Websites are a lot of work, but incredibly important to showcase who you are as a company. They are the face of the franchise and one of the first things your customers see. So whether you’re a new company or a brand looking to refresh, the big question is – how can you build a great website?
Thankfully, I have gone through this a few times and have some simple tips to get your website project completed and running smoothly.
Create a Website Launch Plan
Saying that you need to create a launch plan may feel pretty obvious — but you would be surprised how few businesses actually write everything down and commit to a plan.
When I joined Scorpion in July, we were right in the middle of a website redesign project. The website was a completely new experience with hundreds of new pages and templates to create and implement.
It was a large project that was far along and with some foundational pieces in place, but it still had some work to do to get it live. Your website may not include hundreds of pages, but the processes and planning are the same regardless.
I worked with our in-house website team and content team to set up a launch plan and benchmarks to hit. An example of some of the benchmarks we laid out are:
- Setup minimum viable product (MVP) that we need to get live in the next 30 days
- Finish a sitemap
- Create multiple designs for SEO page templates
- Create content for new sitemap pages
- Code new pages once content is completed
- Make assignments
- Document plan for the website once launched
The launch plan is critical, but it is also essential to have a team invested in the project to help push the project along and gain momentum to get it live. A clear plan and strategy also helped pull together the new content team I was leading as well as the website development team that had brought the project so far.
One of Scorpion’s core businesses is technology and website management as well, so the launch had to be good, clean, and ready to serve the small business owners who search for Scorpion every day.
Understand Your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Going through an exercise to decide the minimum you need to get something launched can be a big part of speeding up the process. The beauty about digital marketing is that it can and should be iterated on, and you can make edits after the site is live.
Our teams came up with a plan for the MVP of the website and how we would get there. We chose a few templates to launch with and a style template for the content to speed up the process.
We all agreed on what pages need to be created and set up a plan to get there, knowing that we would iterate on high-volume pages in the future and improve content as needed after launch.
With a big project like a website launch and so many different teams that could potentially be involved, it’s essential that everyone has clear assignments.
With the Scorpion launch, we had two specific teams leading the charge. The website team and the content team. The brand and theme had previously been developed earlier, so we just needed to do coding and content creation.
On the content side, I made assignments to our content leads for pages of content to be created. We did these in batches starting with the corporate pages and then moving into the verticals. Having batches helped to make sure we took the project one page at a time vs. seeing the whole mountain at once.
We also had a clear insight into how each other was doing. That helped the team to find ways to assist each other once they were done with their piece of the project.
Document Project Management
Project management is critical for large projects like a website launch. Along with deadlines, we had one main document to track every page once it was written and post the link to the website version once it was completed.
Having project management visibility across the teams working on the project helps to see where there may be a lag. It can also be a great way to make sure everyone knows their task and how they are contributing to the projects.
Google sheets can be a great tool to use for simple project management, but you can also go into specialized tools like Monday, Asana, or Jira if that is what your company is already on.
Our process for the website included:
- Writing the content for each website page
- Editing the content
- Creating the webpage
- Adding final content into a webpage
- Checking the webpage to look for any issues
Work in Tandem When Possible
With such a big project, it’s important to find ways that each team can be working alongside each other without waiting for tasks to be completed.
To do this, we created content in Google Docs and shared the link in our project management document that I mentioned above. The web team would see the new content doc, create a web page with the content, and then post the URL for the new web page.
This meant that both the content team and web team were continually working side by side vs. waiting for something to be done.
Example template below.
Have a Deadline
The only reason we have deadlines in corporate America is to give us a goal AND, most importantly, to give us that adrenaline rush that is usually reserved for world-class athletes.
I love to have a deadline to help with a work back schedule. If you have a concrete day to get something done then you can work back and create a timeline for the project to build on.
For example, you may know that content will take a couple of weeks with a website and design will take a few weeks after content is submitted. Knowing timelines will help you know when content needs to be submitted to design in order to hit that deadline.
Work can be fun too. Big projects can be draining. Creating games along the way and trying to make it fun for the team can be helpful in pulling each other along.
Part of having fun is meeting together and seeing progress as well. We had frequent check-ins as a group to try and have fun, laugh about the insane project we signed up for, and just make it as enjoyable as possible.
Celebrate when your project is done. That could be as simple as a paid company lunch or an activity with the team.
I like to be a bit different with celebrating and find something that can be a tangible benefit to improve the team — but do whatever is best for the culture and team you are in.