If you’re a designer or developer looking for information on ensuring a web project launches on time, you’ll have no problem finding tips and general information with a simple Google search. But what if you’re a client? More specifically, what if you’re a client who wants to make sure your web design project gets done in a timely manner? There’s less information on that. That’s what this article hopes to address.
So here’s the thing: it’s not entirely up to the web studio to make sure your web project gets completed on time. If you’re looking for information on how to get your hired studio to do that, you’re going to be disappointed. You see, while you may be focused on the end of the project, you might very be overlooking your role in the project.
I get it—you’re excited about your company’s new website or new app. In the midst of that excitement and anticipation it’s easy to forget that hiring a web design studio isn’t just about giving them a bit of information and letting them do their thing. The project is about and for your business—you have to be involved!
But being involved doesn’t mean being a boss or supervisor or micromanaging the website professional(s) you’ve hired. It means being an active participant—a collaborator. Your side of the collaboration involves providing information like goals, analytics, target audiences, etc. Without this, content strategists, designers, and even developers are in the dark which means you’ll end up with something that you like visually but doesn’t provide you real results or tell your story properly. In other words, your vision cannot be translated to reality if you are absent from the process.
Now that we’ve established that a web design project is a collaboration, let’s go over the things you should expect to provide.
Regardless of the kind of project, your feedback is needed at various stages of the process.
A good web design studio or freelancer will do the work up front to get to know your business and the goals for the project. At the end of the day though, the only people who really understand where your business currently is and where it wants or needs to go are those in the business, not outsiders. That’s why your feedback is important. What’s being strategized, written, designed, or coded is meant to represent you and your business.
But giving feedback in and of itself isn’t going to necessarily help your project get done in a timely manner. Providing your feedback when needed and on time is.
If you’re anticipating needing to get feedback from other people in your company, you need to not only plan for that but also communicate that with your studio so expectations can be set and managed. For example, if your web designer has scheduled 3-5 business days for you to review and provide feedback on a mockup, but you need twice that amount of time, that needs to be communicated as early in the process as possible.
Vacations and time away
Everyone deserves time off. In fact, I highly encourage it! However, sometimes clients don’t realize that their time off can impact their web design project’s timeline. Here’s a scenario I’ve faced many times:
During a website redesign project I’ll have something ready for review, such as a design comp or the staging (test) version of a site. I’ll send it to a client for review with the expectation—as outlined in the initial schedule—that feedback needs to be provided within four days or so. Then… nothing. My process includes checking in during that review time but sometimes that also results in no response. At least not for several days after the review period was supposed to be completed. Only then do I learn that the client was away on vacation. And since they didn’t let me know or delegate the review to someone else, the review has to be pushed back. That all cascades down to a delayed milestone which delays the phase which delays the entire project, not to mention delaying project completion.
That example demonstrates that not giving your web design studio a heads up of when you’ll be unavailable can make your website project become delayed.
Assets—logos, images, videos, etc.—are always needed for your website project. If you’ve committed to providing them, it’s best to provide them early on in the project process. This prevents your website designer from having to wait for assets that may be crucial at various points of the project, not to mention launch.
If you’ve hired a photographer or videographer and they’ve scheduled a shoot with you that overlaps with your website project, it’s important to communicate this with your web designer. That way, they can either adjust the schedule (and expectations) or work around the photo or video shoot until those assets are ready.
The point is, if your web design studio is stuck waiting for assets, that can cause setbacks in your project’s timeline.
Access to tools and services
When it comes to building a website, your web developer is going to need access to these tools and services throughout your project. Fortunately most services provide a way to add users with specific permissions so you don’t have to provide your own login information.
Providing access to these services is important and it’s just as important to provide it as early as possible. Otherwise, waiting for access can mean delays. Worse, if an issue is spotted with any particular service that may affect the project scope, it’s important to know as early as possible.
And please, don’t deny your web developer access to these things. Doing so means they’ll be relying solely on you to provide critical code, information, or change settings. Not only is this frustrating as it can result in a lot of back and forth, but it 100% will delay your project.
Changes in scope
Imagine having a route planned out for a road trip. At some point during the trip maybe you decide you want to stop at a location that wasn’t originally in your plans. Expecting to arrive at your final destination while adding the new location (and the time you want to spend there) is unrealistic. Your website project is not much different.
Once your project is underway, it’s not unusual to decide that you want to change part of it or add something that isn’t in the approved scope. That’s normal and totally okay! However, that doesn’t mean that it won’t affect the project schedule. In all likelihood it will. More specifically, it’ll push the completion date out. As long as you’re aware of this and okay with it then there shouldn’t be any problems or surprises.
Remember, it’s a collaboration
If you remember that your web design project is a collaboration then you’ll immediately recognize that the timeline of your project is dependent on you as much as on your web design studio.
In case you didn’t notice, the recurring theme here is communication. Without it, you’re going to experience frustration if the timeline starts to slip. But if you and your web design studio keep each other in the loop on a regular basis not only will the frustration be avoided, your website project is less likely to get delayed.
That doesn’t mean delays won’t ever happen. They can and often do happen due to any number of reasons unrelated to what’s been outlined in this article. If a delay does occur, it’s important to learn to roll with it and reset your expectations accordingly.