You Get Out of It What You Put Into It
The process of launching a website is not something you can do as a side project. To get the best results, you'll need to devote time and resources to the effort.
There are several things to keep in mind:
- Recognize up front that this is not something you can only work on when you have a spare moment. This project requires a significant time commitment.
- You'll need to name a team and a team leader who has the juice to make things happen and make sure people meet their deadlines. Department heads are not always the best choice; they already have a significant amount of administrative work.
- Bring in people who are willing to put in the “heads-down” effort needed to get this done, then give them the time to do it. This will likely involve shifting some of their responsibilities to people who are not working directly on the website project.
Digital Communications has found that many units and departments — and you know who you are — are like students: They leave their work undone until the night before it's due.
To avoid falling into that trap, we suggest that you create a project roadmap, and set yourself incremental goals to complete, so all the work doesn't accumulate at the end.
On previous projects, we set up a four-month timeline that maps out the project from start to finish. We then sub-divided it into two-week work periods.
At the beginning of each period, we set ourselves (and our unit/department partners) the goal of completing certain tasks within those two weeks. Doing this allowed us to break down what can be an intimidating amount of work into bite-size chunks. (How do you eat a giant? One bite at a time.)
One of the most challenging tasks for units/departments seems to be creating the content for a project, so we suggest you be most vigilant about meeting those deadlines. It will make your life a lot easier.
Your project road map will generally follow this pattern, although the order might vary a bit.
- Kick Off Your Project
- Conduct a Content Inventory
- Determine the Media Assets you have and those you need (photos, videos)
- Determine your Primary/Secondary Audiences
- Go through Discovery
- Develop a Goal Statement
- Determine Your Key Performance Indicators
- Develop Your Information Architecture
- Make Content Assignments
- Research/Gather Your Content Source Material
- Write Your Content
- Edit Your Content
- Populate Your Pages
- Conduct Stakeholder Review/Quality Assurance
- Conduct User Testing
- Submit Your Site for Accessibility Testing
It's up to you to determine how long you want to spend on your web project. Keep in mind that you must have 75 percent of your content complete (that means written and edited/rewritten to fit the content strategy) before we will instantiate (set up) a site on the Mason Drupal Platform for you.