    I particularly enjoyed the sitemap and wireframe stages of the process as it forced us to think logically and pragmatically, not just about the user experience of the website, but specifically about how we promote and deliver our products and services, now and in the future. It built a great sense of anticipation too, in a similar way that an architectural sketch gives an indication of the style, scale and potential usage of a building.

  2. Andrew
    12th March 2012

    What a great blog

  3. Audrey
    4th April 2012

    This is cool!

  4. Website SEO
    11th June 2012

    You made some Good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with customstudio.co.uk

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