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The website project: what’s involved and how do you plan?

As a contractor with extensive experience among a variety of industries, I understand the importance of a well-structured website project plan. In this post, we’ll address essential questions and provide insights to guide you through the process of a website project.

Accountability: Taking Ownership in Your Project

What most agencies are either afraid or cautious to remind clients, I am not. Your accountability to your business and its success.

The most important component of a successful client is accountability. Accountability plays a pivotal role in the success of any project, especially digital. From a client’s perspective, it means actively participating in the project and understanding the responsibilities that come with it. For instance, timely feedback, providing necessary assets, and clarifying expectations are all part of your role in the project’s success. This is especially important if there are multiple team members working on the project and you are delegating some of the responsibilities.

Let’s consider a basic example: Suppose you’re partnering with a web development agency to revamp your online store. Being accountable might involve promptly providing product images, descriptions, and pricing information.

However, let’s consider a more advanced example: What if you also need to implement some new software to incorporate into your workflow. This could be CRM tools, project management software, lead generation workflows, and niche specific system like Toast for restaurants or Jobber for contractors, Appfolio for property managers, etc. These all take a significant amount of energy and planning to integrate effectively. It’s very easy to say these setups could be delegated to your closest executive assistant to take on. However, without clear and defining leadership, I have seen time and time again where lack of accountability leads to lack of progress and growth. Nobody will understand and care about the strategic goals and bottom line of your business more than you, which is why its important to be involved in every step during the design and planning stage. Only then is it appropriate for the actual build out of the project to be delegated.

A friend and colleague Robyn summarized this very well in a Linkedin Post

“Asking your Executive Assistant to implement your company’s operations management SaaS platforms like ClickUp, SalesForce, or Hubspot…is like asking your well-intentioned five-year-old child to manage the refinancing of the mortgage on your house while everyone else in the family is shouting at them for being too young or inexperienced to do this. These systems are the central nervous system of your business. They connect all of the other systems, organs, and motor functions (read, staff, projects, pipelines, marketing, sales, and financial numbers.)”

Now oppositely of that, as the project manager working with you, it’s our responsibility to guide you through the process, maintain transparency, and ensure that you have the necessary information to make informed decisions. We take ownership of the technical aspects, project timeline, and coordination to set you up for success.

What Type of Project, Big or Small?

Not all projects are created equal, and that’s great! Having done this for so many years, success doesn’t always mean a flashy website, the latest tools, or the most creative content. What’s important is providing a valuable customer experience and having a system that saves you time and helps you run efficiently and effectively.

Let’s delve into this with an example: Imagine you run a small bakery and want to establish an online presence. A small-scale project may involve creating a simple website to display your menu, contact information, and ordering options. While you’ll need to keep it updated, it might not need all the fancy bells and whistles to keep it running smoothly.

In contrast, if you’re a growing your bakery into e-commerce store, a larger project might be needed to accommodate product listings, payment gateways, and inventory management, reviews, social media, email campaigns, and more! All of these additional variables are added cost.

The best way to prepare for this is to start with simple note taking and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my goals with my website?
  • How many pages do I want? What are they?
  • What are the ways I want my customers to be able to connect with me?
  • Is there any software I could incorporate? What kind of software’s do I think would help?
  • What are my future plans and goals?

By knowing these basic questions, we can help organize and build a plan around your needs based and be prepared for the future.

Do I Have or Need Content?

Content is the soul of your website. If you’re starting a blog about travel adventures, you may already have a collection of captivating stories and photos. In this case, utilizing your existing content is a smart choice. However, if you’re launching a new online store, you’ll need product descriptions, high-quality images, and engaging copy – and that’s where content creation comes into play. All of this takes time and effort, and this is generally where projects can get stalled.

If content creation isn’t your forte, you can count on us to help. We have an experienced network of content creators who can craft compelling text, design graphics, and even create engaging videos tailored to your project’s needs. Also, don’t be afraid to use AI tools like ChatGPT, Copy.Ai, Canva and more to help with the bulk of this work. While AI is not a total replacement, it will help you save time and build a strong foundation to edit from.

Do I Need Any Integrations?

Integrations can greatly enhance your website’s functionality. Consider this example: If you’re running a membership-based fitness website, integrating a payment gateway for subscription payments and a user management system is essential. These integrations streamline user access and payment processing, making your site more user-friendly and efficient. However, they also come with a cost and a learning curve.

It’s important not to go overboard with integrations. Choose the ones that align with your project goals and enhance the user experience. Overcomplicating your website with unnecessary integrations can lead to confusion and slow performance.

Here are some of the most popular integrations I see being used on a regular basis. Note, these are in no particular order!

  • Project Management (Trello, Notion, Wrike, Monday, Clickup, Teamwork, Asana, Airtable)
  • CRM’s (Hubspot, Pipedrive, Salesforce)
  • Accounting (Quickbooks, Freshbooks)
  • Email Marketing (Klaviyo, Privy, Mailchimp, Constant Contact)
  • SEO (Moz, Yoast, BrightLocal)
  • eCommerce (Shopify + Vitals, Loox)
  • Messaging (Podium, Gorgias, Attentive)
  • Call Tracking Metrics

Any of these integrations come with added cost, generally monthly. So its important to understand exactly the areas you want to focus on.

What Platform Do I Choose?

Selecting the right platform is a critical decision. Suppose you’re a budding online fashion retailer. In this case, an e-commerce platform like Shopify or WooCommerce may be ideal for your project. These platforms offer ready-made solutions, including product listings, shopping carts, and payment processing. However, those platforms only cover the basics. Things like customer service, reviews, Instagram feeds, order tracking, shipping management, surveys, etc all come with an added cost by additional software.

I have generally simplified it to this – if you are a service based industry and your main goal with your website is to generate leads, facilitate information, and connect with your customers, then WordPress is going to be the best option. However, if you are eCommerce and plan to sell products then Shopify is going to be a winning solution.

On the other hand, if you have a unique vision and specific requirements for your website, you might opt for a more customized development. Generally, those can still be built on WordPress. In order to align the platform with your project’s unique needs and goals, you’ll need to have them defined.

What’s My Goal?

Defining your project’s primary goal is paramount. Having clear goals also means setting measurable key performance indicators (KPIs). For instance, you might aim to increase website traffic by 30% within six months or generate 20% more leads through contact forms. These KPIs help you track your project’s success and make informed adjustments along the way.

In conclusion, planning a website project involves accountability, defining the project scope, considering content needs, integrating necessary functionalities, choosing the right platform, and setting clear goals. By exploring these aspects and providing examples, we aim to equip you with the knowledge and insights to embark on your website project with confidence.

If you want to learn more about the average cost of a website, you can read my post here.

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