How to get a new Web site quickly and within budget
December 23, 2009
We recently completed a fully-optimized entirely new Web site for a client in just 5.5 months, a record time for our team. This is particularly gratifying because we have clients and know of firms that have struggled for up to two years on their sites, and when done have been dissatisfied with both the process and the results.
Here’s some reason why this project went quickly and smoothly.
First, the firm entrusted a small working group– four people– to make the design, copy and site navigation decisions. This group confirmed with it executive committee the objectives for the site before development began– those outside the working group could ask all the questions they wanted, but were not allowed to interrupt/stop the process (participate in working group meetings). This eliminated the many mid-project discussions we’ve seen where lawyers not fully-engaged or on the periphery ask: “Why don’t we try this?, or “Why are we doing that?”. Reassessment of the strategy, revisiting design decisions dramatically delays the process and often makes the final product disjointed.
When new copy was written, a memo was created for the editors. It explained that writing for the Web is not legal writing, that Web site copy is organized and must read differently to be effective. This must be clearly understood. A few people outside the working group were asked to to edit because of their expertise in a particular area. (Call me if you’d like to discuss what is in this memo.)
The working groups and development team created a clear time schedule for each phase of the project. The working group and our team had regular, at least monthly, sometimes twice monthly, online meetings to review progress. We agreed, and largely held to, making the big decisions– home page layout, navigation, images, copy– in no more than one week. The ethics officer was kept informed and turned his reviews around quickly.
Finally, we assembled engaged third-party designers and SEO experts we knew were well organized and who had experience with legal services.
Yes, there were tight moments as there always are on such complicated projects. But, we got it done on time and on budget. As with any major construction project we have a punch list, but it’s shrinking.
In just a few weeks we have seen a solid drop in the site’s bounce rate. An initial indicator we have a more functional Web presence.