With many projects now under my belt as a project manager at mStoner, I have learned that, even with good planning, our clients face a lot of common challenges throughout the phases of a website redesign.
With input from fellow project managers at mStoner, here are 10 tips to help you anticipate and conquer challenges that often derail even good plans during a website redesign:
Communicate. Have a plan to communicate with your internal stakeholders throughout the project. Make sure everyone has the information they need to make decisions and complete work. mStoner has worked with hundreds of clients, and we can help you move forward if you hit a communication roadblock or need help forming just the right message to share with your stakeholders.
Form the right core project team. Be sure your team has the right people with the right skill sets. While input from internal stakeholders is critical, and presentations to a larger leadership team will occur at particular points throughout the process, your day-to-day team should be a small and decisive group of people who are available to participate in the ongoing review and approvals that need to happen during the project.
Plan for the whole project. Plan ahead for every step of your website redesign, from discovery meetings all the way to launch. Knowing what to expect ahead of time, how long each step will take, and who needs to be involved at each point is critical to maintaining your timeline.
Determine key milestones. Review your timeline and identify your key milestones. What are the key decisions or actions that you will decide or take to demonstrate your progress? Be sure the review periods are manageable for your team. Missing key milestones will have a negative domino effect on the rest of your timeline.
Look ahead to feedback and approval dates. Timeframes for reviewing deliverables and providing feedback are often rather short and have the potential to do a lot of timeline damage, if you’re not prepared for them. Even with small teams, it’s important to make sure that everyone who needs to review deliverables will be available and has time carved out of their schedules to provide feedback by the due date. This is especially important if you have more than one team that needs to be involved, such as IT and Marketing & Communications.
Leadership Meetings. Leaders are busy people, and they can be hard to nail down. Anticipate at what points throughout the website redesign you will need to present information or report progress to your leadership team and start scheduling early. Some of our clients have found the most success by requesting some time at the front or back end of a regularly scheduled leadership meeting.
Content creation. Quality content can set your website apart from your peer institutions. Developing content to communicate your institution’s key messages using the right tone and voice can be a time-consuming process, but the reward is worth the effort, so start as soon as possible. The biggest risk to your timeline is underestimating the amount of time it takes to write good copy.
Be prepared to migrate. Make sure your content is prepped and ready for migration. To be 100 percent ready, don’t forget those often-overlooked items, such as photos, videos, and metadata! The site build process typically takes six weeks, even for the most organized teams.
Procurement. If your project involves contracts, be sure to consider how long your institution’s average procurement process takes and when you’ll need to get the ball rolling to keep your timeline in tact. You can lose weeks waiting to start!
Communicate. I know what you’re thinking, “Didn’t she already say that?” Yes, I did. And it’s worth repeating. Communicate, communicate, communicate!