I have been involved in strategizing, designing, development and launch of websites of three different types of businesses in the last few years.
The first one was my concept of launching a networking platform for Indian classical music and dance. Me being the promoter and website designer, had complete autonomy over the entire process of website design, development and content creation.
The second one was for a consulting firm catering to one industry vertical, managed by a team of professionals.
Lastly, the third one, a more recent engagement, was for a small company trying to re-establish themselves in the highly competitive space of project management software.
All the three engagements gave me deep insights into the process of launching a business website.
Launching your business website has become the hygiene factor for all types of business activities in this era of the internet led business growth. There are 1.6 billion websites on the WorldWideWeb according to the Netcraft’s September 2018 web server survey, of which, almost 85% are inactive.
These websites can be classified into various types such as
- Brochure websites – for example – Canopus Instruments
- Lead generation oriented content driven websites – Whizible Project Enterprise Management
- E-commerce websites - Amazon
- Educative/ entertainment websites - Capterra for software reviews and selection, Netflix for entertainment
Let us understand the steps in designing and development of a website. I came across a blog which will help you understand the Strategic Design: 6 steps for building successful websites
Each of these steps carries equal importance and any compromise on any of them may result in a sub-standard website which might not meet the goals of your business.
Website design and development should be treated as an internal project.
A proper project plan and resource plan should be made using software tools suitable for your business. Delays at any stage of website development will disturb the launch schedule.
Here are the top 3 reasons for a delay in launching a business website.
The solution to avoid the delay lies in the problem which also gives us the top 3 ways to prevent these delays – let us call them the CPRs of a website
A majority of the delays occur due to the 3 reasons: -
1. Lack of clarity in the objective of launching your website
A website is the public face of any business. It is a marketing tool. As a business owner or the marketing manager, it is essential that you get clarity and consensus on
- Whether you want the website to become a lead generation machine or just a product brochure. This blog can guide you in understanding how long does it take for a new website to start converting
- How much time and money you want to invest in the website creation and maintenance
- If you have the right resources in-house or need to outsource to expert agencies
You need to give considerable thought before selection of the goal for your website which requires strategic thinking on the part of the leadership team for your organization.
Changing this objective after initiating website design or development will amount to a lot of rework and delay leading to wastage of resources.
So, clarity of the objective and agreement of the leadership team on this objective before beginning the website project is essential for a successful launch.
2. Ad-hoc planning
If your website team does not do proper planning and estimation of time and resources, you are likely to go back and forth on the requirements, rewriting the content, redesigning the web pages and much rework leading to considerable delay in launching the website.
The key to managing any situation is to plan well! Launching a website is a complete project in itself. Treat it as a separate project, use various time estimation techniques and create a comprehensive plan for execution.
Follow the best practices advised in PMBOK guidelines for effectively managing projects.
A well thought through project initiation covers the following steps
- Generate options for the website theme which will resonate the objective and image that you want for your website
- Use design thinking methods to visualize the sitemap
- Finalize the layout of web pages by selecting an appropriate theme
- Write content for all the pages portraying the right image for your business.
- Start the development process once you have all the content ready. The content-readiness will help the web developer in visualizing the entire website and the development will be faster.
- Define clear milestones and deliverables.
- Prepare a calendar and map it to the website development output.
Do not forget to get a buy-in from the leadership team on all key deliverables such as the design, the content, to ensure that there is no delay in development due to the internal approval process.
3. Failure to supervise and review the website development at regular intervals
Many times, we observe a detailed plan failing because the project leader trusted the team and did not supervise. One missed deadline can create a chain reaction and the entire project might get delayed.
The easiest solution to this problem is to know your team, understand their strengths & weaknesses and assess the level of supervision that will be required for your team members to ensure that they perform to the best of their abilities and follow the project plan.
In addition to individual supervision, have regular milestones and daily reviews to motivate and direct your team. The agile method of project management is suitable for this. Daily stand up meetings are a useful tool for monitoring the progress of the website development project.
The formula to ensure the timely launch of your website is to religiously follow the three-pronged strategy of clarity, planning and review – this is like the CPR for any website project!
Sanjeevani Sathe, is a VP Research and Content with Whizible, a project enterprise management and project automation technology company, catering to SMEs and large companies. She is a Chartered Financial Analyst and has 10+ years of work experience in research and consulting with the Boston Consulting Group, UCStrategy and Rare Enterprises private equity group owned by Mr Rakesh Jhunjhunwala.