5 Sure-Fire Ways to De-Rail Your Website Project
by Erin Kerrigan on Fri, Jan 08, 2016 @ 08:59
Thinking about a new company website project and have high expectations for how quickly it’s going to get launched? There are many factors that play into how quickly your site will go from idea to live, but a solid process to get you from point A to point B surely helps. To make sure you can hit your timeline goals, make sure to avoid these 5 sure-fire ways to de-rail your website project:
1. Failing to Get Key Stakeholder Buy-In Early
Every company has key stakeholders when it comes to their website - i.e. the people who need to have a say in it before it’s live for the world to see. These can be marketing people, sales people, business unit leaders, even CEOs. It’s crucial that you identify all of these people at the beginning of the process and involve them at the key points where their input should be considered (not after). Consider these key points of every website project where these people typically need to be involved:
Prior to contract execution; see #2 below
This is a big one!
Or at a minimum, editing the content
Letting them interact with the site in a test environment
2. Scope Creep
At the beginning of your project, you should agree in writing (i.e. have a signed contract) on what should and should not be included in your website build. Make sure to do your homework at this early stage in the game. This contract is going to dictate how your project is going to run from kickoff to launch (and usually beyond), so making sure it’s accurate before you sign is step #1 in making sure your project moves along smoothly.
When additional items come up in the middle of a project (or really any time after that contract is signed) - i.e. scope creep - it can cause significant delays to slot in the additional work needed, re-think the rest of the project, etc. In order to make sure the website you agree to buy is what you really want at the end of the day, read the fine print and understand fully what is on that contract before it gets finalized.
3. Not Having an Agreed Upon Timeline with Your Website Team
Once the contract is signed, the next best practice you should insist on is an agreed upon timeline with your agency or website team. Everyone must understand their role, what they’re responsible for completing and when to ensure each follow-on step can happen so the overall timeline stays on track. Make sure each party has a chance to review the suggested timeline and provide feedback before it’s all set in stone to avoid bumps in the road. Make sure to consider everyone’s daily responsibilities, trade shows, other large company deadlines, and even vacation and travel time. Once everyone is agreeable, get it signed and make sure everyone has a copy to keep the project on track.
4. No Time/Plan for Content Creation
Content - copy and images - is the most common delay in all website projects. Avoid getting eaten alive by the content beast and know up front that this is a large undertaking of work - and plan accordingly. Some ways to manage through the process:
Clear Your Schedule
Clear your schedule (or the schedules of those people creating the content) when you know content will need to be created so they can put their head down and focus on it.
Consider how much really needs to get done before agreeing to the timeline above - and be realistic with yourself. A word to the wise: Be generous with the time you think you’re going to need.
Consider outsourcing this work. There are website content experts, just like there are for the other parts of your website project. Our team has had great success curating website content on our clients’ behalf. And honestly, the clients who choose to outsource it stays on timeline much better than those who decide to take it on themselves.
5. A Haphazard Testing Process
You’re probably sensing a theme here - planning in advance. Just like the above, making sure you’ve got a good plan for how the website testing is going to work will make the project run more smoothly and stay on the agreed upon timeline. Things to consider:
- Has your agency partner clearly communicated the testing plan? Who, what, when, where & how?
- Do you know who is going to be responsible for what portion of testing?
- How will you keep track of the feedback and issues identified?
The good news - all of this stuff is easy to avoid if you do the right planning up front. And, if all else fails, make sure you have a great partner to lean on when the going gets tough!
Do you have anything else to add? Comment below!