Your Web Design Company’s Most Valuable Employee — Project Manager

What you will learn: Why your new website project needs a top notch project manager. Who should read this article: Anyone involved with hiring a Web design firm.

There’s Much More to Web Design than Design

When firms select a Web design company to build their new website, they usually focus on design expertise. Firms with a bit more sophistication also give strong consideration to copywriting and technical proficiency. But there are two other characteristics of a Web design firm that deserve utmost consideration: process management and communication skill. Without these two things, your website project is sunk. And without a highly skilled project manager, efficient process management and communication are practically impossible.

The Project Manager and the Process

Website design projects are highly complex. They involve strategists, Web designers, SEO specialists, copywriters, editors, front-end developers and back-end developers and more. Tasks include strategy documentation, keyword research, sitemap creation, page template creation, copywriting and design production, periodic client review, programming, hosting setup, lead tracking setup, migration from the test server to the live server and much more. Many of these tasks are sequential, and others proceed concurrently. It is the project manager who organizes all of this work, making sure tasks are completed according to schedule. Without the project manager, overlaps and gaps will run rampant. Deadlines will not be met and the project will incur delay after delay. Delays result in budget overruns (often substantial), and poor quality in the finished website. Poor quality in the finished website means weak brand presentation, fewer sales leads and less traffic. You won’t get what you paid for.

The Project Manager and Communication

The easiest way for a website design project to get fouled up is to have multiple client people talking directly to multiple agency people. If your last website project felt like the blind leading the blind, or like the left side didn’t know what the right side was doing — this is probably why. Information pertaining to a website design project must be collected carefully and communicated clearly and thoroughly. It is the project manager’s job to make sure all of the right people are kept up to speed, key decisions along the way are made on schedule and based on complete information, and all questions are answered promptly and accurately. If these matters are left to chance communication, chaos ensues.

Project Managers: Check Their Chops

Does the Web design firm you’re considering have a project manager with the chops to get the job done? This is one of the most important questions for any search effort. Here are key things to look for:
  • Is the individual trained in project management?
  • How has he or she excelled in project management?
  • How many website projects of similar scope has the individual managed?
  • What was the outcome of those projects?
  • Does the individual communicate clearly?
  • Do you feel you could work closely with this individual for an extended time?
  • Does the individual have enough time to manage your project with care?
This last question is very important. Even the best project manager will fail you if he or she is overloaded with projects — a situation often the case with underfunded, understaffed Web design firms. In contrast, a top-notch project manager with adequate time puts your website project firmly on the road to success. Bonus tip: Not sure about the project manager you’re considering partnering with? Check references! Other clients of the agency should be able to tell you exactly how well the project manager performs.
Contact Straight North to discuss your new company website. Call us at 855-883-0011 or request a quote online.

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