Project planning and managing is not an easy task. Whether you have years of experience or taking on your first project, there is a lot to keep in mind and a lot to do to make sure the project is smooth sailing for success. Every project is different and may need different methods of planning to achieve the best results. Different projects also require attention on different parts of the project. For some projects, the design might need the most love whereas some projects might be strict on budget. Regardless of the type of project, this article will provide you with a general idea of how to tackle different elements of a web project in the planning phase.
To get started on any web project is to set clear goals and objectives. Ask yourself these questions and note the answer so you have a clear idea of what to expect.
- What are you trying to achieve with this project?
- Who will be working on this project?
- Who are you trying to reach?
- Who will be visiting the website?
- Who will be using the website?
- What content will you be presenting on the website?
- When do you want the website to launch?
- How is maintaining the website going to work?
- How do you want the website to look?
- What is the budget for this project?
- What methodology will you use?
The list of questions goes on. The answer to these questions may change as you move forward and that’s ok. You can adjust your plan on the way, but it is important to think about these questions before you get started with anything else.
Put it on a list
Once you have answered the questions and you now have a solid idea of what the project is, it is time to create a task list. If it is a big project, you might want to leverage some third-party services that can help you with that. Once you have the list of tasks, lay it out and give priority to each of the tasks and organize a workflow of each task as some tasks cannot be in progress simultaneously while some other tasks can.
Time is money
When you have your task list ready, estimate a timeline for each task and see if it fits in your project timeline, be generous. If things will take longer than expected, and the deadline for this project is firm, you should dig deeper into each task and look for things that can be postponed to post-launch.
As budget often ties with the amount of time needed to complete each task, this is also a good time to revisit your set budget and make sure it is matching. If the numbers aren’t matching enough that you are comfortable with, go back to step one and reevaluate your goals of this project and break it down into smaller groups or phases that you can implement later.
Having a detailed and thorough list of all the tasks can not only help you control your budget but also help you visualize the entire process of the project and how the workflow should be. This can improve efficiency and reduce unnecessary work to be done on the project. For example, having some content ready before finalizing the design can prevent spending extra time and budget on the design because the content did not fit in the original design and needs to be updated again.
If you can handle everything yourself then you can probably skip this step. But if you don’t have the skills or time to complete all the tasks, you might need some help. This is a good time to start assigning tasks to different people. Here are some common roles that you may need when assembling a team.
- Team lead - If the project needs multiple developers or multiple designers working together, you might need a team leader to manage each team and make things easier for you.
- Designer - Besides a web designer, depending on the project, one might need a UI or UX designer.
- Developers - The people to implement and build the website. Sometimes they are split into frontend developers and backend developers.
- Server-side developers - depending on the skillset of your developers, you might need someone to take care of the server-side codes or database administrators.
Organize as you go
Careful and thorough planning always makes the project building process smoother. But that doesn’t mean things can’t get out of hand. Sometimes, all it takes is for the client to change the scope of the project by the slightest to throw everyone off the tracks. Sometimes, a developer being offered a job elsewhere can also change the timeline completely for the project. So how exactly do you organize your project so you are prepared when things change?
First, communicate often. Having a clear communication channel can make things much easier, especially when working from home or working with remote teams is the norm now. Have as many meetings as needed, keep them short and to the point, but meet often enough to be in the loop of what is going on with the project. Make sure the team leaders are communicating enough with the developers or designers. Make sure you illustrate to your team that they can and should let you know about anything. One of the worst situations is that everyone says they don’t have questions or issues until the last minute.
Communication also applies to the client-side as well. Agile methodology is a great way to keep the client in the loop of the progress and that is when clients will often provide feedback about the work and you can fine-tune the tasks lists to reduce unnecessary work and time spent on features or elements that the client either wants to modify or simply doesn’t want it anymore. This also gives you better budget control. If the client wants to expand the scope such as adding more features or pages, you can then discuss the budget with them if necessary. Meeting with clients on a regular basis per milestone can also give you the opportunity to adjust the priorities of the deliverables if required.
Secondly, break down the tasks into something small. For example, if there are 5 different web forms to build, don’t bundle them all together as one task and assign them to a developer. Break it down into smaller chunks of work to make sure the expectations are matching between you, the developer and the client. If the client changes their mind about some component on the form or if there were miscommunication regarding the layout of the web form, it is much easier to update 1 and build the 4 other forms in the right way than to spending the time to build all 5 forms only to have to go back and make changes to all 5 forms.
Lastly, document everything. If you have an issue tracking service such as Jira, great, make the best use of it. If not, use spreadsheets to document changes, tasks, milestones, meeting notes. Miscommunication often happens when tasks are verbally communicated, expectations of the end result can sometimes be interpreted differently. Having things written down can keep everyone on the same page. This also acts as a memory aid since bigger projects tend to have many small tasks that are sometimes harder to track.
There are other methods and strategies to plan for your web project and keep your web project organized. This is a brief overview of how a generic web project workflow could be and some general pointers on how to plan for your web project. As mentioned above, each project is different and may require more planning, more team members and more things to keep track of. But the key is always similar. Communicate with the people you are working with. Know how they are doing, what they are doing, and when it can be done is one of the most important parts of keeping a project organized. If you have a project you would like to discuss and want to know more about how we can help with the process and make it a smooth sailing project, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will be more than happy to help.