The success of any web design project depends on how well you plan the design process. Unfortunately, too often planning doesn’t begin early enough—or it’s done with an unrealistic timeline in order to meet some an impending deadline (the date of a trade show, for example). Christopher Butler, chief operating officer for Newfangled and speaker at HOW Design Live, June 22–26 in San Francisco, explains why this kind of reactionary planning can be detrimental to a web project in this excerpt from his book, The Strategic Web Designer:
Most web planning is reactive, prompted by an upcoming date by which the new website should be launched … The anxiety brought about by a looming date—that trade show coming up, for instance—can set in motion an extraordinary push to get the house in order. But anxiety is, without question, an unhealthy catalyst for a complex web project and a poison for one already underway. Often the rationale is that an anticipated event will bring throngs of discerning and expectant visitors to your door and the current website is just not fit to be seen. And it may very well not be.
Of course, little thought is given at this point to the alternative—that a rushed replacement might be far more unfit to receive guests than the current site … Underestimating time is endemic in web work, so squeezed production schedules are much more common than they should be. But this planning problem creates a more toxic perception problem. Given the time made available to do the work—often underestimated, mind you—we assume our productivity will be greater than average. We don’t soberly assess our limitations …
Why do we do this? It all comes down to the way we manage expectations. In these instances, our many expectations are often led by impatience—the expectation of now. But when now leads the charge, all the other things that matter, like quality, efficiency, cost and the like, are crippled. In fact, none of our expectations can be met if we are not willing to properly facilitate them, and especially not if they’re misinformed in the first place.