Tips for success on a web project

It’s always tempting to build a bespoke site – and equally tempting to over-spec it and become frustrated when timescales and budgets over-run. Here are some tips for success based on my experiences in project managing nine web launches for a major publisher….

1. Have absolute clarity on your target audience and your unique proposition

It is worth investing time on this. Be clear on who the site is for and what it will do for them. Make sure it is unique – don’t be a pale imitation of the market leader. Build on your own unique strengths – archive material or special relationships. Talk to prospective customers – and commercial partners to check your thinking. Let this drive your requirements.

2. Get the best talent you can on the project

Don’t be tempted to compromise. For a content driven site, get the best editor you can – someone who knows their subject, is highly web-literate and passionate about the project. If you are dependent on commercial revenues, get the sales team involved early – and talk to their customers. Be sure your web developers are up to the challenge, and avoid reliance on one sole genius. Most important of all, get an experienced project manager – if they don’t exist in your organisation, invest in a contract PM.

3. Ensure all stakeholders are aligned on the scope and business objectives

Work out who the stakeholders are and understand their objectives and prejudices. Get them all to sign off the scope and the budget. Keep them informed of progress but don’t let them expand the scope. Their role should be to remove obstacles, not create them.

4. Plan conservatively and anticipate the issues

Be conservative on the schedule – allow for sign-off cycles, illness, migration, testing, bug fixing and even bad weather! Log the risks, try to mitigate them, and keep the issues top of the agenda. Weekly project meetings are essential to keep the project on track.

5. Celebrate success and document the learning

Web build projects are an emotional rollercoaster, and it’s easy to get depressed by negative feedback. Keep the team positive, celebrate their successes, and document the learning for the next project….

Carolyn Morgan’s consultancy business, Penmaen Media, helps media brands grow in a digital world. Visit www.penmaen.media for more info on how they can help your web build project run smoothly.

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