Live from EduWeb 2006 in Baltimore: (Web) Project Management 101

July 31st, 2006 Karine Joly 2 Comments

Staci Roberts Beam, Director of Web Communications at Northwestern University presented this morning an interesting session at the EduWeb Conference in Baltimore titled “Web Projects: Formalize Your Efforts with Documentation and Research and Generate More Internal Support, Site Success.”

Rachel Reuben, Director of Web Communication and Strategic Projects at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is one of the seven very nice people who agreed to share their notes with all of us who couldn’t attend the EduWeb conference this year. Since Jeff Kallay, the scheduled keynote speaker, canceled at the last minute, this is Rachel’s first post.

Stacy gave an informational overview with regards to project management for Web development. She discussed how to work effectively with “partners” (clients) to manage a project from start to finish using these five key things:

1) Project Overview Worksheet (marketing intake sheet)

General info, reasons for redesign, audience desired action, current site, perception, content, technology, marketing, maintenance, publications (trim to meet your needs)

2) Project Proposal
Goals, project details (content assessment, site mgmt, training staff, technical support that will be available afterwards, etc.), project schedule, approval

3) Project Timeline
Think Excel spreadsheet: category, action steps, start date, due date, people responsible

4) Project Phases (lay it out for them in advance)
Project intake, research, agreement

5) Research
Online survey (pre- and post), user testing (says Jakob Nielson says we only need to test 3 people, not 20+; offer incentives), card sorting, log stats analysis

Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Communication is essential. Provide regular status reports to your partners. They assume nothing is being done if you don’t communicate with them regularly. Summaries should be provided at least once a week to the primary partner contact, more often depending on the nature of the project. Always provide follow-ups via e-mail after meetings.

Project Phases For Basic University Web Effective Web Project Management for Success:
Formalize proposals, Site Redesign

Phase 1: Define the Project
Phase 2: Develop the Structure
Phase 3: Design – Information design, visual design, paper prototype testing, final design
Phase 4: Build & Test (Production) – content development, template production, hosting environment, installation, populate templates/code files
Phase 5: Launch & Maintenance – address change management issues, usability test, conduct internal review, refine Web site, conduct training (internal quality assurance)

Promotion/Assessment Phase: Announcement, conduct post-mortem review, conduct evaluation, project feedback form

Empower departments
Her office encourages their partners to frequently and effectively update their Web site, and sets it up so they’re always following Web Standards. She has created a book that she gives to partners to show examples of what her office has done, what services they offer, how they can best help them. (She’ll make this available for download in PDF format – I’ve e-mailed her for this.)

References:
Web Redesign 2.0: Workflow that Works (Kelly goto & Emily Colter)
Collaborative Web Development (Jessica Burdman)
Back to the User (Tammy Sachs & Gary McClain Ph.D)
Don’t Make Me Thing, Second Edition (Steve Krug)
The Unusually Useful Book (June Cohen)
Project Management (Scott Berkun)

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