No matter if we think about launching a new ecommerce business or expanding one already in place towards online shopping, here are eight essential project management steps to consider when developing and managing your website.
From wireframing to monitoring and continuous iteration to improve your conversion rates and user experience, follow these practices to maximize the potential of your Magento project:
For projects defined by a client as well as for the ones defined together with the agency, the first step both teams have to take always, is to set a wireframe.
The Wireframe must include both the logical structure of the site and its architecture, as well as all the necessary elements for each page.
To keep a clearer structure, we provide a defined matrix for each page that divides the content in primary information/ secondary information and primary call-to-actions/secondary call-to-actions. Having established these rules for each page we manage to position the elements on the page in the most relevant way for the corporate objectives.
Although the ecommerce projects might appear to be similar at first glance, we encountered many cases where site’s call-to-actions or the main information that had to be communicated, were not default. There are many cases in which clients wish, for instance, to position the brand more in certain categories and less in other categories.
Once approved the wireframe in collaboration with the client, the web agency’s job is to implement the technical specifications for each site zone.
In the technical specifications it is required to write down the way each site zone functions. The completion of these specifications is helpful for agency-client communication, so the client can understand how each functionality of the site works, and also for the technical team. In the same time by completing the technical specifications it will result a list of modules that must be developed, a list of modules that must be bought and another list of 3rd party providers to be integrated with the store.
Together with the wireframe and the technical specifications the project goes to the next step, namely the design of the platform. According to the type of client and the growth stage of the business, we begin with the visual brand identity design followed by the UI kit design for the entire site.
After the completion of the UI Kit the project passes to the next stage of the actual design, where the design is personalized and customized for each page. Here during this process, we follow the elements of the wireframe taking into consideration the technical specifications of modules that have to be bought and developed or the 3rd party integration.
The project reaches the backend development team as soon as the wireframe and technical specification were completed.
Most of the times the project in the backend development begins once the design was completed to have a faster time to market.
Until the design is done, the backend team installs the platform on the server, makes all the security settings, including the basic ones necessary for any online store: installation of a monitoring solution, SSL installation, search area configuration etc.
The project continues with the installation of the custom modules, which are developed for a great accuracy on a platform that resembles to the one default, then the purchased modules are installed and the 3rd party configurations are made, like Google Analytics, marketing analysis tools, email marketing etc.
The backend project is completed when the modules configuration is done, together with the checking of the interconnection between these ones and their preparation the frontend development.
The project is ready to go in the frontend development phase, once the design is finished completely and it is approved by the client together with the project manager form the agency. The project starts form the UI Kit implementation in CSS / HTML by creating a guide page, continues with the creation of the common elements like header, footer, my account area, menu and gets close to the final stage when all pages are shaped.
After a rigorous testing of the elements on web we adapt it for responsiveness, taking into account the agreed break points. In general, we develop alternatives of responsive downwards from the default resolution (for phone, tablet), but also upwards for displays with high resolution.
In the phase of the frontend development all the personalized elements are integrated, together with the costumed modules, with purchased modules and the 3rd party integrations.
After frontend phase finalization, the project goes into server configuration phase, where it is tested the server loading, depending on the size the business will have. Concerning the big online stores, it might be decided if it is necessary to use a single server or if it is better to split the data base or the backend from the frontend of the site, as well as the hardware capacities of these servers.
Also at this point we take into account the security zone for the server, and we set the level of security that has to be respected together with the client. After that we search for security glitches and we fix them if they occur.
At this server stage, the project is close to end by configuring the uptime monitoring softs, the server’s resources monitoring, and the triggers that notify you in case some overload would damage the server area.
Before launching we define together with the QA the testing scenario and testing intervals. In the case of main actions like add to cart, order/buy, ERP communication, we define a daily frequency of testing. In the case of the actions that have a reduced frequency we define a weekly interval of testing.
Making automated test scenarios enable us to monitor the project after launch, so to ensure that operates within normal parameters 24/24.
After the testing scenarios are made, we accomplish the final deployment and after the final check with the client we launch the online store. The launch is followed by a period of attentive monitoring through the tools defined previously.
The actual process of project management for new ecommerce businesses enabled us to launch successfully all Magento projects during the last 8 years. Concerning the ecommerce stores that already exist, intervenes also the process of data migration, analysis of the existing platform, but all about that in a future article.
About the author: Cristian is a Management Consultant and Business Developer for Tech and Online oriented companies. He likes to work for startups that are driven by vision. Amongst others, he brings an analytic approach and a high level of enthusiasm to the table.
About the agency: 4ideas is a digitally driven brand agency, active on the Romanian market since 2009. The core competencies of the company are gathered into 4 divisions: Creative Concepts and Brand Building / Design, Web & Mobile Development and Engineering / Community Management, Social Media and Content Strategy / Online Advertising and Media Campaigns. 4ideas is driven by the vision of building digital super stories in partnership with super brands.