How To Create A Website Project Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide (2023)

Building a website without having a solid project plan in place increases the likelihood of having an unorganized website – that will very likely lead to disappointed clients, and threaten your reputation. 

That’s why it’s essential to always start a website development process with a properly developed project plan.

In this post you’ll discover our step-by-step process to creating an effective website project plan that delivers the best user experience.

Why You MUST Create A Website Project Plan

If you don’t create a proper plan, then you’re really just hoping to get results – instead of making sure you get them. Yet website development planning all too often takes a back seat. This is generally due to a lack of motivation – and a failure to appreciate its importance.

In this article we’re taking a detailed look at the range of tremendous benefits to be had from making an effective and strategic website project plan, and then guiding you through the recommended process. By the end of this article you’ll be able to approach your next website project in a way that will guarantee your site delivers as it should.

Let’s get started!

How to Create a Winning Website Project Plan

Ready to create a solid website project plan that drives outstanding results?

In this section, you’ll discover our approach to developing an effective website project plan. We’ll show you our step-by-step process for creating a plan that will make your website successful, deliver the expected results, and make your clients happy.

#1: Get Organized

The most common error we see with creating website project plans is a lack of organization. Most teams that develop website plans are unorganized, and store different information in multiple places. This creates chaos, a lack of control, and poor results.

Project planning is quite heavy. You’ll need to:

  • set measurable goals,
  • research the project,
  • define your audience,
  • structure the website,
  • create a design,
  • and communicate internally.

Many businesses use 10+ tools to store all of this information – which is highly ineffective. It may lead to confusion, waste a lot of time, and make the whole process less enjoyable.

We recognised and understood this problem, which is why we created Atarim – the all-in-one solution for website projects.

Atarim makes organizing your website project plans an effortless task.

Atarim organizing website projects

It creates a visually appealing and understandable workflow experience for you, your team, and your clients. You’ll be able to collaborate in one place – preventing any delays, and increasing productivity.

#2: Research the Project

You have to be clear about your client’s goals and expectations. The easiest way to achieve this is to ask your clients the right questions. Make sure to spend time with them, and get insights about their expectations.

After you find out what is important to your clients, and what exactly their expectations are, it’s time to define goals for measuring the progress of the whole project.

Set SMART Goals

Having a clear, realistic, and measurable goal will help to keep your team on the same page. To make the most out of this, your goals have to be SMART.

SMART goal formula

Source: Breeze

For instance, here is how to create a SMART goal, by asking a series of questions:

  • What specific goal are we trying to achieve? Increase daily traffic to our online art store.
  • What measurement will we use to know when we have achieved it? Monitoring daily traffic, and identifying when it has risen from 50 daily views to 500 daily views.
  • How will we attain this growth? Using a combination of regular, original, new content, external links through guest posts, increased use of social media, and paid advertising using Google Ads and Facebook Ads.
  • Is this goal relevant? Yes, our current daily views translate to 5% sales, so an increase of targetted traffic could result in an increase from 2.5 average sales per day to 25 average sales per day.
  • What period of time will be allocated to achieving this goal? By the end of the current quarter.

Aim to set goals that are in-depth, relevant, and motivate you and your team to keep pushing and creating the best possible website.

#3: Set A Deadline

You want to create a website project plan as quickly as you can – speed is a great way to gain a competitive advantage. But it’s important to be fast without sacrificing quality. Your timeline and speed of execution mostly depend on two factors:

  • the client’s expectations, and
  • your capabilities and resources.

If your client expects a website in a week, yet your resources don’t allow it, you have to let them know that you can’t finish it within this timeframe. The worst thing you can do is to agree to an impractical deadline, and then miss it – increasing costs and putting your reputation on the line.

In our experience, the best way to create a realistic time estimate is to sit down with your team and figure out how long it will take you to complete the project. After that, take this estimate and increase it by 25%. This should ensure that you won’t miss the deadline, even if there are unexpected problems along the way (which there almost always are!).

Establish Milestones

You will also have to create multiple milestones to track your progress. This is the only way to create realistic planning for your website project. It will allow you to see whether you are on the right track – and prevent missing the deadline.

#4: Determine The Required Time & Budget

You need to plan your resources correctly to avoid running out of budget. This will be mostly dependent on the client – how much are they willing to pay? More resources allow you to focus on the project more intensively, and get more team members working on it.

The most common issue with resources is not considering problems along the way – and not allocating resources to resolving them. That’s why many projects run over budget or over time. 

85% of every project is over budget

The way to prevent running over budget or time is to expect that these events may arise, and prepare for them. You can also look at your past projects to have an idea of the required resources.

#5: Assemble A Team

You need to assemble a team of professionals suited for the project. Ideally, you already have a team who can work together to achieve substantial results. If you don’t, these are the most important roles in your team:

  • Project manager
  • Designer
  • Web developer
  • Content specialist
  • Marketer
  • Tester

The second part of this is getting everyone aligned and on the same page. 

You, as a team leader, have to go over the goals, expectations, and the whole process of the project development. After that, add your team to Atarim and allow them to collaborate easily to deliver the best results.

Atarim real-time collaboration

#6: Define Your Audience

You need to define your target audience to align your branding to their needs. 

If you provide a bad experience you simply won’t win in the current hyper-competitive environment – and will lose almost one third of your potential customers.

bad customer service cost you customers

Source HubSpot

Personalization and relevance are key to driving massive results over time.

personalized experience increases the chances of purchase

Source: StartupBonsai

This is a common issue with many websites – they want to create everything to the CEO’s preference without having their customers’ needs in mind. You have to avoid that, and be clear about who your target audience is, and what their pain points and needs are.

Create A Target Persona

The easiest way to deliver an excellent experience is by creating your target persona. To do that, you need to first get to know your customers and research this information about them:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Hobbies
  • Motivations
  • Purchasing behaviors

You can do that by carrying out customer surveys, conducting market research, or interviewing existing customers. After that, it’s time to write it down and have it in mind all the time throughout the project planning, so you can align your strategy to your audience.

buyer persona example

Source: Express Writers

#7: Develop A Design

Most clients have at least some sort of design in mind that they want to implement. That’s why you should connect them with your designers to create something with which they will be fully happy.

Of course, you can come up with something better and suggest it to them. That’s an approach we regularly practice, and we recommend you do the same. This is because your designers know the most up-to-date design trends. 

You can ask your designers to prepare a few design suggestions, and present them to the client.

design suggestions and presets

Source: The Influence Agency

Oftentimes you can pleasantly surprise your clients with better designs than they suggested. This can increase client satisfaction and lead to much better results – and a more appealing website.

The Biggest Design Mistake (Almost) Everyone Makes…

Your website UI (user interface) design is not there just to make your website look good. It also has to be functional and make your website easy to navigate – and it should always be intuitive. If you can get it right, it can deliver a great UX (user experience) and lead to an increase in sales.

UI and UX has a great impact on your conversions

Source: Medium

Unfortunately, many project managers lose sight of this, and leave design only to the designers. 

A much better approach is to connect your copywriters with your designers, and create an appealing and high-converting website design that achieves the results your client expects.

#8: Create a Website Structure

You have to map out your website structure, and figure out how to organize your content. The main goal of this is to make sure visitors can find what they’re looking for quickly, and intuitively. We recommend dividing this step into three phases to achieve the most optimal results.

Sitemap

A sitemap contains information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them. You can see an example of a very simple sitemap below.

sitemap structure

Source: Scale Nut

You should aim to create something similar – there is no need to overcomplicate it, or overwhelm your client with too much information.

Flowchart

Flowcharts focus on the user experience and help to plan all of the steps the user has to take. Also, they will allow you to identify whether your site’s navigation is overly complicated.

You can see an example of a flowchart below.

flowchart example

Source: Career Foundry

Wireframe

Wireframes focus more on the individual pages of the website you’re developing. They help you quickly draw the page layout to give you an idea of how well the end result will look – and let your clients immediately see what to expect.

You can see an example of a simple wireframe below.

website wireframe

Source: Rafal Tomal

You can make it extremely simple, as in the example, or take your time on it. We prefer to do this with the most important pages – such as a homepage or sales page.

#9: Create Content

This is the step where you map out the copy, imagery, and structure you need so your team knows what to design and build. 

Here are a few steps you should take to create content for each of your pages:

  • Add content ideas
  • Create a rough layout
  • Add visuals
  • Collaborate and revise

Follow this process with each page to deliver the best possible content and make each page high-quality, appealing, and engaging.

#10: Review And Develop

At this stage, the whole plan is created, and you’re ready to jump into the development phase. But before you do so it’s important to review the whole website project plan with your client. Ideally, this would not be the first time you share your progress with a client.

You should definitely share progress regularly. This early involvement will help you assure your client that their project is moving in the right direction and prevent misunderstandings – which could both potentially increase the time of completion and the required resources.

The key here is to be respectful – welcome any criticism from your client, and do your best to make the necessary changes.

That’s It. You’ve Just Created the Perfect Plan!

Creating an effective website project plan is challenging. Having a solid strategy in place can help you produce outstanding results, and make your clients happy.

There are a lot of different steps involved in the process, but the most important ones are proper communication and collaboration. You have to get everyone involved and combine your efforts to create a truly successful website project plan.

Atarim allows you to achieve this with visual collaboration – empowering your clients with an option to leave their requests directly on their live website at specific locations. 

Our tool also gives you an opportunity to store your website project data, collaborate with your team, and communicate with clients – all in one place.

Ready to make creating website project plans easier? Get started with Atarim today.

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