Project management is a critical aspect of successfully planning, executing, and delivering web development projects, whether that’s a brand new website, or updates to an existing website.
Most website-related projects involve cross-functional teams and tight deadlines, but not all are assigned a dedicated and experienced project manager. This can leave stakeholder, budget, and time management in the hands of whoever is most invested in the project. If that’s you, you’re in the right place - let’s dive into what you need to know to get started with website project management.
Understanding Website Project Management
First things first, what do we actually mean when we refer to website project management? In short, website project management encompasses the strategic planning, execution, and control of web development projects. Its primary goal is to achieve the project’s objectives while managing constraints like time, budget, and scope.
Website projects – whether that’s an entire website build, the creation of new landing pages, or optimizations to existing pages – are often complex and cross-functional with lots of moving parts and various stakeholders involved, which is why good website project management is so important. It can help you stay aligned, optimize your workflows, and ensure timelines stay on track. For more detail on the steps involved in the project itself, check out our 12-step guide on the website planning process.
Creating a Project Summary or Scope of Work
To begin, it’s a good idea to create a project summary. This can be a simple, one-page document that is shared amongst key stakeholders before any work on the website begins to ensure that everybody is aligned on what the project scope looks like.
This document will be helpful throughout your website development project - it can be used to give a quick overview to new stakeholders who come onboard throughout, or to provide a high level overview of your plans to leadership at any given time. You’ll also likely come back to this document when making critical decisions or when things are getting off track – coming back to this document will be a helpful anchor to remind the team of the predetermined goals, deliverables and timelines. In the document, you should include three main sections at a minimum:
Defining the project's goals and key deliverables is an absolute must to keep everybody on the same page throughout the project. You should outline your broad objectives, goals and KPIs. For example, your objective might be to improve the design and optimize the content on your website’s product pages. Your goal might be to increase conversion rate on the pages by 10% and increase organic traffic to the pages by 20%. Your KPIs might be movements in conversion rate and organic traffic for the pages you’ve worked on.
Depending on the scope of your website project, the team might include web designers, developers, content creators, SEO and CRO specialists, the list goes on. Effective collaboration and communication are essential within this project team, so it’s a good idea to name one person from each discipline in your project summary as the directly responsible individual (DRI) for each function. These people will serve as project leads on behalf of their department or team, and are the people you’ll likely ask to deliver progress reports and check in with most regularly.
Understanding the stages of your website project, including initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closure, is important for alignment. Each phase has distinct tasks and objectives, so it’s important to outline those at a high level within your project summary document in order to provide a clear project timeline to everyone who’ll be working on the website. In this section of your project summary, you’ll want to outline key project milestones, and assign deadlines and a DRI for each milestone.
Website Project Management Methodologies
Whilst you don’t need to become an expert in the methodologies of project management if you’re only managing a one-time website development project, it can be helpful to understand them at a broader level to decide whether implementing one might be helpful.
Here’s a brief overview of the project management methodologies that are most suited to website projects. If one sounds like it could be a good fit for your particular project, then we’d recommend further reading to understand how you can implement each one.
The Waterfall model is a linear approach that involves sequential phases, making it suitable for smaller projects with well-defined requirements. It's simple, structured and provides clear milestones, but is often viewed as a more traditional (and sometimes dated) way to approach website project management due to its lack of flexibility. However, it might be suitable for smaller website projects, such as simple changes to a group of pages.
Agile methodologies are iterative and flexible, and focus on breaking each part of the project down into smaller tasks. Agile involves continuous collaboration with stakeholders and/or clients, allowing for changes throughout the project. This is what makes it ideal for website projects, which often have evolving requirements and lots of feedback at each stage.
Scrum is one of the many types of Agile methodology, which we’re mentioning here since it’s particularly helpful for complex website development projects. It divides the project into small, manageable units called sprints, typically lasting 2-4 weeks. Scrum involves daily stand-up meetings, sprint planning, and sprint reviews led by a ‘scrum master’ who is often a dedicated project manager to keep everyone on track. It enhances transparency, as team members regularly assess progress and adjust their work based on feedback, making it particularly effective for complex projects where flexibility and rapid development are critical.
Hybrid methodologies combine elements of both Waterfall and Agile. This approach allows you to maintain structured planning while adapting to changes as needed. It's suitable for projects with moderate complexity.
Useful Tools to Help with Your Website Project Management
Your project management can be made easier and more efficient by tools and software to streamline tasks and improve communication. Here are some recommended tools to enhance your website project management. Choose the ones that best suit your project's needs, team size, and budget, and leverage them to ensure the successful delivery of your web development projects.
Website Planning Tools
Of course, we’d recommend Rarchy for visualizing your new website’s structure, or mapping out the changes you’re making to an existing website, including adding or removing pages. You can crawl your existing website, capture screenshots of live pages, add wireframes to new pages, and more, including planning SEO elements for each page (such as title tags and target keywords), planning pages section-by-section, planning out customer journeys, the list goes on. Plus, you can collaborate with your project team via comments and multi-user sitemap editing - ideal for keeping everyone aligned.
For in-depth keyword research and strategically planning the SEO elements of your website project, we’d recommend SEM Rush as a comprehensive solution to ensure your website project not only ends up looking great, but actually achieves business results.
Project Management / Task Tracking
Trello is a visual project management tool that uses boards, lists, and cards to help you organize tasks and track progress. It's intuitive and highly customizable, making it suitable for both small and large projects.
Asana is a comprehensive project management platform that offers features for task management, team collaboration, and project tracking. It's known for its flexibility and integrations with other popular apps.
Jira is a robust tool, particularly useful for website development projects as it’s often the preferred platform for engineering and web development teams. It offers powerful issue and bug tracking, as well as Agile project management capabilities.
Communication and Collaboration Tools
Slack enables real-time communication through channels and direct messaging. It's a great tool for keeping your project team connected – try setting up a project channel with all your stakeholders for regular status updates and day-to-day check-ins.
For virtual meetings, Zoom is a reliable choice. It's suitable for holding project meetings, client discussions, and remote team collaboration.
By understanding the principles, methodologies, and best practices outlined in this guide, you can improve your website project management skills and successfully deliver your projects on time and within budget.