When you begin a digital project, you should take the time to think through the stages of your project and how you will accomplish them. In this process, you set out the goals for your project, its audience and output, its methods, and the resources you have available. By defining exactly what you need to do, you can avoid “scope creep”: this is the tendency of projects to drift from their initial goals over time, leading to longer projects, higher costs, and unclear outputs.
What you need to plan at the beginning will change depending on the type of project, the people working on it, and the overall goals, but every plan needs to address:
What is the goal of the project? What are its sources, what questions is it answering, and what are its outputs?
Why is this project important? This will help you decide which parts can be saved for later or eliminated to make your project feasible.
Why are digital tools or approaches necessary? Are digital tools needed for research, presentation, or both? Not all projects are digital in all phases.
Who needs access to the project while it is being built, and who is the final audience? What kinds of tools or limitations do they have?
What kinds of resources do we have available? This includes money, equipment, applications or programs, expertise or specialized knowledge, training, existing technical support, and many other factors that are specific to certain project types.
Do we have a deadline? How much time can we devote to the project in the weeks or months before it needs to be done?