Scoping Out A Website Project: What Should I Be Doing?

4 min read

Are you getting ready to embark on a new website project? Maybe you’re planning to migrate your site to a new platform, add new functionalities or redesign your existing offering? Often, brands know what they want to achieve in terms of project deliverables but haven’t considered the factors that really matter.  

A challenge we often encounter when working with new clients is defining an accurate and detailed project scope. This process encompasses determining and documenting specific project goals, deliverables, features, functions, tasks, deadlines and costs. It’s essentially what needs to be achieved and the work that must be done to achieve it.  

A well-defined project scope is a necessity to ensure success. Without it, no matter how efficient and effective you are, factors will be missed, and miscommunication will occur. This approach forces you to adopt a clear vision and agree exactly what you want to achieve. It’s important to undertake scoping early as not doing so can significantly impact the scheduling and cost of your project as it progresses. In this blog, we will run through what it is you need to consider within your project scope.  

Understand your brief  

Formulating a request for proposal (RFP) or brief is a typical project starting point. It’s also the stage where projects can go wrong before they even properly begin. If there is one thing that successful web projects have in common, it’s the creation of a well-defined brief.  

When creating a brief, it needs to be clear and concise while covering everything you expect from your chosen agency. This could include features and functionalities, design requirements, project timeframes and of course, budgets. This approach enables you to compare like for like quotes from different agencies, making it easier to choose the right one for you. If you provide a vague brief, agencies can interpret them differently and subsequently provide varying costs and solutions that make it even more challenging to compare agencies.  

How much are you prepared to spend?  

Budget. A significant consideration for any project, it’s crucial to understand how much you are prepared to spend on your web project. Once you’ve gathered quotes from prospective agencies, we would advise cross-referencing this against your requirements list to ensure everything you need has been covered.  

From this point, a contingency budget should be set to provide a safety net should any surprises surface down the line. During the discovery phase, it’s expected that new functionality and ideas will arise. But, if you want to implement any of these, you’ll need the budget to do so. It’s better to have a contingency budget in place to give you the freedom to make this choice. When receiving agency pitches, take the opportunity to ask questions and never make assumptions.  

Project co-ordination  

For a project to be successfully delivered, the right stakeholders need to be involved at each necessary stages. If this doesn’t happen, assumptions begin to be made that create confusion as the project progresses.  

During the project scope, you need to understand who will be involved in each stage. Make them aware of what to expect at what point and get their support early on. Consider questions such as:  

  • What work do you expect the agency to cover from a co-ordination perspective?  
  • What is your internal IT team responsible for?  
  • Will hosting the site be your responsibility or the agencies?  
  • Are there other third-party providers who you’ll need to work with?  
  • Do you need to organise CRM support with your provider so they’re able to configure with the agency on integrations?  
  • Who needs to be part of signing off the design and content?  

Orchestrating and managing the expectations of these different teams and individuals is an important part of your project which will be in a better position to set expectations and communicate with each party. 

Consider your content  

Content not only informs site design but also brand, messaging and most importantly, engagement. As a number one cause of delays, taking a content-first approach is paramount to a website project, planning and creating content ahead of the design phase. Content can be mapped and created with the user in mind while keeping implications it has on the design at the forefront. 

It’s beneficial to understand the scale of the task ahead and consider how much content will need to be written. Who will be responsible for creating this and how much time will be needed to do so? Are there any methods to save time on your content? In some cases, you may be able to import select pieces of content directly into the new CMS. For example, many blogs and news articles won’t need changing so transferring these as efficiently as possible is a quick win to save time. Considering your content as early as possible, you can reduce delays later on in the project.  

Time management and deadlines  

Identify a realistic timeframe for your project as each stage will likely require internal review and approval. Agreeing deadlines for each will minimise the risk of delays. It’s important to identify who your internal approval team is; we recommend having more than one person with this responsibility in case they are off sick or on holiday when deadlines are due.  

In some cases, tight deadlines cannot be avoided, but by setting an MVP (minimum viable product) for initial go-live and outlining phases of ongoing development and improvement could be the best solution.  

Research and analysis  

The research phase of your project will be more valuable if the agency has existing data and research available to analyse. Using tools such as Google Analytics and Hotjar will allow you to share reports as part of the brief. If you can provide research for the agency to work with, this can help save time and reduce initial research costs. It also helps improve your knowledge of how your website is currently performing, putting you in a better position to make considered decisions when the project begins.  

At its very core, creating an effective project scope requires continuous and clear communication to ensure everyone involved understands their responsibilities and how goals will be met. Once this foundation has been created, you are equipped to effectively guide the project for the best chance of delivering desired results within timescale and budget.  

At NetConstruct, we understand how important research and planning is to any project and we can help you get it right. We have worked with various clients helping them create and implement their project scope and deliver a final result that appeals to their audience. If you want to talk more about project scoping or your upcoming website projects, reach out to the team.  

Thoughts. Opinions. Views. Advice.

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