Creating a Web Project Plan

Working on web projects in a library can be a lot different from traditional corporate, agency-led web projects. In libraries we’re usually working with a fraction of the technical staff: often only one or two people to play the roles of project manager, designer, user experience expert, programmer, information architect, content strategist, and more. As in any organization, our colleagues are invested in the website and have ideas about what they’d like to see there. But web staff in the library don’t get to take on the role of outside experts, the way a team from an agency does, so it might be harder to convince others to follow our lead, to recognize our expertise.

One thing I’ve found that’s infinitely valuable in this situation is to share a project plan with colleagues before starting work on any web project. A project plan will give others a sense of timeline and most importantly, a sense of scope. Defining from the outset what you are and are not including in a particular web project can make a lot of difference in how people give feedback and respond to the work you’re doing.

What does a project plan look like? There are a lot of things a project plan can include. Some components may be more or less important in your specific library. In general you want to include information related to

  • A statement that defines the project. What are the reasons for undertaking it and what are the objectives you’d like to attain?
  • Some information about stakeholders, and who as the authority to make what decisions.
  • Detailed notes on scope: What is included in the project, and what is not included.
  • Milestones: Breaking a project up into milestones can make it easier for people to understand the process, and feel confident about what you and you’re team (if you’re lucky) are doing.
  • Timelines: These can help layout your expectations, but you should probably make it clear that they are tentative and subject to change, at least at this stage
  • Team roles, if you have a team, or impact on library staff

You can see the project plan I created for our website revamp project at this link: Website Project Plan Example

There are a lot of things that changed about our timeline and our particular milestones as we worked on the project, but this broad overview document gave everyone a sense at the beginning of the process of what I was planning on doing and when. Having this document gave me something to come back to when I started to feel that things were shifting. It reminded me of what we were doing and why, and helped me stay on track. And it made my colleagues feel involved in the project, and like they understood what we were doing.

The next step that undertook was to do some user assessment, of both our students and faculty and our library staff and librarians. In my next post I’ll talk about my user assessment plan and the different methods we used to get feedback.

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