4 Steps to Website Management

It’s 9 a.m., Monday morning. The phone is already ringing as you download the dozen or more e-mail messages that came in over the weekend. Someone pops their head into your office and tells you that the main printer has gone down and no one is there to fix it. Can you? This is especially troubling, especially because a major grant report is due by noon.

A typical day for countless strapped non-profit managers who are forced to do too much with too little. It’s how most of our clients are, so I understand how challenging it can be to take on a new web development project. We guide our clients through the process, but it still takes collaboration and planning from everyone. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

The trick with any big project, is to divide the greater goal (building a website) into more manageable bits. I once read that the great cellist Yoyo Ma’s father told him to “couper la difficulté en quatre” (divide the difficult part into four pieces) when working on a difficult piece of music. That simple formula helps with almost anything that makes your heart palpitate.

Web projects naturally break into smaller phases, so it’s relatively easy to focus on what’s important right now versus what needs to happen by launch. Forget about launch. At the beginning, think about general goals, then fill in the gaps.

To take Mr. Ma’s advice literally, here’s how you can think of a web development project in four easy-to-manage phases:

  1. Research
  2. Design
  3. Development
  4. Maintenance

When you’re in the Research phase, the other three phases shouldn’t even be registering yet. Instead, break Research into four smaller tasks that you can focus on sequentially, such as:

  1. Deciding who your ideal website audience is
  2. Asking representatives from that audience for their website wish-list ideas
  3. Asking your staff what their wish list is
  4. Deciding who will be part of your website team (internally and externally)

If any of those seem like too much work, divide them into four tasks. Keep going granular until you feel like you can check off each item amongst the rest of the responsibilities you have each day. Websites are vitally important, but so is running your organization.

Focus on only what you need to when you need to, and you’ll see that you can accomplish more than seemed possible in the beginning.

[Image: Flickr user euart]

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