Previously, we talked about one way we can improve client projects: Get the site content early as possible.
This way, we can tailor the design to focus what we have to say and frame it in a way that amplifies and enhances our messages.
The next thing we can do to improve client web project has to do with perception surrounding the stages of a project, specifically testing.
The View Depends On Perspective
You’ll remember in Part One, we talked about how the steps of most projects go in stages. These are usually discovery, design, development, quality assurance, launch, and post-launch maintenance and marketing.
However, how the client perceives these stages and what the agency perceives are often two different things.
From the clients’ point of view, the coding and the design are what take the most amount of time. In the client’s eyes, web studios probably aren’t doing enough quality assurance testing before their site launches.
Quality assurance can be things like browser testing, mobile and device testing, accessibility testing, trying different forms of content, and different types of use cases.
These need to be tested to make sure the site design doesn’t break unexpectedly under certain conditions. The testing stage ensures the site is user-friendly, and exists to minimize bugs and edge cases.
(This ties into making sure we have the right type of content for our design. The longer we put off testing live content in our new website, the greater the chance we’ll have to make last-minute adjustments.)
The testing stage also makes sure everyone is still on the same page. We can also see how the client actually interacts with the final version of the site before taking it live.
Ideally, we have already walked the client through the workflow of the site towards the end of the development process, to see how they would use it, and make adjustments if necessary. But there may be many different people using the site to publish information, such as employees or staff. It’s vital that we know how they use the site as well.
Here’s another scenario: What happens if we put an abnormally long title or piece of content into one of our pages? What if we put in a really short piece of content? Does the site layout break?
These are things we should be thinking of during the development stage, but the testing stage confirms that we’ve thought of these scenarios already. And if we haven’t, then now is the time to make those adjustments.
Reality Meets Our Best Laid Plans
Let’s go back to our original premise. The vast majority of clients see coding and design as the major time investments during a project timeline. The perception is that testing receives whatever time is leftover.
In reality, each of these sections (discovery, design, development, testing) should be closer to equal than not.
To me, discovery and testing are the most unappreciated stages of most web projects, and both could use more attention.
Reasons There’s Not Enough Testing
Many website projects have a hard deadline. If any stage runs long (design, development, organizing content), this means that time set aside for testing evaporates into thin air.
How can we improve this?
One way is to make sure everyone on our web team shares the same priorities for the project. Each part of the web team should be communicating with each other throughout the project life cycle.
On larger projects, the design, development, and testing teams are often separate. Once each stage is complete, that internal team hands the work off to the next team. (This is commonly known as the Waterfall Method).
Since testing and quality assurance is the last team to receive the project, the testing team takes the hit if any time has been lost during a project.
Allotting enough time to properly test before launching the website is one way we can make clients feel better about their projects.
If the web agency fails to give enough time to testing, the perception is the job was rushed, or we didn’t pay enough attention during the project timeline.
Let’s avoid that, and treat testing as importantly as we would the other phases of a project. It’s one more way we can minimize risk and maximize value for our clients.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at a final way we can make client web projects run smoothly and achieve better overall results.