Still figuring out what timelines to offer your clients? In the beginning, it’s easy to ballpark an overly ambitious timeline that doesn’t give your designers, SEO-specialists, writers and developers enough time to meet the deadline/. Especially when your team is still figuring out the most efficient workflow.
Creating a realistic project timeline will help you build your client relationships and wrack up those good reviews. Not to mention standardize your workflow, empower your team and keep the energy positive. So even if your client is eager to get the ball rolling, setting a project timeline that works for your team will make sure your project starts and ends on the right foot.
So how can you anticipate an accurate and consistent timeline? Consider these 7 steps and speak with each team lead to better understand how much time each step takes at your unique agency.
7 steps to consider when creating a realistic client project timeline
1. Planning and market research
2. Design mockup
3. Content and SEO
4. Final design and development
5. Beta testing and QA
6. Ongoing maintenance, edits and updates
Step 1: Planning and market research
When creating your timeline, factor in planning and market research, so you’re well-informed on your client and their competitors. Here are key tasks that you should consider in the early stages of your project:
Do your background research
Make sure you’ve done your market research after meeting with a client, so you’re familiar with their business, content, design, marketing approach and competitors. This will help you create informed opinions and offer solutions that actually make sense.
Get a lot of answers now, so you’ll save time later down the road when your team comes back with questions. Consider developing a web design survey for your client to fill out in advance so you can gather more important details to reference.
Create a great design brief
When done right, a great design brief will get your clients, SEO-specialists, writers and designers all on the same page, so they can start planning out their individual timelines per deliverable.
Creating an effective design brief should include the following:
Your client’s business history, goals and KPIs
Their target audience and key competitors
Their content voice and design look and feel
Their inspiration and media
List of deliverables/assets
Project budget, including maintenance and upgrades
Step 2: Design mockup
Give your designer enough time to gather web design inspiration and create a few mockups that match your clients’ expectations and even push the boundaries.
Strive to impress your client by producing precise mockups that include user journey, and content elements. Once you have the mockups, you can share with your client for feedback and approval.
During the client feedback process, it’s particularly important to ensure you have enough time to create truly impressive mockups that are close to the final end result. Using a website builder like Wix Studio will allow you to share in-progress work for live feedback and get comments right on site, so you can accelerate the approval process.
Be sure to check in with your designer on how much time they need to create mockups for both desktop and mobile. In this Google study, users who have a negative mobile experience are 62% less likely to purchase from that brand in the future. So knowing exactly how the mobile site will behave is equally important as the desktop view.
Step 3: Content and SEO
The design is only as good as its content. SEO-optimized content that speaks to the “Why,” “How” and “What” will help bring in the right visitors and persuade them to click. Users are also more likely to share quality content, which can boost a site’s search ranking—all the more reason to give your writers enough time to write compelling text.
Your writer will need time to cover key messaging, calls to action, SEO essentials and brand voice. However, the content creation timeline will vary greatly depending on how large the project is and what your client needs, for example a blog content strategy will take much longer than a single landing page. So check in with your content team lead to understand how long it will take them to fulfill the task.
Step 4: Final design and development
Depending on the design and development needed for the project, this step will also vary greatly, especially if custom applications are part of the plan. Using a website builder like Wix Studio, will help your team save time by designing right on the web page and previewing code implementations immediately.
Step 5: Beta testing and QA
Beta testing and QA can take much longer than you anticipated, especially if you’re building a more complicated site. Give your team a full week to QA, just to make sure no detail is left behind. Once approved, all that’s left is to share the final product with your client for review and feedback. Hopefully, this step doesn’t add an extra few weeks to the process.
Here are 3 tips to keep in mind while QAing your clients’ website:
Make sure the old site redirects to the new site Once your client’s new site is live, help visitors go straight to it using a 301 redirect. As you may know, this ensures that visitors and search engines are automatically redirected to the correct site. Without them, visitors may never find the new site.
Check off all the SEO boxes Amidst all the excitement of launching, don’t forget to connect your client’s site to the Google Search Console. Remember, SEO results take time, so put in the groundwork now, so your clients’ site continues to drive traffic long after handover.
Check how the site looks on social During your QA process, preview the site on social to see how it looks when shared. With Wix Studio, you can customize the social share settings, so your clients’ site looks exactly the way you intended.
Step 6: Continue ongoing maintenance, edits and updates
A successful launch doesn’t mean your work is done. Your clients’ sites should evolve just as Google’s ever-changing algorithms do. New content should be regularly updated to stay competitive and meet the latest micro-moments.
User feedback and requests can give insight on how to optimize your sites for a better ROI. Using a website builder like Wix Studio will ensure you can make any edits and updates fast, while reducing site maintenance—so your clients’ can continue scaling long after you’ve shifted focus.