A web designer might be a renowned HTML and CSS linguist, but that does not make him an excellent project manager. In the same way that one might be able to produce A+ websites but fall short on people skills.
Leadership and organizational skills are the marks of a project manager. For those who speak design and communicate with people well, they can consider themselves a rare breed.
But just as leaders are made and not born, so are project managers the product of many tags. Here are a few essential tips to bring out the web design leader in you.
1. Know your client’s expectations
Find out what your client wants from the website and determine the purpose of the project. Will you be building a site from scratch or are you revamping a current design? Will you be designing a site meant to inform potential clients or will it be an online shop? Basic questions such as these will help you determine your client’s end goals.
An initial meeting with your client (over coffee preferred, but not necessary) will set project expectations, and give you insight on details like design, color, and content preferences.
2. Talk money
The budget is not something you might put on the table right away. And chances are your client will wait for an initial offer to retaliate with negotiations. But agreeing to a project cost early on is a win-win situation. Once you know the scope of work and the budget, prepare a contract to make your agreement a binding partnership.
3. Create a design brief
The design brief is the bible of your project. It will contain important information like objectives, strategies, and initiatives. Every element of the design should be directed towards a target audience. And yes, you should have determined who you are talking to by this stage.
Putting down project milestones will help determine the small victories towards the road to completion. Mark events that say progress, and tell your client what these milestones will be.
4. Pick a project management tool
Getting organized is key to effective project management. There are many project management software you can use. If the pocket allows, you can invest in Basecamp, activeColab, or Codendi among others. A simple online search can yield many free organization tools as well.
Have you heard of a Gantt chart? It is an effective tool in illustrating a project schedule. Apart from the timeline, it helps track important elements like “who does who” and “who is in charge of what”. At a glance, a Gantt chart can tell you how much progress a project has done.
5. Plan your manpower
A web design project is no joke. There are many elements to it, and any seasoned web designer will know how difficult tying in all the content can be.
If you own a company, then you have the people to do the work. But if you are just starting out, you have to decide if you can do it all on your own or if you have to outsource. Careful though, as outsourcing means added costs that should have been factored into the budget.
6. Prep your workspace
Studies have shown that a clean desk increases productivity, while a cluttered environment reflects a person’s state of mind. If you are going to be working long hours, you best make sure you are in a clean, comfortable, and efficient space that will help you get the job done.
7. Keep talking to your client
As you begin to present project milestones to your client, you will find that he or she will have comments to add. This is inevitable and you should prepare yourself to take good and bad comments well.
Web designers can also get new ideas during creative bursts, while clients will pick up new ideas as they see things that inspire them. Keep communication lines open and keep those thoughts coming.
8. Give yourself a creative break
The statement speaks for itself. Put in some creative time into your timeline to give your mind a break from the work. You can use this time to get out and do something completely different, or go somewhere to get more inspiration about your web design project.
9. Deliver the project
You have done the work, and now it is time for the site to go live. The handover process is part of project completion. If needed, give your client a tutorial on how to maintain and update the site. Some clients now prefer WordPress-based sites so that they can add updates easily. And expect a few questions for a few days after. Remember that not all are web savvy.
10. Build a good name
Referrals from a happy client are one of the best types of advertising. Ask your client’s permission to put their name and website on your portfolio. If you did a good job, they would agree in a heartbeat.
Kimberly Clark is a Content Strategist who enjoys helping clients navigate through web design Louisville and beyond. From planning to ongoing content strategies, she has a deep understanding of the tools of the trade like social media and SEO. Kimberly is also a data fiend and uses it to develop unique, original and interesting web content that keeps visitors engaged and interacting. She works for VIA Studio- Tweet at them @_viastudio_ and like them on Facebook.