What makes a great website project? A client perspective

Author - Roz Woodroffe

Posted By Roz Woodroffe Senior Project Manager

Date posted 27th Jul 2021

Category Project Management

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As a WordPress agency project manager, on each website project, your time is often evenly split between your internal team of developers and designers, and your key client stakeholders. 

So, to ensure successful delivery of a website project, it is crucial to create a solid relationship between yourself and the client. At 93digital we work hard to turn these relationships into partnerships. After all, we both want to build and deliver the best website possible in the most efficient timescale! 

With that in mind we got together with our client Mary Fallon, the Digital Manager at Contact, and our key client stakeholder to discuss our recent website launch for Contact, and to ask her a few questions about how, from a client-side perspective, we can all work to make our project deliveries as seamless as possible! Here’s the full interview:

Hi Mary! Could you tell us about your role at Contact?

Hi! My name’s Mary and I’m the Digital Manager for Contact. I joined Contact in September 2020 to lead the website refresh project.

What do you think is most important in a cross-team website project?

So many things! Including a big party at the end. But if you want to party, you need to have a well-run project, and be clear on the following:

Timeframe and budget 

These are standard, but important starting points for any project. This doesn’t mean there’s no scope for moving the go-live date or increasing the budget, but you have to start somewhere.

Project definition 

Work with your internal stakeholders and your agency to be clear on your project’s requirements and what can realistically be delivered in light of your timeframe and budget.

Flexibility and compromise 

Sometimes real-life can get in the way, so always keep communication flowing and be flexible if you need to be. This might include a conversation about moving the go-live date forward or back (and if you do have this conversation, be prepared for compromise on the project) or you might want to include an additional element to the project that you hadn’t thought of when first gathering requirements – this may involve an additional cost and more time. Don’t get mad though. Just be cool. All will be well. If you can’t afford to do it as part of the initial job, perhaps it could be a phase 2 item?

Roles and responsibilities

This means everyone knows what their part is in the project and ensures that all stakeholders and other players are accountable for their responsibilities. 

Managing a web development project is a big task and requires expertise from around your organisation to ensure it’s run well and to time and budget. 

So let everyone know how important their input is to this project. I’d also recommend agreeing with your boss when you can make executive decisions if timings are sensitive and for whatever reason people aren’t responding in a timely manner.

Communication 

There’s so much that comes under communication, and off the top of my hair-do, here are a few of them:

  • Clarity on project management and communication tools you’ll be using throughout the project to track progress and log questions 
    • Don’t bombard the project team with emails if you’re meant to be using the ticketing system!
  • Check emails / tickets regularly to ensure prompt replies to keep the project on track, and let relevant team members know if you will be away 
  • Ask questions; sometimes the questions will be excellent, sometimes you might feel it makes you look a bit daft…But it’s far better to look daft than to not have a party at the end of the project because of misunderstanding because you didn’t ask a seemingly daft question. In short, if you have a question, ask it. 
  • From an internal client perspective: keep the right people up-to-date on a regular basis, e.g.
    • Core web refresh team: 15 min daily stand-up
    • The wider group: weekly website refresh update email which covers milestones, upcoming tasks for the following week and any risks to be aware of
    • Organisation wide: monthly all staff email or Intranet story letting everyone know how the project is going

What would you recommend other people approaching a web design and development project consider?

Appointing an internal web project manager who can focus attention on managing internal expectations and external challenges will reap many, many rewards. Or, if you don’t have the budget for an internal web project manager, make sure to ringfence time of existing staff to focus on the project.

What was the most challenging aspect of the redesign project?

Uploading and styling all the content once the website was handed over to us at UAT phase – oh my! That was a big job. Lots of Haribo and coffee were required during that period….

Take a look at the 93digital content planning blog for more ideas on how to manage this one! 

What do you think makes a great project?

Being organised. And having a laugh. Seriously. Laughing is good for the soul and good for the web project. Top tips on how to get a laugh – memes of Rebecca Black celebrating the fact that it’s Friday, memes of Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise or a maybe a good ol’ fashioned joke, for example: 

Why did the web project manager cross the road? To get to the other site. Boom! Boom!

What aspects of the project really worked well for you?

This is very sucky-uppy, but working with Roz and Ahmad and all the 93digital crew was brilliant. I give Roz and Ahmad one hundred points each! Everyone else can have 93 points each. James can have 94 points because he did a good April Fool’s on me.

Were there any aspects of the project lifecycle with 93digital which surprised you?

No.

One more thing…

Remember – you are more important than all the websites in the whole wide world, so look after yourself throughout the project. Eat well, exercise and be happy. Then deliver a really excellent website and have some time to celebrate!

That’s really insightful, thank you Mary! 

I promise that I didn’t coach Mary (or pay her!) for any of those answers. But Mary’s outlook matches what we’d consider the crucial pillars for successful partnerships for delivery.  

Inevitably all projects have their ups and downs – but forming a strong relationship with our client partners means that even at those pinch points you can work it out.

Projects can last for as little as 12 weeks, or as long as 12 months. But, whatever the timeline is, we’re in it together.

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