Designing a website goes far beyond aesthetics. You’ve got content strategy, user experience, marketing funnels, and code to think about too. And if you want to launch your website on time and budget without cutting back on quality, your first step should always be a plan.
We created a free planning template to help you tackle your next web design project with ease. Use this ready-to-go framework to knock out a successful website design plan efficiently.
It’s easy to jump right into a new website or redesign project without thinking through the details—especially if you feel pressure to deliver the work quickly. But taking time to create a thoughtful web design plan can make all the difference between stress and success.
You’ve probably heard it said before: Failing to plan is planning to fail. And that’s especially true with web design projects that involve multidisciplinary teams and complex scopes of work.
Skipping a web design plan leaves deadlines, dependencies, and scope unclear. And confusion over any of these inevitably leads to delays. Writers, designers, and developers will spin their wheels trying to get it right, meaning more time spent on revisions. And there’s no source of truth to keep scope creep from wrecking your timeline.
No matter how busy your team or eager your stakeholders are to get started, the extra time it takes to put a clear plan in place is absolutely worth it. Everyone will be happier with the end result, and it will be a whole lot easier to finish on time and budget.
Now that you know why planning is so critical, let’s break down how to create a project plan for your website design. Web design projects typically include the following phases, which can be adjusted based on the timing and scale of the project.
This initial phase lays solid groundwork for success. Here are the steps you’ll want to take to start your web design project off right.
Everyone involved in a website project should know why it’s being created or redesigned. Think through the overarching goals (e.g., drive sales, build community) and what actions you want visitors to take. This will inform content development and design and make it easier to deliver the desired results.
A budget sets clear parameters around the scope of the project. It enables you to make smart decisions about what features to include, where to spend your project time, and when to call in reinforcement from third-party resources.
Burnout can be a real drag on productivity. So before you start handing out assignments, figure out who has the bandwidth to do the work on time and what role they’ll play in the project’s success. Use a RACI chart to document and communicate roles and responsibilities so there’s no confusion about who’s doing what once work gets underway.
Project requirements define what your website should do and/or include. Work closely with your stakeholders to spell out the features, functions, and tasks that need to be completed to deliver a win. Capturing these nitty-gritty details before work begins can go a long way in avoiding delays and discontent later.
Don’t forget to include users in the discovery phase of your web design project. Develop buyer personas and customer journey maps to understand your audience better. Then do usability testing to see how people interact with your current site (or competitor sites if you’re building a new one from scratch). Use those findings to guide your content and design strategies.
You’ve assembled your crew and documented the details. Now it’s time to kick things off! Get everyone together to review the timeline and requirements, and be sure to leave room for feedback. You want to be sure everyone’s on board with the plan before it’s locked in.
Content gives voice to your brand and sets a foundation for building trust with your audience. These steps can help you build a content strategy that helps you reach your website goals.
Before you put words to pixels, take time to catalog existing content. Then work with stakeholders to identify gaps and determine what needs to be created. This is also a great time to make sure you’re up-to-speed on the brand voice and style.
Next, create an organized plan for how content will be delivered on your website. A sitemap outlines all the pages on your site and how they relate to each other. This ultimately helps Google know how to crawl your site—but it also provides a basic framework for building content out page-by-page.
Now it’s time to get to work writing! Digital attention spans are short, so keep messaging clear, simple, and concise. And remember: Your audience should always be the focus of your content. Build content around their needs and desires, and make it easy for users to find their way from problem to solution quickly.
Web content can go stale fast. Be sure to map out a process for keeping it fresh and compliant once your site goes live. That way there’s no confusion about who’s in charge of updates.
While content begins before—and even informs—design, these phases typically overlap. Work in tandem to ensure content and design align closely to deliver a positive user experience.
Mood boards bring together visual elements like colors, fonts, branding, and image styles into a collage you can use to get buy-in on the look and feel of the website before going all in on design. Create a mood board that captures your design concept so it’s easy to communicate your general vision to stakeholders.
Wireframes provide a high-level sketch of how content will be structured on your web pages. This gives shape to the user experience and helps further define content needs. It’s also another handy tool for securing stakeholder buy-in early on in the design phase.
Once you’ve nailed down your design direction, bring your vision to life by designing a prototype. Loop developers in on your mockup to ensure you’re aware of any technical limitations that might affect design. Be sure stakeholders sign off on your prototype before handing your final design off to the dev team for build out.
Let the coding begin! It’s finally time for your content and design to come together into a functional website. Many developers use Agile to get work done, so feel free to build sprints into your project plan to ensure your process aligns with their preferred workflow.
All the pieces and parts have come together, and you’re almost ready to launch! The only thing standing between you and going live is final review and QA. Do one last check to clean up copy, test buttons and forms, and ensure your website looks good on multiple devices.
Don’t forget to determine how you’ll measure performance and handle site maintenance and features additions down the road. That way you’ll have a game plan in place for the future.
Create your own plan with our free online gantt chart template for web design. Using a template cuts down the time spent building your project plan so you can get to work more quickly and easily see what’s been completed and what’s coming down the pipeline.
Need to factor extra steps like photography or videography into your plan? Give our multimedia web design project plan template a try!
Here are a few examples of how to put your new website planning template to work for your next web design project.
Gantt charts (or timelines) are great for visualizing your project plan over the course of several weeks or even months. Think of Gantt view as a bird’s-eye view of tasks and milestones.
Web design tasks typically have to be completed in a particular order. For instance, you can’t efficiently build a website without creating content and design first. Ensure work gets done in the right order with dependencies.
Call out key dates, deadlines, approvals, or deliverables in a project by using milestones. Hit your launch date, or hold that important meeting right on schedule!
Keep everyone in the loop on the progress of the project by updating the percent complete as you work through tasks and milestones.
Make sure there’s no confusion about who’s doing what by assigning users to tasks.
Collaboration is easy with TeamGantt’s discussion feature. Post instructions, share documents, and communicate with other team members directly from a task’s comment section.
TeamGantt isn’t just for gantt charts. To get an overview of task start and end dates, simply toggle to the List tab at the top of your gantt chart. List view is helpful for standup meetings or quickly reviewing upcoming deliverables in the project.
Calendar view enables you to turn your gantt chart into a calendar in one click. That makes it easy to see what’s happening at a glance and evaluate how tasks are stacking up on any particular day, week, or month.
Ready to get started on your next web design project? We’ve created a free web design project plan template for you in TeamGantt so you can jump right in!
Customizing the template is quick and easy, thanks to TeamGantt’s drag and drop simplicity. And since everything’s online, your whole team can collaborate on activities in real time.
Sign up for a free TeamGantt account today, and save time on project setup with this free website design plan template!