Delivering a successful web project is difficult. However, what deems it a success in the first place? Is it the finished product? Is it the consequences of the end result? Or is it about the process? Put quite simply; it is a combination of all these things. You can build the most beautiful website but if the delivery was painful, what’s the point?
There are many reasons for a project to run off the rails; some are regarding the client and their ideas, some are down to the agency and some are totally unavoidable. But don’t panic, I have mustered all of my experience and knowledge as a long-serving UX and engagement manager to share with you what I do to make sure my web projects are successful. Keep these points in mind and they will no doubt help you get to the finish line without feeling like you just kicked a dead whale up the beach.
The devil is in the detail. If you don’t know what you need to build, how will it be built on time or to budget? This might sound obvious, but I have seen so many web projects fail because either the client hasn’t thought the process through or the agency has made assumptions about what is required. To avoid this, explore every aspect of the brief as much as possible. What fields are required? What validation needs to be in place? Don’t overlook anything. Remember, even the simplest things can have a huge impact on a business. For instance, I was once asked to put a call-to-action into the header of a website. The client was very insistent it must be a telephone number, but through some discussions it emerged that they actually had no one to answer the phone! The lesson? Make sure you have a clear, detailed brief. This not only provides a strong foundation to build your project on but it also helps you define a clear scheduled checklist for future reference.
Build the right team.
A team is a vital part to any project no matter what. These are the people that you are going to be reaching your goals and targets with. It is imperative that you have a highly motivated team, particularly if it is a large web project which may last serval months. Ensure everyone is knowledgeable about the brief at the very start of the project and that they are okay to carry out the discussed tasks. If you have any doubts, face them straight away. Talk to people, both clients and colleagues, about their concerns and most importantly listen. Ironing out any issues at the start and getting everyone on board is vital to any happy and successful web project.
Communication can really make or break a project’s success rate. It is something that we all underestimate when it comes to completing tasks. Something as simple as picking up the phone can save you hours of work time. Weekly catch-up meetings are good basic practice too. This can be where everyone can review what work has been completed, what is under way and go through any difficulties that may have arisen. Be honest. There is no point hiding your head in the sand if things aren’t going to plan for whatever reason. After any meeting, skype catch-up, or call make sure you write up a contact report and circulate it to the whole team. This will help avoid any doubts and ensure that clients and colleagues are up to date with the project.
The hot topic for any project. If you know you can’t build what your client wants within the time don’t blindly agree to do it. You may look good in the first week of the project, but you are the one who is going to have to face the flack later down the line. Never be afraid to ask for more time up front if you have any logical concerns, most clients will listen and take your advice onboard. Walk away from those that don’t and who continue to insist on a ridiculous deadline, because the situation will only compound and put a strain on you and your team which leads to another failed web project. To keep track of time scales set up a rolling schedule at the beginning of the project, review and update it weekly. Remember it’s a ‘rolling’ schedule so any delay, no matter how small, needs to be highlighted and the impact made clear, even if you can make up the time elsewhere. This will help later on if you need extra time or extra budget as you will have a clear trail to the events which have caused this.
Once a project is complete review it. This should never be a witch hunt or blame-storming session, but an honest appraisal of how things went both good and bad. This enables everyone who was part of the project to understand where they could improve next time and learn from it. After all, we should never stop learning and developing. In the words of Benjamin Franklin himself; “tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”.
If you want some more guidance on web project management please don’t hesitate to drop us an email or give us a call and we’ll see if we can lend you a helping hand. Head over to our contact page to find the best way to get in touch.
As always we have left a few handy links to extra reading around this topic that you may find helpful:
Now that you have the basics sorted aren’t you ready to start your next web project? Happy managing!