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Why project management is an important consideration when choosing a web design company.

When you embark on a journey, you will usually plan ahead. It’s not often you jump in your car and just drive with no destination in mind. Imagine approaching a web design company and your brief is; I want a website, it doesn’t matter what it looks like and I don’t mind when you finish it, here’s my money.

In this scenario, there’s a very high chance you won’t see a good return on your investment.

This is why project management is a vital part of designing and creating a website but is often overlooked when choosing a design company.

The importance of project management

What is project management?

Project management is the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified time.

Going back to our journey, project management will make sure that the car is serviced, fuelled up and running smoothly, the luggage for the journey is checked and packed, the route is planned, estimated arrival time and plan for any disruptions on route are all completed before you leave the house.

Atomic use an online project management portal that controls every aspect of all our projects. Customers can log in and access information on their website build and track progress in real time. It also allows them to see what stage the development is in and who is working on the project. We find this formal system adds an extra layer of trust and confidence for our customers.

Here’s a breakdown of a typical project management for a standard WordPress website build. We use this template on every build regardless of scale.

Stage 1 – Initiation Stage

Items in this stage:
• Collect page designs (if external design)
• Write website sitemap
• Get sitemap approved by the client
• Submit 50% deposit invoice to the client
• Define project tolerances – time – money
• Reconfirm costs to the client based on agreed sitemap and design
• Create project on PM Board
• Create Risk Register
• Create Change Log
• Write Stages & Allocate Resources
• Write communication plan
• Note any potential risks in project
• Purchase any themes – plugins – images required
• Confirm deadlines with the client

Part 1
After receiving the designs, draft the website sitemap and send to the client for sign off
• Confirm page designs
• Write website sitemap
• Send sitemap to client for approval

Part 2
Once signed off – revisit the initial quote to determine if the project scope is still the same
If not – revisit the quote and provide a further updated quote to be agreed by the customer.

Part 3
Define the project tolerances based on allocated time and budget for any theme / plugins required.

• Define project tolerances – time/money
• Reconfirm costs to the client based on agreed sitemap & design
• An initial 50% deposit invoice for project commencement is created and submitted to the client for payment.

Part 4
Once the client has approved the final price & paid the deposit invoice it’s time to create the project
• Create project on PM Board
• Create risk register
• Create change log
• Write stages & allocate resources
• Write communication plan

Part 5
At this stage take an overview of the project and note any risks that may delay the project, this could be a complex page or script.
• Note any potential risks in the project & plan around them

Part 6
Purchase any assets as outlined in the quote and final project brief, confirm first stage deadlines with the client, also projected completion date on all subsequent stages.
• Purchase any themes – plugins – images required
• Confirm deadlines with the client

Stage 2 – Website Creation

Part 1 – Local Setup
• Create workspace on localhost
• Install fresh WordPress files
• Install base theme (purchased or blank)
• Prepare the workflow & theme setup

Part 2 – Website Creation

• Sitemap Setup
• Create blank pages for all required on the sitemap
• Create primary menu based on sitemap
• Create pages
• Breakdown the required pages and bulk together into work packages

Part 3 – First Client Approval
Upload the localhost site files to live server for first client approval
(pre device testing)

Part 4 – Device Testing
Perform cross browser testing on:
• iMac – Safari
• iMac – Mozilla
• iMac – Chrome
• iMac – TOR
• PC – Internet Explorer
• PC – Chrome
• PC Firefox
• Perform device Testing on (portrait / landscape orientation):
• iPhone 6s+
• iPhone 5
• iPhone 4
• iPad 3
• iPad Mini
• Android Tablet
• Android Smartphone
• Review device testing and create a change log based on findings

Part 5 – Changes
• Report back to the client and give an estimation on time required to resolve
• Schedule & fix any errors
• Final changes & resolves – no more than 3 final change lists

Stage 3 – Client Sign Off

Part 1 – Sent for Sign off
• Send to the client to sign off
• Prepare changes log
• Negotiate changes (Change request / off specification / problem issue)
• Schedule and complete changes

Part 2 – Final 50% Payment
Receive final 50% payment before proceeding to live site upload.

Part 3 – Live Site Upload
If a website already exists in the space, perform a complete website backup before removing
• Create website online domain profile & account
• Upload files and databases
• Create any email addresses as requested

Stage 4 – Live Optimisation (as defined in customer quote)

Part 1 – Install SEO and Optimisation Plugins
• Install SEO optimisation plugins
• Install page speed plugins
• Install security plugin
• Create Google Analytics profile
• Create Google Search Console profile
• Prepare XML Sitemap for Search Engine Submission
• Perform optimisation for site and database
• Per-page SEO configuration (as specified in the quote)

Part 2 – Client Handover
• Handover the website to the client (website launch)
• Agree maintenance package moving forward

What happens if you don’t use project management?

As you can see from the example above, our style of project management covers all of the steps to create a website and get it online within an agreed time and budget. It formalises each step and tells you what, how, who and when.

If you choose a company that doesn’t use a formal project management system you could find that you have no oversight on the project. Literally anything could be happening at any stage. Tasks will get forgotten and changes could be missed. Deadlines aren’t formalised and as we have learned the hard way, when it gets crazy busy the only way to prioritise workload and tasks is to use a proper project management tool.

We have heard horror stories from our clients where their web designer has just disappeared, they don’t answer calls or return email requests from a client. The main cause of this is poorly managed projects, they take on too much work and burn out and disappear.

If you have any questions about project management, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.