Author Bill Hogan says the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. We’ve found that creating a website project plan and conquering the website rebuild are just the same — one sprint at a time.
As a marketer looking to revamp your website, choosing a creative agency that not only does great work but also makes the entire process seamless matters. Sprints have become an essential part of our proven process for custom website design and development, as we’ve uncovered many benefits for both our team and for the client.
What is sprint planning?
A sprint is a defined portion of a larger project that has set tasks, deliverables, and due dates that lead up to the entire project’s completion. The goal is to take on a complex project in segments, which helps keep the entire project moving.
Designing and developing a new website requires many phases, from creation to revisions to approvals. Planning the project in sprints creates bite-size pieces that can make a project feel more manageable for the agency and the client.
How sprints are set up in a website project plan
To create a website project plan, our team starts by building the new site’s information architecture, also known as a sitemap. We review the current website in-depth with a client, note any pages that are essential and eliminate those that aren’t. We also discuss and make a plan for pages that will be new to the website. In the end, we’re left with a list of necessary pages organized into a sitemap.
The next step is to break the sitemap into sprints by bucketing groups of pages. This can be done in many ways, but we typically batch pages by priority. Grouping the homepage and 2-3 other primary pages into sprint 1 allows the design team to create the website’s look and feel and explore how that aesthetic plays out on pages with varying content needs. Remaining pages are organized into the following sprints as needed.
After the sprints are planned, sprint 1 is designed, reviewed, approved, and then moved into development. Once the first sprint is in the hands of our web developers, sprint 2 begins to work its way through the design process and then moves into development. This cycle continues until the website is fully developed, allowing portions of the website to be in different phases during the website project timeline.
The benefits of working with an agency that uses sprint planning
After working on many website project plans, we’ve discovered there are several key benefits to sprint planning that marketers should care about when looking for an agency to create their new website.
Your website project plan will maintain momentum
Planning a website project in sprints allows the site to be designed and developed simultaneously, rather than designing the entire site and then moving forward with development. The latter often results in the entire project coming to a screeching halt once it’s time for stakeholders to review all designs for the new website. When the goal is approval on all pages, the review process is much longer, which prevents the project from moving into development, and ultimately can extend the overall project timeline. With sprints, once designs for a sprint are approved, those pages can start being developed while design work begins on the next sprint.
All phases of the project become more manageable for stakeholders
The website process isn’t just a big undertaking for an agency but for the client too. Stakeholders are often part of many planning meetings, reviewing designs, writing pages of new content and more. They too benefit from tackling each phase in sprints – planning the structure of 3 pages at a time is much easier than 20 and so is leaving feedback. A deadline for website copy for a quarter of the pages may feel less daunting than a deadline for all website copy. Overall, your stakeholders may appreciate having the ability to segment work throughout the months-long project.
Progress isn’t held up by client approvals
In every website project, some pages just need more time for review and discussion than others. If moving the website’s designs into development is contingent on the approval of all page designs, the project can easily become stalled during the approval process over a handful of complex pages.
Sprinting the design of a website project allows for sprints to be approved independently of each other and therefore moved into development while others are still in review.
Sprint design reviews can correct a project before it’s too late
Presenting in sprints creates checkpoints for stakeholder review throughout the design phase. Without this, the design team may spend weeks designing an entire website only to have major stakeholder feedback shared once complete. Getting buy-in on the design aesthetic from stakeholders at various points throughout the process ensures the end product isn’t a surprise to leadership.
Milestones are established to ensure timelines are met
Without breaking large websites into sprints, project managers may find it difficult to accurately track the pace of a project during design and development. “Are we on track?” questions can often be met with vague, “I’m feeling good,” responses from production team members – the result is many untouched pages and a shrinking timeline for completion.
Sprints provide tangible check points for project managers that indicate whether the entire timeline is being upheld. You’re able to predict timeline issues much earlier and course correct as needed thanks to many milestones rather than one final deadline.
You can easily plan launch and post-launch priorities
If a strict launch date has been set, it can be helpful to group sprints by those that are critical for launch and those that can be completed after the site’s official launch date. For example, all existing pages on the website can be organized into sprints and completed by the website’s launch but a brand new Team page may be able to wait. This allows the project to hit its launch date while also creating a plan for post-launch work.
Our website project plan approach
Using sprints to organize the design and development of a website is a key component to our proven process that creates success for B2B clients again and again. We partner with those who care about creativity, professional web development practices, and a high-touch customer experience. If that’s you, we’d love to learn more about your upcoming website project! Visit our Contact page to get the conversation started.