So, you’ve just received the task from the client. It seems like a fairly easy one, so you’re getting ready to hit the ground running. After a short talk with the client, you were able to clarify the things you wanted.
Great. You can start designing this thing.
Before you do that, hold on for a second. Let me ask you a question: are you one of the web designers who prefer to start working as soon as possible without doing a lot of planning? Or maybe you, like many others, have a knack for doing too much work?
If you answered both questions with “yes,” then you should definitely read this article.
Oh No. Another Planning Meeting
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to deliver a project as soon as possible (and avoiding unnecessary meetings). While focusing on fast delivery, many designers and developers seem to underestimate the importance of planning every single thing that should be done (and could go wrong).
And you know very well that something will always go wrong.
If this wasn’t true, then 25 percent of IT projects wouldn’t fail outright, without generating any return on investment. This is not the only surprising stat from this Forbes article that shows how important proper planning is.
For example, it also says that 54 percent of IT projects fail because of poor management while only 3 percent of failures can be attributed to tech-related problems.
Of course, a lack of proper planning isn’t the only problem leading to poor outcomes, missing deadlines, and budget increases, but it’s still one of the most important ones. Besides, it’s something that you can prevent by taking proper steps, so it makes perfect sense to take them and avoid angry clients and headaches.
So, yeah, proper project management is essential to ensure that all things planning are taken care of. In the next section, we’ll take a look at how designers can plan their work as well as introduce the essentials of IT project management.
How to Plan Web Projects
Every web design process is unique, so you won’t find two designers following exactly the same planning or working process. However, the essentials of project planning and management remain largely the same, and staying true to them can help to avoid a lot of issues, including missed deadlines and more spending.
Involve Your Team Early
Collecting the input from the people working on the project can make a lot of difference. Since they’re some of the most important stakeholders who have a direct impact on the project’s outcome, they possess the expertise you often rely on to implement many design-related tasks.
“By involving your colleagues from day one, you’ll be able to confirm if they actually have what it takes to deliver the project within the given deadline,” says Jessica White, a project manager from Pick Writers. “On the other hand, a lack of communication at the earliest stages can easily lead to workload problems and misunderstanding, among other things.”
So yeah, planning meetings and constant communication to facilitate team collaboration during the project are critical to the outcomes of a project you’re working on.
Monitor Your Progress Regularly
A project plan that you’ve created at the beginning of your project is not only important for forecasting but also for the organization of your work. To be able to monitor the progress of your project, you need to know about the current and future tasks as well as how other stakeholders are doing. Not only this allows to predict the project flow, but also anticipate potential deviations.
Here, a project management tool like Nutcache can be useful. It was created to provide a project manager or any stakeholder with a workflow and tasks in one place, which allows getting a clear vision of the priorities as well as the workload.
Before choosing a project management tool, though, you should have a good understanding of the features it needs to have to be useful for you. Some of the most helpful ones include
- Custom progress reports
- Automating and tracking workflows
- Deadlines and timelines of tasks
- Percent progress for each task involved in a project to have an idea of how much time is required to complete it
- Task dependencies, e.g. one stakeholder cannot start working on task #3 until task #2 is done
On top of these features, a good tool should also allow easy communication among the involved stakeholders to foster team collaboration.
Make Sure that Design Requirements are Clear
The design brief you’re using to complete the project should contain specific design requirements to allow you to have a good understanding of what needs to be done. Make sure that the requirements include these details:
- Required color palette
- A complete list of file formats
- Asset resolutions and dimensions
- Branding guidelines
- Assets provided by the client (if applicable)
- Copies of all associated documents
The more of these details are there in the design brief, the more chances you’ll have to avoid common challenges and roadblocks while working on the project.
Budget and Deadlines
Web designers working in agencies should be familiar with this situation. The budget and schedule-related considerations are assigned to the customer service or marketing teams, so the development folks don’t really have a good idea of what’s going on there.
However, these considerations are just as important for them, as a lack of a clear understanding of the budget and timelines could be a recipe for disaster (this applies to freelancers, too).
To avoid a lot of problems, make sure to allocate the budget for the design tasks as well as for the testing. Ultimately, you’ll arrive at a specific number that’ll help you avoid losing track of how many billable hours you’ve worked. To prevent budget-related problems, it’s also recommended to use a project management tool with built-in expense management features.
Thanks to these features, you’ll be able to record expenses, assign them to others, organize them by categories, and bill them to your clients.
Yes, project planning and management aren’t really what a web designer’s work is all about, but having a knowledge of these areas can really help to deliver projects on time and within budgets. This is especially applicable to freelance designers who need to learn the basics of project management, which could be scary and unfamiliar territory for them.
Regardless of your experience or project complexity, the points we’ve just listed should help you to become a better manager and approach your next project with the right mindset.