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As a project manager I have seen projects run smoothly and others run into roadblocks; often from issues that are out of anyone’s control. Either way, there are many choices to be made along the way for a successful website redesign project. Best efforts by the client and the design and development teams to keep the project moving forward are sometimes thwarted by unforeseen issues. These problems can force a workaround, a delay in the deliverable or even a cancellation of the project.

What are some things that can go wrong in a website redesign project?

Some things that can go wrong include:

  • Change of scope part way through the project that causes budget issues
  • Chosen WordPress theme full of bugs and/or inflexible templates
  • Client loses ability to pay for project
  • Vision incompatible with available options discovered after project has begun

What to do when a project goes wrong

No business ever wants to have to tell their client that their project isn’t going as planned. When a website redesign is stalled for any reason, there are several steps that a project manager can take to get things back on track as quickly as possible.

  1. Avoid pointing fingers. As project manager, it’s your job to keep a level head and show leadership. Do not blame the client or team members for the obstacle; instead focus on finding a workaround.
  2. Communicate with your team. Have a meeting to discuss the issues the project has run into and get feedback from your team. The purpose of the meeting should be to identify the root cause(s) of the problem.
  3. Be upfront with your client. Once you’ve gathered facts, let your client know that the project has run into a serious issue and that you are working to find a solution.
  4. Take some time to find the best solution. Avoid jumping to an irrational decision out of stress or fear about how the client will react. Also, don’t assume that throwing more resources such as additional team members into the mix will resolve the issue. Take a look at the client’s budget and any contingency funds you had set aside because this will affect your options.
  5. If possible, present two options to the client. There may be a couple different paths forward that will solve the issue at hand. If there are two reasonable options, it’s a good idea to let the client choose. If not, present your solution in a positive manner and explain why it is the best/only way to get the project over the finish line.
  6. Implement your new path as quickly as possible. Your client will likely be feeling anxious about an extended deadline and will want to know that your team is working as fast as possible to ensure that their new website gets completed. Show them your updated timeline and keep in communication as stages are checked off.

Case study: when the chosen WordPress theme is full of bugs and/or inflexible templates

We just completed a website redesign for a local business. They were looking to modernize the look and functionality of their website while showcasing what makes their business special. In particular, they wanted to make it easier for clients to find and search for available classes.

We chose a WordPress theme in the kickoff meeting. We settled on a modern looking theme that seemed like it would fulfill all the needs for the new website. Unfortunately, once it was purchased, we discovered that it was full of bugs and did not allow us to customize the templates in the ways we needed it to. We had one of our programmers spend some time testing and double checking the theme just in case we could make it work. We also reached out to the theme’s developer to see if he could help with the bugs we were encountering. In the end, we concluded that the theme was unusable.

How did we overcome this issue? There was only one thing to do: be honest with our client and let them know that we were going to have to start again with a new WordPress theme and that the project deadline would need to be extended. With their blessing, we chose a new theme and began work right away. We pushed ahead more quickly than usual, keeping them in the loop at each step, in order to keep the project extension as short as possible. In the end, we salvaged a difficult setback with a positive attitude, hard work, and clear communication.

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Topics: web design

Tony Sova

Written by Tony Sova

Owner of Softwired, a web design, SEO, and Inbound Marketing firm.