We can see them coming a mile away. Executives and project decision-makers, laden with heavy regret. By the time they reach us, they’re feeling grim. When it comes to their web development project, things took a turn. It had been obvious to their team that changes and improvements were necessary. We know what they’ll say before they even raise their weary heads. Revenue is declining, search visits are trending downward. The most heartbroken among them will deliver the blow. The website has stopped being fully-functional. “What do we do? The project should survive, yes? Can it? Survive?”
Under those circumstances, it’s only natural that our clients want to move as quickly as possible. They are eager to get beyond talking and thinking and into actual designing. But, no matter how pressed they feel to get something done, we can’t let them run amuck. We always encourage them to put together a project charter before any work begins. In fact, they should do it before they even start budgeting.
A project charter is an outline of what the goals are, how to reach them, and what the anticipated outcome will be. It doesn’t have to be a complicated puzzle, with long pieces of yarn attaching each part to the next. But, this kind of document and outline can help clarify things in three specific areas.
#1 Web Design Needs
If you don’t know why you are doing something, then how can you do it? Every new web development project needs a purpose. It’s important to not begin your project, without understanding your ultimate goals. This is particularly true of development projects at the institutional level.
As you consider what your project needs the most, separate items into categories. Which ones are absolute must haves? Which ones are pie-in-the-sky hopes? And which ones are insane and impossible? This organizational tip will help you stay focused on what matters the most. In turn, knowing exactly what you need keeps you on the path to your goal.
We build our success on the premise that we won’t begin a new project unless we’re 100% clear on the ideal outcomes. It gives us a beam of light to follow. By following the same approach, you can begin your project with clarity. Knowing exactly what you want to accomplish will help everyone keep their eye on the prize.
#2 Expectations for the Project
Expectations can be a big umbrella. When a web design project is large and intensive, that umbrella becomes bigger. You’ll want to define your plans for the finished website as a whole. On top of that, you should outline what you expect to receive from your creative team. You can include internal partners on that outline, as well.
Where does the initiative for the outline come from? How can it best begin? It’s better if everyone is speaking the same language from the start. Sure, you can outline many of your expectations in a contract or agreement. But waiting until that moment can put many people at a disadvantage. Having open and honest discussions about expectations from the get go, helps everyone. That’s particularly true for contributors inside your own building or organization. They need to know what their roles and responsibilities look like throughout the web development process. Or rather, what kind of umbrella they’re working with and providing to you.
#3 The Resources That Can be Committed
Now that you know where you want to go and how you want to get there, you have to plan on what you need. Of course, you can start collection proposals for your web design project. Then you can follow that up with some comparison shopping. However, jumping into that lake first only leaves you all wet. When you’re trying to manage budgets and scheduling, efficiency is key. A smarter approach is to decide from the outset what kinds of resources can belong to the project. Then adapt that to your needs and expectations.
If your aim is to achieve all your goals (and that is an admirable endeavor!) be prepared for some needed flexibility. Based on the proposals you receive, you may have to scale your budget up or down. But, starting out with some general figures will make it easier to make the right decisions. At the same time, your creative partners will have great parameters to work within.
Ready to Work on Your Project Charter?
If you’re gathering information for your web design and development project, we’d love to lend a hand. Now is the perfect time to talk with the experts at Atlantic BT. Even if you’re only looking for some advice on pushing your internet strategy in the right direction, we’ve got you covered. Schedule a free consultation and see how we can help.