Hiring a Project Leader for Your Small Business Web Site

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Web site project leads are lucky: They seek out and work with bright and creative people on innovative and exciting projects.

However, the pressures are intense. Project Leads (sometimes called Producers) are charged with keeping up with rapidly changing media, educating management about possibilities and restrictions, coordinating disparately skilled employees, and mixing highly technical with highly creative elements.

Look to the Project Lead to:

  • Define the Web site's goals

  • Create and manage a budget for the web site development

  • Set and meet timelines for completion

Here's a list of tasks you can expect a Project Lead to accomplish for your web project:

  • Establish goals by working with company executives to ensure that the project will meet corporate expectations

  • Ask lots of questions. Why does the company want to have a Web site? Are there single or multiple goals? Does management want to sell products, provide online FAQs (frequently asked questions), describe products and services, and/or publicize its ventures?

  • Educate management and other staff about the medium, and its unique challenges and limitations

  • Set a management-approved timeline

  • Present design mock-ups (with the Creative Director and HTML Lead) for feedback and approval

  • Develop, revise, and get approval for the Web site budget

  • Determine and obtain approval for the possible scale back of "wish list" site features, if necessary, to ensure that site goes live on schedule

  • Ensure that the company mission is conveyed

  • Set up focus groups, if necessary

  • Anticipate and purchase software and hardware needed by team members

  • Anticipate and recruit specialists for upcoming needs (e.g., online stores, associate programs, etc.)

  • Establish a regular meeting time and location for all team members

  • Ask each team member to give a progress report

  • Assign and revise tasks

  • Maintain and update easily read, concise to-do lists

  • Review progress, revise timelines

  • Monitor "bug" reports from testers, and alert team members

  • Set a cut-off date for new features

  • Be prepared to negotiate and lower expectations if certain site features cannot be implemented within the schedule or budget

  • Filter ongoing requests from management and other departments (e.g., updates to site: add a press release, add new product or service, list new email addresses)

  • Provide a buffer for staff

  • Pay attention to stress levels, work schedules, and the care and feeding of your team

  • Mark milestones and successes with pizza and donuts, or outings

  • Provide meals and transportation if the team must work late

  • Offer regular feedback and progress reviews

  • Look ahead and plan for updates, remodels, new features and technologies

Optional Tasks

  • Hold company-wide meetings at the start of the project to inform everyone of plans and goals. At the end of the project, hold a company-wide meeting to give everyone a tour of the site.