Website Project Plan Template: How To Set Milestones

Setting milestones from the very beginning of your website project will help manage your client's expectations and keep your project on track.

I've never had a client get upset about their website being delivered late.

Of course there are times when I've delivered a website later than initially planned, usually due to late content delivery or feedback delays from the client (a common hurdle in web development), or an agreed change in project scope. These are a few reasons of many which can attribute to the late delivery of a website build, but that's not what I'm going to focus on here.

I'm going to show you how I set client expectations from the beginning of a website build by sending them a simple email detailing the milestones that explain what they can expect and when. Then if your website build timeline ends up getting pushed out for whatever reason (client or internal), you'll be able to communicate with your client and help them adjust their expectations with no problems.

I'll send them the below email once the contract has been signed and I've received their deposit. I don't send them their milestones before they've fully committed financially and contractually.

In general I allow six weeks for a standard custom website design and build that's between 5-10 pages. I break the build up into four milestones as outlined below, and add specific dates for each one.

Here's the simple email template I use for every website project:

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Hi [Name],

Here’s the timeline for your new website project. As mentioned in my proposal it'll take six weeks to complete, starting from today’s date.

There are three milestones, which I've detailed below.

Milestone 1: Design

[Date] (2 weeks from start date)
I'll send you the first PDF proof of your proposed website design, based on the pages and features confirmed during the briefing process. Let's get the design exactly how you want it, as anything changed further on in this process may affect the timeline and cost.

[Date] (3 weeks from start date)
If you can go through the design and give me feedback by this date (I'll send you a link to my online feedback system).

[Date] (3.5 weeks from start date)
I'll go through your comments, make any design adjustments and send you an updated proof by this date.

[Date] (4 weeks from start date)
If you can check through the changes, then let me know when you're happy to go ahead with the build.

Milestone 2: Build

[Date] (4 weeks from start date)
Now that you've approved your website design, I'll begin building it in Webflow. I'll send you a list of what content you need to send to me by the following date.

[Date] (5 weeks from start date)
I'll send you a live test link by this date. Ideally, I would have received all content from you by this date. I do understand that things get busy so if some of your content is still to come at this point, the go-live date may need to be adjusted. Now we'll go through and make any content adjustments, and check the responsive views to make sure your website is cascading well on mobile.

Milestone 3: Go-Live

[Date] (6 weeks from start date)
Once all your content is up and you've approved your test site, I’ll make your new site live!
Note - It can take up to 48 hours for your new website to update on all of the worldwide servers once we've pushed live, so let me know if we need to adjust this date to allow for this propagation period.

Feel free to get in touch if you'd like me to clarify anything, or adjust any milestone dates. I'm looking forward to working on this project together with you.

[Your Signoff]

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You'll note that I only allow 1 week to build the website in Webflow, as I know that's how long I need. I block out the whole week so any other client work is scheduled for after that week.

You'll need to adjust the milestone dates based on your speed/skills and the scope of the website project.

Reducing the timeframe would suit if the project is a small one-pager or a template build (if a template, change the first milestone to Milestone 1: Plan, where you will plan out the pages and page sections).

Adding more time would suit if you know your skills aren't quite up to speed yet, you've got a few other projects on the go, or there are many extra pages than the standard website of 5-10 pages.

At the core if it, just make sure you set down some definitive milestones and dates with your client so their expectations are met.