General advice on how to successfully carry out a web integration project.
Tip 1: Project benefits
Define clear goals for what you want your project to achieve and why you want to carry it out. They need not always be business-related (although obviously this is the case in most instances). However, it is important to quantify the benefits, so you should create metrics, which will show.
Creating a solution often involves a whole range of goals for the client. But most often, this involves:
- Supporting the business goals of the client. The web portal is often the only way you can come into contact with your target groups. It will determine the success of your goods or services, and more generally the satisfaction of the target user. Yes – a corporate web portal should generate income.
- Lowering the burden on dispatch (improving self-service capability) – easy to navigate and user-friendly interface makes it easy for user requests to be met and therefore reducing the need for additional services.
- Education – plenty of information, which is presented the right way, should educate the user.
- A strong communication tool. Of course, the portal is always a website, and is an important communication channel to inform customers. But it also a means for them to inform us – both as feedback (contact form, advice and questions), and indirectly, through analyses of visitor behavior (visitor analysis).
- Simplification (in some cases going as far as automation) of data transfer.
Tip 2: Break down project development into specific parts
“All-inclusive“ projects, where all functionalities are regarded as a priority, and completing them for launching is crucial too, highlight that it is not possible to identify key areas for fulfilling defined goals with regard to their time and financial demands.
Phasing the development enables you to react flexibly to orders being made during portal development. Ideally, the phases that you plan should last approximately three months. A portal development project requires constant attention and effort to continually improve functionality, to monitor the activities of your competitors, and to react to client comments. Take of the advantage of the flexibility offered by the Internet.
Tip 3: Get the web integrator involved in time.
Good partnership is a foundation for success. Involving a web integrator in the early phase of the project increases the chance of a better quality solution. A good integrator sees the situation as a whole and suggests improvements that are acceptable in terms of price, even when your team would not even know about such solutions. Choose a web integrator with whom you would like to establish a long-term partnership. The web integrator will take account of your interests and help to you to meet your budget goals/comply with limitations, through effective and tried and tested proposals in the early phase of the project. You can then avoid costly remakes and launching the functional qualities when finances have been used up before the project is completed.
Tip 4: Ask about complete services
Check whether your web integrator will be responsible for the whole project. What type of activities does it entail? Is it appropriate to consult your partner? You should not be burdened with routine operations; instead you should concentrate on meeting project goals and resolving conceptual issues.
Tip 5: Data migration and existing websites
The existing website, in some form another, is always there. The website is indexed in search engines (which have a specific “SEO” value), and you should consider the correct preservation of reverse links. But you should be critical of the existing structure and content. Take advantage of the project involving editing texts from a copywriter to revise and simplify the material. In practice, large sections of text are not looked at and updated.
Tip 6: Find a strong internal owner and sponsor.
In order for your project to be successful, you need support from the highest level of management – you need to have someone pushing down from the top. Without such pressure, clearly determined competences can often cause impediments to the internal team, in particular in issues of responsibility for the project or parts of it. An internal “grafter“, is needed, who will treat the project as his/her own. Internal deadlines will need to be monitored, and without a fired-up project manager in your team, the project will not work.
Naturally the project roles assigned to others: internal guarantors who are experts, consultants, technicians, etc. All must be clearly motivated to ensure the project is successfully completed.
Tip 7: Remember your users
- The web should be not for yourself but identified target groups of users, and the overall implementation should be in line with how they see the project. During the progress of the project and in later development you should test and try out various options, for which there are various tools, e.g. UX testing, AB testing, etc.
- Create prototypes – modern design tools allow you to create prototypes with a “clickable” format (without involving a graphic designer). Doing so allows you to test various assumptions in the initial analytical phase and avoid unnecessary remakes and increasing project costs.
- Provide information that the user wants, not what you want.
- User-friendliness, ease of navigation and accessibility are vital components for the success of a portal. Details, such as colour ranges and visuals are secondary (if they are not in conflict with accessibility rules).
- Bear user diversity in mind – different users have browsers and mobile platforms. They also have varying degrees of restrictions. Make the portal fit them, and accommodate the needs of users.
- Provide information, not pages. The portal should provide information via a number of channels, such as RSS feeds, XML exports and web services.
Tip 8: Guaranteed accessibility of the project or part it
The solution, or part of it, is often critical in terms of your business processes. You should ask that your web integrator provides a sufficient guarantee of accessibility when determining the number of visitors (load).
Secure guarantees by a service level agreement (SLA), which can help define issues of response times to different defect categories, rules of service responses and the recovery process. In addition, it can also help define other competences as part of the operations, taking into account the physical breakdown into the HW environments of the client, supplier or others.
Tip 9: Guaranteed support and development of the solution and service
In view of the project phasing and changing market conditions, it is well worth ensuring sufficiently flexible work conditions for developing the solution, not only in terms of rectifying mistakes but also, and in particular timely responses to new orders. In addition, the web integrator should ensure consistency in meeting goals in these orders.
Work only starts when the project is launched.
Tip 10: A suitable platform
The choice of an appropriate application and web/portal platforms (Web Building Platform and Content Management System) is fundamental for the development of specific functionalists, ensuring operation of the web aspects of the solution (webhosting, cloud computing, clustering), and for further development and the right solution, including all the necessary guarantees.
There are many portal technologies on the market, from leading global suppliers to smaller and medium-sized companies. It is crucial that the web integrator have experience in the selected type of platform and can prove that they have used the platform, by means of specific references matching your project, in terms of type and scope.