When it comes to building websites, being able to meet deadlines is one of the things that separate the great companies from the also-rans. The website plays an increasingly important role in the economic life of most businesses these days. And every day the “under construction” page is up, is another day a company risks losing customers to the competition. But missing deadlines is not only detrimental to the economic vitality of the customer, it also damages the reputation of the marketing company entrusted with building the site. It’s imperative then that you present deliverables on time, every time. Let’s take a look at the methods you can employ to ensure you do just that.
Keep the Design Grounded in Reality
Sure, adding a ton of unnecessary bells and whistles will add to the project’s bottom-line value. But it will also add to the complexity of the project. This type of greed-based approach to design often winds up backfiring on the marketing company, when they realize they won’t be able to meet important deadlines.
The old engineering maxim should be kept up front during the design process: “The more moving parts, the more things that can go wrong.” If you want to “wow” the customer, do it with a handsome design that looks good, loads fast, and doesn’t cause visitors’ phones, tablets and PCs to crash.
Make Sure You’re Not in Over Your Head
There a many different kinds of websites today; from simple promotional sites to e-com sites, discussion forums and more. If your company is relatively new, your experience relatively limited and your employees still wet behind the ears, don’t take on the job of building an online casino. You’re only asking for trouble.
Biting off more than you can chew is a recipe for missing deadlines. Not only that, but you are doing a grave disservice to your client who deserves to be told the truth about your capabilities before they sign on the dotted line. But your marketing company is the one that will really suffer. Your reputation could wind up in the gutter before it ever has a chance to get off the ground.
Be Realistic About How Long it Will Take
Some companies seem to employ a business model that goes more or less like this: “Promise the sun and the moon, and deal with any fallout later.” The thing is, by setting unrealistic deadlines, you pretty much guarantee fallout will occur. And that fallout will typically include an unhappy customer who winds up telling anyone who will listen how the marketing company left him in the lurch.
A better strategy is to do a cold-light-of-day assessment about what you can deliver and when, and then make that the basis of your proposal. Keep in mind too that you should always add a few extras days to the deadline, just to protect yourself in the event the unexpected happens.
Break Things Down into Manageable Chunks
You don’t climb a mountain by jumping from the basecamp to the summit. You get there by breaking the climb down into manageable sections and then putting one foot in front of the other. Same with building a website. Don’t set an arbitrary deadline for the completion of the entire project, and then try to retrofit completion of the various stages into that overall deadline. It won’t work.
Instead, break the project down into manageable chunks at the outset, and set a deadline for the completion of each chunk. When you arrive at the projected completion date of the final portion, add a week to provide yourself some wiggle room and submit that as the project completion deadline.
Countless website design projects have missed deadlines because members of the development team weren’t communicating with each other. It’s imperative that you schedule regular meetings of the development team during which every aspect of the project is addressed.
There also needs to be mechanisms in place so that if problems occur between meetings, they can be raised with the project manager and effectively addressed. By cultivating communication in this way, small problems don’t blossom into big ones that wind up torpedoing the deadline, angering the client, and embarrassing your company.
Keep in mind too that this commitment to communication should also encompass the client. They should be kept abreast of all significant developments. Any changes or alterations in the design should be run past them before being implemented. In addition, if the client comes through with last-minute requests for changes, make sure they understand how those will affect the deadline (if they will). Don’t just agree to something that will come back to haunt you later.
Make Use of Task Management Apps
“Kanban” is a Japanese word that roughly translates to “visual signal.” Unlike a house or office building, website construction takes place out of sight in cyberspace. As such, it can be difficult to know exactly where your team is in the construction process. Kanban boards let you break everything down into columns denoting what is done, what is being tested, what is nearing completion, what’s in the queue and more. This helps ensure everyone is on the same page, and that work is proceeding in a timely fashion.
Other online tools like Google Calendar, Google Docs, and more enable you to keep track of looming deadlines and send out automated reminders to team members of important upcoming dates.
The Bottom Line
Short of natural disasters and tragedies striking key members of the development team, there is no excuse for missing deadlines on your website project. By taking the above tips to heart, marketing companies can ensure they get the most out of their development team, customers get the website they signed on for, and your company winds up at the end of the process smelling like digital roses.
To summarize: Stay within your capabilities, make sure your delivery schedules are grounded in reality, break projects down into manageable chunks and foster a culture of communication, both within the design team and with the client.