Building a new website? Tips for choosing who to have on your team—Part 1

YAY!! You’re building a new website!

Right out of the gate, a website development project is very exciting. And yet, all too frequently, following delay after delay, then an exasperated, “Oh, who even CARES anymore?” a lopsided website is launched.

Imagine a 30-story tower where the right half is just studs and the left half is complete, inside and out, paint and all. The frustrated property owner says, “Screw it, I have other projects to work on.” Slaps a roof on top—and sticks an Apartments for Rent sign out front.


Disorganized project management causes a talented group of misguided, unfocused people to erect something that is neither durable nor sound. Some deliverables never arrive; others are muddled. Milestones are missed. Timelines are stretched.

What happened to all that excitement?

Why size matters

Maintaining momentum and keeping construction on track is a team effort—whether your web development team is two people (you and the guy you hired) or 12.

The bigger the site, the more effort it will take to wrangle the monkeys and get the thing built.

Small Teams

We love working with small teams. A small consultancy, a little shop, a local restaurant… Collaborating and brainstorming directly with a chef / owner, helping a small staff to envision putting their blood and sweat online in a beautiful, classy, and compelling way… very invigorating for all involved. (Plus, the working lunches tend to be pretty stellar.)

There are challenges. Small teams have limited resources, of course, and the owner has less available time to spread around. Small business owners work weekends. They work nights. They take their laptops on vacation. (Wait, what’s a vacation again?)

They are tired. They are distracted.

Medium-Sized Teams

For institutions that require larger web development teams, it can get more unwieldy. Gathering everyone at the same time in the same mindset, scheduling deliverables, followup on delegated responsibilities, maintaining group unity—all are at risk as time passes.

A web project started in February seems likely to launch by mid-May… until April, when summer vacations are being planned and that email from the IT director requesting a writeup for that one webpage falls deeper into the inbox—below what three redundant bosses want ASAP.

In November, the CEO asks, “What happened to the new website?”

[Sheepish shuffling of feet.] And… chaos ensues.

A disorganized team talks about building an incredible website. A focused team builds & launches an incredible website.

It’s about the users, process, messaging, and the brand, of course. All that is part of it. And a key part at that. Without strategy and user experience design, without market research and pooling ideas and feedback from real users, you’re nowhere.

But then has to come momentum to actually do something. Everyone needs to understand what their specific role is—deliverables, responsibilities, timeline.

None of that matters without strong, motivated leadership. If having a new website isn’t a priority for the person put in charge—if they’re not willing to sometimes be a complete pain in the ass to meet the milestones as outlined—the project suffers. It might get done, but it’ll be 10x more drawn-out, complicated, and disorganized.

Who invited Steve?

Even more derailing to a web development project is having the wrong people in the room.

  • The guy with too many opinions—mostly irrelevant—and zero flexibility.
  • The person who would rather be anywhere but here.
  • The chick who can’t stay out of her inbox.
  • The person with no opinions or insight at all (she doesn’t not-care, but she doesn’t want to upset anyone).
  • The irrational dude who hates the very thought of blue….

You can include those people—waaaaaay later. Your core team needs to be focused professionals with the ability to make collaborative, logical decisions, who will be useful in crafting a strategy around user experience and aesthetics. And above all, who are committed to keeping this project on track.

Learn who those specific players are in Part 2 of this post.

Management consultant and brand strategist for small teams. Fan of dark tea, thick books, peace, and unity.

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