Web development can be one of the most stressful types of projects to manage, and if you’re not careful, such projects can lead to some of the costliest mistakes of your career. Recently, a massive failure to launch a government-sponsored healthcare site in America demonstrated the folly that can follow when you spend hundreds of millions of dollars on Web development and still don’t achieve a successful result.
So how can you make sure that your project is a success, not a costly disaster? Here are a few guidelines for framing and executing solid projects.
1. Know your purpose(s).
What is your company’s purpose? What is the Web site’s purpose? What is most important to your customers? These are the types of questions that should be answered long before the development project starts. You can begin with something as simple as creating a positioning statement. This process forces you to fill in the blanks on what you’re providing, for which customers and with what benefits. Understanding these points will help your programmers understand the purpose of your overall Web development goals, as well as the page-specific objectives.
2. Attach payment to milestones.
Milestones are a fundamental part of all project management, and it is where many managers and business owners make their costliest mistakes. Splitting the money evenly throughout project stages can work in some instances, but for the most part, it’s not a smart way to go. Why?
Well, let’s say that the developers claim that the most difficult part of a project is the beginning, and they’ll need 80 percent of funds at the halfway point. That might makes sense, until the project nears the end of its timeline and the work isn’t finished. The developers have 80 percent of their money, but you have 0 percent of what you need to conduct business. Load up the funding on the end stages, so that you’re not left with diminished funds and unmotivated developers.
3. Positive reinforcement.
This seems obvious, but look around you and observe how much positive reinforcement you see, compared to negative feedback. There are more reasons for this than we could possibly explain in one article, but one reason is that it’s actually quite difficult to create a culture where positive reinforcement is normal. Beyond that, it’s hard to learn how to properly deliver positive reinforcement in an effective way. You’ll want to study up a bit on techniques before you attempt to blanket the office in complimentary words.
4. Ask customers early.
Don’t just test early versions yourself — have customers give you a hand. Your assumptions about what customers will want might be biased or misguided in ways that will affect further development. Users not involved in the project also will detect bugs that developers might overlook. Test everything, with real customers, early and often.
It’s important to deliver a quality product to your end consumers, and that starts with your web development. Imagine if you had an online microwave buying guide, and everything looked good on the surface, but links didn’t connect to the resources they promise to a consumer. It’s hard to do quality checks at the end, and it’s especially hard to get developers to do them after they’ve received payment in full. A better approach is to simply hire quality developers and implement the tips we’ve highlighted above.