How to Manage Web Design Projects Successfully (and Make Clients Happy)
Tech-savvy businesses have transformed their websites into digital storefronts, using them to generate valuable leads. A good website can engage and educate visitors; a great website turns these visitors into leads before converting them into customers.
It has inspired other businesses to invest in web design and development, along with other digital marketing solutions (e.g. SEO services, native advertising, and social media marketing). As a solutions provider, you have the responsibility to make sure you meet their expectations.
But failing to have a good project management strategy will only result in costly mistakes for you and the client. The latter will have to shoulder budget overruns; while you miss out on other project opportunities, resulting in revenue loss.
Project Management in the Context of Web Development
Poor project management is often caused by the inability to realize the responsibilities involved fully. As the project manager, you take on a leadership role from the consultation phase to the completion phase.
Your role as a project manager covers the following:
- Defining the scope of the project
- Planning and scheduling the tasks involved
- Managing stakeholders and resources
- Calculating costs and managing the budget
- Analyzing and mitigating risks
The client and your team will look to you for guidance throughout the entire process. By familiarizing yourself with the role’s responsibilities, you gain better insights into what you need to accomplish for a successful project.
Key Stages in Managing a Web Development Project
Improve your project management skills by dividing the process into five key stages. Doing so gives you an overview of each step without overwhelming yourself. Then, it’s a matter of listing down the tasks involved in each one.
Before the project officially starts, you will have to develop a plan. The initiation stage includes the project overview, team assignments, and other factors that will affect the entire process.
Create a Project Overview
This will guide you and your team throughout the entire process. When done correctly, this can help you identify short and long-term goals for the project.
- Identify the problems with the existing site and determine the necessary solutions.
- Analyze the potential advantages of these solutions.
- Enumerate the requirements.
- Calculate potential costs for the entire project (e.g., manpower, tools, etc.)
Conduct a Stakeholder Analysis
The stakeholders in your project are the people that are interested in its success and failure. These include the client and the senior leaders in your company. By conducting a stakeholder analysis during the initiation stage, you identify:
- Who are influential and supportive of the project;
- Who are influential but against the project; and
- Who are not influential but supportive of the project.
Knowing who these people are will help you during the decision-making process. Approach the influential and supportive people to gain their support for the project while you involve the influential but unsupportive people less.
Once you’ve completed the initiation stage, it’s time to start planning the actual web design and development process. This stage includes schedules, cost estimates, and key performance indicators (KPIs).
Identify the Team’s Deliverables
While the project overview identifies the completed website’s goals, this step in the process defines what your team needs to accomplish to meet these expectations. Additionally, this will help you create a schedule that works for everyone.
Create the Cost Estimates
Once you’ve defined the team’s deliverables and assigned them their deadlines, you will have to calculate these tasks’ costs. According to a study, the majority of software development projects go over budget by 200%. Avoid this scenario by carefully reviewing the project plan and consulting team members. Doing so will give you more accurate cost estimates for each deliverable.
Set Key Performance Indicators
The project’s KPIs should be measurable by concrete values. They demonstrate the effectiveness of the plan, specifically in how it works to complete the project successfully.
- High-Level KPIs: These indicate the project’s overall performance. Look towards the long-term goals you’ve set to determine if you met these KPIs.
- Low-Level KPIs: These indicate the performance of specific team members. Check deliverable deadlines to determine if they met these KPIs.
During this stage, you will start assigning tasks to teams and individuals. As the actual execution stage of the process, this is where the real work takes place.
Communication is a key element in good project management. Aside from regularly meeting with your team, make sure you schedule calls and appointments with your stakeholders.
- Send them updates on how the project is moving along.
- Respond to their questions as soon as possible to avoid miscommunication and confusion.
- Alert them of any changes or issues to keep them informed.
This stage coincides with the execution stage. As the project moves along, you will have to monitor its progress.
Your resources include your team and other tangible factors required to keep the project moving.
- Schedule weekly huddles with your team to track their progress.
- Encourage them to approach you for any issues so you can address them immediately.
- Pass on the stakeholders’ correspondences to keep the team informed.
Keep an eye on the schedule you made and the team’s deliverables. Make sure everyone is on time. Additionally, conduct assessments to identify potential risks to the project.
As the name suggests, this stage in the process deals with the project’s closure or completion.
- Make sure you meet all milestones before declaring the project complete.
- Hand over all deliverables to the necessary stakeholders.
- Meet with the stakeholders to determine if you’ve fulfilled all their expectations.
By understanding the different stages of project management, you improve practices and streamline the entire process. Web design and development can be challenging, even for the most experienced project managers. Making the necessary changes to your strategy is essential to ensuring the project’s success.
Pro Tips for Better Project Management
With a better grasp of the project management process, it’s time to enhance your practices with some expert tips.
1. Know the project inside out.
As the project manager, you are the point person for every question and concern. Make sure you have the right answers at the right time to prevent confusion and mistakes.
2. Define critical milestones early on.
As mentioned, identifying KPIs and milestones early on gives you a guide throughout the entire web design and development process.
3. Actively engage stakeholders.
Consider your weekly reports as an essential tool for completing the project. These, along with meetings, also serve to improve transparency and accountability.
4. Identify the team’s strengths and weaknesses.
Each member of your team has specialties; by identifying them along with their weaknesses, you can identify potential problems and develop the appropriate solutions.
5. Use the proper tools and equipment.
Recently, there are digital tools and software designed for project management. Utilize these innovations to streamline and standardize processes.
As businesses continue to adopt digital marketing solutions—from local SEO services to better content—into their strategies, you can expect to encounter more clients asking for web design and development services. By improving your project management practices, you can ensure success and happy clients.