6 actions you can take to keep your website relaunch project "on track"
Every marketer or business will at some stage create a website, or relaunch their website. Whether it is a small site, or an "all singing all dancing site", in my experience as a marketing manager, they all take up more time and resources than you though they would.
Having worked on a number of websites for a range of companies in various sectors, I have been there and "have the T-shirt". I have also seen peers in similar stressful situations that have the marketing team working all hours to complete the website as they look on at their ever-growing lists of other marketing tasks. To help avoid some of this stress I have distilled this experience into the new Smart Insights website relaunch project planning template. In this timeline, Dave Chaffey and I have set out all the key tasks the marketer managing the project should plan and review with their agency or internal team.
Re-launching a website is certainly not a small task - the spreadsheet we have created contains over 150 tasks grouped under the areas of PRACE planning. The project will require planning, project management and internal support and buy-in for it to work. Indeed, the best mindset is that it's a continuous process, an equivalent of "Painting the Forth Rail Bridge".
Here are my main mistakes I have seen when I've been involved in planning websites launches
- 1. “Failure to plan is planning to fail” Alan Lakein
Lack of planning can unhinge a re-launch web project. You don’t want to be the only one left in the team working on the website because the rest of your team are on holiday or at that big conference you’re exhibiting at. For your stress levels, you also don’t want to be in the thick of it when you have key business launches, or large campaigns going out. If your diaries are full no matter what, then plotting these busy periods will allow you to add budget for temporary resources in your team should you need it.
- 2. Not sharing your plan with your agency or web team
Alongside your technical specification or web brief, sharing your web plan with key dates and deadlines gives the agency insight if they can do the job or not. On a recent tender process, one of the agencies that I was keen on working with replied that they had too many projects on to actually complete the work when I needed it. Better to find this out at the tender stage than half way through the process.
- 3. Not creating a web project team
A website is not just for Marketing or IT to own and manage; any changes affect the whole company. One of the best web projects I worked on had a web project team with key stakeholders from across the business at various levels. This not only helped to get buy in from across the company, but ensured that information was accurate, we got ideas and insight from front line staff, and heads of department shared their “wish list” and problems that Marketing would not be privy to.
- Have you ever been in this situation?
- “But I assumed IT would do that”
- “I assumed Marketing would load the images”
- “I assumed Operations checked the prices”
- “I assumed it was signed off!” etc etc
In my experience, I have seen website projects delayed, and going over budget, all because it wasn’t clear who was doing what and by when. I always had a post in note on my desk saying “never assume”.
Make all tasks clear by using a RAM (responsibilities assignment matrix), know who is leading a task, who is an active participant, whose input do we need, and who signs it off. If you have taken my advice and set up your web project team, these tasks should be transparent and by having different departments represented any road blocks should be removed, everyone knows who is doing what, and no one will “assume” someone is doing something.
Have you ever sat at your desk, the company HIPPO walks in and tells you that his son/grand-daughter, niece etc was telling them about this cool thing and because of that, we need this new cool thing on our website?
It is easy to spend so much time on the look and feel or what you think looks good, but you have to be media natural and remember that it is all about what the customer wants the site to do. So ask them what they want, create surveys, focus groups, develop your web personas, stick them up on the wall and keep true to it, and finally…..
- 6. Missing out on testing
Not just testing how the sites looks in different browsers, but actual user experience testing. If you can get the budget, use a UX company, you will get more out of your website long-term if you do. Test how the new design works by recruiting real customers, based on your web persona’s and give them realistic tasks to do.
I once spoke to a Marketing Director of a Hotel in Europe, they spent a small fortune on a new website and didn’t plan for any testing. Overnight their revenue dropped by approx. 60%, they didn’t test, and the customers couldn’t find the “book now” button. Worst of all , they spent all their budget so had to go cap in hand to the board for more funds, this went on for weeks, which cost them a lot of money. Do not make their mistake. Test it!