[thelist] Web Development Methodology

Alan McCoy a.r.mccoy at larc.nasa.gov
Mon Feb 9 08:52:40 CST 2004

=> How do you get your client to clearly define their goals?

When I was first hired as the web team project manager at my last gig, the
company was using questionnaires given to the clients by one of our sales
reps. That method had only lukewarm results, as most clients were really
turned off by the coldness of filling out a form. I started going on the
second round of calls with the sales rep to try to get to know not only the
client, but more importantly, the client's product or service.

It was immeasurably easier to get a feel for the client's web goals when I
knew more about their business. After the client signed on, I would then
meet with the client and bring along our art director so he could get to
know them first hand as well. We always tried to visit the client at their
office rather than having them visit us. That way, we could get a first-hand
look at their environment and the "personality" of their company.

Most of the time, you'll really have to guide the client through the process
of defining their goals. Asking questions and then asking more questions is
actually a good thing. It gets you to the information you need to get their
project started and most clients appreciate the attention to detail.

It's always good to assume that your client has no idea about how the web
development process works. I mean think about it, we developers do this all
the time...it's second nature to us. But to a person who runs a fiberglass
fabrication plant, this stuff is pretty foreign. Sometimes they have a
clue...sometimes they have not. We had a few web-savvy clients who had their
goals, content, etc. ready at our first meeting. Clients like that are a gem
to work with, but they're quite rare. We quickly found that having a
copywriter available when needed helped get some of our clients over the
hurdle of having to write a bunch of web content (and do it well, since web
content is quite a different animal than print content) while trying to run
their business.

Here's an article (cached on google) that lays out the process from an
internal perspective, but it could be easily applied to a client company

And a really good book about the web dev project management process in

(note the evolt affiliate id!! ;-)

Hope all this helps. There's no real formula for it.


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