Building a Website? Ready for Refresh?
Whether you are building a website for the first time or just giving your site a facelift, there are a few tools you should keep in mind along the way.
1. Goal Setting and Planning
“Failing to plan is planning to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
Setting goals and having a plan on how you will reach those goals will not only help you stay on track and measure your progress, but also keep you and your team motivated through what can be a daunting process.
Looking at all the pieces that go in to a website can be intimidating unless you look at it as just that, a series of pieces.
Grouping these pieces together into phases makes the task at hand more digestible and allow you to be as efficient with your time and money as possible. Personally, I always get a boost of motivation from completing a section and moving on to the next.
Most importantly, showing progress and goals achieved will keep your key stakeholders happy whether it be your manager, client, or even staff members who rely on the website as a tool.
The goal setting and planning section can be very robust dependent on the size and capability of your site. I like to break my site builds in to 5 categories:
Goal 1 – Content and Mapping
Photos, copy, sitemap, videos, creative assets such as logos and brand colors. You will also begin your Search Engine Optimization here through keyword research development.
Goal 2 – Wire framing
Use the sitemap to create a template for your site that focuses on layout, user navigation and content sections but excludes actually putting the specific content in. You can view a sample wire frame here (open new window to sample wireframe)
Goal 3 – Design
Place the images, colors, content, etc. in to the wireframe as a guide for the development team.
Goal 4 – Development
Site is built and debugging happens in this stage.
Goal 5 – Launch and Market
Go live! Test and make adjustments based on user feedback, heat mapping, surveys, etc. Market your site to drive traffic to the new site. Using growth driven design, continuously improve your marketing efforts with the data you get from your testing.
2. Establish Timeline and Workflow
Now that you have your goals and a plan of execution you need to set timelines and delegate responsibilities to your team.
Set Realistic Deadlines that Set You Up for Success
Things rarely go perfectly to plan in website builds so the best advice I can give you here is to build in time additional time as a safety net. No one will get upset about finishing a project early, but everyone gets upset about a project being late.
The chances that content, layout, design and development are perfect on the first go around with no edits is not the norm and should not be expected. If multiple approvals are needed, such as at a larger company or a company with several managing partners, the review and approval process can take additional time.
One missed deadline can quickly have a domino effect and offset the remaining deadlines if there is no buffer built in to the schedule.
Give yourself ample time to create, review, edit, approve and implement. Your audience can easily tell if an aspect of the project was rushed or under-thought.
Establish a Point of Contact
Another way to increase efficiency in a project where there are several managing partners is to establish a main point of contact that your communication and approvals will come from. This is an easy way to eliminate chaotic back and forth situations.
Ask “Who is Doing What?”
You have a timeline, established your point of contact for communication and approvals and now it’s time to go back to your list of goals with your team and determine who is going to be responsible for the different deliverables.
Having a well-defined internal structure for deliverables will allow you to work on deliverables consecutively and reduce the overall time needed. This will also allow you to keep your team accountable and on track.
The items on this list do not necessarily have to happen in this order but it is critical they do take place.
3. Set Expectations
I like to believe that people don’t like to upset other people whether it is in our personal or professional life. One way I have found to minimize disappointment is to keep open communication and set realistic expectations.
Early in my career I had a bad habit of agreeing to any request or time line that came across my desk. I will preface this with acknowledging that emergencies do happen and have their place in this equation but those are exceptions and should not be the norm.
When they become the norm is a key indicator that the process needs to be revisited. Agreeing to unreasonable timelines or requests will set you and your team up for failure by missing deadlines or producing sub-par work.
My concern was that my client would be upset when I tell them we couldn’t deliver the end product by their requested deadline. What I found was the opposite.
In most cases they were very understanding and we were able to work together to find a solution that worked for both sides.
4. Add a Buffer
It’s funny which life lessons stick with you and how relevant they can be long in to the future. I learned a lot of great things in college but one of the most beneficial came from a graphic design professor who told me “However long you thing a project is going to take, triple it!”
We don’t live in a vacuum where everything is within our control and predictable. There are always going to be unknowns or curve balls that are thrown our way that we have to constantly make adjustments for. In addition to completing the project within the timeline, adding additional time for these unknown unknowns will help keep the stress level down and everyone sane.
Using these 4 tools will help set your team up for success and make the process and smooth and stress free as possible. If you are considering a new website build or refresh, take a look at our free workbook. We’ll guide you through every step so you don’t miss anything.