How do we keep web projects on track?

My accountancy firm is considering a website redesign to make us more visible to Google, and equally importantly, to make the site more user-friendly and easier to navigate once customers find us. Friends and contacts who’ve gone through a similar process have often been frustrated with the process and disappointed with the end results. What are the key things I can do to keep the project on track and make sure the end result matches the initial brief?


A. Nigel T Packer writes:

You are right to approach the website redevelopment with those two intentions in mind. There are a number of things that you can do that should help to reduce the frustration and feeling of lack of control that so often accompanies the web development process, and ensure that the end result serves your business as you intended.

1. A business website has only one primary objective: to meet or help meet business goals. The secondary objective: to support user tasks through the provision of content and functionality, which in turn helps you to meet business goals.

2. Ensure that the specific objectives you set for the website are feasible and realistic.

3. Remember that there is no best way, rather we advise our clients to focus on the better way: why is one option better than another, and more importantly why?

4. Keep on track.  Ensure that you begin with a clear strategy and do not rush this early stage.

5. Get expert help. It is more cost effective to pay for consultancy at the beginning, than have a poor end result and find yourself back where you started.

6. There’s no magic bullet to increase your search engine results.  Build search engine optimisation (SEO) into the strategy and don’t treat it as an afterthought.

7. Try not to be tempted along the way by great ideas or fancy facilities that you see or are suggested by your developers.  Don’t delay the project completion: decide if it’s useful and put it aside for phase two.

8. The designer’s job is to communicate your message, so don’t leave it to them to figure out what that message is. Conversely, don’t contract a highly educated and experienced designer and then tell them how to do their job!

9. Accept that you have to invest substantial resources to get the best expertise and choose your development team wisely; you will be building a long term relationship.

10. Carry out user testing.  If this is clearly beyond your budget, opt for heuristic evaluation which is cheaper, quicker and easier, and carry it out throughout the development process.

Nigel T Packer is the managing director of online consultancy Business for Business Internet Marketing and author of Internet Marketing: How to Get a Website that Works for Your Business.

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