Writing the Project Milestone Development Checklist document
Project Milestone Development Checklist
This document includes a list of checklists broken down by project phases and milestones. The high level milestones can be included in your proposal to give the client an idea of how the project will progress and when payments are due. The individual checklists included here can be used internally to streamline the development process, edit these checklists as needed for your own use.
Determine the clients site development and marketing budget. If you are approached by a business to do a project in return for a percentage of sales or other compensation tied to the success of the site you will be business partners. Always review their business and marketing plans. Can they compete? Will you have enough visibility into the sales generated, to compensate you fairly? These can be risky deals.
Show sample sites and photos. Have client sign a "Pre-Project Protection Agreement" to project your designs and proposal before the contract is signed. If you have the full Proposal Kit or Contract Pack a "Pre-Project Protection Agreement" is included in the contract collection of documents.
Determine purpose of site & sites sections. Determine voice/style (conservative, hip, humorous, etc. Determine components and page counts. What are short term and long term needs and goals of client?
Go over standard contract, payment options, sample proposals for similar sites (if available). Go over generic development checklist (optional). Determine site maintenance frequency, number of site updates site per year and exactly which pages will need updates.
Generate storyboard with 8 main indexes maximum and 3 levels deep. Determine the hardware and bandwidth requirements for the website (peak and off-peak seasons). Answer these and other questions in the Information Worksheet.
Larger projects may require a more detailed design and analysis before an estimate can be determined (especially when the system has to interface with external systems, involves more e than 3 developers, etc. Consider payment up front for the design and analysis first, then offer a proposal for the development of the site based on the design and analysis. If customer doesn’t accept the proposal they can use the design they paid you for. Generate estimate from checklists and storyboard that fits budget and needs.
Send proposal to client. Modify proposal as needed, negotiate the contract. Once signed and up-front payment and fixed costs received start project.
Start Execution of Agreement (Milestone 1). Setup your time management, project tracking and accounting system for new client. Log all time spent including storyboard creation and up front time spent on the proposal.
Create directory structure for project. Have client start gathering information for this and future milestones as defined during the information gathering process. Domain name options. Existing marketing materials, photos, text, brochures, business cards, flyers, product shots, product samples, press releases, etc.
Price and part lists.
Frequently Asked Questions
Websites they want links to. Get idea of client’s vision for the navigation look and feel. Shipping and handling charges and constraints (domestic and international). Guarantees, warranty, privacy and return policies.
Which credit cards and payment options do they accept on-line? Have them check with bank for restrictions. Testimonials, credits, bios, history, education, certifications, awards, industry recognition, etc. Contact information: name, address, phone, fax, 1-800, e-mail addresses, on-line map URL. Hours of operation and days closed.
Contact names for development questions (art director, technical contacts, etc. List of competitor’s websites. List of keywords and phrases to be used in search engines. Register domain and setup ISP account, register domain in clients name as bill to and registrant.
Retain the domain and FTP user id and password until final payment is received. Create hierarchy of pages and sections, ordered most important (i.e. money making ones) first. Determine fonts and color schemes.
Create navigation system graphic and front page mockup, group main indexes from most important to least, left to right. Have customer sign off on Milestone 1. Start Execution of Milestone 2.
Create robots.txt file excluding entire site from all spiders. Setup FTP directories for internet/intranet directories. Setup e-mail addresses.
Perform a competitive analysis (find keywords, site sections, etc. Determine how to build a better site than the competition. What makes client better than the competition? Compile key word lists from client and competitive analysis (make sure to NOT use competitors trademarks).
Create template page, rollovers, headers, trailers, copyright notice and credit links. Obtain RSACi ratings so site can pass some corporate firewalls and parental control filters. Add meta tags (Author, Description, Keywords, RSACI, ROBOTS, etc. Add hidden tags and links to track copied pages in case of page theft.
Match rollover alt tags on images to page descriptions. Add developer site links in library header spacer gifs. Complete home page skeleton page with complete navigation systems and graphics.
Each page header/trailer to include (title, logo/name, home link, home URL). Create branding logo & 2 bookmark logos & integrate with I.E 5 support or CTRL-D, prompt your visitors to bookmark the home page as easily as possible. At this point you have created a skeleton home page with navigation links to the main site sections and a navigation scheme that will be consistent across the entire site.
Have customer sign off on Milestone 2. Start Execution of Milestone 3. Create main index skeleton pages by making empty skeleton pages for each main page of the site.
Set title & descriptions to be unique, short and meaningful. Page Title "Company - Page Description". Page Description "Company - Longer Page Description". Page Header H1 tag "Page Description Headline".
Create site map (if needed). Create help page (if needed). Fill in home page; add creation date and "New" topic list with release date of the site. As the site is updated in the future all new additions are listed on the home page so repeat visitors can quickly see what has changed.
Create main splash page with preloading of menu graphics (if needed). At this point you have a complete skeleton site with no broken links. All pages are empty of content and ready to fill in.
Have customer sign off on Milestone 3. Start Execution of Milestone 4+. Create additional keyword splash pages, link splash pages to home and main index page.
Create final content pages. Add body content (text, images, checklist components) to pages. Check each content page for required navigation scheme links.
When pages complete:
Update robots.txt with specific files and folders to exclude from spiders as needed. Run final link test to make sure no links are broken and all-important pages will load quickly. Spell check each page and upload. Test each page using appropriate web browsers (at least the current version or last 2 versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape on PC and Mac platforms).
Perform usability tests on pages and forms. This can be as simple as having a few non-technical people use the site. Can they understand the purpose of each section and do what you intended them to do? If not determine what changes can be made.
Have customer sign off on Milestones every 40 hours until complete. Once all pages are created, create the doorway, hook pages and add hidden links into the index page. When last payment received on final milestone and accepted by customer.
Turn off robot.txt file full domain exclusion. Create WebPosition profile and run initial WebPosition report. WebPosition reporter report.
WebPosition Page Critic & Doorway pages (as needed). Other search engine submission tools are also capable of automatically creating hook, hallway and doorway pages. See the Appendix of Resources for more tools.
Run WebPosition or Search Engine Commando Pro submitter (run submissions daily until all pages submitted) or use a submitter service. Submit manually to any additional websites like Yahoo!. Submit to affiliate directories if using an affiliate program.
See AffiliateAnnounce in the Appendix of Resources. Setup WebTrends report for monthly stats or setup your own statistic reports. Give approval to client to add URL to their marketing materials.
Send press releases and announcements. Start marketing website and business together. Copyright owner of the site should register the site with the US Copyright Office (use form TX).
Start Maintenance Cycle
After completion of contract specifications. Enter maintenance cycle and maintain site per client’s request and bill hourly. Site updates, monthly stats, rebuilding of doorway pages, search engine resubmissions. External link testing.
Periodically test the on-line ordering, affiliate and other forms (daily or weekly as needed). Check website space to make sure site stays within space limits.