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I am just moving into freelancing (my primary sector will be web design / web development). I've got a few projects for friends as well as one or two 'professional' projects in the pipeline. I would like to know what are some of the most important things you need to hear from your client before you start the process of developing their website:

Some examples I can think of are:

  1. Wishlist of website functionality (contact forms / specific pages etc)
  2. Whether they have an existing Google Analytics account
  3. Any other tracking stuff
  4. Legacy code that needs to be integrated
  5. Desired aesthetics of the website
  6. SEO discussion

So yes, I'd really like to know what you think are the most important things to discuss and ascertain from a client before you begin development.

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closed as not constructive by gnat, Dynamic, Kilian Foth, Bart van Ingen Schenau, MichaelT May 20 '13 at 11:58

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7  
The most important thing to ask a client. How will you be making your deposit?. –  Mathew Foscarini May 19 '13 at 21:03
3  
How much will you pay, when will you pay, how will you pay, what happens when you don't pay. Related video: vimeo.com/22053820 –  Philipp May 19 '13 at 21:12

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

DO'S

  • Start by asking the customer why they want an website? If needed, guide them through a discussion about using it to grow business in terms of sales, leads, orders etc.

  • Ask as many questions you can about their business now like how are you getting orders, what is the process, how can it be done better.

  • Try to understand the business process on how to get more business
    and how to make the whole process to be more easy and simple.

DONT'S

  • Do not talk about the technology, you will be tempted to discuss but don't.
  • Do not say demeaning things, if they have used any other solutions before.
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Scope

To me, scope is perhaps the most important question for any project. It drives costs, schedule, feature set, and often quality as well. It has a big influence on staffing and on whether your team is able to do the project (if it is too small, you better throw it back, too big, stay out of its way or bring in a partner). Your lifecycle model may determine how you cope with scope. If possible understand and act with a preference for short iterative/incremental cycles to a long waterfall approach where possible.

Exit Strategy

Related to scope, you should have completion criteria that are objective and measurable and will trigger partial and final payments as the project progresses. Some fair and constructive method of assuring the project succeeds for the parties involved. Communication, negotiation, arbitration are best used early and often to insure common expectations and in some cases to help projects that end in divorce damage the client and your company as little as practical. Clients have varied willingness to pay, so make sure that their satisfaction can be assured without making your company a forever partner with one that is stingy and hard to please.

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