How to Hand Off a Project to a Client - dummies

By David Karlins, Doug Sahlin

Regardless of whether you complete the whole website building project on your own or with a team, you might need to hand off the project to someone else. When you’re planning a project, you need to think about the ongoing maintenance of the website and either include a maintenance agreement in your proposal or outline how you’ll hand off the project.

A maintenance agreement should outline how much it will cost to maintain the site and what services you’ll provide. Clients must know that requesting large additions to the site will require a new proposal, scope document, and contract.

If you’re planning to hand off the website to the client, you and the client must agree on the following:

  • What will you hand off? If you’re turning over development materials, how much are you turning over and in what format?

    The choice of what to do with production graphics is up to you. Some designers keep their original, editable versions of their graphics. Others hand over all the files. Whichever you decide, make sure that the client understands what they’re going to get and how they’ll get it.

    Whatever you decide as far as the deliverable materials to the client, make sure to keep copies for your own records. Burn the files to discs, collect the site notes, and gather the electronic documents that you’ve used (e-mails, word-processing documents, contracts, invoices, and so on).

    Put all the materials together and keep them for your records. Too, sometimes clients will come back to you for follow-up work, so having everything from the first project on file and readily accessible will make the follow-up work flow much easier.

  • How much transitional support will you give at handoff? You might want to offer some training if the client doesn’t have in-house staff with skills to maintain the site. Make sure you figure any training or transitional support work into your budget.

  • How will you transport the material to the client? Best practice is to deliver the site itself to the client’s web server via FTP (File Transfer Protocol). Or you might deliver the site files — and other files, too — on a CD or DVD.

Whatever you decide, make sure you get it all in writing. Make sure that all partied involved understand exactly what you are handing off to the client and in what format. This is especially important if you hire other professionals such as content writers to complete the work. When you work with a web team, all parties must agree, which avoids any potentially unpleasant situations popping up in the future.