Timelines are essential to any project. They are not only helpful in organizing the work that needs to be done, but it holds everyone accountable for completing the work. They encompass what the project will accomplish and help to set clear direction and priorities. Timelines provide a simple visual overview of a project from start to finish and lead to increased work efficiency among teams.
Let's take a look specifically at timelines for web projects and the major milestones associated with these types of projects to learn how web design project management can run efficiently and successfully.
First, let's start by reviewing the important elements within a timeline. Depending on the scope of the web project, the timeline can consist of hundreds of tasks and be very detailed or the opposite, and be simple with only a few tasks. Either way, all timelines should incorporate the following:
- The list of all tasks and subtasks to be completed
- The dates on which these tasks need to be completed
- The expected length of each task
- The person responsible for each task
Use a project management tool, such as Teamwork, to easily track and manage all planned activities. Share it with everyone involved on the web project. Make sure the entire team is aware of the timeline and set exceptions for completion before the project even kicks off.
Web Project Milestones
Whether your web project is smaller like a page refresh or a bigger undertaking, like an entire website redesign, there are certain milestones that need to be hit to ensure you deliver the completed project on time.
- Strategy - Every web project should start with a strategy session to determine the "why" of the project. What is it that needs to be accomplished? What is the end goal? A great web project requires planning and preparation. Start with the overall vision and lay out exactly what you want with the design, what specific functionality will be used, and create a site map. Consider putting this into a spreadsheet so the entire team can review and make edits prior to starting design and development work. Get the buy-in from everyone and then move on to the next milestone. This step cannot be skipped!
- Design/Development - Build wireframes and set the design for the website page(s). Use the company's font, colors, and imagery to set the visual layout. Fine tune the design per the client's feedback and then move to development. You need to be able to view and interact with the new page(s) as if they were live. Make adjustments to the developed page in the testing environment.
- Content - Whether you are using existing content or writing new copy, it's important to make sure that it flows with the design, it's optimized, and will help drive conversions.
- Final Testing & Launch - Run through final quality assurance tests to make sure there are no broken links, everything is functioning properly, and that it shows well on all device types. Once you have final sign off, it's time to launch!
At the end of each of these steps, don't forget to get client feedback before moving on to the next milestone. Set start and end dates to each of these milestones so the entire teams knows what happens at each point of the web project.
Negative Effects of Not Following the Timeline
I'm sure you can see from the milestones above how quickly the project can go astray if the timeline isn't followed. Any little road blocks that come up along the way can derail the project. This could result in unnecessary direction changes, extra work, and missed deadlines which will push the entire project past the due date.
In addition, not launching your web project on time could cause your budget to be blown as well as keep you from hitting your goals. Whether it's a whole new website or just a few newly designed pages, you want it to start producing results for you sooner rather than later. The quicker you launch the quicker you can start seeing the hard work pay off in the way of better user experience and increased conversions.
There are a lot of things that can derail your web project. Having a clearly defined timeline can help reduce the chances of things going wrong. Clearly outline what needs to be done, the resources needed, and the time it will take and you will be on your way to completing your web projects on time and on budget.