We are often asked how to plan for a design and development project. As we’ve been involved in developing about 300 web-based projects for small and large companies we have some ideas around this topic. To be totally honest we learnt a lot of this the hard way. This experience gave us deep understanding of how to phase the projects to achieve great results.
The best way to phase web based projects is to divide them into at least two phases. First phase involves rapid prototyping of the website by developing the graphic and XHTML prototype of the entire website. This prototyping not only gives you a visual perspective of the product, but also gives you the ability to nail down the scope of the project and the deliverables. This prototyping process might take about 1 to 5 weeks depending on the complexity of the project and number of iterations. Once the visual prototype is signed off, managing scope of the functional development of the project, corresponding time lines and deliverables becomes relatively easy as everybody will be on the same page. If there are any scope creeps, they will be pretty apparent. One option is to create two separate SOWs, one for rapid prototyping and another for actual functional development.