If you have ever been a part of developing any software or web solution, you know that the development process is not a piece of cake. There is always a room for lack of efficiency, misunderstandings and missed deadlines. This is exactly why a good project manager is highly valued – his or her role is to make sure these things won’t take place. Besides, according to the research conducted by Project Management Institute, US$122 million out of every US$1 billion of investments end up wasted because of poor project management. It is alright to acknowledge you have some gaps in your knowledge on how to manage website development – this is why we have written this article and this is why you are reading it. There is always a room for improvement. Without further ado, we would like to present you with everything you need to know about how to manage website development projects.
How To Plan A Website Development Project
No project can start without proper planning. Any article on project management will tell you this. However, these articles rarely specify what makes your planning proper. The thing is there is no way we can give a one-fits-all plan that you can take and follow right away. Still, considering the specifics of web development, we have prepared a small yet comprehensive guide on how to create a website development plan while taking into account all the smallest important details.
1. Gathering Information
First things first. Before you even start wondering how to write a website development plan, you need to know everything about your project. Basically, your task during this stage is to discover and research. This includes determining:
- the website’s main purpose and its basic concept;
- the objectives that you want to reach (make sure they match the SMART standard!);
- the website’s target audience, its demographics (age, location, occupation, etc.) and psychometrics (interests, hobbies, needs, etc.);
- potential stakeholders (i.e. people who are likely to be interested in your project – they can be either your supporters or try to disrupt the development);
- the requirements for the website’s functionality and design.
2. Creating The Map Of The Website
The sitemap represents all the pages the website will consist of. Take a look at what is required from the website and determine, first and foremost, whether it would make sense to create a one-page website. If the answer is negative, make a list of all the pages and determine the structure of the website.
3. Creating The Content List
Your next step is to figure out what content is going to be put on the website and creating the content list. It is important due to two reasons. First, the way the website is going to look depends on the content of the website, not vice versa. Second, you need to be aware of what content you need to create for the website. In this context, content is not only about texts. When we say content, we mean articles, banners and other ads, sections for discussions, item pages (in case it’s an eCommerce website), contact forms, photos, videos, links, etc.
Creating a wireframe is basically the same as creating a mockup (or a prototype) or the website before developing it. A wireframe is the visualization of all the blocks the website is going to include. Designers sketch what the website will look like and where different types of content will be placed, all in black and white. Besides, they add comments around the sketches regarding how the user can interact with certain elements on the page.
5. Determine The Technology Stack
The technology stack is, basically, a set of tools (languages, libraries, frameworks, IDE, etc.) your team is going to use to build the website. This choice depends solely on your project’s specifics, requirements and objectives. Web development consists of two huge parts: front-end and back-end development. Front-end development concerns the client side of the website, i.e. everything the user is going to see and interact with. Back-end development, in its turn, concerns everything happening on the server side of the website, i.e. the way the data is collected, processed, and stored.
The most popular technologies used for front-end development include but are not limited to:
The most widely used technologies for back-end development include:
6. Make The Task List
Now that you are familiar with the specifics of your particular project and you know what you need to deliver, you can start making the list of tasks that need to be fulfilled during the development. If you are going to work according to the Agile methodology, keep in mind that this list is only general and not exhaustive. Pay particular attention to determining the deliverables throughout the project (i.e. the specific results of every step taken during development; e.g. “purchase a domain for three years from [name] company”) In case you are not tech-savvy, you always have either professionals on your team or third-party consultants that you can always turn to for a piece of advice. They can help you figure out how a certain feature can be implemented, how much time the implementation will take and what dependencies you should pay attention to. One more tip: be as specific as possible. This means that it is not enough to write down “front-end development” as a task; instead, you should break this stage into specific tasks, such as “create the main page layout according to the requirements and objectives”.
7. Distribute The Team Roles
This one is obvious yet needs to be reminded. Everyone on your team needs to know what they are going to do. The best way to do this is to assign specific tasks to particular members of your team in a project management software solution. Don’t forget to ask those you are assigning tasks to whether they have the required skills to carry them out. Besides, there is one practice you should pay attention to. In order to make communication easier, assign one team member to be the point person. This person is responsible for giving all the answers regarding the development process. Also, make it clear who the decision-maker is. This stage is also crucial for determining whether you lack a certain professional on your team. In this case, you may either start looking for one or, if it is possible, dedicate some time to expand a team member’s skills and knowledge. In case you are managing a remote team, check out our article on solving the most common team management issues.
8. Pinpoint The Dependencies
Everyone has to be on the same page regarding the order of fulfilling the tasks. Your mission is to pin down all the dependencies within the project and to make sure every team member is aware of them. Once again, don’t hesitate to consult with professionals to determine all the dependencies.
9. Determine The Timeline
Having made the task list and distributed the team roles, you can finally move on to creating the timeline of your project. The way you do this depends a lot on the methodology you are going to use. If you have chosen the Waterfall methodology, you need to figure out how long each development stage is going to take and stick to the plan. In case of using Agile, you need to determine how long each sprint is going to take and be prepared that the timeline can be changed during the development process.
10. Plan Your Budget
Money means a lot. Therefore, every project needs to have a detailed budget. In order to calculate it, take into account the length of the development, multiply required working hours by the hourly rates of the team members. Remember to add the costs of various licenses you’ll need to purchase for using certain software and technologies, as well as the costs of purchasing a domain and hosting the website. Is your head spinning because of all the details you need to consider? There is no shame in turning to professionals for help. Make sure your project management is flawless with our help.
Website Development To-Do List
In order to make things a bit easier for you, we have prepared a checklist that you can use for project planning.
- Determine the website’s main purpose and its basic concept;
- Pin down the objectives;
- Determine the website’s target audience(s);
- Analyze the target audience’s demographics and psychometrics;
- Determine the stakeholders;
- Gather and specify the requirements for the website’s functionality and design;
- Pin down the deliverables throughout the project;
- Make the content list;
- Create the sitemap;
- Create wireframes;
- Determine the technology stack;
- Create the task list;
- Distribute the team roles;
- Pin down the dependencies;
- Determine the project timeline;
- Plan the budget.
As for the website development itself, make sure you can cross out every point below:
- Create page layouts;
- Approve them (make changes if necessary);
- Create new content;
- Prepare existing content for migration to the website;
- Build the user interface with all the interactive features;
- Implement a content management system;
- Test the website (make changes to it if necessary);
- Upload the website to the server;
- Perform regressions testing;
- Launch it;
- Update the website;
- Add user report system and track the feedback.
What Is The Process Of Website Development?
You have done everything you could and had to when planning the project. Your plan is approved, and it is time to implement it. What should you expect next?
After you get your wireframes approved, it is time for designing the website. This is when designers create page layouts. Particular attention should be paid to the first screen which is the first thing the user will see when accessing the website. Then, the colors and fonts are chosen. Besides, this is the time to create all the visual content that will be added to the website – photos, videos, etc.
Sometimes this stage overlaps with other web development steps; however, its importance can hardly be overestimated. During this stage, content writers work on texts, CTAs, headlines to make sure this content will impact the ones who read it and encourage them to take a particular action. In case there is already existing content (from the old website, for instance), it needs to be prepared for migration to the new website, i.e. it is edited and improved.
Now it is time for coding to start. During this stage, all the designs created before are brought to life and made functional. The main page is the first one to be designed, and a template for interior pages is created. Then, the content is added to the website pages where it is supposed to be. Back-end developers are also working hard to make sure the server side will run flawlessly. They design the databases and code the ways the data is processed. A content management system is also added to make sure the owner of the website will be able to add, edit and remove new content without any coding necessary.
No project can be successful without thorough testing. In case of web development, you need to pay particular attention to checking all the links (there must be no broken ones), all the texts for typos and misspelling. Also, you need to run tests on all the scripts to make sure they are working properly. Having revealed any bug or error, your task is to fix it.
After getting rid of all the bugs and mistakes, it is time to upload the website to the server. Then, you need to make sure that the upload was successful and there are no new bugs or errors. In order to do this, you need to perform final tests. If they are successful, you can launch the website.
Your team’s responsibilities are rarely over after the launch of the website. Someone has to maintain the website – update it regularly to make sure it is compatible with the newest technologies, fix the bugs that were not revealed before, improve user experience if required. The last one can be achieved if you track and respond to the users’ feedback regarding the website. Do you want to find out more about the website development process and its basic stages? Check out our article on what are the basic steps in the website development process.
The Bottom Line
The way the project is managed determines whether the development will be finished within the time and budget restrictions and how good the results of the development will be. Without proper project management, the development process resembles chaos where developers and designers have no idea what to do and when. Therefore, the role of the project management can hardly be ever overestimated. From gathering the initial information about the future website and its specifics to overseeing the development itself, pay attention to details and be precise and even meticulous. Remember that you are the one that stands between misunderstandings, inefficiency, and missed deadlines on the one hand and a high-quality impeccable website.