Guide

Set up a small business website

Develop a project plan for your website

Planning is an essential part of creating websites. It is often as important as the website development itself. A good website project plan can help you:

  • reduce risks and possible problems during development
  • manage your time and resources better
  • keep the focus on your project goals and objectives
  • carry out tasks with greater efficiency
  • stick to agreed schedule and deadlines
  • improve communication with web designers and developers

Website development project plan - what to include

Before you start any work on the code of your website, you will need to think about its:

  • purpose - what do you want your website to accomplish (eg find news customers, generate leads, advertise your business, sell online, etc)
  • users - who will use the website, how/when will they do it, what devices will they be using to access your site
  • structure - how you want to organise it, eg how users will navigate through the site and how different pages should be laid out
  • design - how it will look like and be used, eg elements such as logos, menu selection, etc
  • content - what information (text, image, media etc) you want to publish on the site and who will develop, populate and maintain it
  • content management system - how you will add and edit content on your website
  • domain name - what will be your domain name, ie your URL, and what you need to do to register it
  • web host - who will host your website and what website hosting options will best suit your needs
  • development - will you choose an off-the-shelf template to build your site, use an online tool, or commission a web developer

A good website project plan should set out:

  • a task list - for every step of the website creation process
  • a schedule - timeline for the completion of tasks, testing and launch
  • a budget - to cover all stages of the project (ie planning, design and development costs, any bespoke functionality you might need, as well as training, annual hosting and support costs, copywriting, etc)

Aim to create clear and detailed specifications during the planning stage. You can break them down into planning, design and development sections in your plan. It may help to include charts to visualise your timeline and milestones.

Website development project documents

You can search online for free or commercial website project plan templates, including task lists, project schedules and budget plans. Other documents that you might find helpful include:

  • work breakdown structure
  • feature descriptions
  • responsibility assignment matrix
  • risk register and response plan
  • project iteration and closure reviews

See also project management templates and tools.