Websites take a lot of work, but they are incredibly important in showing who you are as a business. They are the face of the franchise and one of the first things their customers see. So whether you’re a startup or a brand looking to revamp itself, the big question is: how can you create a great website?
Fortunately, I have been through this a number of times and have some simple tips to get your website project complete and running smoothly.
Create a website launch plan
Saying that you need to create a launch plan might seem pretty obvious, but you might be surprised to learn that few companies write everything down and commit to a plan.
When I joined Scorpion in July, we were in the middle of a website redesign project. The website was a whole new experience with hundreds of new pages and templates to create and implement.
It was a great project that was well advanced and with some critical pieces in place, but I still had work to do to get it started. Your website may not include hundreds of pages, but the processes and planning are the same regardless.
I worked with our internal website team and content team to set up a launch plan and benchmarks to reach. An example of some of the benchmarks we present are:
- Set up the minimum viable product (MVP) we need to go live in the next 30 days
- Finish a sitemap
- Create multiple layouts for SEO page templates
- Create content for new sitemap pages
- Code new pages once content is complete
- Make assignments
- Document plan for the website once launched
The launch plan is critical, but it is also essential to have a team invested in the project to help drive the project forward and gain momentum to get it started. A clear plan and strategy also helped bring together the new content team that I was leading, as well as the website development team that had led the project so far.
Understand your minimum viable product (MVP)
Performing an exercise to decide the minimum you need to launch something can be an important part of speeding up the process. The beauty of digital marketing is that it can and should be repeated, and you can make edits after the site is live.
Our teams came up with a plan for the website MVP and how we would get there. We chose a few templates to launch and a style template for the content to speed up the process.
We all agreed on which pages to build and set a plan to get there, knowing that we would iterate through high-volume pages in the future and improve content as needed after launch.
With a big project like a website launch and so many different teams that could potentially be involved, it is essential that everyone has clear assignments.
With the launch of Scorpion, we had two specific teams leading the charge. The website team and the content team. The branding and theme had been developed before, so we only needed to code and create content.
On the content side, I made assignments to our content leads to have content pages created. We did this in batches, starting with the corporate pages and then working our way up to the verticals. Having batches helped make sure we took the project one page at a time rather than seeing the entire mountain at once.
We also had a clear idea of how others were doing. That helped the team find ways to help each other once they finished their part of the project.
Document project management
Project management is critical for large projects like a website launch. Along with the deadlines, we had a main document to keep track of each page once it was written and post the link to the website version once it was completed.
Having project management visibility among the teams working on the project helps to see where there may be a delay. It can also be a great way to make sure everyone knows their assignment and how they are contributing to projects.
Google Sheets can be a great tool for simple project management, but you can also go into specialized tools like Monday, Asana, or Jira if that’s what your business is already doing.
Our process for the website included:
- Write the content of each page of the website.
- Editing the content
- Creating the web page
- Add final content to a web page
- Checking the web page for any problems
Work in tandem when possible
With such a large project, it is important to find ways that each team can work together without waiting for tasks to be completed.
To do this, we create content in Google Docs and share the link in our project management document that I mentioned earlier. The web team would view the new content document, create a web page with the content, and then publish the URL of the new web page.
This meant that both the content team and the web team were continually working side by side rather than waiting for something to be done.
Example template below.
Have a deadline
The only reason we have deadlines at American companies is to give ourselves a goal AND, more importantly, to give us that adrenaline rush that is generally reserved for world-class athletes.
I love having a deadline to help with a late work schedule. If you have a specific day to do something, you can work backwards and create a timeline for the project to unfold.
For example, you may know that the content will take a couple of weeks on a website, and the design will take a few weeks after the content is submitted. Knowing the timelines will help you know when it is necessary to submit content to design to meet that deadline.
Work can be fun too. Big projects can be exhausting. Creating games along the way and trying to make it fun for the team can be helpful in helping others.
Part of having fun is getting together and seeing progress, too. We had frequent check-ins as a group to try and have fun, laugh at the crazy project we signed up for, and make it as enjoyable as possible.
Celebrate when your project is finished. That could be as simple as a paid company lunch or a team activity.
I like to be a little different by celebrating and finding something that can be a tangible benefit in improving the team, but doing what is best for the culture and the team that you are on.
Image credit: Anthony Shkraba; Pexels; Thanks!