Ideally, the client presentation of the site should occur before the winter break, while the course is still active. A tour of design, content and functionality will acquaint the client with the new site. Students are counseled to focus on quality rather than completeness at this stage, as there is no reason to expect that the 16 weeks of the course provide enough time to finish any site of any size presented to a first-year student.
Ultimately, it is the client’s choice whether to adopt the site or not, and students understand that clients are under no obligation to do so. The Client Presentation is therefore a sales pitch by the developer, producing a clear outcome. Based on evaluation of this preliminary presentation, clients should be able to decide whether it makes sense to adopt the new site.
Beta Testing (Stakeholders)
If a site has been selected by a client for adoption, it should be prepared for Beta testing by additional client stakeholders (staff, customers, friends) who will look it over and interact with it while it is still on the student’s domain. To make this possible, student developers can develop a “beta test” forms similar to the alpha version, to be circulated for specific and general feedback. The questions asked on the form should derive from the discussion during the presentation meeting.
In the happy event that the site will be adopted by the client, launch arrangements will need to be made, including pointing the client’s domain name to the new site. A very reputable and inexpensive hosting company, Siteground, provides our students free hosting for one year, so clients will have until August to decide whether to continue to host with Siteground or make their own arrangements to migrate the site to other servers.
Launching a site is a great opportunity to build traffic and put best feet forward. Unless students have a track record in site launches, we recommend that clients bring their sites to local developers at this point, and pay to fine-tune the sites and finish off the launch process cleanly. This is money well spent, and leverages all the work that went before. A launch planning process should include gathering site visit statistics before and after the move to WordPress, and planning for PR to publicize the new site launch in local papers and media.
Even though experts are now involved in launching the site, our first-year students can still play a role: training client stakeholders to edit content in WordPress. Because client training is outside the scope of the course, this presents an opportunity for clients to pay students for their time, and consider an ongoing fee-based relationship. Student developers are ideal candidates for this work, as they are expert in the particularities of the site’s theme and construction, and will work for much less than the professionals.