Project Management Essentials for Successful Websites
What factors would you consider to be most critical when determining the success of a website project? Most people would say the quality of design or the innovative aspects of development. Rarely has someone said, “Wow, that project management was top notch!”
As an agency building websites for over a decade, we’ve developed more websites than we can count. They’ve included corporate sites, product microsites, campaign child sites, and web applications. Each project contained different compositions and goals, but all had strong underlying needs to ensure a successful launch.
Through the lifetime of the project, project management is critical component to the successful development and launch of a website. Projects require tight deadlines and budgets, and we understand how imperative it is that a project manager be on top of all aspects – from copywriting and design to SEO and development.
Here are seven project management essentials our agency utilizes to ensure an effective website launch:
- Be a Leader: As a project manager, we are the main point of contact throughout the creation of the site. We are responsible for communicating the details, setting expectations and dealing with unexpected circumstances. As a leader, the project manager needs to set the example. When conflict arises, it is our responsibility to remain levelheaded and gather all details before executing next steps.
- Create a Project Plan: We identify our key stakeholders and meet to review all details: purpose, goals and target audience. The project manager needs to clearly define all deliverables at this stage. We create a schedule and highlight steps that could be problematic down the line. We present milestones to team members prior to beginning the project. We utilize project management platforms to help keep the project organized and easy to follow.
- Create a Neutral Environment: Our team openly discusses how design and development ideas meet project goals – or how they don’t. If team members understand how their ideas affect the overall budget and schedule, it helps to ease frustration when receiving negative feedback. The design and development process should remain consistent throughout projects.
- Identify the Stakeholders: Whose feedback is most important? How do you determine what feedback to implement and what feedback to ignore? Determine who the key stakeholders are from your client. The CEO does not always have the final say. In some instances, it may be the senior marketing manager or the junior coordinator. Do not make assumptions. Design by committee never works. We make sure to identify who holds the final say prior to getting the project kicked off.
- Put the Client in Charge: Make it apparent early on that your client is the one in charge. Alert the client as soon as the project starts to deviate from the project plan. If a client feels like the power is in their hands, they may be more willing to expand scope or agree to extended deadlines if necessary. We set clear expectations and check-in frequently with our team to make sure everyone remains well informed and understands all necessary expectations.
- Be Flexible, Be Patient: Being able to handle unexpected circumstances is key to a successful project. Is there extra time built into the schedule? Can resources be reassigned to stay on budget and on schedule? Are you able to have honest and (sometimes) difficult discussions with your team when things start to veer off track? Maintaining a sense of calm during tough circumstances will reassure your client and staff. There is always a solution and maintaining a calm attitude will help you find it.
- Manage Risk: Successful project managers need to recognize risk when it comes to schedules, resources and budgets. Risk management is critical to achieving goals since you need to be prepared for unexpected circumstances around every corner. Learning how to identify risks and assessing the potential effects to your project is key. Additional must-dos include: developing plans for mitigating these risks, monitoring the status of these risks throughout the project, and informing key stakeholders of all risks involved with the project.
Poor project management practices are a major reason why creative projects fail. A successful project manager should offer strong communication and negotiation skills as well as the ability to resolve conflict. If the team does not trust the project manager, the project is set up for disaster.
Our project management teams utilize these seven essentials for each project we create. We understand the value that this role plays to our clients.