Hands up if you've ever experienced the all-consuming dread of dealing with group projects at school or university. Yes, we're going that far back. If your hand is up, then you'll know exactly what we mean when we say 'never again!'
But one thing could've made those tear-your-hair-out group assignments much more doable (even with those trademark personalities that seem to make life so much harder). This golden solution is, of course, a Project Manager.
A Project Manager (PM) is like the glue that connects a client's vision with the marketing team’s execution and delivery. Their communication and time management skills are impeccable, and they thoroughly understand all aspects of their agency's work.
This all-rounder knowledge and first-person proximity with the client allows them to deliver customised solutions that take a business to the next level.
Website development is one of the key areas in which a Project Manager struts their stuff. So what’s involved in this seemingly colossal process, and how can web development project management streamline each website phase from the ground up?
The Role of a Project Manager in Web Development Projects
As we hinted at above, a Project Manager wears many hats when it comes to web development projects. They’re the ‘know-how’ that connects the client's dreams with the capabilities and workloads of the executional teams.
A Project Manager will also invariably spend a chunk of their time in meetings, which is where good client and team communication is absolutely essential. They’ll also need to shuffle timelines and due dates around to fit in with the many people involved in the project, as well as aim to please the client and stakeholders.
As projects progress, a PM’s expertise grows, enabling them to deliver customised solutions that elevate the client's business through the website build.
The Process: From Ground Zero to Launch
Web development project management requires meticulous planning and a comprehensive understanding of each element and stage involved. Let's take a closer look at the key components:
- Initial Meetings and Goal Setting
The Project Manager starts by meeting with the client to establish the website's goals, desired content, and overall vision.
This crucial step, typically completed within a few days, sets the foundation for the entire project.
- Sitemaps, Keywords, and Scopes
The project then moves into the site mapping phase, where the team determines the website's structure and pages.
This process involves researching keywords and identifying the best-performing pages from an SEO perspective.
Each page is then assigned primary and secondary keywords to optimise search rankings (we love to see those pages popping up high on Google’s SERP).
- Content Creation and Wireframes
Depending on the project scope, the Project Manager ensures the website's copy is crafted effectively.
If the client provides the copy, wireframes are created internally to outline the page structure, which is then shared with the client for input.
- Design Phase and Brand Alignment
In the design phase, the Project Manager collaborates with the client to understand their target audience, brand values, and specific design preferences.
These inputs guide the visual aspects of the website, ensuring it aligns perfectly with the client's brand.
- Homepage and Landing Pages
The homepage acts as an elevator pitch, capturing visitors' attention and persuading them to explore further.
The Project Manager strategically designs conversion points throughout the homepage, whether it's a booking link, product purchase, or form submission.
These conversion (CRO) tactics will vary depending on the nature of the website, which could be product-based, service-based, tourism-focused, or not-for-profit (among other things).
- Sitewide Design and Development
Once feedback is received and incorporated from the homepage, the Project Manager ensures the design is consistent throughout the entire website.
This stage involves collaborating with the development team to provide all the necessary assets and information required for successful implementation.
- Web Development and Collaboration
Web development is often the longest part of the process, where the Project Manager acts as a mediator between the client and the development team.
They keep track of progress, solve technical issues, and provide valuable input to ensure the client's requirements are met.
- Testing and Pre-Live Checks
Before the website goes live, the internal team conducts extensive testing to identify and fix any bugs. This helps to ensure a smooth user experience once the website is launched.
Additionally, the SEO team performs optimisation tasks such as adding robots, integrating Google Analytics, checking for broken links, and implementing redirects.
- Timelines and Adjustments
Throughout the entire process, the Project Manager continuously manages timelines and deadlines, as they often change due to evolving requirements or unforeseen challenges.
Adapting to these changes and coordinating with both clients and internal teams can often feel like the most frustrating part of a PM’s role, but it’s also one of the most crucial aspects of effective project management.
Ensuring Effective Planning and Clear Objectives
To plan thoroughly and define clear objectives, consistent communication is key.
During web development project management, the PM maintains open lines of communication with both clients and internal teams, ensuring everyone understands the project goals and deliverables.
Creating a detailed project brief, setting realistic expectations, and leveraging project management tools like Monday.com can help streamline the planning process and keep everyone on the same page.
Collaboration and Requirement Gathering
Collaborating with clients and stakeholders is a crucial aspect of the website development process. The Project Manager gathers requirements through meetings, feedback sessions, and shared documents.
Using tools like Google Sheets for feedback collation, the Project Manager ensures that everyone's input is consolidated and addressed.
Clear communication and problem-solving play vital roles in managing changes, as clients often have evolving needs throughout the project.
Timely Delivery and Deadline Management
To keep the project on track and ensure timely delivery, the Project Manager maintains constant communication with the teams involved.
They provide regular updates to clients, outlining progress, potential timeline adjustments, and tentative go-live dates. Proactive reminders and calendar invites help keep time-poor clients engaged and focused on providing timely feedback.
By actively managing timelines and deadlines, the Project Manager minimises delays and maintains project momentum. This is web development project management at its finest.
Overcoming Challenges and Mitigating Risks
Web development projects often come with challenges and risks. During the development phase, the Project Manager collaborates closely with teams to solve problems that arise.
Design and development logistics, in particular, require proactive planning and problem-solving skills.
By staying informed about emerging technologies and updates, the Project Manager ensures the project remains on track despite any potential hurdles.
Testing: A Critical Step Before Going Live
A website typically goes through three stages of testing before it goes live.
- Stage One: Testing on a staging website to identify and address any issues.
- Stage Two: A couple of rounds of amends to refine the site-wide design.
- Stage Three: Thorough final testing ensures that everything is functioning correctly before the website is launched.
These tests involve internal team members who meticulously check the website's performance and usability.
Time Consumption, Challenges, and Rewards
For a Project Manager, web builds come with their fair share of time-consuming tasks, challenges, and rewarding moments. Keeping up with rapidly evolving website technologies can be a challenge, but it's also an opportunity for growth.
Additionally, balancing the needs and expectations of multiple stakeholders requires effective communication and mediation skills.
However, the most rewarding part of the journey is witnessing the website go live and seeing the client's vision come to life. This sense of accomplishment makes all the hard work and dedication worthwhile.
Turn Your Website Dreams Into a Reality
Managing a website build from sitemaps to post-live checks is a complex and multifaceted endeavor. Just like those school group assignments, it can feel like a never-ending battle of obstacles in which one person ends up bearing the brunt of the work – or that simply means nothing ever gets done.
The Project Manager plays a vital role in ensuring a website is ideated, planned, created, and delivered as smoothly as possible. By collaborating closely with clients, stakeholders, and internal teams, the Project Manager navigates the challenges and risks that arise during web development projects.
At Talk Agency, we're passionate about delivering exceptional website builds and helping businesses thrive in the digital world. Web development project management is one of the things we do best.
Contact us today to discuss your web development project and let our experienced team transform your vision into reality!