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Site Development Guide: Planning

Build Your Team

  • Project Manager – It never hurts to have someone help manage your project. The PM helps to keep people on task in meetings, coordinates activities, and follows up on tasks.  Depending on your project size this may be a person doing another job in the group, but don't underestimate the need to have one person drive the project.
  • Technical Lead – Regardless of how simple you try to make your site, you still need at least one person to be the expert.  All members of your team should be open to learning new tools and supporting others as they tackle new challenges, but a technical lead should have lots of the answers to tech questions.
  • Artist – It helps if you have someone with an eye for the artistic side of things, especially if they have skills with Photoshop or other image-manipulation software.  Engineers are great for getting a job done, but you may end up with a very rigid site structure. 
  • Wordsmith – You need someone with word skills, whether writing or even just proof-reading.  Having someone double check your site will add to its overall quality and impact.

sider Stakeholder Issues and Concerns

  • Who is the driving force behind your project?  Board of directors?  A subgroup of members? Local, state, and/or federal agencies?
  • Identify the key people in providing direction and approval of your project: these are your stakeholders.
  • Ensure the stakeholders are represented in decisions.
  • Include these stakeholders in your review process.

Identify Priorities and Goals

Establishing the priorities and goals for your organization will allow you to plan your development tasks accordingly.  For CCCMB, the ability to readily update the website without requiring HTML skills and knowledge was essential.  In order to keep the site updated and relevant, we needed more than just a lone web developer to be able to update content, maintain the calendar, and ensure effective organization of the site.  We deemed creative flexibility or a flashy site with lots of visual impact less important for our site because we are not selling a product but rather attracting service-minded individuals and informing people about what our organization does and how they can help.

Aside from priorities and goals for the care & feeding of the website, link your goals for the website directly to the structure of the content. Your team will likely incorporate calendars and work trackers as well as info about volunteer opportunities, work days, and trails in your area.

Typical things to consider in setting goals:

  • What are you trying to accomplish with your site?
  • How does your site fit into your organization's goals?
  • How do you want to present your organization?
  • How will you know when you are "done?"
  • How will you measure (and celebrate) success?

Consider Your Budget 

  • Do you have a budget?  Is it zero dollars?
  • Even if you don't have actual money to spend, establish a human budget.  Don't burn out your team: respect their time and input. Distributing the load amongst people is a great way to avoid burnout. 
  • Your budget will feed into your tools selection, hosting options, etc.

Identify Tools

  • Chances are pretty good that you have one or more people with some kind of web development experience.  Draw on that experience.
  • Consider the countless free tools available to anyone with an internet connection and pick tools that align with your goals.  That may mean a blog site such as Wordpress or Blogspot or a more comprehensive set of tools available through, for example, our choice of Google Sites.  
  • You may have access to experts who may offer to build your site and host it on their server.  That can be great but just make sure it aligns with your organization's goals.  If you need your non-technical president to be able to update the site on a regular basis, requiring your president to learn HTML and FTP tools in order to upload files may not yield success.  
  • Pick tools that you can share freely.  Free tools and Open Source tools are great options that allow you to legally share copies of the programs.