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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How to manage a small web project: a simple approach

Some times ago I wrote a post about a structured process you must know to develop a web application and many readers asked to me to write something simpler about how to manage a small web project. I think there are not general rules for that but, without doubt, a correct approach can help you manage your projects more efficently and achieve quickly the final result.

I prepared this picture that illustrates a simple process with 3 main phases you can use as reference to manage a small web project:

1. Planning

Plan what you have to do, how you have to do it and in which time.

1.1 Define project scope

First step: Identify 4-5 high-level points which define the scope of your project. Don't underrate the importance of this step because if you are able to describe your project in a nutshell, it means you have a clear idea about what you have to do. So it will be simpler to realize it.

1.2. Identify main features to implement

Second step: Identify main features of your web project and add, for each of them, some details such as relationships, general notes, ecc. For example image to have a simple project with only two main features: user login and profile management. You can represent them in this way:

That's a simplified example only to give you an idea.

1.3. Define sitemap

Next step: define a sitemap of your project with files and folder. Be accurate in identifying all files to implement (HTML/PHP page, JavaScript files,...) because they are final deliverables to implement.

1.4. Plan a daily to-do list

Set daily milestones using a simple to-do list. So everyday you'll know exactly what you have to do. In this way, you can easy monitor your progress measuring what you did a certain day and what had to do.

2. Developing and testing

In this phase: write HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript... code and test small portions of code during developing (preliminary test). So it wil be simpler find bugs and errors. When your web application is ready, stress it with a final test to catch errors you didn't find during preliminary test which cause unexpected behaviors .

3. Publishing

Now you are ready to publish your project on-line. When your website or web application is on-line do a last test on what you published to assure you that it's all ok. That's all!

If you have some suggestion please leave a comment, thanks!

External links
Take also a look at these links:

- Software development methodology
- Agile software development - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Manifesto for Agile Software Development

Related posts
- Structured process you must know to develop a web application
- Simple process to estimate times and costs in a web project
- How to manage a small web project: a simple approach
- Simple process to estimate times and costs in a web project
- The Deming Cycle: an application to web design

blog comments powered by Disqus
simonth said...

I like this for its straight-forward and clear steps. Feels like a mix of waterfall and GTD models.


1. though you have the daily tasks to do, there is no timeline or milestones visible. I am afraid without this, milestones could be missed without seeing the overall schedule.

2. what happen when the customer interrupt with new requests? how will this affect the flow?

Developnew said...

nice tutorials... very useful for FL.

JesusFreak said...

Good post!

Thanks for making life simpler

Anonymous said...

Don't you have some examples of free web app. that can help ? (free base camp equivalent...)

Raja MM said...

We knew that but you made it as Structured one. Superb...

MolnárAttila said...

nice post! thank you!

Jérôme Andrieux said...

Good post, however :

- sitemap is not the description of the project source code file & folder tree. It's the logical map of the actual site. Both of them actually matters.

- when identifying main features to implement, you're mixing up features and logical groups, classic fail : "create user session" just doesn't fall in the same category as "JS code for AJAX blah".

Anyway, your method appears to me as a stripped down non-agile methodology, focusing on a reasonable scope and set of features - ie Pareto principle : 20% effort to fulfill 80% of the initial objectives. What about the other 20% objectives ?

Pardon my french.

Wim said...

I like the idea of smaller and simpler approaches to projects, keeps us focused on the actual work ;).
However, I think that during a project it's really likely both the tasks/feature and the day-to-day planning change quite a bit as you go along; i.e. some cycles between step 1 and 2 are hard to avoid. Maybe make the planning a bit less strict than day-to-day, but rather have some general deadlines.

Anonymous said...

Great post as usual! Thanks!

Ben said...

what did you use to create the images in this blog post?

The Facepalm said...

Fantastic blog! Keep going on! Damn!

Slo said...

Nice writeup. Thanks :D

jhon said...

planning a small project also using funds that are not small. your tutorial is very good.


Anonymous said...

maybe agile can help

Daniel said...

what is the software you draw your diagrams in? they look great.

Mohinder said...

nice tutorials and I like this for its straight-forward and clear steps..

sitemap is not the showing of the project source code file & folder tree.

Well, overall i like this approach for small project..

Ryan Cook said...

Thanks for the good read... but as post one said how do you work the clients never ending changes (seems like it sometime.) into your work flow?

paul said...

nice and useful! but as suggested first it would be a good idea to put a time line in the project! but i suppose its only necessary with larger projects! as smaller projects are self explanatory, such as a few days.

william said...

Thanks for sharing this article I also like website with flash designing specially the intro
part of the website is so attractive and I agree with your view that flash presentation Increasing your web traffic and page views Add, add your website in

dr john said...

Very nice! I keep skipping some of these steps, and then slow up for a while. When I do go through all of them, things are a lot smoother and more successful. It's nice to see them written down and I'm tempted to print the article and stick it on the side of one of my PCs for regular reference.

Adding some milestones to a project does help as well.

Identifying things that can be done in parallel or independently is also useful for when you run out of inspiration on one part. Otherwise you can sit there making no progress until it is done (the old waterfall approach, which should never be used).

film izle said...

This is an amazing post. Thank you for sharing!

Media Contour said...

Very concise and structured approach to managing a small web project. Depending on how many people are working on the project, a daily to do list can become a much larger task than expected. Also, drawing wireframes is another small step that I find helps with the flow of the project and gives the client a better idea of what the final product will look like, before its done.

Dani said...

So useful! Thanks!
I'm doing a web project and this post is very useful for my work.

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