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Managing the project

If you're doing most or all of the work yourself, you must be able to work on several aspects of the project simultaneously — which calls to task your project, time, and money‐management skills — in addition to communicating all of that to your client. You can make these tasks easier by

  • Keeping notes. Get a notebook and write down what you've done, why you have done it, and what you'll do next.

  • Making a special e‐mail folder for project‐related e‐mails. If you can, set up your e‐mail to direct all mail pertaining to the project to that folder. (Many e‐mail programs, including Microsoft Outlook, Entourage, and Lotus Notes, have this capability.)

  • Drawing up a budget. Your budget should include your fees for doing the work (Hourly Rate x Time = Cost of Work), fees for any contractors you hire, and also fees for project management. You should also include fees for extra services — such as image scanning or writing content — if you want to make those available to the client. Another possible thing to add is special software or equipment. If your client requires that you buy something, build the cost of it into the budget.

  • Establishing a timeline. Clients often don't understand the amount of work and time a Web project requires — they just know that you make it look simple and easy. The process of developing a quality site is not quick, but creating a to‐do list for each week (or day) and also marking deadlines on a calendar helps you track what you need to do and when.

  • Devising a troubleshooting plan. Technological issues are inevitable. For instance, multimedia elements sometimes don't download fast enough, certain functions don't work as expected, or layouts have CSS issues. These sorts of problems can take some time to troubleshoot and fix. Your plan for the troubleshooting process should include staying task oriented and not participating in finger‐pointing. During troubleshooting, work with the server administrators and others that are involved with the project to find a solution. Communicate with your client; explain the problem and what you're doing to fix it. Stay calm and confident so that your client feels reassured that you are in control and dealing fairly with them. If you need to bring in help, tell your client who you're bringing in and why.

The bottom line here is that if you don't figure out how much time you have to complete the project and how much money is in the budget very early in the process — and communicate that to your client — you could end up wasting a lot of time and energy planning a project only to find out that the client is unrealistic in her expectations.


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