by Konstantin Bredyuk
A complicated piece of work such as website design is not something that can be watered down in three steps. A multitude of other steps and branches of work sprout from the main tasks, and sometimes, this can get overwhelming. When tasks multiply and compound, it can be challenging to stay on top of it all to keep yourself and your team focused on delivering the website when the client needs it. To that end, here are seven crucial productivity tips for web designers.
image from Shutterstock
First, there are three important things you should already have established:
1. A project plan overview
The best way to stay organized and in control is to map out a project plan.
- List your main goals.
- Break them down into their smaller, more manageable tasks.
- Attach your projected deadlines.
You don’t necessarily need to break down your goals to the very last detail; some other tidbits may spring up during the execution process. But you want to include the absolute essentials for a just overview of what needs to be done.
Also, just as every writer needs an outline, a web designer needs a draft or mockup. An actual, visual example of the final product or concept you’re aiming to create serves as a beacon of light to guide you, your team, and your client through the whole project.
2. A routine or established workflow
Establishing a routine streamlines the creative process, saving you and your team precious time whenever a new process, task, or bottleneck takes shape.
There are common situations, even usual problems that can repeatedly occur in web design/development. Bringing these to mind when devising a consistent, basic workflow is a worthy undertaking. So that next time, you’ll have an orchestrated pattern of steps to follow right off the bat without spending loads of time ruminating or discussing.
3. Standard templates
This applies several core steps in the design process. You’ll need standard code templates for common web page types, as well as some that you can use for more creative or “experimental” types. A standard file naming convention and folder organization system is also a boon for faster researching, processing, and sharing.
Standard timelines are also critical, built through constant time testing and tracking of how long each task takes. This knowledge is especially handy when making completion projections to guide not just your team but to set client expectations as well.
After you’ve gotten these three down pat to serve as your basic foundation and oil, the next following steps will serve as the rest of the cogs in your mean, lean, building machine.
4. Set a schedule before every work day and track time spent
This is a simple but often overlooked concept. Make an effort to set goals a day before so you’ll know exactly what you wan rot achieve. A schedule organizes your workday and keeps you from rushing here and there to finish things haphazardly. Know your “prime time” and take advantage of your most productive peak period to finish as much as you can.
5. Learn and use shortcuts
Do you know how much time you actually save by using keyboard shortcuts instead of using your mouse to drag, point and click all the time? This infographic by Veodin shows Brainscape’s calculation. That’s two seconds per minute, 480 minutes per day that you work on your computer, and 240 days per year that you spend in the office. Once it all stacks up, it doesn’t seem so minuscule and inconsequential.
You can brush up on these shortcuts through tutorials you can find online like this article by Lifehacker, or you can try some apps that suggest shortcuts specific to your needs like KeyRocket, among others.
Save time by avoiding working on features a client may reject. If a particularly big piece of work takes up too much time, that’s all the more reason to get a client to sign off on it before you fully develop it.
Provide clients with a mockup or preview of the end result—and some risk-billing provisions for any unwarranted revisions—before you get started. No use slaving over something the client may eventually scrap, costing you useless, unbillable hours.
7. Use project management (PM) software to manage your projects and teams
Excel is a pretty useful tool, but for added functionality, especially functionalities specifically geared toward your kind of work, PM software can work wonders for your team.
Instead of manual input, many of these types of software auto-populate with a few simple clicks, and have built-in tools you can use for workflow automation, resource allocation, task automation, automated scheduling and reminders, time tracking and even invoicing, with the added benefit of integrating your communications and documentation systems for better collaboration and archiving.
Whether you’re a freelancer, a small business owner, an in-house designer or an entrepreneur, you profit from the bottom line – delivering what the client needs. And in order to deliver projects on time and on budget, productivity is key. Exhausting all available resources to ensure better individual and team productivity is one’s best bet.
Konstantin Bredyuk is Strategy director at Comindware, maker of cloud-based innovative work management solutions. Konstantin aims to address actual customer problems with world-class software solutions.