Creating a professional business website takes a lot of work because it showcases who you are as a business.
They are a crucial part of any business plan and marketing plan. They are the face of the franchise and one of the first things your customers see. Whether you are a new business or a brand looking to renew, the big question is: how do you create a great website?
Luckily, I’ve been there a few times and have some simple tips to get your website project done and running smoothly.
Create a website launch plan
Saying you need to create a launch plan might sound pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how few companies actually write everything down and commit to a plan.
When I joined Scorpion in July, we were in the middle of a website redesign project. The website was a whole new experience with hundreds of new pages and templates to create and implement.
It was a big project that was well advanced and with some fundamentals in place, but there was still work to be done to bring it online. Your website might not consist of hundreds of pages, but the processes and planning are the same.
I worked with our internal website team and content team to put together a launch plan and milestones to hit. Here are some examples of benchmarks we have established:
Configure the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) we need to go live in the next 30 days
Complete a sitemap
Create multiple designs for SEO page templates
Create content for new sitemap pages
Code new pages once content is complete
To do homework
Document plan for website once launched
The launch plan is essential, but it is also essential to have a team invested in the project to help move the project forward and build momentum to bring it to life. A clear plan and strategy also helped bring together the new content team that I was leading as well as the website development team that had led the project thus far.
One of Scorpion’s core businesses is also website technology and management. So the launch had to be good, clean, and ready to serve small business owners who are looking for Scorpion every day.
Understanding Your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Going through an exercise to decide the minimum you need to launch something can be a big part of speeding up the process. The beauty of digital marketing is that it can and should be iterated, and you can make changes once the site is live.
Our teams came up with a plan for the website MVP and how we would get there. We’ve chosen a few launch templates and a style template for the content to speed up the process.
We all agreed on the pages that need to be created and have a plan in place to achieve this, knowing that we will iterate on high volume pages in the future and improve the content if necessary after the launch .
With a big project like launching a website and so many different teams that could potentially be involved, it’s essential that everyone has clear missions.
With the launch of Scorpion, we had two specific teams leading the charge. The website team and the content team. The branding and theme had already been developed earlier, so we only had to do some coding and content creation.
On the content side, I made assignments to our content managers for the content pages to be created. We did this in batches starting with company pages and then moving to verticals. Having bundles helped us ensure that we took the project one page at a time rather than seeing the whole mountain at once.
We also had a clear idea of how each other was doing. This helped the team find ways to help each other once they were done with their part of the project.
Documentary project management
Project management is essential for big projects like launching a website. In addition to timelines, we had a main document to track each page once it was written and post the link to the website version once it was completed.
Having visibility into project management across the teams working on the project helps to see where there may be a disconnect. It can also be a great way to make sure everyone knows their job and how they contribute to projects.
Google Sheets can be a great tool to use for simple project management, but you can also use specialized tools like Monday, Asana, or Jira if that’s what your business already uses.
Our process for the website included:
Write the content of each page of the site
Creation of the webpage
Add final content to a webpage
Checking the web page for any issues
Work in tandem when possible
With such a large project, it’s important to find ways for each team to work side-by-side without waiting for tasks to be completed.
To do this, we created content in Google Docs and shared the link in our project management document that I mentioned above. The web team would view the new content document, create a webpage with the content, and then post the URL of the new webpage.
This meant that the content team and the web team were continuously working side by side instead of waiting for something to be done.
Sample model below.
Have a deadline
The only reason we have deadlines in corporate America is to give us purpose AND, more importantly, to give us that adrenaline rush that’s usually reserved for world-class athletes.
I like having a deadline to help with a return to work schedule. If you have a concrete day to do something, you can go back and create a timeline for the project to build on.
For example, you may know that content will take a few weeks with a website and design will take a few weeks after content submission. Knowing the deadlines will help you know when content needs to be submitted to design in order to meet that deadline.
Work can also be fun. Big projects can be exhausting. Creating games along the way and trying to make them fun for the team can be helpful in training each other.
Part of the fun is meeting each other and also seeing progress. We had frequent check-ins as a band to try and have fun, laugh at the crazy project we signed up for, and make it as enjoyable as possible.
Celebrate the end of your project. It can be as simple as a paid company lunch or an activity with the team.
I like to be a little different with the celebration and find something that can be a tangible benefit to improving the team – but do what’s best for the culture and the team you’re on.