Keys To a Smooth Website Project
At liQuidprint, we've been working with clients on their website projects for 16 years. That's a long time in both internet and dog years. Here are a few of the tips we've picked up along the way.
- Assign the right Project Lead. The right client project lead too often decides the success of the project. It's important to have an individual who has the right skill-set to manage the project, the stakeholders and the web vendor. The project lead needs to be someone who understands the requirements, has the authority to make decisions (or at least a hotline to the people who can). It's imperative that the project lead invite feedback and buy-in from the rest of the organization at the appropriate times during the project. It's even more imperative that the project does not become a design by committee.
- Have a vision but be open to new
ideas. Make sure that everyone on the web team has
agreed on the requirements and goals for the new website - at least
at a high level. Once you have established some agreed upon basics,
prioritize them. This will make the process a lot less painful and
help us all achieve that vision. As a partner, it's our role to
suggest new ideas that you hadn't thought of and/or steer you away
from common pitfalls. The moral is that it's important to have a
clear vision, it's equally important to be open to modifications to
- Limit the scope. It's the rare client who has the time, resources, funds and vision to execute their entire wishlist in the first release of the site. Don't get me wrong - lots try to accomplish it. But you are setting yourselves up for some level of failure. Even it's just missing a deadline and dragging out the project. Your website should be an ongoing investment and it's not only acceptable, it's often preferable to have the site built in phases.
At a minimum, we recommend going through a Design and Discovery phase first. Use this phase to establish the look and feel for the new site as well as a detailed road map for all the functionality. Oh, and let's not forget a fixed cost and a timeline for implementation. Armed with this knowledge, you can make intelligent and informed decisions about the priorities for your site and establish a clear path to successfully realizing your vision.
- Choose the right partner. (Blatant self promotion goes here). Seriously though, how do you know you have the right partner? If I were choosing a partner, I'd focus on the following:
a. Make sure they know their stuff. Check credentials, check references, visit other sites they have created.
b. Be Comfortable with them. You are going to be spending a lot of time together and not all of it will be pretty. Find a partner you would invite to the holiday party. Someone whose style will fit well with your organizations.
c. Trust. In order to be successful in any relationship, a level of trust needs to exist. The partnership between you and your web developer is no different. A website project can be scary so you need to choose a partner that you can rely on to look after your best interests.