by Rachel Goldstein
(Article provided by Allfreelancework.com)
As a new freelancer, there is nothing scarier then starting your first project. This article will take a closer look at the steps you should follow when in charge of a project. Hopefully, if you are aware of what the process should be, you won't be as concerned about getting things right. Since I am assuming that this is your first client, return business is essential to growing your business. Follow the below steps from start to finish and you should have a happy client and a check in your hands.
It is important to track your time when you are working on a project. Start logging time as soon as you start to give your attention to a project. Place a time log into a new docket and write onto this log start and finish times along with other detailed information every time you work on this project.
For several reasons, it is important to use the time log accurately. First and foremost, your client might expect you to break down your hours for him so they are aware of where their money is going. Secondly, in order to increase your productivity, examining where your time is being spent is essential. After freelancing for a while you will be able to figure out how much to bid on projects easily from experience.
A docket is a huge envelope or sleeve to keep all papers together. Nothing looks worse than going to a meeting with a client and forgetting essential paperwork. In order to escape this possibility, I suggest using a docket for each individual project.
I recommend using a black marker to distinguish this project from other projects. I have always named my project's computer files and dockets by the company's name and then follow this with consecutive numbers. So for example, XYZCompany001 would be XYZ Company's first project.
If this client is working with you for the first time you should start an information sheet on him or her. You might not think that this is important, but if this client ends up being a dead beat, you will be glad to have his or her address and phone number. After you have completed this form, place it in your docket.
Start every job with a piece of paper. List steps that need to be involved in order finish production. Otherwise, you might get stuck with having to go backwards three steps in order to go forwards again. Sometimes stages of a project will need to be reworked because you didn't take the time to write down your game plan. Try not to let this happen to you.
Protect yourself against problem clients by writing a contract. Make sure to have your client sign and send back the contract before starting the project. You can find generic contracts for your business on the Internet.
A great way to begin your project is to plan out how the web site is going to be organized. A mind map is one way to do this. You can do this by taking a blank piece of paper and placing your pen onto the middle of your page. Write down a word or two that matches the subject of your previous notes. Branch out with lines to related topics. Your mind map is now similar to a Flow Chart. Make sure that all navigational routes have been mapped out. If possible, have someone else take a look at your Flow Chart to see if you have missed anything.
Storyboarding is a device used to layout the design and navigation of a site. It could simply be a rough sketch on a scrap of paper. However, I always send out a storyboard to a client before starting to actually layout the site. I recommend laying out rough sketches in Illustrator or Freehand. Use your mind map or Flow Chart to help guide you through this process. Ask your client to sign off on the bottom of this Flow Chart.
One of the most engaging attractions of a good web site is its graphics. Listen carefully to your client carefully in order to find out what he wants. If the client can't explain what he is visualizing, help out with a few questions. The following five questions can be used.
1. What sites are visually appealing to you?
2. On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is a fast-loading site to you?
3. What colors are you partial to?
4. Do you already have existing collateral (brochures, catalogs, etc.)? If so, what flexibility do I have with your fonts, logo, and colors?
5. Do you have any art that we need in order to complete this project?
(If you are having a hard time finding your creative self, I suggest taking a look at CoolHomePages.com to get a few ideas to build on.)
Once you have an idea of what your client is expecting you are ready to storyboard the site.