Healthcare.gov’s technical struggles have blown up headlines for weeks this fall–the website is a classic example of a useful idea that went far off track somewhere in technical development land.
While it’s easy to pick on the politically charged Healthcare.gov for its inadequacies, it certainly wasn’t the first big tech project to stumble in recent memory, and it definitely won’t be the last. Remember the headlines when the iPhone first came out? Things like “Ten Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy an iPhone” and “Was the iPhone Over Hyped?” were all over the news. But, as we all know now, iPhone overcame its initial technical challenges. Six years later, people continue to line up around the block to get the latest version.
So whether you’re launching a small nonprofit website refresh or dreaming up a large foundation responsive design you’ve been dying to take on, here are four fundamental steps you can take to ensure your project is a success.
1. Start with a strategic foundation
Take the time to clarify your goals and define success before you launch your project. Let that strategy be your guide. Also, consider who the needs of your target audiences and what value your new idea can provide them. Make sure your value is… true value–and something they’ll actually find useful.
2. Lay out a timeline (and stick to it!)
Projects without timelines often languish, getting pushed out month after month. Being clear about your timeline up front will help the process move along rather than get stuck or deprioritized.
3. Make sure your project team is invested
Before launch, ensure that every member of your team understands your overall strategy, the timeline and the end goal—and is on board. Few things can derail a project more quickly than someone who doesn’t believe in what you’re doing.
4. Pick a good great vendor
Your project is going to last anywhere from a couple months to a couple of years. Don’t pick a vendor based on just great skills and a dazzling portfolio–also consider personality and how much you’ll enjoy working with them. If you don’t love them on day one, you’re really not going to love them by launch day.
Have you recently taken on a website redesign, mobile app or similar digital project? Tell us how it went in the comments below.