Website project management: how to do it like a pro

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Website project management

Website project management
Does the thought of commissioning your company’s new site full you with dread? Good. This is a sensible reaction and we’d like to help you. There is a lot to get right and so much that can easily go wrong but not to worry, as an integrated marketing agency that specialises in digital strategy, we’ve got the chops to guide you on your website project management adventure.
 
Like any good adventure, you’ll need a (site)map, a target, clear objectives and some expert side-kicks (we do SEO really well). And before we get going, it’s only fair to tell you that once you get started there’s no looking back. The thing about website project management is that it’s not a one-off endeavour – the work doesn’t stop once your site goes live – it’s a constant journey of testing, checking and adapting.
 
Ready? Let’s go.
 

1. Know your audience

You’re not building a website for your CEO, you’re building it for your customers (or potential customers). The better you know them, the more relevant and commercially successful your site will be. Create a persona for each of your target audiences that embodies their buying habits, interests, online activity, media engagement, likes and dislikes. Find out what issues they need help with; these will inform your website’s design and content.


2. Set your objectives

It’s always tempting to skip through the pre-production on any job, especially when deadlines are looming and bosses are getting tetchy. Don’t. Sit down and work out what you want your website to do. What problem does it need to solve? What results does it need to achieve? These clearly defined goals will give your project a solid backbone that makes the actual website build a far easier and quicker process.


3. Write your brief (and write it well)

Don’t leave your developers and designers trying to guess what you’re after. The more information you give them, the more likely you’ll get what you want. Keep the following questions in mind when writing your brief and you’ll be far happier with what your agency delivers.
 
What is the look and feel you’re going for? What other websites do you like and why? Who is your audience? What do you want your site to achieve? What are your SEO requirements? Do you have a library of approved images? What page templates do you need? Which CMS are you considering?


4. Optimise your site

You need to get SEO right from the very beginning. Trying to optimise your site once it’s live is a messy, headache-inducing affair that should just be avoided. Your sitemap (which will be brilliantly drafted thanks to your brilliant brief) must reflect your SEO requirements and will take some research (Moz tools can help you here).
 
Check which keywords your target personas are searching for. How many searches do these words get a month? Which websites rank for these keywords and what are the domain authorities of those sites? How relevant are the keywords on each page of those sites?
 
Once armed with those answers, you can map each keyword to its relevant page on your site. It’s unlikely you’ll want Google to index landing pages for AdWords or payment and thank-you pages, so be sure to disallow them in your robots.txt file. Make sure you optimise page titles, URLs, child pages, and image alt text. To avoid duplicate content issues, make sure to use rel=canonical tags. If all of this goes over your head, bring in an SEO agency. Don’t just try to wing it – you will definitely get it wrong, it will probably take months or years to realise that you have and you will lose valuable lead gen opportunities in the process.


5. Make it responsive

Responsive design is great for SEO as you don’t have to bother with a separate domain for your mobile visitors. Your content is the same regardless of the device being used to view it, which ultimately means less work for you and a much better user experience.
 
It also means that your users will have a much better experience when viewing the website on different screens, resolutions and browsers, especially if they like to snap their browser to the side of their desktop screen whilst working on something else.


6. Draft your copy

Whatever you do, don’t try and do this yourself. Work with a skilled copywriter (no offence) and clarify exactly what your company’s tone of voice is and what key messages need to be communicated. Then sit down with your sitemap and develop a content plan for each page.
 
Ensure your keywords are used correctly throughout and feature in the:
-   page title
-   page URL
-   H1
-   first paragraph
-   body of the text at least twice
 
In their book “Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Your Customer's Brain”, Renvoise and Morin provide a seriously effective structure to use when writing any marketing copy, which have been adapted below:
 
a) Summarise your customer’s PAIN: What is disrupting your prospective customer’s sleep and stopping them from achieving their goals?
 
b) Highlight your CLAIM: what can you do to help solve their problem and why can you do it best?
 
c) Show the GAIN: how will your solutions directly benefit your prospect?
 
d) Give some PROOF: provide testimonials, case studies, white papers that back it all up.


7. Test your work

You’re nearly there, promise, but before we high-five you for a job well done, you better test your website for any glitches. Use the Screaming Frog tool to find any broken links (404s) or duplicate copy. Make sure all your forms work and that you’ve paid for all your images (unless they’re royalty-free).

You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see how quickly your pages load - nothing dampens enthusiasm more than websites that take ages to open so if yours is a little slow, check that the size of your images isn’t too big.
 
If all the t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted, time to launch and go live!


8. Grow, grow, grow

Nicely done. Your new website is officially online and you’re contemplating an extended holiday in the Maldives. Best you cut that trip short because well, as we said upfront, a website is never complete.
 
The best approach is to let your site grow organically, like a tree if you will, spreading its branches out into cyberspace - home page first, followed by the main pages and lastly, the child pages.
 
As your website grows, review your keywords and their Google rankings. If their relevance wanes, drop them and create fresh content, or rework old material to include new keywords.
 
Do a regular site search analysis to see if people are looking for something specific on your website and if yes, highlight it on your home page and create more content that relates to the product or service in question.
 
Use Optimizely to keep your website’s design and content relevant. It’s incredible but a simple design change, such as moving where your CTAs (calls to action) or contact forms are on the page, can lead to a higher conversion rate.
 
Last but not least, listen to what your customers are telling you. How they interact with your website, as well as your competitors’, is valuable insight that will guide your website’s growth.
 
If you’re battling with your website project management we’d love to help. Give our Director Luke a shout or email us (hello@toplinecomms.com).
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