Managing Your Website Project
Project management can be defined as a concerted effort to fulfill the goals of a project. It is a discipline that focuses on the nature of projects and offers methods to control their progress. If you’re already familiar with project management, you’ll realize that creating a website is, in essence, a project.
The project can be controlled more effectively when the various elements of the project are preplanned and progress is examined on an ongoing basis.
Website Project Management Components
As applied to website design, the “project” includes the following components:
- Specific and measurable goals. The project is complete when the website has been successfully launched.
- A specific timeframe. The success of the project can in part be measured by how well the website is designed within the timeframe allotted to it.
- Resources. This generally includes financial and human resources. The web project’s success can be measured by how well these resources are allocated and coordinated.
- Interdependent, but individual, tasks. If a particular task is not completed on time, it typically affects other tasks and the overall schedule.
The Project Life Cycle
Website projects include the following project phases:
- Planning: This is the first phase, and involves defining the objectives, scope and requirements of the website project. Please see the Planning Your Website article for an expanded discussion of the planning phase.
- Visual design: The design phase defines the site’s look and feel. It includes branding requirements, color schemes, navigational systems, fonts, and graphics.
- Development: This is usually the largest phase of the project, and includes creating the site layout and building individual pages.
- Content: This involves populating the website with content, including text, images, slideshows, videos, etc. The content phase often overlaps with the development and testing phases.
- Testing: Quality assurance includes HTML markup and CSS validation, editorial review, and testing of functionality, navigation systems, links, browser compatibility, accessibility, and usability.
- Launch: Launching your website is really more of a milestone than a process, because the “process” typically consists of little more than uploading your website files to your host’s server. It is certainly cause for celebration though, because it represents the culmination of all your devotion and hard work.
- Post-launch: Web development is an ongoing process. After your site is launched, you’ll need to analyze how it’s being used and identify opportunities to improve it. Post-launch tasks include the following:
- Maintain your site. You must update your site on a timely basis to reflect changes in your company.
- Monitor your site’s search engine status. This involves checking your site’s search engine visibility and rankings on a regular basis to ensure your SEO strategy is working.
- Promote your site. This includes online promotions such as e-mail campaigns, linking strategies, and advertising.
- Examine site traffic. It can be very useful to analyze traffic volume and determine where your visitors are from, how they found your site, what they do when they get there, and so on.
- Respond to incoming e-mails. Incoming e-mails are essentially the online equivalent of phone calls, so prompt response times are critical.
- Evolve your site. Keeping in mind your mission and objectives, learn what’s working and what isn’t, make changes if necessary, and follow up to determine if the changes improved your site.
Project management helps to ensure a smooth website design and development process, with sufficient planning being the all-important first step. Website objectives and requirements should be well documented, and open communication should be maintained during all phases of the project.