How much time should i plan to invest in my website? - part 2 of 3: time invested during the project

How much time should i plan to invest in my website? - part 2 of 3: time invested during the project

10 Sep

Author : Brad Muncs, Categories : Maintenance, Web Site Development

website time investment

As explained in my previous article, making sure your web project is a success starts before you select an agency and continues after launch.

This series of articles aims to help mentally prepare anyone who is planning to redesign their existing website or create a new online presence.



Time you need to plan between signature and launch

There are three moments in your web project's life to plan for:

  • Before: Selecting a web partner
  • During: Web production up to launch
  • After: Post-Launch maintenance and enhancement

This article will focus on the second of those three moments: the time required by clients between the moment they sign the contract and the official launch of the deliverables.

Steps following contract signature

So you've gone through the process of evaluating the different proposals and selecting the best web partner for the job at hand. Great! You're now into "phase 2" of your web project: actually getting it developed. Here are the main moments where you'll need to plan on spending time to move the project forward.

Project kick-off meeting

Once you've signed on, the first step is to get all stakeholders around the table and have a "kick-off" meeting. This meeting is important to make sure everyone is on the same page and that priorities and expectations are clear for all those involved.

You will also need to review the finalized initial project documents after this meeting, which include (but are not limited to):

  • The projected timeline,
  • the recap of the kick-off meeting,
  • detailed project specifications,
  • any other documents required for your project.

Time required by client: 3-5 hours

Strategic brainstorms and initial analysis

On some projects, strategic meetings are recommended to clearly define the project’s objectives and priorities in the context of business goals. Complex mandates may also require an initial period of analysis to clarify workflows and specifications.

Once these consultations are completed, the client must also plan to review and provide feedback on the strategy and analysis documents and diagrams provided.

Time required by client: 5-30 hours

Design feedback

The design process is one of the first big milestones of the project; this is when the idea for your web project suddenly becomes a lot more tangible.

Depending on what was signed on, your project might include "wireframes" (basic page layouts that look like drawings of boxes on a page) and could also include more than one "version" of the initial design (Version A and B) that you can compare.

Whatever the approach, it is extremely rare that you won't have any feedback regarding the design you are presented with. This means that there will be several iterations of the design (Ex: Version A1, Version A2, Version A3, Final version).

Depending on how closely the initial design corresponds to your expectations and on how many people you need feedback from to give a final approval, this moment in the process can be quite variable.

Time required by client: 5-15 hours

Recurring steps during development

This is the phase when the approved design comes to life. Web production is now focused on converting the look and feel into an interactive interface with advanced front-end and back-end features. (What is a front-end vs backend? Check out our other article about web terms)

Weekly meetings with your project manager

Each week, your project manager will ask you to set aside about 15-30 minutes to have a phone call to follow up on the project's progression. Ideally, this should be the same day and time each week. This ritual is important even if there is nothing to say: it creates a regular time where you can address any issues or ideas that might impact your web project.

Time required by client: 30min per week x 12 weeks = 6 hours

Feedback regarding each prototype of the website

A website is usually divided into a series of modules or features. We've found that the best approach is to finalise several modules in "batches" that can be sent to the client for approval on a regular basis.

When you receive a prototype of a part of your website, you must thoroughly test it out to check if it corresponds to the specifications agreed upon and also if you experienced any bugs while you were going through it. Depending on the complexity or the number of interaction scenarios or user types, the time required for this can quickly climb. But this process is essential to making sure that the end product will correspond to your expectations.

Time required by client: 3-7 hours per prototype x 2-5 prototypes = 6 to 35 hours

Content creation/reworking

This is probably the largest "elephant in the room" even though we often mention it to clients throughout their web project. Writing content for your website is time-consuming and often requires several drafts before getting to the right content on every page. And if your website is multilingual, you need to plan time for translations.

Keep in mind that content doesn't just include text, it includes photos that often need to be cropped or adjusted and more often than not videos too.

Obviously, creating new content from scratch is more time-consuming than reworking existing content, and longer pages require more time than shorter ones, but make sure you plan accordingly.

Time required by client: 0.5-3 hours per page (+30min translation)

Approx. time for bilingual 30-page website: 50 hours

Steps before launch

The big moment is approaching: your new website will soon be launched!

Coordinating technical aspects

Small but important to-do’s that must be completed on your part before launch can include :

  • coordinating the purchase of hosting and domain name(s),
  • validating how emails will be approached (on web server, through an internal Exchange server, other),
  • archiving the old website,
  • etc.

Time required by client: 1-3 hours

Final tutorial to learn how to use the website

Your project manager will have helped you learn how to use each module that was created along the way so that you could validate the website incrementally as it was being built. Before launch, however there is a longer "official" tutorial that is a complete overview of the website's administration panel. After this meeting, you will be provided with the complete "website user guide" document that includes step-by-step instructions for the majority of actions you need to perform to update your website's content.

Time required by client: 3 hours

Final test-drive, validation & approvals

Make sure you take the time to go through the entire website to check that all is in place. This milestone might also involve higher management, so make sure they are in the loop to avoid "last-minute feedback surprises" just before launch.

Time required by client: 4-10 hours

Content integration

Once all your content is ready for the website, you also have to plan on adding it to your website through your content management system (CMS). While at Symetris we recommend WordPress or Drupal, other CMS solutions exist.

All CMS tools include WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) text editors where you must input your content. But keep in mind that websites are not Word documents, and you shouldn't (and often can't) extensively customize the presentation of your content. That's by design: we want each page of your website to have a uniform look and feel, so limiting styling options in you text editor helps standardize the design.

However, this means that content imported from Word might have to be tweaked a bit in the website to appear as you want it. You also need to place it correctly in the menu structure and add invisible "meta tags" to help with search engine optimization. This (among other things) is why you can't plan on just spending 15 seconds copy-pasting each page.

Time required by client: 5-15 minutes per page per language

Approx. time for bilingual 30-page website: 8-10 hours

Internal communications: Inform your internal team about launch

Sharing the web project’s launch date with your colleagues is important, as they probably refer to your website every day. Also, they should plan some time on launch day to just navigate through the site to familiarize themselves with it.

Time required by client: 1-2 hours

Prepare external communications

Once your website is launched, you will need to share the message with the outside world. Check with your public relations and communications teams to coordinate your plan. This can include press releases, social media mentions, a "new website launch event" and more. If your website or extranet has multiple users, you might want to prepare a newsletter to send out to them to inform them of the changes and related benefits.

Time required by client: 2-10 hours


Conclusion: Supervising your web project requires regular time investment throughout the mandate

By adding up the low range of the numbers I've listed, the approximate minimum amount of time you need to invest in your web project as a client adds up to almost 100 hours for a 30-page bilingual website. And that number can double depending on your mandate’s specifics.

This is a number few clients initially anticipate and that might seem intimidating, but if you plan it out in your schedule and invest time early and regularly, the sustained effort will pay off in time and help minimize stress, especially in the weeks before launch.

Thanks for reading! See you next time for the final of the 3 articles on client time investment: time required to invest after your project’s launch.

Tags : website

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