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The Ultimate Checklist for Effective Website Project Management

Project management can help your team achieve important goals. Use our website project management checklist for your next project.

Websites are a bit like baby sea turtles—sure they are cute at first, but the vast majority of them are destined to flounder and become lost in a seemingly endless sea. Most websites are started on a whim and are not adequately planned or maintained. They often fail to meet the needs and expectations of their intended audience, and are eventually disabled or abandoned.

It's easy to create a free website. But building a powerful, effective, marketing web asset is altogether another task. The failure to plan for and provide due care for your website is a sure way to produce a buggy design that fails to satisfy your audience. With the right strategy, monitoring, and care, your website has the potential to become one of your company’s most valuable marketing assets. It can have more potential than even the most successful brick-and-mortar business location.

Here we will discuss proper and complete website management and provide you with a website project management checklist that you can use to build an effective website. By the end of this guide, you better understand what website project management is, how it works, and how to create an effective website development plan.

Before proceeding, consider these valuable web design tips from Mailchimp's top web development experts.

What is website project management?

Managing a website project is about the maintenance, design and content updating, and interconnection of online marketing solutions to provide a relevant, attractive, consistent, and professional-looking online asset that offers a satisfying user experience.

Web design project management is the process of breaking down website-related projects into actionable tasks. It involves setting deadlines, laying out timelines, developing concrete goals, and tracking progress. The purpose of website project management is to streamline projects, achieve tasks on time, and to more effectively manage an online marketing team.

Like a neglected idea, a poorly maintained website sinks into the ether. There are no roads leading to or from it. Its connections are unmarked, untraveled, and unkempt. A properly maintained website, on the other hand, is easy to navigate and helps visitors achieve their goals while learning more about your brand.

In reality, a functioning and successful website is dynamic, deeply interconnected with the web, and carefully tailored to be on-brand to appeal to its intended audience. A website is far from static—it is vital, changing, and well formed.

If you have ever visited a poorly maintained website, you know what happens when a site is not properly cared for. Such a site is thin on content, its design seems awkward, and it is likely hard to complete even simple tasks. Worst of all, it does not inspire confidence in the professionalism and expertise of the owner.

As you may have guessed, creating and maintaining a successful website is no small task. It requires ongoing work, coordination, and care to keep a company website up-to-date. But when you use a platform like Mailchimp, you can easily build a website while managing audience data, which allows you to achieve the best results.

You can also use Mailchimp as a form of project management software. Website project management software helps companies achieve their digital marketing goals. Because of this, website project management software is commonly used across a range of industries. In fact, one study found that 77% of companies use some form of project management software.

Our website project management checklist

Web developers and online marketing professionals have developed a number of ways to handle the task of website project management. For most business interests, using a proven formula is the best way to go. As you move forward, you may fine-tune your website project management checklist to suit your specific needs.

Here at Mailchimp, we have developed a project management checklist designed to work well for the vast majority of organizations. Check out our website project management checklist below to learn what goes into managing a website project.

1. Gather information

To build and manage a good website you will need the following data:

Target audience demographics: Information about your target audience, customer profiles, audience segments, and other relevant data.

Site functionality goals: The features and capabilities you want and need your site to have, such as traffic monitoring, e-commerce functionality, blog content, surveys, video, and so on.

Brand voice and style guidelines: A set and ready guide to your brand persona, customer experience, and public interaction expectations of staff and company representatives.

Desired website features: Related to functionality goals, this is more of a checklist (or wish list) of features you believe will enhance the customer experience.

Budget to build and manage a website: As with any project, it's a good idea to know how much you are willing or able to spend. Budget limitations should reflect desired features, functions, and the scope of the site.

2. Consider your approach

Different types of websites and different types of business models will do best with an approach that matches their size, their industry, and their needs. Choosing your approach is a big task, and one to be done only after the full scope of website project management is understood. One of the largest aspects to consider when choosing an approach to web design project management is the project management methodology you’ll use. We’ll go into more detail about the different project management methodologies further down.

3. Define the scope of your project

The scope of your project will include the budget, the amount of time you expect to spend on it, the resources, and the personnel you expect it to require.

Time: How long will it take and how much time per day/week do you plan to spend on it?

Budget: How much do you expect to spend on it?

Resources: How big will your team need to be and what tools and resources will they need?

In most cases, it is best to overstate the expectations you have of your requirements. It is better to set aside $1000 and five hours and spend $500 in four hours than the other way around. Moreover, project scope defines what is and what is not a part of your project.

4. Set goals

In the early stages, your website is just an idea or concept. Within that idea or concept are certain hopes and expectations. Those hopes and expectations should eventually translate into tangible goals that you intend and expect to achieve. In website project management, you might consider setting "SMART" goals to start out. Here is how to set SMART goals:

Specific: A goal should be clear and defined.

Measurable: Your goals should be capable of being quantified and measured in an objective way.

Achievable: The goal should be realistic when you consider the project’s budget, timeframe, and the assets and resources on hand.

Relevant: The goal should directly relate to your company’s long-term goals and help you further your organization’s overall mission.

Timely: Goals should come with a deadline so that you can accurately track progress and gauge whether or not you’re on schedule.

The SMART framework may not be perfect for everyone, but it is useful for helping us keep our feet on the ground, even if our heads are in the clouds.

5. Draft a timeline

Timelines are important for many reasons. It may be based on budgetary limitations, quarterly income, the needs of a client or partner, the expectations of an investor, and more. Ideally, you want to give yourself more time than you need, because web development rarely goes as expected the first time.

If possible, it's a good idea to make all concerned parties aware that more time may be needed. And remember that your timeline should always be realistic despite any external pressures or wishful thinking.

6. Begin development

At this point in the process, you should be ready to begin web development. Beginning development means actually beginning work on web development tasks. But keep in mind that plans can and do change, so planning really is part of the process.

7. Track progress

Because a website is in many ways an intangible thing, progress can be tough to track. For this reason, we need defined goals and features, concept diagrams, and visible digital assets. Every part of the project should be recorded and described as they are completed. Consider setting up weekly check-in meetings, reviewing certain metrics, and evaluating short-term milestones to track progress and ensure that things are moving along according to plan.

8. Evaluate results

To manage web development fully requires that the end result be accurately evaluated. Once the project is finished, you will need to evaluate the results and look for areas of potential improvement. Realistically, websites are almost always a work in progress. That is why we placed special emphasis on the management of the site itself, and not just the development project.

For evaluation purposes, professional online marketing software companies like Mailchimp can help with valuable web development tips and more. We make it easy to create, manage, and edit your business website. One of the most important ways we can do this is through metrics. Digital marketing metrics can show you what is and isn't working with your website. Using this information, you can take your existing website and optimize it to suit the needs of your business, the expectations of your audience, and stay on brand.

Website project management methodologies

As we explained above, there are different project management methods favored among professionals in web development and online marketing. While there are many website project management methodologies floating around out there, our team here at Mailchimp has found the following five PM methodologies to be the most efficient and effective. Consider basing your website development plan on one of the following proven methodologies.

  1. Agile: This PM method is focused on interactions between people and aims to leverage the ability of an organization to switch gears, adapt, and overcome obstacles on the fly.

  2. Kanban: This PM method is about capacities and inventory. It takes given assets into consideration and bases projections on what can be made from those assets.

  3. Waterfall: The oldest project management strategy, Waterfall was developed in the 1970s as a way to handle growing corporate complexity.

  4. Scrum: This evidence-based methodology is a visual approach, emphasizing flow charts and other imagery.

  5. Critical Path: CP project management focuses on essential tasks first and foremost. It is about managing priorities to achieve desired outcomes.

Use Mailchimp for website project management

At this point, it should be clear that project management of website development is as key to your success as it is complex. The good news is that Mailchimp is more than up to the task of making it easy to handle all that complexity.

Mailchimp specializes in providing these kinds of tools and much more, including expertise, metrics, and top quality customer service. Our tools and services can help you keep your team on point as they go down the website development checklist and build and maintain a website.

Naturally, things will change as you move through the process. Budgets will change, and digital assets will need to be built, dismantled, and revised. Our all-in-one marketing platform can help you stay focused as you move forward.

There is a lot that can go wrong in the development phases of your business website, but there is also a lot that can go right. Let Mailchimp help you create a stunning website and develop a winning online marketing strategy.

Frequently asked questions

How does project management help web development?

Web development, in the absence of a plan, is almost guaranteed to be a mess. Website project management begins when we realize that our ideas need to be refined, and project management is the way we go about doing that.

We have to set goals, define tasks, and, most importantly, keep everyone on point and focused on their defined jobs and expectations. Modern professional project management helps you to find a methodology that works for the website you intend to create, for your business model, the clients and customers you serve, and your industry.

How does project management keep web design under control?

Any time you have a building full of professionals working in different departments on different tasks, you inevitably face the problem of siloing. Within web development teams, this problem is subtler but more pronounced in its effects.

The result of this subtle siloing is the development of digital assets that are not on the same page in terms of branding, and that are often incompatible. This results in repeated work, wasted effort, and the loss of time and money.

When you implement a website project management strategy, you ensure that everyone on the team is on the same page and understands the short- and long-term goals. A website project management strategy also allows you to track progress and hit deadlines, which can save your company time, money, and energy.

How does Mailchimp make website project management easier?

Mailchimp provides a host of tools and techniques designed to be invaluable to the individual web developer as well as to development teams. Over the years, our focus on marketing and customer retention has helped us to develop powerful insights into the way company websites should look and function.

Our developer tools make it easier for web development teams to work together to build effective and reliable websites. At the same time, we offer a number of easy-to-use tools—such as a website builder, online store creator, and creative templates—that can enable any business owner to build a sleek website for their company.

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