Time is such a precious thing – and yet it’s so easy to waste. To illustrate, a friend of mine who served in the military once remarked that much of their day was spent standing around, awaiting orders. It sounds a lot like a typical web design project – albeit on a smaller scale.
Most projects have grand objectives when it comes to what they’ll accomplish and how quickly it’ll happen. But it doesn’t always work to plan. Content is delayed, bugs are found, and budgets fail to match the stated urgency.
That leaves us to stand (er, sit) around, kind of like my friend. Sure, we may be able to switch to another gig during the wait. But it still feels like a waste to see a project come to a standstill.
While we can’t necessarily recapture every lost second, there are some things we can do to minimize that wasted time. Here are some tips for making more productive moments during your web design projects.
Look and Plan For Bottlenecks
Here’s where experience can come in handy. A web designer’s past projects are a goldmine of information.
For instance, you’ll be able to look back and identify bottlenecks that cost you time. Better yet is the ability to spot the warning signs as you move forward with new clients. It may prevent things from grinding to a halt.
Granted, not everything is within your control. But by falling back on your experiences, you can help to guide clients in a more productive direction.
Understanding why a previous client struggled to put content together could lead to a different strategy on your part. In practice, that might mean setting dates for specific benchmarks as opposed to playing it by ear.
Sometimes, a little bit of leadership is needed to keep things running on schedule. The more experience you have, the more confident a leader you’ll become.
Stay in Touch with Stakeholders
Nothing stalls a project quite like a lack of communication. The silence between stakeholders could mean that things have been placed on the back burner.
That’s OK in some scenarios. After all, other important issues do arise. But the longer everyone does their own thing, the harder it can be to restart progress.
Think, for example, of a project that’s been on hold for several months. The process of refamiliarizing yourself with the website can be frustrating, as can getting everyone on the same page. Losing momentum like this can lead to negative outcomes.
The trick is to never let it get that far down the rabbit hole. Instead of accepting the downtime as is, try being proactive with the key players. By reaching out and checking in, you’ll at least keep the project at the front of their minds.
Work on Other Areas of the Project
Perhaps 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 might be a perfect time to tackle any outstanding issues. Testing on mobile devices, perfecting content organization, or getting your CSS just right. Even data entry can be a good busy task during such downtime.
The idea is to not let a slowing of progress in one area impact everything else. It could be as simple as using some demo content to bring your layout concepts to life. This serves as an all-too-rare chance to experiment and create during the design or build process.
However, it is worth proceeding with caution. There can be a danger in working 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 by them for some confirmation.
Doing so helps you further avoid wasted time. As a bonus, it lets clients know that you’re still hard at work. This inspires confidence and might be the nudge 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 direction. Clients have a lot to do with that. Regardless of the reason, when they drag their feet, everyone else is compelled to do the same.
This is especially frustrating when you don’t have a lot of other projects on your plate. It’s easy to think about what you could accomplish if only others would play their part.
The good news is that you don’t need to settle in this type of situation. It’s possible to take matters into your own hands (within reason).
Advise stakeholders on potential bottlenecks and keep the lines of communication open. And, if things do slow down, use that opportunity to be productive in other areas.
The lesson is that you have more power than you think! There’s no need to sit idly while time wastes away.
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