June 9, 2010 Off

The In’s and Out’s of Project Management

By in Web Design

As web designers, we are required to be project managers as well. With each client, we must plan, organize, manage resources, and develop a project independently. For some types of designers, managing subcontractors is needed as well. It takes great discipline to get a project done on time, and done well.

In this post we’re going to discuss some of the core needs for effective project management for a freelance web designer. From signing the contract to handing over the final files, every project needs smart management to save the client’s time, and your own.

1. Set Stages

Every project of any type has a set of stages. Specifically for a web design project, these stages might include an initial collaboration phase, a planning phase, a design phase, and a revisions phase. Below is a run-down of what each of these phases may include:

Initial Collaboration:
This is where you meet the client. This is where the designer can give the client contact information on the company, propose quotes and finally get a contract signed. It is also where the planning stage truly begins. A pre-design questionnaire is a great way to get some initial ideas and specifics for the project before actually beginning.

Planning:
The planning phase includes finalizing guidelines for the design from the client, brainstorming, finding inspiration, and creating layouts and/or wireframes for the design.

Design:
This is the phase where we take our planned materials, and create a final look for the project. It is also the phase where we develop a finalized design and get everything up and running.

Revisions:
The revisions phase is usually the last phase for a web design project. It includes collaboration with the client dealing with any needed revisions, and discussing any future changes. This is also the ‘good-bye’ phase between the designer and client, and can be a great time to give the client discounts on future work or  any further suggestions.

2. Track Time & Create Deadlines

Deadlines are an important aspect of project management, and can easily be defined via the project phases above. Each phase may have a deadline, and a final project deadline can be set more accurately. For those designers that have had trouble with deadlines in the past, this is a great method for keeping things on track.

Tracking time is also an essential feature to project management. Track time via an online tool, or just with one of your own clocks to keep track of the time you’re actually working. Keep track of what you’re working on and how much time you’re spending on it. By doing so, one can better their productivity, keep subcontractors on track, and even get a better idea of how deadlines should be set for similar future projects.

3. Files, Templates, & Invoices

Last but not least, file-handling is probably the most annoying, confusing, and troublesome part of managing a project. From contracts and proposals, to templates and everything else that needs to be in writing, things can get messy. A smart project manager, though, knows how to handle all these files.

An online project management app can help tremendously with these types of files, but depending on how you’d like to run your business and how many clients you have, it may or may not be applicable to use one. Whether you choose to keep all project files digitally, through an app, or even in a filing cabinet, just be sure that things are organized:

  • Keep everything from one project in the same spot.
  • Use sub-categories to divide the paper work through the phases.
  • Keep up to date! Mark when invoices are paid or contracts are signed, right away.
  • Have a preset time limit for when you discard old files: 30 days after completion for a contract, 90 days for an invoice, etc.

How do you manage your projects effectively?

About: Kayla Knight:
Hello, my name is Kayla Knight, and I am a web designer and developer based in Iowa, Usa. I focus on user-centric, beautiful, simple, and functional web design. You can check out my portfolio here: KaylaKnight.com.

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