I knew very little about building websites before I took on the management of my first web project. Apart from hitting ‘checkout’ at the end of my Topshop journey, my knowledge was pretty limited.
Here are the 3 big things I learnt from my first ever web build project:
Lesson 1: Always keep your team in the loop
This might seem like an obvious one, but it can easily slip through the net if you’re not careful. In my first project we had team members with a number of different roles:
A graphic designer
A front end developer
A back end developer
A search engine optimiser
You'll have a similar team. On small projects, the graphic designer might be the front end developer and the back end developer, and the client might be copy writer. On bigger projects you might have multiple people in each role.
The key point is, as the project manager, you’re really the only consistent one throughout the entire build. Other members of the team might have smaller roles to play, but that doesn’t mean they should be left out of certain conversations. Make sure you know exactly what everyone’s role is, when you need them, and that they’re getting sufficient information. Communication is key!
It’s also important to get feedback from the rest of the team on things such as wireframes and design. One pair of eyes just isn’t enough! If you're in an agency, never pass anything onto the client without having internal sign off first. You don't want the client signing off on something your Creative Director later pulls to bits, or your back end developer says can't be completed within budget.
Lesson 2: Don’t always say YES!
As an account manager, I always try to ensure our clients are kept happy. So, of course, I’m always going to want to say yes to everything! But turns out you can’t, and you shouldn’t.
I learnt this the hard way! It's totes not awkward telling a client "so you know the thing I said we could do no problem... Welllll, turns out it is a bit of a problem and will almost definitely cost you a bit extra." .
My advice would be to speak to your team and see what the deal is. Once you have an answer for your client you can get back to them with some options. Never commit to anything before checking with your team first!
It’s also really important to remember that once the client’s signed it off, there’s no going back! Well there is… But it will be expensive and prolong EVERYTHING.
Lesson 3: Always keep the client updated
This was something I was actually good at (if I say so myself!). Nevertheless, I think it’s important to include. Why? Because it can be very easy to forget about the client whilst a long-term project is underway.
You'll most definitely need to create a project plan with timelines and milestones - this will pretty much become your bible and something you share with your client. My advice would be to use this as a way of regularly keeping in touch. Give them as much update as you can and always answer any questions they might have. The more you talk to them, the happier they’ll be.
A happy client is a happy agency!
So yeah, that’s it. Good luck if you’re about to start your first web build! It’ll probably be a bit daunting, but it’s actually really, really fun… Promise!
P.S. Here's a tip you should never forget: Does it work on mobile? If not, it's no good! ...I think this can be what my next blog post is about ;)