One of the first questions we usually get when kicking off a new project is “How soon can we launch?”. Everyone wants to know how quickly a project can be completed and there are many factors which affect a project timeline. Below are some things you can do, and some to avoid, to help you stay on track.
What is a web design timeline?
A web design project timeline plans out the time needed to conduct each step of the process to complete a website. Depending on the scope of the project, the process, and the project team, the project timeline can vary greatly.
Why does Solid Digital build a V0 timeline?
Before we finalize a project timeline at Solid Digital we create what we call a V0-”Version Zero”. It’s our first estimation of what the timeline may look like. We create this V0 based on the scope of work, and our experiences with other similar projects. Creating this V0 allows us to have something to work directly from with our clients to customize the schedule to work for both teams.
What can you do to stay on track
- Before a project begins, determine who your stakeholders are. Who are the people that will need to weigh in on, or approve the structure, look & feel, and content of the site?
If you can gather this information and share it with your project manager this will allow them to put together a project schedule which takes these things into consideration. Advance planning of when collaborative working sessions, presentations or when review times + feedback times are will allow the project schedule to run smoothly.
- Review the timeline carefully with your project manager. This will allow your project manager to explain the steps of the project in detail and outline the meaning of each phase and step. At Solid Digital, we revisit this regularly to ensure that when moving forward, it’s clear what we are doing, why and to make sure there are no surprises.
- Plan ahead for periods of review and feedback. Once you know when you will be reviewing and gathering feedback, prepare your team to be ready. We recommend that you schedule or block out time for your team to first review either separately or together, and then come together to consolidate your feedback. This allows the team to voice their opinions, and decide on one way to move forward. Scheduling this ahead of time gives your team parameters and helps to meet deadlines.
- Gather the credentials needed for analytics, integrations and hosting information ahead of time. It seems simple but if legacy accounts are being used it may be difficult to gain access to any necessary accounts.
What puts a project timeline at risk?
- One of the frequent causes of delays we see is a team needing more time to gather their feedback during rounds of review. An inclination many teams have to speed up a timeline is to commit to shorter deadlines when reviewing, giving feedback creating content and entering content. This may look good on paper but without the proper planning and resources in place, the reality of shorter turnaround times can often put too much stress on the team to meet these deadlines. When Solid Digital creates timelines we make our best recommendation based on our experience on how long these periods should be.
- Content creation and gathering. This is a huge part of most web redesign projects. Doing as much preparation as you can ahead of time on what is going to be on your new, or redesigned site will help keep you on track when it comes time to deliver that content, or enter it yourself. In addition, if part of the content entry falls on your team, gather as many hands as possible for this phase of the project, and divide up the work to ensure no one is overloaded.
- Deviation from project goals. Oftentimes as a project progresses things come up which may distract from the original project goals or intention. We use the goals stated at the beginning of the project during Discovery as our guiding principles to keep us focused. That being said, great ideas often come up. Determining whether these are a requirement or just nice to have can help prioritize these during an active project. More often than not these nice to have ideas can be implemented after the launch of the new site so we can both keep on schedule but not lose sight of improvements for a future phase 2.
Managing the timeline is a large part of your project manager’s responsibility. Ask questions if you aren’t sure what’s next or are concerned about anything along the way. Working closely with them is your best path to staying on track throughout the project.