Time is a precious thing – and yet it is so easy to waste. To illustrate, a friend of mine who served in the military once said that much of his day was spent standing around, waiting for orders. It sounds a lot like a typical web design project – albeit on a smaller scale.
Most projects have big objectives for what they will achieve and how quickly it will happen. But it doesn’t always work according to plan. Content is delayed, bugs are discovered, and budgets fail with the stated urgency.
That leaves us standing (er, sitting) around, like my friend. Sure, we might be able to switch to another gig while we wait. But it still feels like a waste to see a project come to an end.
While we don’t need to recapture every lost second, there are some things we can do to minimize wasted time. Here are some tips to make your web design projects more productive.
Watch and Plan For Wrecks
This is where experience can come in handy. A web designer’s preliminary projects are a gold mine of information.
For example, you will be able to look back and identify bottlenecks that cost you time. Even better is the ability to spot the warning signs when moving forward with new clients. It can prevent things from eventually grinding.
Granted, not everything is under your control. But by drawing on your experiences, you can help guide clients in a more productive direction.
Understanding why a previous client had difficulty putting together content could lead to a different strategy. In practice, that might mean setting dates for specific benchmarks rather than playing it by ear.
Sometimes, a little leadership is needed to keep things running on schedule. The more experience you have, the more confident you will be as a leader.
Stay in Touch with Stakeholders
Nothing stalls a project like a lack of communication. The silence between stakeholders could mean that things have been put on the back burner.
That’s fine in some cases. After all, other important issues arise. But the longer everyone does their own thing, the harder it will be to resume progress.
Consider, for example, a project that has been pending for several months. The process of familiarizing yourself with the website can be frustrating, as can getting everyone on the same page. Losing momentum like this can have negative results.
The trick is not to let it go that far down the rabbit hole. Instead of accepting the downtime as it is, try to be proactive with the key players. By reaching out and checking in, you will at least keep the project at the forefront of their minds.
Work on Other Areas of the Project
Maybe you’re waiting for a client to send some content your way. Or a colleague is working on a piece of custom functionality. These areas of the project may be on hold, but there are still ways to be productive.
This may be a great time to tackle any outstanding issues. Testing on mobile devices, improving content organization, or getting your CSS right. Even entering data can be quite a busy task during such downtime.
The idea is not to let slow progress in one area affect everything else. It could be as simple as using some display material to bring your layout concepts to life. This serves as an all-too-rare chance to experiment and create during the design or construction process.
However, it pays to proceed with caution. It can be dangerous to work too far ahead. If a client changes their mind, you may have to go back to the drawing board. With that, you may want to run your plans with them for some confirmation.
Doing so helps you avoid wasting any more time. As a bonus, it lets clients know you’re still working hard. This inspires confidence and may be the motivation they need to get moving.
Take Back Your Time…and Do Something With It
With some web design projects, it feels like you’re in a black hole, just waiting for guidance. Clients have a lot to do with that. Regardless of the reason, when they drag their feet, everyone else is forced to do the same.
This is especially frustrating when you don’t have many other projects on your plate. It’s easy to think about what you do could accomplished if others did not play their part.
The good news is that you don’t have to settle for a situation like this. You can take matters into your own hands (within reason).
Advise stakeholders of potential bottlenecks and keep the lines of communication open. And, if things slow down, use that opportunity to be productive in other areas.
The lesson is that you have more power than you think! There is no need to sit idly by while time is wasted.