It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of a solid and effective website project plan. Think of it as an architectural project: you can’t possibly construct a building without mapping out its structure. Project planning for a website is no different, since you need to have an operational guide on how your development team is going to tackle the project. And we’re here to show you what goes into planning.

Be sure to also check out top industry insights on how to build an e-commerce website from scratch in 2024!

In this article, we will go over the basic phases and activities of creating a website project plan that will help your team develop a website in a smooth work environment. We will also be giving you some website development planning templates, so you can begin working with the right tools. For now, let’s begin by understanding why a project plan is crucial.

Why You Need a Website Project Plan

The rise of e-commerce in a recent decade pushed many merchants online. However, this transition also showed that few entrepreneurs know what they are doing when it comes to website development. One of those fundamental mistakes is failing to create an effective website project plan.

The reasons for that may differ. Some merchants think website development is only about visual design, and completely overlook the importance of the user experience. If your customers have trouble engaging and interacting with your website, they are not going to convert into leads, let alone customers.

Others chase for a fast project turnover, instead of focusing on choosing the right e-commerce platform for their store. Making a wrong platform decision can result in the need to migrate your entire store to a different platform, which is quite tedious and can be expensive.

Planning a website project is more than just about designing the looks. It’s about shaping the customer journey in a way that would naturally:

  • Encourage them to make a purchase
  • Share their positive experience with their peers
  • Come back to shop with you again

To achieve this, you need to develop a cohesive and comprehensive project plan.

Without a proper website project plan, your team will be forced to make assumptions about the project and its requirements, hindering the workflow. This will ultimately delay the turnover of the project. You even risk receiving a final result that you won’t be satisfied with.

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So, let’s move on and find out how to plan a website development project.

How to Create a Website Project Plan Step-by-Step

Before you can jump into creating a project plan, you need to make sure you have a solid team with an experienced project manager on board. Having a strong leader is going to be crucial in whether your website project will go as planned or not.

We will break down the steps of creating a website project plan into three segments:

  • 1. Choosing the website project planning template
  • 2. Collecting and setting project requirement
  • 3. Establishing project phases

We will dive deeper into each of the segments and explain which activities are part of each stage of building a website project plan. Let’s begin by choosing the right tool, a website project plan template, to create a project plan.

#1 Choose a website project planning template

One of the most important aspects of creating an effective website project plan is choosing the right template for the project. You will be using this template as a hub for all information about the project. Team members will also be able to use and refer to the project planning template as they progress through their working stages.

There are a lot of templates available online, but you are free to create one specifically for your project. With that being said, here are five of the most recommended website development planning templates:

  • 1. Teamwork. This template has an intuitive layout and functionality, allowing beginner merchants to streamline their development process in an easy-to-follow manner.
  • 2. Wrike. Great template for large-scale website development projects. Would be a good fit for merchants who already have some knowledge in planning a website project.
  • 3. Asana. One of the most recommended templates. Efficient for both small and large scale projects.
  • 4. TeamGantt. This template is great for centralizing all design and content development phases.
  • 5. Milanote. A comprehensive website project plan template that is popular for its intuitive interface.

You can choose one of these templates or make your own research and settle for another template. Once you choose your desired one, you can begin collecting and segmenting information about the website project.

#2 Collect and set project requirements

This is the stage where you will be closely communicating with your project manager to discuss and assemble as much information about the project requirements as possible. This will create clarity in the working process and ensure you and your team understand exactly what the finished product needs to look like.

Here are some of the questions you need to have clear answers to when planning a website project:

  • 1. Who is the target audience of your business?
  • 2. Are there any design references worth checking out?
  • 3. What features should your website have?
  • 4. What types of webpages will be required?
  • 5. What are the priorities and constraints?

Answers to such questions will help formulate the goals to be achieved while developing a new website. With that being said, your first task will be to understand the target audience.

Understanding the target audience

Each store targets one or a few specific audiences. In order to build a website that would cater to those audiences, you need to figure out their buying personas. A buyer persona is a collective semi-fictional representation of the company’s ideal customer, i.e. target audience. Generally, companies create multiple personas to reach as many audiences as possible.

Discussing with your team which buyer persona you should be aiming to target will help create a website project plan that caters to the right customers. You can also use tools like Make My Persona to help with segmenting the audience by demographic and values.

These personas will represent the customers’ pain points. The purpose is to find the right approaches to solving their problems. This is done by identifying and developing the necessary website functionality to address their pain points right here and now.

After figuring out your buyer personas, you should move on to develop a customer journey map. It’s an interactive map that lets merchants and team members walk in the future customers’ shoes. It will reveal the customer’s journey through the awareness, interest, desire, consideration, and decision stages.

Using this data will give you an insight on how to shape your user experience and messaging correctly. It may also help clear out the possible constraints and priorities of the project plan for website development.

Researching design references

A wise decision before turning over the project requirements to your development team is to check out if there are any good design references from your competitors. Even though every company strives to develop an e-commerce store that is different from their competitors, you should still be able to recognize the good and the bad elements of their design, and get an idea of how to incorporate the good ones into your design.

The design phase of your website project plan needs to be well thought out not only from a visual user interface (UI) standpoint, but also from user experience (UX), too. You can compare how your competitors approach factors like:

  • Website navigation
  • Intuitiveness in layout
  • Types of web pages
  • The type of content used on web pages

This will clear up which design elements you’d like to implement into your own website and which to avoid.

Establishing what features are needed

Depending on the desired business model and website functionality, you will need to incorporate different stack of features into the store. You will also need to keep in mind that your store must be adapted for all kinds of mobile devices, since you definitely want to reach a bigger part of online customers, those who prefer mobile shopping.

Curious about what features stores should have?
E-commerce website features

Once you decide on the desired functionality, then it’s time to choose the most suitable e-commerce platform. Today, there are dozens of e-commerce platforms available for merchants. Each of them will meet a different number of business needs. You need to conduct a comprehensive research to get an idea about the out-of-the-box features of every platform as well as to find out whether they provide enough opportunities for further scaling and customization of your online store.

Luckily for you, we’ve already completed a research on our side and compiled a comprehensive guide on the most popular e-commerce platforms in 2024.

Get important insights about
Fastest e-commerce platform

After all, if you choose the wrong platform while creating a website project plan, sooner or later you will face the need to migrate your entire store because along with the business scaling all issues with the platform will become more obvious. Finally, this will result in extra expenses, precious time, and maybe even lost customers during the migration process.

Settling on the types of webpages

One of the easiest steps in setting the requirements for your project is figuring out what types of pages need to be developed. Luckily, most e-commerce stores have similar types of web pages. These often include:

  • Homepage
  • Product pages
  • Category pages
  • Search results page
  • Login/sign in/account pages
  • Blog
  • Terms of use
  • About us
  • Contact information
  • Payment, shipping, and return policy

Your project plan for website development must include information about each of these web pages, their design, and content. They’re pretty standard, so figuring them out won’t take a long time.

Setting priorities and constraints straight

Different projects will have different priorities, so clearing that up with your team is essential. When you prioritize tasks, you create a smoother workflow and make the project manager’s job easier. Dividing a huge scope of work into segments with different priorities helps to minimize the delays in the progress.

When creating a project plan for website development, you also need to figure out the project constraints. The most common constraints are budget and time. What’s also very common is web design constraints. Many merchants that turn to development agencies already have goals they want to achieve with design.

For example, you may ask for specific colors, fonts, layouts, and more. Which can sometimes slow down development, since some design elements may simply not work for certain projects. This leads to more consultations with the team and a potential number of re-works.

Once you’ve identified project requirements, goals, and target audience for the website, you can move on to establishing project phases.

#3 Establish project phases

Your next step is to identify and establish all the phases and activities needed to complete the website project. On this stage all the collected information about requirements gets transformed into actual tasks for development. This is one of the key roles of a project manager in a website development ensuring a clear and seamless workflow by mapping out all your activities wisely.

There are two ways to execute project phases:

  • Iteratively. You can prepare content and go through design, development, and testing phases in a trial-and-error type of a cycle until you reach the result you strived for.
  • Sequentially. You can prepare content for all pages, then create designs, develop all pages, and finally test them together.

Regardless of the approach you end up choosing, we still have to figure out what are the different stages and activities that make up a website project plan. Let’s start with the layout.


The layout of the website is the representation of all of the visual elements that make up the website. Think of it as a visual website map that shows you how page elements correlate with one another, so you can better understand how to shape user experience.

When planning a website project, wireframe is a very useful tool that gives that initial look of the website. Wireframes are two-dimensional illustrations of a web page’s interface that generally lack any design or styling. A typical wireframe of a product page looks like this:

An example of a product page wireframe for a website project plan

Depending on the type of phase completion process you choose, this step may also include creating a mockup. Similar to a wireframe, a website mockup is a static design of a web page that features most of its final design elements, but it is not functional.

This is what a mockup of the same product page would look like based on the wireframe we looked at previously.

An example of a product page mockup for a website project plan

By the end of the initial design stage these tasks should be completed:

  • 1. Finalize logo, color palette, fonts, and page layouts.
  • 2. Approve a sitemap that shows all the website pages and the relations between them.
  • 3. Approve a mockup of the website.

Once it’s done, it’s time to move onto content creation.


Having a sitemap and page layouts in place from a previous phase is going to help you identify and develop the necessary content. Good content goes beyond great copy. It provides information about your company, discusses your core values and offerings, as well as educates the customer about your solution.

Content is crucial for your on-page search engine optimization (SEO) as it plays a huge part in how your website will be ranked in search results.

By now, you should have already approved the necessary types of web pages for your e-commerce store. Hence, the website project plan must account for content on all of the pages, such as:

  • Homepage. The initial entry point for many customers, a virtual storefront of the website.
  • Product pages. Dedicated web pages for each product with detailed information about it.
  • Additional pages. Last, but not least are About us, FAQs, Terms of use pages, etc. They also require content and have to contain all important information about your company, your contact details, and rules to build trust in your brand.

Ideally, you want to have a copywriter on board, whether in-house or outsourced, since writing copy and developing content for a brand new website is an extensive job. Conversely, you may already have a copywriter that you’ve worked with previously and may understand your vision better.

A professional copywriter will also have knowledge on SEO best practices that will ensure your website falls under the current SEO guidelines.

In any case, the activities for this stage include:

  • 1. Identify the types of content needed, i.e. landing page content, product pages, testimonials, etc.
  • 2. Decide on internal or external content creators.
  • 3. Create the text and graphical content for the pages.
  • 4. Proofread and finalize the content.


Once you have the initial design and content down in your website project plan, it’s time to organize and materialize page elements and functionality on the website. This is the stage where all page elements (such as navigation bars, buttons, calls-to-action (CTA), etc.) are built.

Your team of developers will convert mockups into functional web pages, as well as create the functionality needed to operate the website. Among the tasks will be setting up a sandbox server, authenticating HTML, CSS, and Javascript, as well as generating a website sitemap. Our personal word of advice is to implement a recommendation engine to increase conversion rate.

In conclusion of this stage you will review and provide feedback on the first version of the website. Here’s all of the activities that are a part of the development stage:

  • 1. Develop web pages according to the approved design.
  • 2. Set up a sandbox server.
  • 3. Authentication of HTML, CSS, and Javascript.
  • 4. Generate website sitemap.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between a pretty-looking website and a high-converting website. An experienced team of developers can craft a website that prioritizes usability, while still delivering on the appearance factor. For now, let’s move on to discuss the testing stage.


One of the final stages of website project development is testing. This is where your team goes to validate the website’s functionality and verify that it matches all of your requirements. There are a few types of testing that can be involved in finalizing a website project plan:

Depending on the results of testing, additional changes and iterations may be required. This is what the testing phase looks like overall:

  • 1. Make sure that the website meets the current web standards
  • 2. Ensure accessibility is up to standards
  • 3. Test if functionality works as expected
  • 4. Check if the website is responsive and works well on all devices
  • 5. Fix the issues that may occur during testing

Once the website project has successfully completed the testing stage, the most exciting part is on its way — the launch!


After all the trouble of planning a website project, it’s time to finally go live! Once you give your final approval, your development team will need to perform the following activities:

    • 1. Deploy the website to your hosting server
    • 2. Compile a robots.txt file which will allow or disallow search engine bots to crawl certain pages within your website
    • 3. Create and submit the XML sitemap to search engines

After the website will officially go live, the team will hand over the website’s documentation to you.

With that being said, deploying the website is not the end of the website project plan. Since websites tend to break over time and merchants’ demands usually evolve, your team will be tasked to carry out the necessary changes and possible redesigns. Once your website starts to generate traffic, it’s advisable to analyze your SEO strategy, since guidelines tend to change frequently, so quickly adjusting to them is a must.

In the end, it’s best to keep your hand on the website performance in order to maintain your online store over the years.

Final Thoughts

Creating a website project plan is a responsible undertaking, since it will serve as the map for the development of your website. Which means you have to be extra mindful when approaching web development planning. Choosing the right website development plan template is only half of the concern. Segmenting different tasks and troubleshooting along the way is what makes this job significant.

In this article, we discussed phases and activities that go into creating a website project plan. Following our guidelines will help build a successful and functional website. If you have any questions regarding website development or need help with creating your own project plan, reach out to us today for a free consultation. We will gladly assist you in creating a project plan that helps bring your business goals to life!

About the author
Content writer
Kristina is a Content Writer at Whidegroup. With a degree in Jurisprudence and passion for e-commerce and marketing, she dedicates her work to finding efficient solutions for online stores development and promotion. Being very detail-oriented, Kristina specializes in compiling comprehensive guides on the most demanded topics for e-commerce merchants.
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