How to create an effective website project plan
Nancy Harnett from the project management platform, Teamwork helps us navigate the key stages to create an effective website project plan.
Developing a website is sometimes a lengthy, complicated, and expensive process. But with a well-thought-out website project plan, it doesn’t need to be.
If you’ve decided to launch a new website, or you’re redesigning your current one, trying to organize everything can be difficult.
You may already be very busy, which can make finding time for a new project extra hard. A website project plan will help you manage your time and make sure you stay on track to hit your targets.
Why do you need a website project plan?
Without a solid plan, it can be tricky to bring the vision for your new website to fruition.
A website project plan allows you to have control over the direction your site will take. It helps you to make sure that, step-by-step, you’re building the site that you want.
How to build a website project plan
There are 3 things that should form the basis of every website project plan:
- Research (and lots of it)
- A list of things you need
- The tasks you have to complete
Starting with some good research, try to gather a list of the things you need your website to do and make note of what you require to get the job done.
Just like making a shopping list, deciding between what you need and what you don’t need can be tough.
So, to make things a little easier for yourself, try answering some of these important questions:
- What do you want your website to achieve?
It’s crucial to know exactly what you want your website to achieve. It allows you to set clear goals that align with your business objectives and helps to inform the structure and content of the site.
Those goals could include hitting a traffic target for your site within a designated time frame or converting a certain number of visitors on important landing pages.
You should always keep your customers front of mind. Constantly review whether your site is giving customers a great user experience or not. If you serve up a sub-par offering, they won’t stick around for long.
A high-quality customer experience is also going to keep Google happy, as they will look favourably on sites that have a high level of visitor engagement – giving you an opportunity to rank higher in search results.
- What’s your project’s budget?
Drawing up a budget for your site and allocating where you intend to spend it will ensure that you stay within your means.
A smaller website which uses a premium wordpress theme that’s already been created will naturally be cheaper than a large site which uses a custom style.
Take note of any key features that must be present on your site. Sticking to this list of features makes it easier to cut out frilly extras that you don’t require. In some cases, you may have to go slightly over-budget to cater for your business needs. Allow for scenarios where certain parts of the project may cost a little bit more than expected.
Keep in mind that some expenses will continue after your website goes live. Hosting, adding new improvements and the upkeep of your site will all cost you money on a continuous basis.
Ultimately, your budget shouldn’t be a set figure, but rather a range that takes into account the potential variation in costs.
- What tasks do you need to accomplish?
The bones of a website project plan will consist of the various tasks that you need to complete to make your website a reality.
Once you know what you want the site to look like, and you’ve committed to a budget, you can start breaking your plan down into these tasks.
Look at how the completion of each task impacts the end goal and prioritize the work that is most essential to your business objectives. Typical tasks in a standard website project plan may include selecting a domain name, choosing a host, constructing a site map, creating your site design and building pages.
It can be useful to identify subtasks within these tasks. This lets you keep track of how they are progressing in more detail.
- How long will it take to complete the project?
After you’ve got all of your tasks in order, come up with a time frame that you want them completed within. Do the same for your subtasks. Breaking down key deliverables into smaller ones will make it much easier for you to manage your workload.
Be aware that you may not be able to begin working on certain tasks until you have finished with a previous one. In your website project plan, try to sort tasks in the order you hope to complete them.
Some tasks might actually have to be worked on after the site has launched, but you should still have a finish line in mind.
- Who’s going to work on the website?
Once all is said and done, someone is going to have to put the website project plan into action. If all you require is a simple website, it might be possible to do this yourself. But taking on a more complex project will often require an experienced team.
After you’ve got the gang together, assign your project’s tasks to the relevant members of the team. Be mindful that some tasks may require multiple team members.
Ask your team to keep you updated on the work they’re doing and find out what resources they need from you.
Writing up your website project plan
After you’ve answered all of these key questions, you’ll need to construct a plan around the information you’ve gathered.
A reliable and effective way to do this is by using project management software, like Teamwork, for example.
A project management tool can simplify your website project plan, as it lets you easily monitor all of the work that needs to be done.
You can carefully manage your project each step of way, making sure your website turns out exactly as you had intended it to.
Implementing the website project plan
Once you’ve finished making your website project plan, it’s time to put it into action.
Sort your tasks by priority and assign them out to your team, then monitor your progress each step of the way so that you know what’s done and what’s not.
With the help of a well-structured website project plan, you can avoid unnecessary problems and stay on track to publishing your ideal website.
Nancy Harnett, Teamwork