Tackling Web Projects One Bite at a Time

How do you eat something the size of an elephant? One bite at a time. This is simple but powerful advice for a church web team facing large projects. So many tools and activities I mention on this blog need a lot of time to put in place. One thing I am sure you do not have is the time to work on them. Yet if done in smaller chunks, these larger problems become easier to swallow.

The project I will use as an example is a content audit. Depending on the size of your church's website, this can be a massive undertaking. Not only do you need to document all your site's content. But you need to assign various attributes to them. Who owns it? What is its purpose? This large venture will take several weeks, which is something few church web teams can afford to do. Here are a few angles to use when taking on such a big activity.

The 20% Approach

Companies such as Google gained fame for their 20% rule. They wanted employees to invest 20% of their work time in a side project. Successful products such as Gmail are the results. How they took their time varied. Some took an hour each day. Others a day a week. Still others took two months a year. Regardless, they got 20% of their time to dream. Ask if you can divert 20% of your web team's efforts to alternate tasks. Upon your leadership's approval, siphon off time to conducting the audit. Your team's workload and tempo will guide what approach you take.

Parallel Processes

If 20% seems like a difficult pill to swallow, perhaps an even smaller dose is in order. When working on a page, take a little extra time to inventory just that page. You are already digging into it; why not write down your observations while the ideas are still fresh. The template and its many properties are obvious at the time. Plus stakeholders, caretakers, and audience purpose should also be at the front of your mind. It may take some time to get through the entire site, but this gradual approach may be just what you need.

Multiple Passes

Recording every element on a page may seem exceedingly tedious. After two or three pages you can feel overwhelmed. Instead of going deep, take many shallow passes. First, take a day and document your site's navigation structure and site map. Next week you can go a level deeper and record what ministries "own" each section. Later associated them with personas and target audiences. Eventually you will have a full high-level picture of your site, and can move on to finer details. Chunk those details into several passes.

Action Item

Yes, a project such as a full-site content audit seems massive. Documenting every page element on your site is daunting. Yet by applying these principles you can create smaller chunks of work that do not delay other endeavors. Gain even more traction and apply more than one convention. Use 20% of your time to make multiple passes. Whatever the combination, move forward on these tools. Your leadership may not see the return on investment in conducting a content audit. By eating the project one bit at a time you can keep current work on track while developing your web team's tool kit.

Photo courtesy of Marc Slingerland

Author: Stephen Morrissey

I have been making websites since 1996, and using social media since 2006. My current profession is designing user experiences for corporate software, websites, and mobile applications. I started sharing my knowledge with the world in 2011, about a year after a revival in my faith.