IXD302 Proposal : Research, Planning and Writing

The Brief

In week 6 we were given the brief for our second deliverable which is to submit a designed project proposal for the design of a website and brand to represent Hill Street Belfast.

Here is the brief I took note of…

 

What is a proposal?

In week 5 we were asked to do and find out what a UX proposal actually is in preparation for the next week’s lecture. I found that a UX proposal is essentially a written document that sums up your plans as a designer for handling a client’s project and meeting their needs. To show the client how you see the project, what your objectives are and how you intent to achieve them. It really helps keep everyone on the same page as to what steps are going to be taken and what’s needed from both sides so that no surprises or slip ups happen during the collaboration as everything is clearly stated. They’re also an important layer of protection incase the client gets sneaky and can save you from financial and legal trouble with them.

The benefits of a proposal include…

  • it helps you create a strategy for project development process
  • it guides you through the project
  • it removes ambiguity and misunderstandings
  • it shows the client how professional and skilled you are
  • it convinces the client to hire you

What to Include?

In class we looked briefly at the different components to consider and include in a proposal document…

This was great but I needed to develop further understanding of all the different components and what I way I should go about writing for each of them.

I first looked at the section on proposals in the book “A Project Guide to UX Design: For user experience designers in the field or in the making” by Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler. This was a veery eye opening and informative read and it gave me an extremely thorough guide to proposals.

Here are my notes from the books section on proposals…

I know my handwriting might look a bit like chicken scratch to most people but hopefully this shows you that I learned a lot about proposals from this book and I’m feeling a lot more confident about this project now.

I also found some articles online which were helpful…

 

The Project

So now that I had a good Idea of how to compose a proposal, I had to look more specifically at what the steps in my process are going to be for this specific project. As this is integral to my overview, approach, scope f work, assumptions… pretty much every component actually.

Thanks to IXD103 and developing. my own personal brand for that module, I already know everything that’s involved in the branding process. For the website though, I had to figure out  what kinds of features, pages content etc. would be include in it so that then I can determine my approach among other aspects of the project considered in the proposal.

Looking at Similar Sites

For this I to look at what the websites for the Titanic Quarter and Cathedral Quarter were like and took a bunch screen shots of all the different sections in each site.

Titanic Quarter

Cathedral Quarter

Comparing the two sites it was clear to me that the. titanic quarter brand had been established the longest based in the quantity of content and features available on the site. I was able to prove this hypothesis by going through the news section of the cathedral quarter where the last date was 2018. The titanic quarter brand was established in 2006.

Since Hill Street Belfast is not already an established brand and I’d we’d be starting from scratch with content I think it is better to look at The Cathedral Quarters Site and what sections and content are available on it and thus model Hill Street’s new site after it to some capacity.

Who Would My Client Be?

I needed to think of a name for my client so that my proposal would seem more realistic and also because saying client over and over is kind of annoying. For this I looked at who would have requested a site design for the one I looked at and I found that it was Titanic Quarter Ltd. and The Cathedral Quarter Trust. I didn’t like the sound of Hill Street Trust so for the name of my hypothetical client I went with Hill Street Ltd.

What to Include Hill Street Site

So from looking at The Cathedral Quarter’s Site, I was able to write down the sections/pages/features to be included in the Hill Street website design…

A bit higgledy piggledy looking, I know but this was really good for me to right out. I helps me understand what the project is for, how I’ll approach it, what I’ll need from the client in a timely fashion for things to proceed like contacts and details of local businesses, employees and and written content or imagery they have for me to work with, what exactly I’ll be producing and how long it will take me probably. Basically now I understand the hypothetical project I’m undertaking.

What I Will Need from Hill Street Ltd.

Now is the time I look into and consider what I am going to be looking for content wise from the client.

I struggled to find a whole lot of historical information about Hill Street online so that is something they will need to provide me with. I will also be expecting them to give me details of businesses and organisations as well any imagery, video and written content they have that I could potentially get use out of. Also any information on events and news in the community.  Them organising interviews with business people and member of the community would be nice too.

Also I would like access to communication with their team members so that I can understand better what their mission is according to them, how they started etc. I need to know what they’re about so that I can build the right brand sound and image for them.

I’m also thinking that if they can’t provide high with enough high quality imagery, we will need to hire a professional photographer which will go into additional costs and is their responsibility to organise.

This might seem like a lot but I firmly believe that if they want me to design and develop a top quality brand and website for them, this is what I need.

 

Writing My Proposal

Once I felt I understood how to put a proposal together as well as my hypothetical project I was able to start writing the content of my proposal document. Here I’ll just go step by step through the different sections, what I wrote and why.

Just to get it out of the way I found myself speaking in third person and I’m not entirely sure if that was the right thing to do. I just thought it didn’t really make sense to say “we” and “us” when I’m just one person but then I hadn’t seen any proposal examples where first person pronouns are used and I dunno, it just feels weirdly more professional to refer to myself in third person. Like I feel super important or something.

 

Title Page

The content of the title page is incredibly simple and easy to put together so I decided to leave it till I reach the design stage of my proposal development.

Project Overview

For the project overview I wanted to making it extremely clear that I understand what my client, High Street Ltd. is looking for. I wrote a short intro line which sums up the project quite nicely but then went and wrote a short paragraph on both the brand and website aspect of the project. When talking about the branding I used words like distinctive and vibrant because in my head the has seen my portfolio and is interested in applying the way I love designing to this project as a means of making the location seem more lively. Not sure if that makes any sense but anyway.

Project Approach

For the project approach I felt it was easiest for me to break down how I would go about the project if I were to set a time frame and go through the tasks I’d be undertaking each week. Pretty standard stuff for the most part in terms of tasks but you might notice I mention a few times about meeting with the team for feedback. This is what I think i s the best way to avoid the tragic situation of getting to the end of a project and having your client see “yeah… I don’t like it”. I’m someone who thrives off of feedback as well so being able to show my stuff and get an opinion on it from who it was designed for is only going to ensure that the project works out as they want it to.

Scope of Work

For the scope of work I clearly outlined what my responsibilities are and what are theirs in relation to this project. I found it a bit hard distinguishing between this and the upcoming section and what to not say here and leave for the  assumptions but I figure it out.

Assumptions

In this section I made clear to the client what expectations (assumptions is more polite wording but that’s really what it is) I had about things they would provide me with timely access to so as not to contribute to disruptions with the project timeline and negatively impact the final outcome.

Mainly I would need to be able to speak with team members for feedback bi-weekly at least and I need all content for the site as required.

Deliverables

In this section I listed all the deliverable I am intending to provide the client. I basically just listed out all the different ux deliverables I could think of that correlate with the steps I listed in my project approach. There were somethings I wasn’t sure how to refer to in a professional context so I looked up lists of best ux deliverable practices online and they had the wording like there’s a lot of reports instead of what I would have initially labeled as data or just on its own.

Ownerships and Rights

For this section I didn’t want to have a super long and arduous list of Ts and Cs since there were only a couple things I wanted to make clear to the client. 1. The intellectual property is theirs as long as they pay me and 2. I get to put this work in my portfolio.

Additional Costs

For this section my two initial thoughts were about potential having to pay use test participants and also about potential having to hire a photographer for the project if we don’t have enough high res imagery already available to use.

I also added a bit about hosting services that I got from a template in the book.

Pricing

For pricing I decided to chance my arm a bit and go with the typical rate for graduates. I estimated 35 hours of work every six weeks.

Payment Schedule

For payments I decided to go with weekly instalments as this works best for me and it also works to get the client to consider me as more of a valued employee than the  work for hire outsider that I actually am.

 

Acknowledgments

When righting the acknowledgements section, my primary goal was to make it clear to the client that agreeing to this proposal means that if they want me to do anything beyond what is presented within the proposal, we will have to renegotiate the time line and costs.

I also wanted to drive home that the final product will be theirs, so long as they pay me. I also wanted to make sure that I reserve the right to present the work on in my portfolio even after I hand over the intellectual property.

What’s Next?

So now I’ve written out my content for the proposal and honestly, it was as bad as I thought. In fact, I kinda enjoyed putting it all together and I realised how important it is to be so considerate and careful for yourself when taking on free lance work.

Anyway so next thing on the agenda is doing up an invoice to go with my proposal. I also have to design my document which I’ll do in illustrator most likely. Not sure how much of my brand I should put into the styling just yet but I’ll figure it out.

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