WEB105 » Defining the Project 4

I’m serious now… Defining the project is a step that most young web designers don’t realize they need to do. If you do not clearly define your project, you are doomed to fail.

B) Clarification

Clarification is the sub-phase where you deliver your terms of the project to the client.

The Communication Brief

The Communication Brief is a short and simple statement of the site objectives, from overall goals to targeted audience user perception. It should restate the client’s wishes by organizing the answers from the client survey in a professionally presentable document:


Web Redesign: Workflow that Works 2.0 – Communication Brief Worksheet

The Communication Brief will help to:

  • clarify overall site goals
  • align both the team and the client under the same terminology
  • identify style, audience and message

See Also:

Scope Creep – is the inevitable slow migration of a straightforward project to a nightmare. To avoid “Scope Creep” you should:

  1. Have a very clear list of deliverables
  2. Keep a meticulous track of hours
  3. Educate the client and clearly define what is within budget

The Task Estimate

The Task Estimate determines your time-frame and resources by multiplying scope hours by your hourly rate:

Sample Project Estimate

Sample Project Estimate

See Also:

Tracking Time

Track your Hours! Organizations that track time and know where their project stands are profitable. Staying on top of project hours is crucial to maintaining budget and scope requirements:

  1. Submit accurate hours on a weekly basis
  2. Use whatever tracking system works for you.

See Also:

C) Planning

Planning is the sub-phase where you start getting things together by assigning your project team and setting up staging areas.

Overview Schedule

People respond to deadlines and schedules. The Overview Schedule will keep you, your client and your team on track:


Web Redesign: Workflow that Works 2.0 – Overview Schedule

The Overview Schedule should contain:

  • The whole project, complete with methodology and breakdown of major milestones
  • the project broken into weeks and months as well into phases and steps

Detailed Schedule

Don’t you hate the question, “When is this due?”

The Detailed Schedule should contain:

  • Action Item deliverables
  • Individual milestones that need to be met
  • Day-by-day list of what is happening

Assigning Your Project Team

Your team is the engine that will keep a project running. To minimize potential breakdowns look for people with proven track-records.

  • Clearly establish individual roles and responsibilities
  • On the client side, establish one contact who has final sign-off responsibility (Multiple sign-offs always mean delays)

Client Staging Area

The Client Staging Area acts as the hub of communication between you and the Client:

Client Staging Area by Mike Sinkula

Client Staging Area by Mike Sinkula

The Client Staging Area is where you will post all of your “deliverables” for the Client.

You should:

  • Reserve a spot on your own server
  • Password protect it if you can
  • Make sure the client bookmarks their staging area
  • Resend it in important emails

Development Team Staging Area

  • Serves as a place for the team to work and access files
  • Should be used as a place to test the alpha site before it is ready to be showed to the client

Kicking Off the Project

Bring everyone together to announce the guidelines and rules by introducing and distributing the:

  • Communication Brief
  • Contact lists
  • Project Schedules
  • Team Responsibilities
  • Beer

This portion of the Premium Design Works website is written by Mike Sinkula for the Web Design & Development students at Seattle Central College and the Human Centered Design & Engineering students at the University of Washington.


  1. Christina says:

    I also recommend Toggl : https://www.toggl.com/

  2. kory tegman says:

    here is a time tracking app that I found. that works great.
    it does time tracking, estimates and invoices.

  3. kory tegman says:

    these guys are talking about task based billing. http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/10/10/kalzumeus-podcast-3-growing-consulting-practices-with-brennan-dunn/

    it is kind of long. but there is a podcast of it as well. i found it interesting

  4. Abell Smith says:

    No joke, scope creep is a nightmare kids. I just had a site launch delayed by a month, literally hours before we were supposed to go live. Get those sign-offs at every stage…

  5. marina says:

    Here is a link to this great free tool for tracking your time spent on projects…

  6. Sean Walling says:

    I recently found this handy tool and have used it very effectively to define the various portions of a job for a couple of current clients.



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