The world’s first website was launched in 1999 and since that moment on, the world of commerce was never the same again. Owing to their vast reach, convenient usage, engaging qualities, and round the clock presence, there are now over 10.8 billion websites worldwide that are being utilized for ecommerce, marketing, freelancing, information acquisition/ sharing, socializing, entertainment and what not.
This growing demand for web presence has caused an inevitable boom in the web design market with an average of 16 million new websites being added to the World Wide Web every month.
According to statistics, the web design market for the US alone is worth over $20 billion. This tremendous demand for increasingly creative, aesthetically pleasing, fully responsive, and user friendly websites, has increased pressure on web designers to provide creative websites that stand distinguished from the competition in increasingly shorter spans of time.
Hence, we see web designers struggling day in and day out to modify processes and generate tools to achieve these industry benchmarks.
Creativity is the pinnacle of successful design projects as it lays the foundation for the entire project and enables it to stand out from the crowd. However, in today’s competitive industry, creativity can by no means, prolong the duration of a project nor can stringent project timelines be allowed to curb a designer’s creative instinct.
The key here is to take both of these crucial components together in order to create a winning solution. Here, we have lined up ways in which creativity and time management can be implemented together to deliver successful design projects.
Image Source: www.bigbitecreative.com
Step 1: Understanding The Client’s Requirements:
The most important determinant of success in a design project is to thoroughly understand the client’s requirements. Before a project begins, it is essential that detailed meetings be conducted between the design team and the client to discuss all aspects of the project including level of creativity, i.e. highly innovative or a ‘me too’ solution, time frame, budget, etc.
Clear communication regarding timelines is crucial, as it will provide a basis on which all aspects of the project will be scheduled. All components of a design project are important, however, they must be completed within in a specific time-frame if it is to be truly valuable.
Step 2: Research:
The research phase entails acquiring a thorough understanding about the client’s business as well as industry. Designers must gain in-depth knowledge about the web layouts, graphics, content, themes, that are being used in the client’s industry and by all major competitors, samples of what the client has specified in the requirement gathering meetings and any industry best practices that should be incorporated. Doing so will allow designers to identify exactly the level of creativity that is required.
This stage is extremely time-flexible by nature, capable of occupying a couple of days to several months. However, time is of the essence in the web design market and hence a thoroughly disciplined approach is required while conducting the phase.
Though this is a crucial phase; ready availability of information on the internet presents many opportunities for designers to achieve high quality research within a limited time frame. This can be done by developing an internal library that may be consulted for all projects, identifying suitable prototypes, etc.
While creativity is an invaluable quality for designers, it is easy to become overly creative, producing solutions that are widely distinct from the Industry. This need not necessarily be a helpful thing as research has indicated that internet users prefer websites that comply with a prototypical layout that is accepted industry-wide. According to a research by Google, users prefer websites that look both familiar and simple. Hence, using a prototype will lead to a higher success rate along with optimum utilization of time.
The tangible result of research is a meticulously crafted creative brief that will encompass an overview of the audience, the level of creativity required, project schedule, etc. Research indicates that this phase of the design process should not take up to more than 5% of the total allocated time.
Step 3: Solution Design:
The solution design process is relatively mechanical, beginning with preliminary sketches that designers use to present their creative ideas to the clients. In addition to the basic layout, factors like design choices, typefaces, imagery and visual language should also be outlined. Designers may also find it appropriate to develop low and high fidelity wire frames or visual mock-ups to give the client a more accurate portrayal of the devised solution.
For a thoroughly creative piece to surface, it is essential that designers be given ample time to think about their ideas. Therefore, in order to provide designers with enough room to evaluate their ideas while adhering to project timelines ,a useful advise is to leave all preliminary sketches, wire frames and mock ups slightly incomplete.
This will allow designers to modify the incomplete areas with a completely new eye as the project moves along. At the end of this stage the clients are presented with either one solution or multiple varying solutions for their feedback. In case of multiple solutions, it is recommended to keep them as creatively distinct from one another as possible. This phase of the design process should take up to 5% of the total allocated time.
Step 4: Design: 25%
The design phase entails the development of the actual solution based on the client’s feedback. This phase offers designers the opportunity to make every project their own by adding their unique creative touch.
For clients who require stereotypical layouts, designers can show their creative expertise when it comes to visual elements such as colors, fonts, backgrounds, photography, etc. This stage of the development phase will usually take up 25% of the total allocated time.
Step 5: Development:
This phase includes developing the web solution that had been agreed on. The development phase is the perfect time to finalize the designs that had been left incomplete as the designers are able to view the unfolding product right in front of them. This phase should constitute 45% of the total allocated time with 15% time dedicated to front-end development and 30% to back-end development.
Step 6: Content:
This stage is crucial as it entails communicating the client’s message to the target audience. While it is essential to provide content that is search engine optimized, it is important to offer creative content that presents the client’s unique brand to the world. Content generation phase should take up to 8% of the total project time.
Step 7: Testing and Launch:
The final stages of the design process are testing followed by the actual launch of the website. These stages should occupy 10% and 2% of the entire project time frame. The design team can increase the success of the overall project by creatively crafting the press releases that spark public interest in their solution.
Where creativity adds uniqueness and appeal to design projects, time management ensures efficiency and productivity, hence, the above steps should be followed to deliver successful design projects. To complete all of this within the stipulated period of time, the best method is to use time tracking softwares available in the market. Some of my personal favorites are MinterApp and Toggl that will make the planning and execution phase so much easier!