After living through my fair share of Web design projects, I’ve witnessed all kinds of things that can go wrong. That doesn’t mean the future won’t surprise me with yet another design-related mishap that I never saw coming, but it would probably have to be something really really wacky.
So without further adieu, here are a few ways to avoid some of the most common hangups and delays you might encounter in a design project. Keep in mind that my perspective on all this is that of the copywriter.
1. Define your review process ahead of time.
How are you going to review the designer’s work? The copywriter’s work? The developer’s work? An even better question might be this one: Which members of your team will play a role in the review/revision process?
The whole point of knowing all of these things is to ensure that everyone on your end gets to review everything at once – as in before you send it back to the creative side.
Because a common scenario is the one in which the designer sends something to the client, and the client says it’s good to go. Then the designer proceeds to send it to the developer. The developer gets going, finishes half the work, and is suddenly stopped in his or her tracks when the client comes back and says his partner wants to change the design concept.
Yes. This happens. And it’s pretty much the crappiest thing you can do to your creative team.
While making sure this doesn’t occur is mostly the client’s responsibility, designers should really confirm that some kind of review process exists before they even get started.
2. Outsource the copywriting.
Don’t have time to write the Website copy? That’s why Green Ink Creative exists.
Ok, that’s not the only reason GIC exists. Far from it. In fact, if the only reason someone wants to hire me is to save time, they can probably find someone else who’s a whole lot cheaper. A good copywriter, as you know, adds value because he or she uses language that speaks to your customers.
But when it comes to avoiding big delays in project completion, outsourcing the content becomes a really big deal. Because let’s face it: If you insist on writing all the content yourself, you’re probably not going to write any of it.
3. Ask the developer for a timetable.
Do this before the developer gets started. Now I’m no coder and have little idea what goes on “developer-side” in deploying a new Website, but I do know that development delays are common. A simple timetable will help you and your developer have a better idea of how long the development work will take.
4. Don’t involve too many outsiders.
Look, I love it when companies hire third parties because that’s how I make a living. But seven unaffiliated designers, developers, copywriters, and marketing consultants all trying to work together from remote locations just makes life suck for everyone.
For most small businesses, a small, yet nimble, team of professionals is the way to go. Try to work with people who have worked together before. Most copywriters will know several good designers and vice versa.
5. Be flexible.
Here’s something a client told me recently:
“I think artificial deadlines are bullshit and usually do more harm than good.”
What can I say? He speaks the truth. Setting a target go-live date is fine, but too much rigidity in your schedule can pressure the creative team into “finishing” before they’re really done. What I mean is that the work could end up being sub-par for the sake of meeting a deadline. And nobody wants that.
You’ll just scrap the whole thing and do a re-design/re-write job, which makes the project take even longer. Talk about delays, right?
So if the designer says she needs another couple of days, let her have another couple of days. You’ve got to trust that the people you’ve hired are professionals and that they’re giving you the best quality they can produce. After all, that extra couple of days could save you months of disappointment.