How to Successfully Hand Off Websites to Your Clients
You’re reaching the finish line for your latest project. Over the last few weeks (or maybe even months), you’ve spent hours expertly crafting a website that brilliantly balances the client’s needs (and inevitable edits) with your creative vision. From the initial meeting to the contract and throughout the production process, you’ve worked endlessly to design their dream site. Now it’s time to think about the client handoff — and how to hand off the final product in a seamless, informative, and impressive way!
In this article, I’ll cover:
- Why a handoff process is important
- Seven things to do to seamlessly hand off websites to clients
- Bonus: A free guide!
Why a Handoff Process is Important
A seamless and perfect handoff process is so important for your team and the client. It saves you from a frustrating phone call with the client or an email from a confused developer on the client’s team. Most of the time, a client will have follow-up questions about the site or about WordPress in general, so it’s better to have all that information beforehand to ensure everyone’s on the same page.
Another reason the handoff process is so pivotal is that it’s a chance for you to end the project on a high note. While the client’s already signed the contract and paid for the work, that doesn’t mean you should stop trying to impress them! Create a successful handoff process so you can end the relationship on the best terms possible and so they think of you for their next project or for a future referral.
Seven Things to Do to Hand Off Websites to Clients
Every web designer should have a standard handoff process for all clients, even if it needs to change for certain projects (like your first big client!). Until then, it’s time to set some guidelines for your team and every client you sign on. Make sure the handoff process is built into your timeline, budget, and most importantly your web design contract, so everyone’s on the same page. But, I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s take a step back!
Here are seven things to master to seamlessly hand off finished websites to your clients:
- Provide a project summary
- Make sure your client knows what the design is supposed to achieve
- Share important information with the client
- Consider upselling your services
- Choose a host you can trust
- Outline the process at the beginning of the relationship
- Create a repeatable and scalable process
Provide a Project Summary
Consider including a project summary to go with the rest of your deliverables. Not only will this remind your client of all the top-notch work you’ve completed, but you can also use it to highlight how much value you’ve brought to the project. If the site is going to be handed off to someone else or picked up again at a later date, it’s also a great place to add a few lessons learned or final recommendations.
Make Sure the Client Knows what the Design is Supposed to Achieve
Along with the summary, it’s important to remind the client what the goal of the project was and what you’re both hoping to achieve from it. Your client may be paying you for a new website, but nine times out of ten, they don’t fully understand the process and all the technical pieces. They might not understand what happens after the site is launched, or realize that it can significantly affect their bottom line.
The solution here is to teach them! Teach your clients about what great web design can achieve for them, and speak to them in a way they’ll understand. Communicate the fact that your work can bring specific, measurable results and go beyond just “brand awareness” — it can affect conversions, sales, and much more.
Beyond that, it’s also your job to teach them about their website so they have a baseline understanding and an easy way to do that is to create resources. These resources can be PDF downloads that you share with the client, YouTube videos, or any other format that’s easy to understand.
Consider creating different templates of resources to share with your clients. Here are a few to get the ball rolling:
- WordPress 101
- How to make updates to your WordPress website
- How to create a new blog post
- How to add a new product to your eCommerce store
Create as many or as few resources as you want. Just remember — this will save you loads of (unpaid) time in the long run.
Share all Important Information with the Client
The more your client understands the work you’ve done, the better it is for you in the long run! Outline any features that require a bit of background understanding. Not only will it provide value for your client, but it also gives them a great starting point for finding the answers to questions on their own.
You could also consider providing tutorials (written is great; video is even better) to take your clients through their specific WordPress dashboard. On the technical side, you should also make sure your code is well-commented so that anyone who works on the site going forward is able to understand why you’ve coded something the way you have. Crafting clear and concise documentation is important in creating a site that can be easily adapted in the future.
Similar to your web design pitch at the beginning of the relationship, try to anticipate questions and concerns. At this point, you know if your client is design-savvy, a technical wizard, or knows just as much as your grandma when it comes to web design. Use that knowledge to anticipate questions, concerns, and problems your client might have and be ready to share data, facts, and other information so they aren’t left feeling confused.
Finally, set expectations so you can avoid misunderstandings or multiple rounds of small edits. You’ll also set yourself up to be a better candidate for future projects because your client will understand the thought, value, and hard work you put into the site.
Consider Upselling your Services
This may not feel like an important part of the handoff process, but trust me – it is. Now’s a great time to not only present your work but offer one of your maintenance plans to the client. Maybe they don’t have a developer on their team, so they don’t have the knowledge or time to update plugins every month — offer that as a service! Or maybe they need monthly content updates to their site but they’re uncomfortable with the back-end of WordPress — offer that as a service. There’s a ton of possibility here, so just make sure you sell the value of whatever service you’re offering so you can start to build monthly recurring revenue and begin scaling your agency.
Choose a Host you can Trust
If you’re handing off a website to a client that isn’t the most technically savvy, the last thing you want to do is confuse them with a bunch of babble about server administration, WordPress updates, and security plugins. Choose a managed WordPress host like WP Engine (for agencies with larger clients) that will take care of all of that for them (and you!), so you won’t have to field those pesky phone calls and emails in the months going forward. Learn more about managed WordPress hosting here.
Outline the Process at the Beginning of the Relationship
Now that you have a better idea of what you’ll include as part of your handoff process, give your next client all the details at the start of the project. You could detail out that at the end of the project, they’ll receive: a glossary, project summary, etc. This lets them know that you’ve thought the entire project through from start to finish and they know what to expect at the end of this project. An easy way to outline this would be including it in your web design proposal or even having them fill out a client intake form.
Create a Repeatable and Scalable Process
Building a handoff process one time is great — but how can you make this scalable for your team? Is your process built into your project management software? Is it clearly outlined in the timeline you give your team and the client? Do you have templates with resources that you can share with clients at this point without building a new one every time? Consider all of these questions and more when thinking about the handoff process on a larger scale.
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