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Freelance web design tips for avoiding project planning disasters.

In our last two articles that focused on the dilemmas of freelance web designers, we looked at general tips, http://www.dreamtemplate.com/blog/web-design-tips/tips-for-new-freelance-web-designers/, and tips for effective project planning, http://www.dreamtemplate.com/blog/web-design-tips/freelance-web-design-and-project-planning/.

This article looks at why bad planning is so common, or more accurately why underestimating the amount of time a project will take is so common.  Hopefully, once you have read this article, you will have a much clearer and better understanding for your future freelance web designs, and so you will be able to avoid project planning disasters.

There are in essence four reasons why projects overrun.  These are:

Bespoke features for a specialised industry.

Grey areas or unknowns in the design.

New, or unfamiliar technologies are required for the design.  Some may never have been used before.

The time taken to plan the project, make the project unfeasible.

There are also other reasons which are everyday realities in the freelance or small business world.  They are:

Client needs an estimate for their design now or will go elsewhere

Estimating is no fun

Revenue needed for cash flow

There is no actual experience in the project, so no accurate price can be calculated.

There are ways round each of these however, so lets look at them.  For new or bespoke technologies, there is always the option of outsourcing to an expert.  Though this could eat into the budget, experience can be key to solving a particular design dilemma.

Failing that, you can try and negotiate a test phase for the new technology or bespoke application at the time of pricing.  This will provide you with the time needed to learn what you need.  It will also give you a new string to your freelance bow for future projects.

An alternative to this would be to research the technologies or techniques you believe you need, and take your best guess at time taken.
Estimating is vitally important as a freelance web designer, or small business holder.  The golden rule is the more thorough you are, the more accurate you will be.  That’s right, the same as coding.  The nature of sales is that some you win, some you lose, and you will find that you can spend a long time estimating a project, and sadly, not win it.  If this happens, obtain feedback, and use the experience for your next estimate.  All negative experiences as a freelancer, have a positive element to them.

If your client is demanding an estimate or you’ll lose the business, weigh up these factors.

Going over budget vs. Gaining repeat business or recognition

How will the client be to work with?

Try and obtain an understanding in what is involved and the kind of budget the client has in mind.  This way you can determine whether or not to take the job.

Your cash flow is King, so sometimes you may need to take on a project where you will not make any money, but will help you keep things ticking along.  It is a reality of going it alone.  Bills have to be paid, as do staff.  It may simply be a means to an end, but at least you will live to fight another day.

These hurdles are there to be overcome as a freelance web designer, or small business owner.  If you use these techniques, your business will run smoother, build a better reputation, and through the experience you will learn a lot about the web design industry, and improve your own web design.

Going it alone is very exciting, and most peoples ultimate aim.  These, together with our other web design freelancer tips, will help you make the journey, a very successful one.

7 Responses to “Freelance web design tips for avoiding project planning disasters.”
  1. Slanty

    For one, we designers shouldn’t be that confident that we can do all designs as per requested. You have to have the knowledge and interests before you agree to something.

    Second, it is important that we organize our thoughts to avoid such disaster.

    Good article. Keep it up!

  2. Wilmer Paras

    Do not just accept and accept things. Make sure that you can meet the deadlines. It also important that you really know what you’re up to, that you know your projects well.

  3. Dorothy

    Plan ahead of schedule. That way, if something comes up (like an emergency or something), you’d still have time to finish.

  4. Tollinci

    Very true. If you say that an actual work can be accomplished in a week’s time, stick with it. There are many other designers who can deliver well at the specified time of the client. It is a competition, remember.

  5. Carl

    Never be complacent. Make sure you have a Plan B or Plan C, in case original plan doesn’t go through.

  6. Oliveria

    There should always be allowances. You can have some allowance of the actual time you can finish the project so if anything happens, yopu can still deliver. Just let your client know.

  7. Annan

    Most of the time, I ran out of time for my projects. Now, I learn. I should know which to prioritize. And I plan.

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