What Should a Website Project Plan look like?
Read our blog to find out what a good project plan should look like, and ensure that your website design planning sessions run as smoothly as possible.
Published: 17 Sep 2018
6 minutes read
Redesigning your B2B website can be a complicated affair with many different aspects to think about. To combat this, it’s important to plan out your website project from start to finish to ensure you haven’t missed anything vital. While each website project will vary from company to company, the following checklist will guide you in the right direction. The key things you should include in your project plan are:
- Wireframing, Design & Content Strategy
- Site Build
- Snagging & Development
- Upload & Migration
- Continuous Improvement
People experience websites - content, design and interaction - as one. Therefore, website design planning needs to be collaborative. The best website projects work best when all parties work together towards one goal.
Read the rest of the blog to understand each element in more detail.
- Website brief
- Your brief should serve to provide an explanation of all the key requirements of your website project - i.e. what your website needs to do and what you need to achieve from it.
- You need to assess your current website and use it to analyse:
- What’s working well on your current site
- Any errors
- Keyword rankings
- Persona development
- During a collaborative ‘discovery’ session, you should identify who you want to sell to and the types of buyers involved in each customer type. Creating ‘buyer personas’ will help you target the website content and user experience, and draw up a competitive advantage table.
- The personas should be very detailed and draw upon the problems, questions and objectives that each of your buyer types have in order to ensure that the website attracts the right people, and ultimately makes them engage.
- The output from this process will be a document that:
- Summarises your USPs and buyer targets
- Maps out the evolved structure of the website/content campaigns
- Reviewing content
- Review all your existing content with a focus on quality and SEO. Use this to understand whether you’re planning to replace your content completely or keep it. Make sure you take your ranking content into consideration.
- Initial sitemap
- There’ll be much more work to come in the following stages, so it’s good to start planning your sitemap in the initial stage which you can then revisit later and hone it.
- Who’s involved
Consider the people/teams that need to be involved in your website design planning. Who will be doing the content, who will be designing and building your website? Knowing this information will be greatly helpful when it comes to delegating specific tasks and to gather the required people for collaboration sessions.
- Key dates and deadlines
This first stage should be used to understand and take into account key deadlines the company has (i.e. when does the website NEED to go live?), the capacity of everyone involved and deadlines they need to stick to in order to meet the end goal. This way, everyone involved knows what needs to be done and when.
- Keyword research should be an integral part of your website project plan. It allows you to sit down and get a list of all keywords that are relevant to both you and your competitors. Then you can analyse how your current website ranks, what needs to be done to improve those rankings and identify gaps or opportunities for new content.
- Design themes
- You can begin forming your initial design elements for your website project in the research stage. Sit down with your team and begin discussing how you want your new website to look and feel in the context of your B2B business. You should also consider how your buyers will be interacting with the website.
3. Wireframing, Design & Content Strategy
This phase is the most collaborative of all as you’ll have your content/SEO, design/dev and UX team all feeding into each other to map out the best structure and way your website should work. These include:
- Content mapping
- Based on the research conducted so far, you can summarise the ideal journey that each persona will take and their requirements at each stages.
- This will inform the site map, which will include all the pages of the site, the navigation structure, and how people can move from page to page.
- Information architecture / Wireframe and prototype
- A wireframe is a skeletal outline of the structure of a website page. Having confirmed what content is going on each page, a user experience (UX) designer will now draw out the structure of each page, and plot the content. A prototype will then be generated that is usable, but won’t be ‘designed’. This gives the user a feel for how the website will operate, and will allow us to refine and optimise before moving onto the visual design.
- User interface / Visual design
- Once the structure and functionality of the website have been finalised, you can move to front-end design. This is where you can apply your branding and style to the wireframes.
- The finalised designs are then built by the development team.
4. Site Build
- This stage involves setting up and installing the framework of the new website including any templates and themes - this is essentially a skeleton site at this point.
- Build and functionality
- Now comes the development stage of the site. Usually, the homepage is the first to be built in order to get approval before continuing with all other pages.
- The functionality of the website is also developed in this stage and will set how the website will physically work (e.g. sliders, scrolling).
5. Snagging & Development
- Reviewing and testing
- Once the pages have been built, they then need to be reviewed and tested to ensure everything from the design to the functionality is correct and works as planned. The pages will also be tested across multiple device and browser types to test for breaking points.
- Highlighting issues and fixing
- If, during the testing phase you come across errors - these are compiled into a ‘snag-list’. This list is used to track the status of these errors (where they are, what the error is and whether they’ve been fixed).
- Mobile-responsiveness is becoming more vital, with Google now favouring mobile-first websites. When it comes to developing the responsiveness, this may surface a separate snag-list.
6. Upload & Migration
- Uploading content
- Once the site has been built and tested, it’s now time to upload content to the site pages.
- Migrating old content
- A lot of companies want to keep some of their older content, such as blogs, in order to keep their rankings. These can be migrated across from your old site to your new site.
- Sourcing images
- You need to source and provide your own images to include on your website (what type of images are usually determined during the visual design stage).
- Redirects and 404s
- When your new site will go live, you’ll want to ensure all your URLs function correctly. Depending on how many URLs your website may have, this check can be done manually or can be automated. You’ll want to ensure any old links are redirected to the relevant page on the new site and set up your 404 page correctly.
The go-live phase is the process of moving your website from a development server into a live server. You need to sure that there’s as little downtime as possible and be able to test in that live environment and ensure everything is working as it should. This is a complex process, so everything needs to be set-up, checked and tested thoroughly.
8. Continuous Improvement
Once your website has gone live, you should make sure you’ve planned for the period that follows it and who will be supporting you during this period of continuously improving your site.
- Technical support
- Post-launch is a crucial period so make sure to plan for technical support during this time, in case of any unplanned downtime or missed errors occur.
- Ongoing maintenance
- Plan who will be taking care of the ongoing maintenance of your website after the launch to avoid your website going stale and continue updating and optimising it on a regular basis.
- Content support
- Ensure that your content will receive the same treatment as your website maintenance. Continuing providing fresh, regular content as well as optimising older content is the key to keeping your website ranking.
Planning a website project does have its complexities, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. With our comprehensive checklist, you can be sure that you’ve taken all steps into consideration and will form the basis of what your project plan should include. It should also help you consider who you will be working with - whether solely in-house or using an agency - and how you can turn this into an effective, collaborative project.
If you’re ready to begin your B2B website project, download our free website brief template to help you put together a list of all your key requirements and kickstart your redesign journey.