Being the Account Director on a Taproot website development team was quite an adventure. I had been on four previous Taproot Foundation projects and stepped up to the Account Director of WordPress website project for Mercy Health Clinic, which provides free health care for low income, uninsured adults in Montgomery County.
Five lessons for successful website development
- Put together a good team. I tried to focus when hiring people on the background and the recommendations of others. When selling the project to people, I find it is important to explain the mission of the group and how their work will contribute to the overall goal. Once you have a good team, the leader’s most important job is to listen to the team.
- Have an appreciative client. Some of the hardest projects to keep together are for clients that blame others. For volunteers who are doing work for a reason other than a paycheck, it is doubly difficult. But for clients that honestly express appreciation at every meeting, it becomes rewarding and easy to go the extra mile for them.
- Listen to the client. The team can easily get off track with an idea that appeals to the background and biases of the team members. It is important to keep going back to the nonprofit team for feedback and make sure you are doing what the client needs and wants.
- Stick to the project plan. Having a project plan in writing really helps to keep everything on track. We regularly went past the date to do something, but without a plan and an idea of how to stay on schedule, we might never have finished.
- Be flexible. Understand that people have jobs that can suddenly take them out of the area, clients can sometimes be unavailable to meet, and stuff happens. Having a plan makes it easier to go with the flow, and having a client that appreciates your hard work makes it easier to understand their needs and work harder for them. As just one example of this, photographs often need to be a different shape than a standard 4×6, so having a flexible photographer and graphic artist to crop and explain how to get the shot is really helpful. Be sure that you have hard-working people on your team, and then you can be flexible enough to make it happen.
Helen Levy Myers is a Taproot Foundation pro bono consultant in Washington, DC. She is currently working on her sixth service grant.