Web design and development agencies have clearly defined processes for building and launching web sites. The process typically covers every phase of a web design and development project — from signing the contract to pushing the final web site live. I’ve seen creative naming conventions used for project phases; for example, Discover, Design, Develop, Deploy. And I’ve seen straightforward, plainly attired naming conventions for project phases. Either method conveys to the client what they can expect during their web project.
On the Importance of Having a Post-Launch Process
It’s good to have a process. In fact it’s absolutely necessary. But, often times these processes neglect one final and important phase — post launch. How do we address what happens to a web site after the project is completed? Once we launch a web site and put it out into the wild, it still requires nurturing and attention. There will be bugs to fix, additional features to add, and usability tweaks to make based on viewer behavior and feedback.
Whatever you want to call this phase — post-launch, maintenance mode, warranty period — your client’s web site is going to have ongoing needs after it’s been released out into the wild. Yes, the wild. Because the Interwebs are in a constant state of flux, a web site needs to adapt to stay relevant to its audience and search engines, as well as the client’s ongoing business needs.
Discussing a web site’s post-launch needs with your clients presents a great business opportunity for your web design and development agency. Offer your clients a retainer agreement for recurring monthly web site work. This enables your clients to make changes and add features to their web site in a timely manner by simply submitting a request. There is not contractual void to get in the way. And, retainer agreements helps regulate cash flow — a constant struggle for many agencies.
Implementing the Post-Launch Phase into Your Web Site Projects
Our own web design and development agency, Pelago, recognized a need for this final project phase and created a maintenance contract to address it with our clients. We would always present the contract to our clients in the beginning of their initial web site project, to get them thinking ahead about how they were going to maintain their web site once it was launched. The conversation alone was valuable to our clients, because it made them look at their web site from a more fluid perspective, as an ongoing project defined, but not confined, to the main project phases.
If you are an agency offering web design and development services to your clients, consider the post-launch client relationship, and how to keep the web site from going stale. To help with this process, we provide our maintenance contract available for free download. Take it and use it with your clients to help ease their transition into the post-launch phase on your next web site project.
Photo credit: AGeekMom
Great input you guys. Keep up the good work!