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Avoiding a Website Marathon with Good Client Service

Next week is Marathon Monday in Boston, which got me thinking about “marathon web projects.”What the Boston Marathon and marathon web projects have in common are that both can be painful, long and tedious. Where they differ is that running in the Boston Marathon can result in a feeling of deep accomplishment. Marathon web projects are…less satisfying.

What causes a website project to become a marathon and how can it be avoided?

Most websites we design and develop are on a timeframe of three to six months. There are exceptions, but this is the norm. These projects are extremely well organized with clear goals, milestones and assigned responsibilities for RainCastle and our client. Like a perfect storm, a website project evolves into a marathon when certain conditions are present, such as:

  • The website project is not considered a strategic endeavor by client’s top management
  • The client’s approval process is unclear or depends on people who are regularly unavailable
  • Something changes, like a merger or acquisition, a critical team member leaving the client company, or a change in strategy
  • The person on client team assigned to write copy has too many competing tasks on their plate and the website is not top of the list
  • The copy is difficult to write or get approved because the brand positioning and messaging is shaky
  • If we’re doing the writing, the clients we need to interview are unavailable or challenging to schedule

As good partners to our clients, our role is to drive projects to completion, yet show flexibility and the ability to problem-solve on the fly. Sometimes processes can derail just because the speed and multitasking demands in 2011 are intense, but if a few conditions are met, website marathons will be less frequent then the Boston Marathon.

  • Confirm that the website project is viewed as strategic by senior management and that they will participate in the Discovery process
  • Make sure that whoever is assigned the copywriting is allotted the necessary time to get the job done as well as access to those who will provide key information
  • Have an end date in mind that is not arbitrary – It is best to try to tie the launch to an event, a product announcement or something tangible

We hope you enjoy this year’s marathon… the Boston Marathon, that is!