Things look like they are all in order for a successful website design project, right? Not quite. Before that first meeting, we recommend spending time on an important foundation step: selecting the best internal team.
Involving the right people from the beginningWe’ve lead numerous kick-off meetings and often we can tell you when we walk in the room if it’s going to be a smooth project or one with extra hurdles. How do we know? By looking around the table to see who is present from the client’s company.
It is important to involve all key stakeholders from the beginning. That way each has a chance to express their opinion and guide the direction of the project. They don’t have to be involved in every step but if a person is going to be involved in the approval process, we recommend they attend the project kick-off meeting.
For example, in a hospital website project, you’ll want doctors and other leadership to weigh in at key milestones early on to avoid re-work down the line.
Two team approach
Consider putting together two teams for your website project. The larger team involves every department that has a stake in how the website performs. That could include sales, customer service, marketing, vice-presidents or – particularly in smaller businesses – the owner.
Our kick-off meetings focus on top-level needs and are the perfect forum to gather input and buy-in from all angles. In cases of a healthcare website redesign project, you must have insight from people in customer service roles, making sure to note what patients and website users want to be improved in the redesign process.
The second, smaller team includes the people who will be working directly on the site. The person who will help gather content, the person who will manage the site when it’s live and the person who answers emails and directs leads gathered on the site. This working team will come together and efficiently move through the project tasks – guided by the goals and direction established by the larger team.
We often recommend a second project start meeting with the smaller team to define the site map, talk about design styles, and gather key project components. This is important to note when completing a hospital website project, as coordinating schedules with physicians, various department heads, and other levels of management can be difficult.
Handling approvalsEach company handles approvals in a slightly different way but we do have recommendations for making the approval process efficient and inclusive:
1. Determine at the kick-off meeting who needs to see the project and at what stages. You will review a basic development calendar that includes all key approval points so your team can decide who needs to “sign-off” on each stage. For example, your vice-president of sales may not need to review all content before it is approved but they may want to have input into the wireframe and design compositions.
Key stakeholders are often the ones who have ultimate approval on the website so it is important they are heard and their needs are included in the project goals. We’ve seen projects shift gears mid-stream simply because one important person didn’t have input in a key project phase. Bottom line: Putting the right team together from the beginning can be the difference between finishing on time and launching the site six months late.
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