3 tips for organizing large-scale web projects

There will be some days in your life as a web developer when you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot. Often this comes in a form of a client whose pockets match their ambition, and you’ll finally be getting paid what you’re worth.

However, despite the benefits that await you when you accept, and eventually, finish this big gig, there is a looming trap hidden here; it comes in the form of a big pile of responsibility.

Of course, as the price of the project rises, the workload rises too. This calls for you to stand up and become organized. If you have been used to small-time web development projects, you need to step up the game here, and you might even require the help of others.

Now this is where it gets exciting. As the tasks grow, and hopefully, your team, you will need a few secrets to organizing everything.

Before everything else, you have to realize that there are two important pieces to organizing your big web development projects: simplicity and semantics. Keeping your work as simple as possible will yield a fluid workflow because your files will be easily found without even having the need to search for them. Of course, speed should always come with caution, hence semantics. Most probably, your projects will be code-related and having clean code and a semantic markup can help you immensely.

1) Find a good project management tool

Because you will have to hire a few other developers to form your team (or you already have one), you need to organize them before anything else. Either they are working close to you on a geographical level, or they might be anywhere in the world, you need to keep everything in one place. Good thing, there are a bunch of project management tools out there but you still have to choose the specific tool you will benefit from. Here are a few choices:

Asana

Asana has become popular these past few years because it acquired the support of both large and small-scale businesses. Having been created by Facebook co-founder Dustin Mostkovitz and former Facebook tech-lead Justin Rosenstein, Asana becomes a popular social network for work.

With Asana you can: Set deadlines; update and monitor individual tasks; set priorities; label options.

The upsides: Interactive and easy to use; built in HTML5; works with keyboard shortcuts.

The downsides: It requires you to have an internet connection; it has no chat feature, yet.

Basecamp

Basecamp is an intuitive content collaboration tool that makes task creation look like writing simple notes. It is both powerful and simple as it is built in an interface even a kid will understand. Using Basecamp, you can easily go through with your projects and tasks without being disturbed by a steep learning curve. No time wasted.

The upsides: Easy to use; excellent performance.

The downsides: Isn’t recommended for multi-project teams.

Trello

Trello is Kanban-approach-based web tool. It’s like an online bulletin board with index cards labeled as a stage in the process.

The upsides: You can monitor the status of each stage and card in detail; you can attach files, descriptions and make checklists; you can create more boards and have total control in each column of each board.

The downsides: Difficult for small projects in smaller teams; card use can become difficult as their number increases.

2) Communication

In any human relationship, be it personal or professional, preserving a good line of communication is the key to making things work. If you are working with a team, especially if they are scattered in different places in the world, communication becomes an important ingredient for survival. That is why you need to make sure that you talk whenever it is convenient for both sides.

When two sides of the team don’t communicate, conflict happens. This can result in putting the project in jeopardy. So, remember the following:

  • Discuss the dynamics of your partnership: time of work, payment scheme, workload, time of reporting, delegations.
  • Stay calm in times of conflict.
  • Don’t just talk, listen too.
  • Patch up problems before they get worse.

3) Organize your clients too

While this secret isn’t really about making your clients work for you, it teaches you to make it simple for them. For this, I suggest that you create folders for individual clients. Make sure that every client gets a specific folder structured exactly the same. (You can create a Client Folder Template and just duplicate it whenever there is a new client.)

Create the following folders:

  • Deliverables – this will probably remain empty since you already have a project management tool to handle such. However, keeping assets in this folder will keep you in the cycle even if the project management tool happens to fail.
  • Docs (or Documents) – in this folder, keep all files like estimates, proposals, payment invoice and contracts. This is for your project manager to review whenever there are conflicts that might have violated the contract.
  • Project Files – here, include everything related to the project. If your client sends you assets, like Raw images, don’t overwrite them. Instead, create a “From Client” folder, just in case you need the originals again.
  • Worksheets – put all drafts, mockups, sketches, hi-fi and lo-fi wireframes related to the project.
  • Site – here include the local installation of the product itself. Organize the folders within like you’re organizing the product via the live server itself.

Conclusion

Now that you know the secrets, it’s up to you to start organizing. Remember, that these secrets are not meant to remain secrets. If you have found them to be truly effective, share them with everyone. Good luck, and bring home the bacon.

Rudolph is a geek. He loves reading: books, blogs and even nutrition facts found at the back of products. He loves to read interesting internet stuff. Rudolph has written several articles that concern Typography, Wordpress, Freelance Lifehacks, Graphic Design and Showcase of Beautiful Web Designs. He also writes poems, movie reviews and he puts them in his blog together with rants and some daily life updates. More articles by Rudolph Musngi
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