IT projects of any size rely on deliverables to communicate the progress and direction of the project between client and contractor. Website design projects are no different and are often used to ensure the contractor you are paying to design your website are producing your dream design. The project contract should outline the deliverables from the start, that way you are less likely to incur surprise costs.
There are several useful deliverables that you may ask for:
The user journey through the website is of great importance for a seamless user experience, more so in web applications. A site map indicates how a user will navigate through your website pages. A higher fidelity version of site maps are story boards which can also show clients the interactions within a single web page.
We’ve previously looked at wireframes in much greater detail but, in essence, they are the blueprint of the website which clearly defines the layout. They should not contain any of the content for the website. These are often a popular deliverable as they can be produced quickly and show the client how the website will be structured.
Designs produced with image editing software clearly show the form of the website and accurately represent the visuals for the final product. If you are commissioning a website you will almost certainly be provided with defining mockups. These are most likely what you’ll be signing off before the development phase of the website begins.
Prototypes allow clients to click through screens and provide a more accurate feeling of the final product. These are becoming popular as a deliverable because the code used to create them can be reused in the production website. Prototypes can also be used to demonstrate the interactive elements on the website, such as popups and accordions.
The downside of deliverables
All deliverables take time to produce and time costs money. The more deliverables you insist upon means the designer has less time to spend on actually doing the work. Bar HTML prototypes, deliverables are throw away. This means that the deliverable itself, whether it’s a wireframe, a mockup or a sitemap document, will be thrown away at the end of the project, they won’t actually be used in the end product: your website! Sure, they’ll help you reach the final destination but they should just be considered a communication tool.