How can you help make your next web project go more smoothly? Jeff Enlow shares his 10 commandments for a successful web project, a few things he's learned in his 20 years of web experience.
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- Thou shalt approach the project with an open mind.
Any successful project is the result of a trusting partnership. You know your business and your audience. Your vendor knows the technology and, hopefully, they've built more than a few websites. Insist that they listen to your input and document it thoroughly. For your part, you must trust their instincts and be open to their suggestions.
- Honor thy scope!
If it's not in writing, it's not going to happen. Insist on a clear and thorough scope document to begin the project. Conference calls and face-to-face meetings should be documented and any changes noted in a follow-up message. No six words cause more conflict during a project than "I know we talked about this!"
- Thou shalt designate a stakeholder.
No project can succeed without ownership on the client side. Designate a stakeholder who is accountable for content and approval. Then clear their plate as much as possible so that their primary focus can be the project.
- Thou shalt not deviate!
Sure it's good to be nimble and flexible ... who wants to work with a developer that refuses to pivot when there is an obvious need? Still, a successful project starts with a plan. Commit yourself to creating a great plan at the very beginning and stick to it!
- Remember your content, to keep it your first priority!
This debate is a little newer than the chicken and the egg but just as hotly debated. What should come first ... the content or the design that will contain it? Well if you remember that the attractive and user-friendly design that your vendor is developing is simply a vehicle for effectively delivering your content then the answer should be a no-brainer.
- Thou shalt not be a technophobe!
Be open to utilizing technology to facilitate communication. You may prefer frequent emails, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings but regularly scheduled Skype meetings and online collaboration tools can be even more effective.
- Thou shalt not lie (or at least not be 'less than honest').
Communicate openly and honestly. Don't file away frustrations as ammo for a later date.
- Thou shalt not be silent.
Going dark for three critical weeks in the middle of the project life cycle is a timeline killer. Be responsive and get your vendor what they need when they need it.
- Thou shalt stay focused.
New ideas for functionality and features are always welcome but remember that implementing them could impact budget, timeline, or both. Be open to some post launch additions.
- Thou shalt not cut corners at the end.
It's easy to lose focus near the end of a project but don't rush the final steps. Take time to thoroughly review the work and make sure that all hands are on deck for go-live. Remember that people are naturally averse to change. Your customers may complain about even the most successful new site or system simply because it's not the old one. Be prepared to answer their questions and talk them through their issues.