Starting a Web Project (Text Version)

Below is the text version for the second podcast in the Introduction to Standards Podcast series, Starting a Web Project.

Welcome to the Introduction to Standards Podcast. I'm Elizabeth Spencer, and today I'll be talking about the first steps you need to take to develop a new Web site or start a major Web site redesign. You can read more about this topic on "Phase One" of the "Process and Approvals" page in the Web Project Management Guidelines.

EERE's Web site creation and approval process consists of five major phases, so you might be wondering why I'm only focusing on Phase One. But this phase is special:  It consists of everything you do before you start work on your site.

That means it happens before you write any new or updated content. It happens before you have images picked out. It certainly happens well, well before you have the site coded!

So, here are the steps you'll need to follow:

Step One: Hold a Kick off Meeting
How each organization does this is different. But the idea is this: Get everyone on your team who has a major part on this project. Get them in the same room. Have a meeting—it doesn't have to be long—and brainstorm. And decide on several high-level things: Your budget. The schedule you want to keep.

You want to introduce everyone on your team to the idea of the project, and get a general consensus on what everyone your team will do and what you want the site to look like. A list of things you might want to talk about is on the Process and Approvals Web page.

Step Two: Complete the Project Information Form
Every new project or redesign has to go through the EERE Project Review Team. This is a team led by the EERE Web Enterprise Manager. The team knows all of the process, content, and technical requirements for EERE Web sites, and their job is to help you figure out what you need to do to create or update your site.

You need to fill out a Project Information Form, then send it to the Project Review Team Facilitator. (You can download the file and find the email on the Communication Standards Web site, Project Management Guidelines, Process & Approvals page.)

Step Three: Meet with the Project Review Team
Once you send in the form, you'll be invited to a Project Review Team meeting. These are on Thursday. You can talk through your project, and the team will tell you if they have any questions.

From then on, you'll have regular check-ins with the Project Review Team. You'll decide how often you need to have those updates.

Step Four: Write Your Charter
You met with your team. You met with the Project Review Team. You should now know exactly what you want to do for your project. EERE has its own Project Charter, which you can find in Web Project Management Guidelines > Project Charters.

Note that you don't have to do a schedule for this. That will come next.

Step Five: Develop a Task List
The Project Review Team Facilitator will send you a list of tasks required to complete your project. Develop a schedule based on it.

Step Six: Meet with the Project Review Team to review your Charter, Task List, and Schedule
Send everything you've just worked on—Your Charter, your Task List, and your Schedule—to the Project Review Team. You'll meet again with them. Once you've gone through all of this, you'll have a thorough idea of your project, a complete list of things you'll need to do to get your site done, and a schedule.

After that, you'll be ready to work on your site. From then on, you'll work on the parts of the project you're probably familiar with: Drafting your first content outlines, creating draft navigation, and creating wireframes for your site.  All of these are important, and we'll probably go through these topics sometime in this podcast series.

But it's important to go through the process I've described today every time you have a major Web project.  This does take some time, and you should plan for this in your schedule: The events I described would take a minimum of two weeks, if you were extremely efficient.

Despite this, it's a very important process, because it helps you plan. And, by planning in advance, you can assure your project goes smoothly from beginning to end.

So, in short, here are the six steps:

  • Hold a Kick Off Meeting With Your Team
  • Complete the Project Information Form and mail it to the Project Review Team Facilitator
  • Meet with the Project Review Team
  • Write your Charter
  • Develop a Task List
  • Meet with the Project Review Team to Discuss the Charter, Task List, and Schedule

And that's it! Remember that you can always share your thoughts with us through the Webmaster, the Communication Standards blog, or the feedback boxes on the side of the site if you have questions.

In our next podcast, we'll be talking about how to write alt text for images.  We'll talk about Section 508 and what you have to do to make sure your images meet this important requirement. See you next time!