Prior to starting a project, it is important to inform the client of the schedule for deliverables by estimating a project timeline. A project will not be successful without a structured plan, thus the Project Manager needs to accurately breakdown the work processes according to the project scope that needs to be accomplished by the team. Here are some effective techniques for creating project timeline estimates for websites in order to successfully deliver and launch your project outputs.
Understand the Business
Firstly, it’s essential to understand your client’s objectives, business industry, target audience, source of revenue and services or products. A clear understanding of your client’s need results to better judgement of project elements and timeline estimates. Also, it enables you to contribute ideas and give recommendations for the improvement of your client’s website.
Identifying the Type of Project
Listen to your client and identify what they really need. At this stage, you work out what you can offer to your client and how much time it will take to materialize their ideas. You can then dive into the details. Whether it’s a Website Redesign or additional Web Development, if the project is specific and clear, the deliverables will be easier to plan.
Establish Your Team
You should establish a team comprised of the skills you need to knock out all objectives of the project. For website developments, a team is usually comprised of a System Admin, Designer, Developer and SEO Analyst to work on the project. After assembling your A-Team, the next step will be breaking down the project into smaller tasks. As Project Manager, it’s crucial to maintain effective communication with your team at all times.
Breakdown Tasks and Create Milestones
It’s time to evaluate the project as a whole and breakdown the task to provide a specific layout of the project timeline. Doing so allows you to plot tasks according to importance and prerequisites. When you create project milestones, it gives your team concrete markers as to how far along it is into the project. After every goal you achieve, have a team celebration to keep everyone motivated!
Here are examples of tasks for different team members:
- Schedule meeting with client to discuss project scope and gather information
- Review and analyze branding guide or any existing site
- Create project proposal and get approval from client
- Gather assets from client to utilize in the project
- Project kick-start meeting with the team to discuss scope
- Create documentation in the Project Management System
- Break down and assign tasks by component to the team
- Design website mockup per page
- Create other collateral like site graphics, logo designs
- Get approval from client
- Create repository and staging server environment
- Setup reverse proxy
- Setup Static IP, Ports and Hostname
- Code: mockup pages approved by client,
- and responsiveness of the page
- Cross-browser testing
- Test responsiveness throughout all mobile device screen sizes
- Check that forms and links are all working
- Create/Submit Sitemap
- Webmaster tool/Setup Google Webmaster Account and verify the site
- Assign meta title, description and on page interlinking
- Set-up Robots.txt
- Fix 301’s and 404’s
- Setup Google analytics before launching
- Index before launch
- Create CDN on cloudfront
- Page Optimization
- Image Optimization
- Validate the (X)HTML code using W3C Markup Validation Service
- Validate the CSS code using W3C CSS Validation Service
After breaking down the project and specified tasks, it’s time to sum it all up. Talk to your team members individually and determine and estimate of how much time it will take them to finish each task. Also, add an extra amount of buffer time to their original estimate provided. Take note of unexpected roadblocks, challenges that could arise and holidays or days off. Basically, make sure you take into account all the possible and reasonable time delays in the execution of the project.
Creating an accurate estimation for the your website timeline is essential to the success of the project. The client will want to have an idea of the cost as well as plan how they will balance things around an estimated timeline of their own. In that case, it is up to the project manager to inform and ensure clients of the time and resources needed for the project.
The last and most crucial aspect of creating project timeline estimates for websites is to ensure that all your task, deadlines and resources are organized and easily available to your team. At Project Assistant, we use project management software so that all our tasks are clearly laid out, time estimates are stated, due dates are plotted and projects can easily be updated by posting comments. The project management software we use also streamlines communication. It allows clients to stay in the loop and give feedback as the project progresses.
So there you have it! Take note of all the elements you need to consider when creating project timeline estimates for websites. The role of Project Manager for digital developments is challenging, especially with the pressures of keeping up with technology and producing speedy, visible results. Just keep these techniques and suggestions in mind when you create your own project timeline estimates. Also, don’t forget to be flexible and adjust them to suit your website project. Good luck!