It can be a challenge for website designers or agencies to explain the intricacies that are involved with website design or website redesign to their potential customers. Even clients with a good grasp on how digital advertising and online shopping work might not understand all of the development and nuances that go on in the background to make a website successful. Of course, adding a new client to the roster is always exciting and sometimes even the best designer gets caught up in the moment, promising to deliver a website project that doesn’t fit into a realistic timeline. Giving an unrealistic timeline regarding website design sets you up for stress and potential failure, as well as undermines just how much work goes into good website design. Simply put, the importance of honest website project timelines cannot be understated.

Usually when you’re contacted for a website project, the client either has a site that isn’t functioning the way that they’d like, or they are eager to get their new idea off the ground. In the competitive nature of the business, with people promising all sorts of abilities to design a website overnight, it can be a professional instinct to also make a promise that cannot be met out of the fear that you won’t be viewed as being able to provide the same services as your competitors.

Anyone in the website design field that is good at their job knows that building a powerful, result driven website takes time and analysis. Expressing this to clients up front establishes a business relationship that allows both you and your client to operate professionally. Here are a few ways to help you set realistic project timelines for your website design projects.

The Importance of Honest Website Project Timelines

Understand The Scope

Make sure you understand exactly what the client hopes to achieve with the website design or redesign. This may sound easier than it is sometimes, as many people tend to think that just having a website guarantees business.

Have a form and process in place that allows the client to walk through their desired goals and make sure that you articulate those desired outcomes back to the client before beginning the project.

Be Specific

Once you know the desired outcome of the website and the elements that need to be built into it, make a schedule for the project with firm dates rather than approximate ones. Avoid giving nebulous timelines like, “It will be done in about two or three weeks” and instead deliver date-specific outlines. This allows for easy assessment of how the project is going by cross-referencing the project timeline with the work that’s been done.

Look At The Calendar

You’d think that looking at your calendar is a given when creating timelines, but so often designers forget to work holidays and peak busy seasons into setting realistic timelines. If your agency contracts with freelance professionals, assure that they are available to meet your deadlines before you promise to deliver.

Despite efforts to provide realistic timelines for website design, everyone has encountered projects where you run into issues that you’ve never seen before or that pose problems that weren’t previously thought of. Should you hit one of those snags, make sure that you update your client right away. While they may not be happy about the delay, most professionals understand that sometimes unforeseen issues arise and will appreciate the honesty.