How to manage a website project

Web projects are notorious for completing (way way) over schedule, out of scope and over budget in instances.

The reason for this is typically a lack of focus  at the initial requirements stage and/or control as the project progresses.

At the beggining, you (the client) will probably only know 60-70% of what your looking for from a new website. You’ll tell your agency or web designer what your ideas, wants and aspirations are and they’ll start creating something with this in mind, but what other factors can affect the delivery of your new business website?

Here’s a breakdown of the things you should be aware of when embarking on a new website project, based on my experiences of managing website projects over the last 10 years.

  1. creativity and ability to exercise it

Web designers by nature are creative, and you need to be clear on whether you want their creativity or you just want them to follow your brief and design ideas.

(Id reccomend you use a web designer for their creativity personally as thats really what your paying for)

  1. confusion over skills set

A web designer is very different to a web developer. As is a Graphic (or digital) designer.

A designer is someone who styles and designs something first.

A developer is someone who creates functionality behind a design (a developer usually doesnt make a good designer!).

More often than not, if your using a one man band they will be one or the other from above first, but they will profess to do the whole job (A new website requires a design first and then development to turn the flat design into a website.)

Ask them who is going to design, and who is going to develop. They may have an asslcoate that specialises in the other area, which is fine, but rarely will you find a talented web designer that can also develop a website.

  1. systems used

Are you a Plumber, Accountant, or Solicitors that needs a website to drive enquiries over email and phone?

Or are you a transactional business wanting to setup a new ecommerce website?

Depending on this, and your budget – results in different technology options.

Generally, a lot of web designers, developers and website agencies now use a platform called WordPress.

Its free, widely used and highly regarded. Many big brands use it aswell as startups etc because its so flexible.

If your looking to develop a new ecommerce website, an additional bolt on system called woocommerce can be setup on wordpress, giving it the product / basket / payment functionality needed to transact online.

If your looking at a more robust solution with advanced product catalogue management then magento is another eCommerce solution. But this is only 2 out of a much larger pool of many systems that can be used.

Each has its pros and cos, and finding the right one for you may not be so easy, so just ask your web designer

– what their reccomendation is

– how many other websites theyve built on their reccomended platform in the last 12 months (these systems constantly update amd you want to work with someone who knows them as they exist today, not last year!)

And you should be ok.

  1. A lack of project management

A website project needs management from both client and supplier. If its left just to the web designer or agency to manage, they will manage your new website project amongst a group of projects that they are also juggling. Your project wont necessarily get the attention it needs all the time, and particularly not when you feel it needs it! Therefore, you need to help your chosen supplier in managing the project, so that both sides equally input on timelines, feedback and keeping the project on track. You cannot leave it up to the devices of your chosen supplier – this wont work! Be prepared to be fully involved and also have some trying moments and as long as you work to keep control of the project (in a positive way – not negative – you don’t want your web designer or agency to start thinking of you as a pain in the a*se client) your project will go smoothly.

  1. too many cooks

Involving a lot of individuals throughout the feedback process and project lifecycle can be damaging, as its just more opinions in the pot and more people to try and please. As a business owner, try and maintain ultimate control and sign off, reviewing all feedback objectively in the interest of your websites objectives.

If your stuck and not sure who to give your project too, as a rough guide take a look at my article on how much should you spend on a new website.

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