Screenshots of Project Seahorse's new website on desktop, laptop and mobile devices

How to create a website on scope, time and budget

We recently launched a new website for the impressive team at Project Seahorse. They’re leaders in marine conservation, focused on saving seahorses and the seas they depend on. This six-month project serves as a great case study on how to create a high-quality website on scope, time and budget. 

Dive into the details to set and manage scope

A website project’s scope, timeline, budget and quality standards (the fourth essential, but often silent, element) are like a four-legged chair. They must work together to remain stable. When one element changes, the other three must also change, or risk the project falling sideways. Here’s what we did to make all the elements work for the Project Seahorse website build. 

  • Although all projects start with an estimated scope of work, the discovery phase is the time to lock the scope. Discussing the business context around a client’s website can often impact scope. 
  • As a result of the discovery process, we found that the Project Seahorse team wanted to use their new site as both a marketing vehicle and a robust resource library to respond to constant information requests. 
  • This information then informed our front-end design and back-end programming recommendations. We prioritized the site features and functionality that were truly needed and we could deliver within the available timeline and budget. 

Get client buy-in on the timeline and adjust as needed

  • A clear workback schedule outlining all deadlines allows clients to commit to those dates and plan for the work ahead. 
  • The Project Seahorse team wanted a new website within about six months. Their team made big efforts to meet their (sometimes tight) deadlines. They were as committed to the project timeline as our team was.
  • When the client needed more time for specific tasks, we adjusted the schedule and shifted the launch date. And we made sure the timeline shifts still aligned with the project scope and budget. 

Be clear on what the budget can and can’t cover

  • Breaking a project budget down phase by phase makes it easier to manage the budget as a project evolves.
  • As the Project Seahorse website build evolved, new design and functionality ideas emerged that the client wanted to explore.
  • We considered if each idea would serve the website’s priorities and scope, if it fit within the budget for the phase we were in, and if we could deliver on that idea within the time available.
  • We provided rough estimates for out-of-scope ideas. Then, the client determined if an idea was a must-have they wanted to pay for, or if it was a nice-to-have they could prioritize in a post-launch future phase, or do without. 

Outline quality standards to meet expectations 

  • Every client wants a good quality, beautiful, and functional website. The project creative brief and technical documentation should outline a client’s specific quality expectations. Quality assurance checks and testing should also be done at every project phase. 
  • For the Project Seahorse website, quality meant designing a site that visually communicated their complex work and inspired target audiences to take action. Their multi-layered site also needed to be easy for users to navigate, and for their team to manage on the back end. 

The Project Seahorse project is not only an example of good project management practices, but also the power of websites to further our clients’ missions. Our main Project Seahorse client, Dr. Amanda Vincent, said, “You didn’t just give us a website, you gave us a tool for conservation.” These are the words we live for!

Do you need help to update your website to deepen your mission? Contact us today!