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What are the causes of web project delay?

We’re sometimes asked by new clients if we can deliver on time. And we usually respond by asking them the same question… This article sheds light on some of the causes of web project delay.


Design: consider it, approve it, commit to it

Any good web team will ask the client to sign the design visuals off before starting the build. This is common sense, in just the same way as commissioning an architect to design a house – changing the design after the house has been built is not an option…

Websites aren’t always viewed in this way though, probably because web design visuals are presented on-screen, which is exactly the same context actual websites exist in. So it’s natural to review design visuals, request changes, then habitually do the same once the build has started… But this is a big no-no! Seemingly small “could you just…” tweaks do cause delays to a build but will usually have knock-on effects on other aspects of the build too, causing further delays.

We aim to create clean builds, as all web teams should. But from experience, tweaks can mean untidy code; things break and need fixing, so things take longer…

So, make sure you love every aspect of the design before going ahead with the build. And remember, there are plenty of opportunities to add new features and adjust existing features once a website is live, especially if your appointed web team are looking after the site for you (which they should do).

Development track record: experience is everything

By far the biggest cause of delay during a web build is lack of experience. Choose a web team who have a proven track record with the web platform they’re selling you, and in creating websites that are like the one you want.

Ask prospective web teams to provide evidence of their track record; if you want a fast-loading website (which you do), ask them to show you websites they built and host, and carry out a page speed test with Google Page Speed Insights or Pingdom Tools. If you want an e-commerce website, do some online shopping on a site they created… If you want a mobile-friendly site (which again you do), run Google’s mobile friendly test on previous sites they built.

Content: stop hiding from it and get it done!

Content preparation is a bigger task than many clients think, and since most of the focus of web projects is on design and functionality of the new site, it’s easy to neglect content. But it’s vital. Missing content means no website, and this doesn’t just mean your copy, it means assembling your image library if it isn’t already in order. What good is a brilliant new website if the images you’re going to populate it with are poor quality or don’t reflect your business accurately?

One of the first questions a responsible web team will ask before embarking on the design and build of a new website is “can we see your image library?”, shortly followed by “is your copy ready to go?”. Because if either of these aren’t ready when they need to be (which is ideally before the design starts), the project can be delayed.

Communication: the crucial component of project management

Your trusted web team will project manage. They’ll have milestone dates clearly defined and they’ll hassle you for feedback, approval, sign-off, and of course content. The secret ingredient to keeping a project on track is communication; one missed milestone will mean delay, and a delay in communicating this will amplify the delay.

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