The Gift of How to Manage Projects, or How to Not Drop the ball
Hi. It's Shannon again, and I’m the Möbius Social Media intern here to learn just about anything in 15 minutes from my coworkers. We have dubbed this gift of gifting "The Twelve Days of Möjoy", and I am happy to re-gift these gems with you. Follow along from the beginning.
Let's Meet Mike
Name: Mike Minguez
Official Title: Production Manager
Unofficial Title: Master Tinkerer
What’s your middle name: Brian
First song you play on our office radio: All Night Long - Lionel Richie (probably going to be in your head all day now, you’re welcome)
Best habit: being organized
Time at Möbius: 9.5 years
Today I met with Mike, the production manager at Möbius. He’s the man in charge of every project that goes through our door. He juggles every step of every project, and stays organized in the process (impressive). I’m not completely sure how he does it (well I have actually seen his meticulous spreadsheets), but he does. I asked Mike to walk me through the production line and show me how he helps to get a project from start to finish without totally being overwhelmed. He focuses a lot on organization. If he’s not extremely organized, then important things can be overlooked or forgotten. One of the things that I noticed that keeps everything running smoothly, which I guess is pretty obvious, is that he has to be in constant contact with the client. It’s important to meet, call, email, and screen share with the client as much as possible. Everyone has to be on the same page in order to complete a project effectively. Another way that Mike stays organized is by following steps for each project. Once a project is agreed upon, the team and client take it step by step. This helps with organization and keeps everyone on track. Different projects call for some variations, but these are the basic phases that a website design goes through from first meeting to launch:
Phase 1: Discovery
The discovery phase of the project is when we (I’m using ‘we’ loosely, but I mean whoever is assigned to the project along with Mike) first meet with the client. We try and get all of the information that they have in their minds about the project, and then we can propose what we think we can do for them. We want to give them a chance to tell us all of their hopes and dreams for their website, and we try to propose something that will meet their wants and needs that is in the realm of possibility.
We always want to be on the same page as the client when it comes to the overall message and structure of the site, and this first phase is really important to make sure that we do this. The client can also give us the sitemap (list of pages that will be on the site) and content for the site that they gathered. We can make sure that it is consistent with the message that they want to give on the site.
Phase 2: Visualize
The second phase of the site is where we actually visualize what the site is going to do and how it will function. The medium of visualization depends on the site, but we can do this using wire frames (images that display the functional elements of a site), psd comps (fully laid out designs), sketches, and full diagrams (flow charts). I know that I’m a very visual person, so I’d be team psd comps. Our developers and the client need to agree exactly on how the site is going to function before we start to develop.
Phase 3: Development
Now comes the fun part. We’ve planned, and we’ve agreed on how the site is going to work and look, and now it’s time to build. This is the phase that we custom build the site and how each page is going to function. The pages that typically need to be developed in most sites are calendars, events, photo galleries, job postings, and basically anything that’s not text. We try to get as much finished on each page and show the client and then we can move on to the next page. If the want to add anything or change something that they may have previously asked for they can tell us during that page and we can update it.
Phase 4: Testing
The testing phase is, you guessed it, when we test the site. We do this both for functionality and visuals. We test the site across browsers, check how responsive it is, make sure that the pages flow to lead the customers the way that was imagined, and that everything looks amazing (spoiler alert: it does). We also check that the site looks great on tablets and mobile because, let’s face it, we’re constantly on our phones. (Sidenote: I heard on the radio this morning that the average person looks at their phone 9 billion times a day. Insane. But I digress.) Both us and the client take some time to check all of these aspects of the site and then we talk about potential tweaks that should be done before the site goes live.
INSIDER TIP: If possible, it’s great to find someone who hasn’t seen the site take a walk through and step into a customer's shoes. They may find something that both us and the client could have missed after looking at the site a few thousand times.
The next phase of the process is the launch. After all the work that has gone into planning, visualizing, developing and testing the site it’s finally time to go live! A launch can be simple, or there can be a lot that goes into a launch of a website, but it depends on the project. We have to make sure all of the domains are accurate, all of the redirects go to the right places, the sites are optimized (Check out Day 6 if you need a quick SEO lesson), and analytics are set up so that the client can see how their site is doing. When all of this is in order WE LAUNCH! HAPPY DAYS!
Post Launch Phase
I bet you thought that it was over after the launch. FALSE. There is always more to do. The post launch phase is more about checking the things that most people don’t see. We also make sure that we delivered on everything that we said we would (I bet ya we did). It’s also about finding the things that could have slipped through the cracks when we planned for the site with the client. When we find these elements, or the client has new ideas, we meet again and recommend changes and updates that we can do for phase 2 of the website. Then we do the whole process over again. BACK TO THE DISCOVERY PHASE WE GO!
I sit in the production meetings every week and listen to Mike go through each project one by one. I’m amazed by the fact that he knows exactly what’s going on and what step every project is on when I can’t even remember where I parked my car in the morning. Using these carefully thought out phases he keeps every project organized to the closest detail possible, and doesn’t drop the ball.
Me as production manager expectation:
Me as production manager reality: