On Your Mark, Get Set ...
Project planning creates a blueprint. You get a big-picture view, set expectations, begin to map out your strategy, and start thinking about assignments.
Getting everyone on the same page from the start will help you avoid complications down the line. We've identified key steps to creating, launching and maintaining a site:
- Prep (team, timeline, process) and kickoff.
- Determine your site goals.
- Identify audiences.
- Determine how users will navigate your site.
- Organize, assign, write, and edit content.
- Customize the look and feel of your site.
- Arrange for your site to be set up in Drupal or WordPress.
- Learn how to use your content management system.
- Populate your your pages.
- Share the site with your unit.
- Share the site with Digital Communications for quality assurance.
- Go through user testing.
- Launch your site
- Maintain your site for the future
Picking Your Team
One of the keys to a successful project is to pick the right team for the job.
- Executive: This is often the dean or director, and it's important to have their backing and support. However, an executive should not be the project leader. They have too much administrative work already. Involve them in big decisions and regular reviews, but not in the day-to-day work.
- Project Lead: This person is the engine that drives the web update. They're responsible for maintaining the overall vision and guiding activities through each phase, from initial meetings to launch and beyond. The lead will be the primary point of contact with Digital Communications, and will spend a major chunk of time on the project.
- Subject Matter Experts (SMEs): They're the experts with the information that users want to find; sometimes, they'll write their own material; in other cases, they'll provide the source material to a writer.
- Writers: Writers transform existing information from your old site and new information from your SMEs into content that follows our web writing style and content strategy. They usually have to juggle a lot of different things, and they'll need time, and lots of it, to get this work done.
- Additional Stakeholders (maybe): Some units may consult on key points with people outside your unit. Make sure they're involved and informed on your progress, so you can ensure everyone's needs are being met, and they can provide any feedback in a timely manner.
... And, Go!
Once you've identified your team and stakeholders, get together and map out a plan. Kickoff isn't the time to dump frustrations about the old site or ideas for the new site. You can save those for discovery. For now, make sure everyone knows his or her role and is committed to giving the time it will take to get this done. Starting from the same place with the same goal makes solutions easier to find when you hit obstacles.
If you are a department or school, and you think you're ready to update your site, contact Digital Communications Project Manager Kelly Hansen.