How to Plan a Website Development Project: Templates & Examples

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 project plan.

We created a free website 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 project plan efficiently.

Developing a website? Here’s why you need a project plan

It’s easy to jump right into a website build, migration, 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 development 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 website projects that involve multidisciplinary teams and complex scopes of work. 

Skipping a website project 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 important, let’s break down how to create a project plan for your website design.

Website development process checklist

Website projects typically include the following phases, which can be adjusted based on the timing and scale of the project.

1. Project definition and discovery

The initial planning and discovery phase lays a solid groundwork for success. Think of it as your chance to set a clear vision and scope for your site, while learning as much as you can about your users and competitors. 

Here are the steps you’ll want to take to start your web design project off right.

  • Set clear website goals. Everyone involved in the website project should know why it’s being created or redesigned. Define the overarching goals (e.g., sales growth, lead generation, community education) and what actions you want visitors to take. This will inform content and design and make it easier to deliver the desired results. 
  • Formulate a budget. 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. 
  • Do a competitive analysis. It’s important to understand the landscape of options your customers have at their fingertips. Research competitor websites, and pay attention to the story they tell and how they’re meeting customer needs. Look for opportunities to set your brand apart and turn first-time visitors into lifelong customers.
  • Conduct user research. Don’t forget to include users in the discovery phase of your website project. Develop buyer personas and customer journey maps to understand your audience better. 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. 
  • Document project requirements. 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 details before work begins can go a long way in avoiding delays and discontent later.
  • Establish your project team and roles. Burnout can be a real drag on productivity. So figure out who has the bandwidth to do the work on time—and what role they’ll play in the project’s success—before you start handing out assignments. Use a RACI chart to define roles and responsibilities so there’s no confusion about who’s doing what once work gets underway.
  • Kick off the project. Your team and stakeholders should be on board with the plan before it’s locked in. Get everyone together to review the timeline and requirements, and be sure to leave room for feedback.

2. Content strategy & architecture

Content gives voice to your brand and sets a foundation for building trust with your audience. These steps can help you structure and write content that keeps users engaged so you’ll be on track to meeting your website goals.

  • Gather and assess content. Before you put words to pixels, take time to catalog existing content, and research SEO opportunities. 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.
  • Create a sitemap. Next, create a plan for how content will be structured and organized 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.
  • Write content. Now it’s time to get to work writing! Digital attention spans are short, so keep messaging clear, simple, and concise. 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. 
  • Establish a process for upkeep. 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.

3. Visual design & prototyping

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.

  • Create a mood board. A mood board captures the visual elements of your design concept and may include colors, fonts, branding, and image styles. Use this collage to communicate your general vision to stakeholders and get buy-in on the look and feel of the website before going all-in on design.
  • Build out a wireframe. Give shape to the user experience by sketching out how content will be structured on your web pages at a high level. Wireframes help further define content needs and provide another handy tool for securing stakeholder buy-in early on in the design phase.
  • Design a mockup or prototype. 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.

4. Website build & development

It’s finally time for your content and design to come together into a functional website. Many web developers use the Agile methodology to get work done. Feel free to build sprints into your gantt chart or set up a Kanban board for your project to ensure your process aligns with their preferred workflow.

  • Front-end development: This step is all about delivering a smooth experience for users. Front-end developers apply the visual styles to content and pages and add interactive functionality to the site, like video, animation, and navigation menus. They also work to ensure your website meets accessibility standards and is responsive across devices. 
  • Back-end development: Back-end developers handle server-side programming for the website. This may include creating and managing  databases, coding the business logic, and connecting the front-end sites to back-end systems or external services. Not all websites will require back-end infrastructure.

5. Final site review & QA testing

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. 

6. Website launch & promotion

It’s all systems go at this stage! Rally the troops to deploy your new website and promote it across all your marketing channels. Be sure to celebrate this major milestone as a team!

7. Maintenance & monitoring

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 to ensure your website keeps up with industry trends and customer needs as they evolve down the road.

Website project plan example and templates

Now that you know how the website development process works, let’s take a look at how these basic steps come together in a plan.

Gantt chart example for website development project

A gantt chart enables you to map out a clear timeline for your website project plan so everyone can see how work is progressing and where things are falling behind. Think of it as a bird’s-eye view of all your tasks and milestones.

Here’s an example of a website development gantt chart we created in TeamGantt to schedule and track project tasks on a visual timeline.

Save time with our free online website planning templates

Create your own project plan with our free online gantt chart template for web development projects. 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 website project plan template a try!

How to use TeamGantt to manage your website project plan

Ready to put your new website planning template to work for you? Use these simple tips to plan and track your next website project easily in TeamGantt.

‍Set dependencies between related tasks 

Website development tasks typically have to be completed in a particular order. For instance, you can’t efficiently build a website without creating content and design elements first. Dependencies connect dependent tasks on your gantt chart so work gets done in the right order.

Use milestones to track key website meetings, dates, and approvals

Call out key dates, deadlines, approvals, or deliverables in your website project by using milestones. Hit your launch date, or hold that important meeting right on schedule!

Ask your team to update progress as they complete tasks

TeamGantt makes it easy to invite your team to the project. Once you’ve assigned team members to the website project, remind everyone to update the percent complete as they work through their tasks. That way you don’t have to spend time chasing down updates.

Centralize important project notes, updates, files, and approvals

Collaboration is easy with TeamGantt’s discussion feature. Post detailed instructions in the Notes section, or attach key documents, like the creative brief. Upload content drafts or design mockups for review, and capture feedback and approvals in the Comments section. Tag someone in a comment to notify them about important updates.

Use a project board to create a Kanban workflow for your team

If some folks aren’t too keen on managing day-to-day tasks in a gantt chart, use Board view to set up a Kanban workflow for your team. This view automatically converts all your gantt chart tasks into project board cards, and vice versa. Set up as many columns as you need, and customize their labels and percent complete to fit your process.

In the website project board example below, we created columns for To Do, Doing, and Done and set the To Do percentage to 0% and the Done percentage to 100%.

Review project status with your team in List view

List view is helpful for standup meetings or quickly reviewing upcoming deliverables in the project. Simply toggle to the List tab at the top of your gantt chart for a clean and simple view of task start and end dates. You can drag and drop tasks to rearrange the order, update progress, track time, or collaborate on tasks easily in this project view.

Identify scheduling conflicts early in Calendar view

Calendar view enables you to turn your gantt chart into a calendar in one click. That makes it easy to see how tasks are stacking up on any particular day, week, or month and resolve bottlenecks ahead of time. Open multiple projects at a time, then switch to Calendar view to see where things get too crunchy for your team.

Create a website project plan with TeamGantt

Ready to get started on your next web design project? We’ve created a free website planning 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 our free website project plan template!