Just for Agencies: How to Hand Off Web Projects to Clients

Jenny Peterson Dubinsky

If you work at a web agency, this scenario probably sounds familiar…

You’ve been working hard over the past weeks and months, and now the day is finally here: launch day! You may have a different name for it — project handoff or even D-Day — but no matter what you call it, it’s the day the project you’ve been working on is absolutely perfect and now it’s time to pass it on for the client to manage.

What you’re actually handing off may vary: It may be all the reins of the website, including any edits or changes that the client wants to make down the line. It may include hosting responsibilities or other controls. On the other hand, it may simply be a username and password the client can use to make small edits and nothing more to the website, or simply the understanding that they’ll get back in touch with request changes as needed.

But no matter what your agency-client handoff looks like, three things will help make it a success. Here’s how we’ve learned to make web project handoffs go smoothly.

Follow a Process

Any project handoff needs a process to get it right. Whether it’s a checklist or a long shared document that everyone on your team can add to, following steps every time will ensure you remember to include everything — passwords, editing information, special instructions and so on.

I have a project management launch document, and I print it out at the end of every project to follow the steps. I’m often adding to it to make it better.

This is especially handy when your internal systems change. We have a new ticketing system and use our process documents to make sure nothing gets lost in the transition.

Here are a couple of items I recently added to my end-of-project to-do list:

  • Review all icons on website admin dashboard to make sure they’re intuitive. This is such a small touch, but I’ve learned that tweaking icons (for example, adding a chat bubble icon to “testimonials”) makes new admins’ learning curve easier.
  • Test web pages to make sure they print well. I’ve found that some people still like to print web pages, so I double-check our print styling.

We use this process internally, as well. When we hand off a project from one person to another as it moves through concept and design and building out, we go through checklists to make sure no information is lost. When I hand a project off to Rachel Evans, our client service manager, she uses her own QA checklist to make sure she has all the information needed.

Communicate

Client communication is always important, but it’s especially crucial at the end of a project. That way, it’s clear to the client that the site is now live and theirs — the deliverables have been delivered. There may be some questions about small changes after the final launch, so build some leeway into the project timeline. If one of our clients decides after a week or so that they need to change something in the layout, we have a grace period during which we’ll help the clients make changes. Ensure everyone who will be managing the website is fully prepared to make the handoff a success.

Deconstruct

After we hand off a project, we like to get together internally and talk about what worked and what didn’t with a particular project. We stay focused on the process and how to improve it. Identifying things that work and shedding things that don’t will always help your clients in the long run.

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