Website Project Planning Step-by-Step Guide
Website project planning is crucial to get a well-designed and successfully developed website. Learn how to plan a website project in this article.
The Ultimate Guide for a Website Project Planning
Every business and organization needs a website, but how is a website created? What should be your first steps in website project planning? How to make sure that the budget doesn’t spiral out of control? This article goes over the steps that lead to a successful website using a website project plan.
Why Should You Plan a Project?
In the modern world, businesses are practically obliged to have a website in order to advertise their services, sell their products, and give out information to their customers. However, a good website is not simply a graphical design problem but also it requires having a good website project plan.
A number of pitfalls in website project planning can be avoided by correctly assessing who should be part of the team. Most companies lay the website at the feet of IT. However, professional UI/UX designers should be involved together with marketing and communication specialists and a project manager. The IT staff is vital for the technical aspects, but a business website is a communication tool first and foremost. Marketing knows what products should be highlighted and what is the most important information that should be shared. The bigger your company or organization is, the better you should communicate about the project with the IT team.
There is also an easy misconception that once the website is online you can just rely on it. A website unfortunately much like all technology needs to be updated and potentially rebuilt every 3 to 4 years. This is to move along with technological innovations like adding a mobile layout in order to attract mobile customers, stay relevant in search engines so that you can keep up with the times with your business.
Finally, you should consider your budget beforehand. This will allow you to allocate resources correctly. Remember a website is never truly finished. You can always improve some aspects of the search function, layout, or optimization but you also should keep in mind certain timelines and the information about resources. Identifying your budget beforehand will allow you to stick to it closer.
Project Definition and Research
Now that we understand the importance of having a website project plan, we can move to the next step, namely project definition and research. Essentially, at this stage, also known as a discovery phase, you as a client should decide on what website you need before starting. As you have decided on what functions and features your website should have, you can make a deep research. The discovery phase includes a number of aspects that should be taken into account. These are the website functionality and goal, target audience, developer`s team, and project budget.
Intelvision can help you to do a professional deep research for your project scope and prepare analytics for any type of website.
When you need a website or an update, you should take these factors into consideration:
- Objective, what is the function of your website? Do you need an online selling platform, share information on your projects or is it a publication? There might not be a well-defined answer to this question but try to articulate to yourself in one sentence what the essential tasks of your site are.
- Team, who will work on this site? Do you need to bring in external help or hire new people? Who will do what and when? Make sure that you put a project manager in charge and distribute clear responsibilities. Smaller businesses where people juggle multiple roles will more often misjudge how time-consuming it is to get the website right even when working with an external firm.
- Timeline, we have already discussed the budget but equally important is the project time and deadline. When does your site need to be ready? Are you going to release multiple iterations on the way to a final goal? Time management affects all other factors of the project, mainly if it has to be fast and good, it will be more expensive.
- Target audience, or who will use your website? Is it only for internal use or will it be accessible by the wider public? You should tailor your site to the kind of customers or visitors that you will expect.
Once you have defined the who, the what and the how, you can visualize it all in the mood board.
Then you are ready to move on to the actual work. This can be done through an in-house development team or with the help of an external partner. For example, Intelvision provides high-quality services of web application development for different industries.
Process of Website Planning
Let’s get a little deeper into some specific steps of the website project planning for when you have figured out the broader lines of your website.
Work breakdown structure (WBS)
A good first step of drafting a project plan for building a website is creation of a work breakdown structure. This is a methodical breakdown of your project, first into project tasks and then into subtasks. For each of the tasks and subtasks you then create an individual schedule, cost, goal, dependencies, and project deliverables. In this way, you have the start of an overall website project plan. You might want to use a website project plan template to cover the WBS, but having a customized website project plan is more efficient.
The next step is to arrange all the tasks and subtasks in a structure based on when you need to complete each task and subtask. If you do this right you will have a solid understanding of the ins and outs of the project and also a first estimate of the overall work and time that your website requires. If you have done this correctly, you can follow the WBS all the way to the launch of the website.
Creating a serviceable WBS requires not only experience in website development and high familiarity with the different technical aspects but also an understanding of the time necessary for the creative aspects of the website. It is a difficult balance that needs to be struck but very rewarding if you get it right. The project team of Intelvision can help you to design a project plan for your website.
Risk management plan (RMP)
The expression ‘Be prepared for unexpected consequences.’ denotes the problem with risk management. How can you prepare for the unexpected? This basic contraction shouldn’t stop you from assessing the potential risks during your website’s development. However, since we already have our WBS in hand we can assess what tasks bring what risks with them and assign time to mitigate them.
Say that you are incrementally updating your website and after the new version releases the website goes offline. What mechanisms are in place to rollback to the previous version? How quickly can the website be restored after a server goes down or loses its data? Where are the backups of your client data if a glitch erases them? Who is responsible for starting the failsafe procedures?
If you have to think about this after the website went down, you will lose valuable time during which the website cannot function. Assessing risks and preempting them is vital for any project, you might, of course, get lucky and no issues arise during the project, no backups were ever needed but are you going to gamble your business on that?
Creating a Timeline for Website Project Planning
The timeline should always be built on the priorities of the customer. Furthermore, any dependencies down the line should also be taken care of ahead of time. A good timeline will take into account not only the development time but also testing and bug fixing. This ensures that enough time is taken so any deliverable will have the required quality.
The basis of a good website, in general, will be the result of the research done by a UI/UX designer. This might be an in-house specialist or an external contractor like Intelvision. Our specialists will take the requirements and goals of the website and deliver a rough sketch in the form of a wireframe. This should be carefully examined by all the involved parties so that no confusion exists between the different sides.
The development is the most time-consuming part of the project but if all the previous steps are followed correctly, the timeline can be created by assigning work to different teams and project members. This can be optimized by having multiple teams work in parallel on different aspects of the project. However, this all depends on the amount of resources that can be allocated.
3. Release and Review
The best practice for release and review is to plan sufficient milestones with the client or other interested parties to review the changes. Depending on the project this might be only at the end to receive the final result, but in general, you should review intermediate steps to avoid problems at the end of the project. This will cost more time but it will raise the confidence of the client in your final product and allow them to see the process unfolding.
4. Support & Maintenance
After the final product is accepted and released, it is common to arrange a period or amount of hours of support for a finished product. This is to catch any less obvious bugs and if there are any questions left.
You might also want to preplan some maintenance for your site so that it stays technologically up-to-date and can follow other trends. Intelvision can provide you with such a service.
Sharing info and client's approval
If you are an external partner creating a website for a business or organization, you should always keep them up to date on any progress. This is the way of working with Intelvision, as we clearly communicate with our clients throughout the whole process of website creation.
In general, a single point of contact on both sides should be appointed so that any questions can be dealt with efficiently and quickly, as in larger projects this can be overwhelming so potentially multiple people are required. This means that either side should be responsive and quick in sharing information. Any progress or obstacle should be transparently communicated with the client and the responsible people should give their approval on the progress. There is nothing worse than a rejected final delivery and in this case, both sides are generally to blame equally.
To avoid this, it is needed to establish clear communication protocols and channels, make sure that there are sufficient progress meetings, and be open about problems, delays, or issues. These factors make a good partner. If you are the client, make sure that you do a close follow-up, this is not in the meaning of micromanaging every step of the process, however, it is important to pay attention.
How to build a successful project plan
In the previous steps, we have laid out how to go from an idea of a website for your business to a concrete website. Planning and design should not be neglected and all relevant parties in your company should be given an input. From there you can break down your project plan for website development into clear steps. Your website project plan steps can then be assessed by time costs, risks, dependencies and deliverables. However, this process is daunting if you have no experience with it yourself. If this is the case, you will need to contact experienced professionals to help you. Intelvision offers a range of services to people looking for help with their website at any step in the process.
Our specialists will help you to prepare a successful website project plan and develop your website.