5 Secrets to Hack Project Management in Web Design
September 9, 2019
You’re ready for a new website but don’t know how to start. When we hear the term “project management,” we don’t always hear about the science and methodologies behind it. Believe it or not, there is a lot to project management when it comes to website redesign. How can you be successful in managing a website redesign? Here are some secrets that can go a long way.
1. Know Your Team
In any website redesign, you will have a team consisting of designers and developers whom you will rely on to complete your project successfully. This team will take your project from start to finish. A well-jiving team will be the most effective, so take the time to learn about them, including their workflow, personalities, and typical schedule.
This will enable you to communicate effectively with your team, plan and organize what you need from them (and when), gain their buy-in on milestones, and ultimately enjoy working together.
2. Create a Schedule & Gain Buy-In
You may be familiar with the saying “the devil is in the details,” but in project management, the devil is in the setup. How can your team or client follow a tight timeline if they don’t have a schedule to follow? This is where secret number two comes in. Creating schedules can be time-consuming, but this planning is an incredibly important step.
When you create schedules and gain both your team and your client’s buy-in, you enable, first, your team to confirm that they are aware of what deliverables are due and when, and second, your client to understand when to expect deliverables and when to give feedback.
3. Plan for the Worst; Hope for the Best
You are the project manager; you set the schedule. Don’t be afraid to schedule in your favor in order to deliver ahead of time when you can! It’s project management 101 to plan for the worst, pad your schedule, and hope for the best. In a perfect world, your team has all the time they need, but in reality, you’re typically on a tight schedule so adding wiggle room where applicable is going to be a huge help.
If there is a deliverable that you can complete ahead of schedule, doing so provides more space for tighter deliverables and could allow you to complete the project ahead of schedule. You’re going to be happy you planned for the worst.
Although it is the project manager’s role to provide structure around a set team, set schedule, and set budget, don’t forget to be flexible. Understand the scope and define the must-haves, but be flexible—being able to move dates and adjust details is a useful skill. The key secret comes into play when your project is under budget in time and/or cost.
Step 1: Plan out your must-haves.
Step 2: Fill in the blanks where possible with the remaining items, keeping within your budget. For anything out of scope in budget and/or time, set the appropriate expectation ahead of time with your client. Ultimately, being flexible will allow you to move times and dates for “what ifs” and surprises that may pop up as you move forward.
5. Confirm Assumptions
My last secret for project management is to always confirm assumptions. Although many assumptions may be simple and seemingly clear, don’t overlook them. With any redesign you should be provided with a project scope of work. Say you’re scoped to build five pages but there are actually eight pages, what happens to those extra three pages? Ensure the scope of work aligns with the website and your client’s expectations. A simple assumption such as this could be a project’s biggest downfall.
Once I receive a project scope of work, I allocate as much time as I need to understand the project scope and align the scope with the project. Unless you aligned the scope with the actual project (rather than just understanding the scope); there may be items that would not have been uncovered until the last minute, which can leave your team scrambling. Take the time to confirm assumptions, align your scope of work, and uncover any unclear or unconfirmed items as early in the project as possible.
These five secrets should be practiced in each and every project. They are simple tips that can easily be overlooked but the more you understand the importance of these steps, the easier the execution of the project will be. And ultimately, the more successful you’ll be as a project manager. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions—you’re in charge!
About the author
Jen Huyenh-Cho is the Director of Production at SmartBug. She leads our program management functions in website design and development, inbound marketing and more. Jen is an innovative, energetic, and empathetic leader with over 10 years of agency experience. She brings a measured approach to process creation and improvement - focusing on solving challenges and delivering great results; while balancing the bigger picture with the day-to-day functions of the team. Read more articles by Jen Huyenh-Cho.