It’s no secret that website project timelines can sometimes be unreasonable. Clients have many different reasons behind the timeline goals set for projects. It could be anything from the release of a new product, a big marketing campaign, or an event.
The target date is almost always important and firm. In managing website design and development projects for over half of my career, I have become very familiar with timelines that clients desire, especially tight timelines. As an agency, we’re always doing our best to hit and exceed client goals, but there are times when it’s a bad idea to rush your website project.
A website design and development project typically takes 12 weeks (or more) from initiation to completion. There are various phases throughout a project life cycle that are critical in ensuring a performant and secure website that delivers what the client is expecting. When you rush a website project to hit a particular goal date, you risk a lot.
Discovery is so important.
Rushing a website project typically means starting the development phase ASAP. This is a huge mistake.
The discovery phase of a project provides time for the Engineering Team to explore requirements with the client, research and plan. Planning is crucial to a successful project. We typically dedicate one to two weeks for the discovery phase a project.
The first week involves discovery calls with the client to gather information and requirements, as well as reviewing the scope and researching. The second week involves defining a development path, planning tasks and outlining a project plan for the client to review. Without a solid plan, you risk issues with development, confusion around client expectations, and ultimately not hitting the rushed timeline. Take time for discovery and planning, even when there is a hard deliverable date.
Processes (like code reviews) are in place for a reason.
Tight timelines on website projects usually force Project Managers and Engineers to look at the project life cycle, processes, etc., and see where they can cut corners in order to hit a date. Again, this is a huge mistake. Would you purchase a house that was built with steps skipped and corners cut? Of course, you would not. Why would you do that with your website?
The project life cycle is what it is. You have to plan, build, review the quality and prep in order to be successful with a website project. Similarly, the development phase standard processes are in place for a reason, and chances are they are well-thought through to make certain that the product produced for the client is successful. Cutting corners, like skipping code reviews, is not an option.
For example, we ensure every of line of code written at WebDevStudios follows the WordPress coding standards as well as our own internal standards, and we wouldn’t want our name on a product that wasn’t superb. We have a code review process in place that allows a Lead Engineer time to review the code and test features.
Every project timeline that we set, or agree to, guarantees that we allow time for this step. It’s important to verify the development work being done meets standards. Processes are meant to be followed even with tight timelines, and if there isn’t time to do things like plan or review code, then the timeline should shift to account for these key steps.
Quality assurance and testing cannot be eliminated in order to hit a target launch date.
It may sound crazy, but I have managed a few projects where the client wanted to wave the quality assurance and user experience testing in order to get a site launched for an important target date. If at all possible, please avoid this.
QA and UAT are extremely important. The QA phase gives the Engineering Team an opportunity to discover any design issues and development errors, while cross browser testing on a variety of devices. Additionally, it’s important to take time to run performance testing on the clients hosting environment before deploying to production. Without these quality assurance tests, you risk running into bugs post-production that can be costly.
We understand that project timelines are important. Consider the target date no different than a goal. When discussing the goals and target dates, be flexible. The Project Manager will always provide the best project timeline that works toward the goal, and if it doesn’t quite hit it that target date, they will have a valid reason why. Avoid rushing your next website project if possible, and I assure you, it will be more successful!