Project Plan for Freelance Website

I could apply the PRINCE2 (Projects in a controlled environment) methodology to website projects  but most people find this overwhelming.  It's in business techno babble and I get asked what does this mean in stage 1?  And this in stage 2?  (There are over 100 stages)...  

Below is my template project initiation plan (project mandate?) for my freelance website development process.  It may look clean, clear, obvious... it's just an outline of what I picture as a perfect project; unfortunately the first 2 pages tend to be completed in just over a day and the rest of the time is spent faffing around with design and functionality. We use the ProjectFork extension to manage projects, it helps during times when we can't see face-to-face with colleagues or clients.

Startup Meeting

For you to discuss:

  1. Aims / Objectives
  2. Deadlines / Milestones
  3. Target Audience (Internally Centered? / Customer Focused?)
  4. Outsources? (Is JoelLipman.Com Project Manager? other 3rd-parties?)
  5. Contacts within Client company?
  6. Budget (see Rates for below)
  7. Similar looking websites and colour schemes
  8. Will the website be the primary medium for the Client?
  9. Affiliates / Associate Websites?
  10. Any relevant market research notes. eg. a website is not just a marketing brochure.

For JoelLipman.Com to discuss:

  1. Target Audience implications (Internally Centered? / Customer Focused?)
  2. Explain Domain Registration process (for client to do so they retain overall control of the company)
  3. Who will be working on this project? (supply contact details)
  4. Rates (usually £9/hour for non-e-commerce sites or £15/hour for e-commerce)
  5. Similar looking websites where layouts/colour schemes can be adapted
  6. Explain accessibility and usability industry standards. (includes iPhone compatibility and disabled access)
  7. Explain balance of scope, quality, time and cost. (focusing on one element means less on another)
  8. Search Engine Optimization constraints and standards

Domain Registration

This is so that you as the client retain overall control of the website. If you are dissatisfied with our services or need another developer to take over, you can at any point control which server your website visitors will go to when they type your domain name.

Important: You only need the domain name and no additional packages (not even email as our servers handle that).

UK Domain Registration Services (for,,, etc):


International Domain Registration Services (for .com, .net, .org, etc) - Note you can use the above UK ones for .com domains as well.


Domain Registrars for domains already registered:


When you have registered a domain name, please tell us and we will issue you the assigned NameServers to point your domain at (done via your domain registrars control panel).

Styles, Visuals and Source Files

Please submit any images, videos or files that will be included in the project and that our design and direction should focus on. The end product will revolve around what you submit here.

For you to do:

  1. Submit drafts or sketches (rough layouts - can be on paper in pencil...)
  2. Discuss timelines / milestones (milestone= when a task is completed - it's either done or not)
  3. Submit all marketing, promotional material (can include fonts, images, word documents, etc)

We can accept most formats except for those exclusive to the Apple Mac operating systems.

Webspace Setup

For JoelLipman.Com to do:

  1. Assess allocated server space - expected size of website including all uploaded files.
  2. Add domain folder to the server.
  3. Setup FTP Accounts (just one username/password).
  4. Setup automated backup system.
  5. Create test space with same access details.

Database Setup

For JoelLipman.Com to do:

  1. Backup original database if exists already
  2. Assign unique database name
  3. Assign unique database username/password
  4. Add the user to the database
  5. Create test database with same user

Email Setup

For you to do:

  1. How many email accounts?
  2. What will these be primarily used for (restricted on space allocation - usually ~100Mb)?
  3. List all email addresses please (limited as these include reply-from - eg. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
  4. Webmail or do you have standalone clients (eg. Outlook, Thunderbird, Eudora)

For to do:

  1. Submit connection instructions (SMTP, POP3 - incoming, outgoing servers)
  2. Send Webmail URL
  3. Allocate space for mailbox(es)
  4. Assign passwords and instructions on changing each password

Website Initiation

For JoelLipman.Com to do:

  1. Download latest Joomla, MediaWiki, Wordpress or other CMS version (if it has to be purchased, discuss with client)
  2. Install the CMS with respective databases for the LIVE system
  3. Install the CMS with respective databases for the TEST system
  4. Note web addresses of each and submit to Client
  5. Apply chosen template

Design and Layout Implementation

Corporate Logo

  1. Create initial logo and replace existing template logo with this one
  2. Discuss suitability and variances
  3. Convert, format, or create vector-based version of the logo (vector-based = can be any size without any deterioration in image quality).
  4. Get font or agree on used font for headlines / watermarks (for overall branding consistency)

Website Landing Page Layout (Homepage)

  1. Review what are we trying to achieve (eye-catchers, stickyness)
  2. Agree on splash / slideshow image(s)
  3. What will be included in terms of features (calendar, polls, login, etc)
  4. Progress Update and Review

Website Page Layout

  1. Standard article / presentation page
  2. Contact form(s)
  3. Discuss page types with module layouts
  4. Template customization and branding. Apply to additional components / extensions.

Content is King

Initial Content

  1. All pages initial content (eg. text to go on contact form, welcome text, etc)
  2. Any mention of company name or web address to be bolded
  3. Images to be used (if not supplied by Client)
  4. Please submit any word documents (or text) to JoelLipman.Com (can be uploaded using the project management system).

Content Review

  1. List all pages (and their web address) published on the website
    1. Spelling, grammar checks
    2. Comments, changes, suggestions, additions, exclusions
    3. Functionality and feature checks
    4. Initial content to be finalised (this is content that will exist on project closure)
  2. Instructions for modifying content (textual mostly but also image uploads)
    1. Create custom documentation for front-end use
    2. Create custom documentation for back-end (admin panel) use.
    3. Links to basic documentation

Issues and Errors List

Issues List

  1. Create an excel spreadsheet that all involved can modify
    1. date entered
    2. description
    3. owner
    4. status (open, in progress, closed)?
    5. solution date resolved

Errors List

  1. Clear error logs
  2. Refer to list of all pages and run each one
  3. Download new error logs
  4. Correct and prevent

Close-Out Meeting

Project Closure

  1. Review original project initiation document (project mandate)
  2. Review milestones (tasks) as set in the project management system
  3. Review original deliverables and success criteria
  4. Satisfied? Can be quoted? Portfolio screenshots.

Service Level Agreement

  1. Post-project support to be arranged prior to launch
  2. Discuss expectations for changes and support (response times)
    1. Critical - nothing works!
    2. Major - something important is broken
    3. Minor - less urgent but still broken
    4. Request - nice to have
  3. Support structure / maintenance rates agreed on (same as development - per hour)
  4. Instructions to include other developers
  5. JoelLipman.Com to assign a support technician to this project (supply Contact details: email/phone)

Training / Handover (if handing over to another group / developer)

  1. Discuss training rates (same as development - per hour)
  2. Documentation:
    1. Modes of documentation (forums, word documents, phone - aim for lightweight)
    2. Include all files used in the development (source files, visuals, documents)
    3. Explain every incremental change will render design less elegant and consistent
  3. Ask client to go over documentation (separate technical from layman)


Credit where Credit is Due:

Feel free to copy, redistribute and share this information. All that we ask is that you attribute credit and possibly even a link back to this website as it really helps in our search engine rankings.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this website is intended for informational purposes only and does not represent a warranty. The opinions expressed are those of the author only. We recommend testing any solutions in a development environment before implementing them in production. The articles are based on our good faith efforts and were current at the time of writing, reflecting our practical experience in a commercial setting.

Thank you for visiting and, as always, we hope this website was of some use to you!

Kind Regards,

Joel Lipman

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