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Sample WBS for Website Development

written by: Heidi Wiesenfelder • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 5/23/2011

Before embarking on a large project such as development of a website, a project team needs to fully document the key areas of work that are required. By clarifying and organizing this information up front, they can reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings and missed steps later on.

  • slide 1 of 4

    Purpose of a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

    The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a commonly used project management tool which helps project teams get a grasp on the various types of work that are required to complete a project. Consider it a precursor to a detailed Gantt chart or Microsoft Project file: the WBS provides the basic outline of work which you will expand as you begin to track resources, milestones, individual tasks and timelines.

    The WBS itself is merely an outline of the deliverables and high-level tasks that a project requires, but usually the term WBS refers to a graphical depiction of this information. The format resembles that used for organization charts, and as with such charts the number of levels and the amount of detail can vary depending on the situation. Even when a diagram is not used, and a WBS is depicted simply in outline form, it generally incorporates a numbering scheme known as WBS codes into the outline. (Learn more about using such a scheme in Microsoft Project in this article.)

    When creating a WBS for website development, consider the key areas in which work will be done, the key deliverables, and the different groups that will be involved in completing the project. With this information you can draft a WBS with useful information about the work that will be down, how it is broken out in chunks, and which groups are responsible for which chunks.

    In some cases the items in a WBS will actually represent portions of work to be done in chronological order. Often, however, your WBS will illustrate areas of work that will be going on simultaneously, perhaps by different departments or even within the same project team. Read more about the creation and use of a WBS in this article series.

  • slide 2 of 4

    Sample WBS for Website Development: Getting Started

    All web development projects are of course unique, so the type and extent of work involved in each one varies considerably. For purposes of this example just think in terms of a general-purpose business website. If your project is more involved, for instance incorporating e-commerce and social networking into your website, be prepared to expand your WBS appropriately.

    Start by listing the key pieces of the project work. You may be listing actions or deliverables depending on your project. For example you might start out with a list like this as the starting point for a WBS for your website development project:

    1. Gather Requirements

    2. Establish Design

    3. Select Technical Framework

    4. Implement Technical Framework

    5. Create Content

    6. Load Content

    7. Test Site

    8. Roll Out Site

    Note that you are not at this point tracking who will be performing each piece or even whether work in each area is to be done chronologically or simultaneously. Just be sure to capture the high-level types of work.

    Next, dig down into each of those and capture the next more detailed level of information about what will be done. You can incorporate the WBS codes as you go, especially if you are using software that creates them automatically, or wait until you have capture all the information to add them.

    1. Gather Requirements

    1.1 Technical specifications

    1.2 User requirements

    1.3 Reporting requirements

    2. Establish Design

    2.1. Design elements

    2.2 Overall layout

    2.3 Content elements

    3. Select Technical Framework

    3.1 Evaluate options against requirements

    3.2 Evaluate cost and time to develop

    3.3 Make decision

    4. Create Infrastructure

    4.1 Build or acquire back end

    4.2 Build or acquire front end (user interface)

    4.3 Integrate back end and front end

    5. Create Content

    5.1 Create content summary

    5.2 Establish content details

    5.3 Assign content creation

    5.4 Create detailed content

    6. Load Content

    7. Test Site

    7.1 Navigation

    7.2 Interactive elements

    7.2.1 Contact form

    7.2.2 User registration

    7.3 Browser compatibility

    8. Roll Out Site

    8.1 Establish target date

    8.2 Create communication plan

    8.3 Make site live

  • slide 3 of 4

    Sample WBS for Website Development: Final Version

    Continue on to as many levels as you need to represent the work at a level that is detailed enough that stakeholders get a clear picture of what is involved in the project and what to expect, but not so detailed that the WBS lists every individual task that must be done. For our example, the final version of our WBS for a website development project might look like the following.

  • slide 4 of 4

    Work Breakdown Structure

    1. Gather Requirements

    1.1 Technical specifications

    1.1.1 Expected bandwidth

    1.1.2 User registration

    1.1.3 Restricted areas

    1.2 User requirements

    1.2.1 Menu navigation

    1.2.2 Interactive modules

    1.2.3 Static pages

    1.2.4 Flash elements

    1.3 Reporting requirements

    1.3.1 Bandwidth & usage

    1.3.2 Page views

    1.3.3 Session length

    2. Establish Design

    2.1. Design elements

    2.1.1 Banner

    2.1.2 Footer

    2.1.3 Logo

    2.1.4 Color scheme

    2.1.5 Font usage

    2.2 Overall layout

    2.2.1 Column setup

    2.2.2 Optional modules

    2.2.3 Navigation layout

    2.3 Content elements

    2.3.1 About page

    2.3.2 Contact page

    2.3.3 Services page

    2.3.4 FAQ page

    2.3.5 Photo Gallery

    3. Select Technical Framework

    3.1 Evaluate options against requirements

    3.2 Evaluate cost and time to develop

    3.3 Make decision

    4. Implement Technical Framework

    4.1 Build or acquire back end

    4.2 Build or acquire front end (user interface)

    4.3 Integrate back end and front end

    5. Create Content

    5.1 Create content summary

    5.2 Establish content details

    5.3 Assign content creation

    5.4 Create detailed content

    6. Load Content

    7. Test Site

    7.1 Navigation

    7.2 Interactive elements

    7.2.1 Contact form

    7.2.2 User registration

    7.3 Browser compatibility

    8. Roll Out Site

    8.1 Establish target date

    8.2 Create communication plan

    8.3 Make site live

    You could then create a WBS diagram manually or using software that will do so automatically. Depending on the audience, you may want to have both outline and diagram versions available.

    If you are developing a site for a client, or hiring someone to do your site for your business, you should also consider accounting for the work required to develop and approve a contract and to obtain final approval for the completed site.