Why you need to have a project lead for your website project

team working on a website redesign at a table
Client responsibilities in a website project extend beyond vendor selection and paying invoices. To make sure your project stays on time and on budget, it’s critical that you name a project owner.

Every website project team needs a designated point person with decision-making authority. Before your project kicks off, determine who will represent your organization in this crucial function.

What makes a good website project owner?

Although past experience working with websites can help a project owner get up to speed more quickly, it’s certainly not required. You hired your website partner to do the heavy lifting. What the internal project owner needs is understanding, a mandate, and the authority to do the job.

What are the attributes of a good website client project owner?

  • Sees the importance of the website project
  • Has a good sense of how the website will be used by your organization
  • Knows how to measure success
  • Understands the scope of work
  • Has organizational support to manage client responsibilities in a website project
  • Receives authority to collect information and give initial approval for benchmarks

What does a client project owner do?

A website project owner prevents bottlenecks by providing the information the website project team needs and giving initial feedback on progress points.

Client responsibilities in a website project include:

  • Providing source information for content writing
  • Giving feedback at all key milestones—including having knowledge of who needs to weigh in and when
  • Knowing when outside coordination is required for complex questions or issues
  • Managing internal review time to ensure prompt responses
  • Collecting and summarizing edits and comments on design and content drafts
  • Managing internal expectations in light of project features, scope, and timelines

What does an effective website project owner look like in action?

When TBH Creative worked with a large healthcare organization on a comprehensive website redesign project, the organization’s designated project owner—their marketing manager—reported to an involved CFO and over 80 practitioners, yet she had the authority to take the lead and make decisions on the website project.

Project owner leading meeting
The project owner took a hands-on approach, giving prompt and thoughtful feedback every step of the way. Because she understood the priority of keeping the project moving, the project owner reviewed each deliverable and made quick decisions, ensuring that our team had the information we needed at the right time.

When it came to gathering input and managing approvals, the project owner sometimes asked us for clarification but she used her authority to streamline internal decision making and bring the organization’s large staff into agreement.

Although she had no technical training in website design or development, this project owner did a terrific job, and the website redesign project delivered measurable successes for the organization.

What prevents a project owner from being successful?

While many factors influence a website’s success, designating a point person with authority is one of the most important client responsibilities in a website project.

Website project red flags:

  • Not designating a website project owner
  • Not giving the website project owner authority to make decisions
  • Allowing too many other managers weigh in and make decisions
  • Not understanding the importance of the website redesign process in creating a successful final product
  • Inability to give feedback on time, which sets project timelines back
  • Giving unclear or conflicting feedback
  • Submitting comments to the website design team without resolving internal questions or competing interests

What can you do to get a project back on track?

If your project is already underway and you haven’t named a project owner yet, or you do have a project owner but didn’t set them up for success, all is not lost. It’s never too late to reset and run the balance of your website project in a more efficient, effective way.

Regardless of where you are in your timeline, naming a single website project owner and giving them the knowledge and authority to take the lead will make all the difference.

Website vendor comparison worksheet cover
Want to learn more about what a successful website redesign process looks like? Read our guide.

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Tatum

About the author | Tatum Hindman

Tatum is the president of TBH Creative and is responsible for building long-term client relationships. She enjoys the strategy behind web design and collaborating with clients to define and execute online marketing goals. She likes to blog about hot topics in web design and digital marketing, as well as share tips for strengthening your online presence.

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