In our first brush with freelance web design tips, we looked at client focused needs and how to fulfil them. These were good general tips and well worth a look at. You can find them here. http://www.dreamtemplate.com/blog/web-design-tips/tips-for-new-freelance-web-designers/
Becoming a freelance web designer is most web designers dream, and if you are one, or run a small web design business, then estimating time on projects may have been problematic in the early days. It is time consuming, dull, and generally new guys to the web design world are very eager to get on and start coding.
This is all fair enough, but if you have not taken the time to plan the project correctly, then you could make a loss. Do this a few times, and your freelance or small business dreams could end right now.
This is why planning the project is essential. Also, once you have some experience of planning the project, you will be able to give a client more accurate information on how long it will take to complete a project, and how much they can expect to pay.
To do this, it is advisable to breakdown the project into elements. See below.
Research.( Requirements gathering,Project planning)
This allows you to gather all the information you need to put together a well researched, thorough estimate. This is very good to avoid going over budget. By planning a project step by step, help ensures you do not miss anything, from small important tasks to large intergral code.
Solution design (Sitemap,Wireframes,User workflows,Functional specification)
Design (Look and feel of homepage,Content page,Master content page template,News main page,News item)
Back-end development (CMS configuration,News feature,Contact us form)
Content entry (Homepage copy,Addition of News items)
Testing (Internal functional testing,Client User Acceptance Testing)
Go-live (Live server setup,301 re-directs from old site URLs to new)
It is important that you clarify the news features as this is a large area where it is possible to overrun. Also, it is very common that your clients view and your view of a news feature are different.
Remember that there are many different things your client may want built in to the news feature, such as auto-resize capability, caption adding facility, full screen mode, and auto-thumbnail generation. This can add time to the project, and therefore scope to blow the budget. It is important to establish this particular feature of the website, before you sign any agreements, or start work.
By breaking down a project in this way gives several added bonuses. The first is that you will soon be able to track where your time is going accurately, and therefore be able to more accurately predict what time is spent on which stage of the project. If you keep a record of this, you will accrue accurate data on where your time is spent, which can only help you in the long run.
You will become more knowledgeable in web design, and this filters through to the client. This naturally leads onto you being able to juggle your quotes to fit the clients budget. This is also shows you have a clear understanding of web design, and this conveys a very professional image to the client. It will also help you to win business and establish a good freelance reputation.
The importance of freelance web design and project planning cannot be overstated. As a freelance web designer, you have inherited the responsibilities of running a business, and therefore it is important that you have budgets, and you adhere to them. The golden rule in planning, is break down the design as much as possible. This way, you will know exactly what is needed and how much it will cost.