As a designer, I’ve been designing software for the last ten years. And in that time, I’ve learned one thing: big, scary design projects are the worst. You know the ones — projects that make your heart race, your palms sweat, and your stomach churn. But here’s the thing: if you want to be successful as a designer, you have to learn how to manage big design projects. And that’s what I’m going to talk about today. How to prepare for and survive big, scary design projects. Stay tuned!
What is a big, scary design project?
A big, scary design project is a highly-involved project that requires a lot of research and a lot of thought. Think about designing a new mobile application from the ground up. That’s going to require user interviews, data analysis, concept testing, wireframing, prototyping…the list goes on.
Not only that but you’ll have to present your work at several points along the way as well as sell it to stakeholders who might not agree with all your choices. If you’re working on a redesign for an existing application, you might have to work with your developers to update the codebase or convince them to make some changes. You may also need to make sacrifices along the way.
You’ll need to do a lot of research and put in a lot of hard work, but it will be worth it in the end. Stay focused and don’t get overwhelmed – take it one step at a time and you’ll be just fine.
Why do people fear them so much?
Is it the idea of trying to organize a group of people who aren’t always on the same page? Is it because you may have a tight deadline and no room for error? Or is it because nothing about this project will make sense to you, let alone anyone else?
Whatever your reason for dreading that big design project, I can guarantee that you’re not alone. In my experience, projects like these are often the most painful experiences in a designer’s career. They’re difficult from start to finish – from planning stages through execution and all the way until they’re handed over to their customers.
The scary word: project
There’s a reason behind this fear, and it all begins with how we perceive the word project.
When you hear something described as a “project,” what exactly does that mean to you?
Well, a project is a task or series of tasks you have to complete by a certain time. It doesn’t really matter if they’re related or not; I’d argue that there’s no such thing as an unconnected project in business. Have you ever heard of someone asking about the status of one isolated task? No! Projects are events where many things can occur simultaneously – not just your design work.
Many people fear the word project because it conjures up all kinds of other nasty issues. It’s an indicator that you have many moving parts to deal with, including but not limited to:
- managing deadlines
- maintaining collaboration
- keeping your team happy
- keeping your clients happy, and
- keeping yourself sane!
Struggling with deadlines
As an experienced designer, I’ve seen many people struggle with this concept. It’s not that you can’t meet deadlines – it’s just that it comes at an expense.
If you want to finish something on time, you’ll have to take shortcuts elsewhere in the process. This means cutting out your research or refining your ideas, which is essential for making great work. The bottom line is this: if you try to make things perfect but don’t do them quickly enough, then they will get done but they won’t be any good.
Some of my clients are upfront about their expectations from the beginning of a project. Others tell me that they expect the best quality possible, but have not communicated what that means to them.
I’ve learned that the only way forward is to ask for feedback throughout the project and listen carefully, allowing little room for assumptions. It’s possible to be a successful designer without meeting every single one of your client’s expectations, but it doesn’t happen overnight – you need to earn their trust by showing how much you care about their business and providing solid ideas over and over again until they finally see what you mean… or rather, hear what I mean.
How can you prepare for a big scary design project before it even begins?
Well, I have a few ideas. Here are some things you can do to prepare for your next design project:
- Practice good time management, organization, and communication skills;
- Prepare yourself first by learning how to work with others through research and observation;
- Start by working on smaller projects before jumping into the big one!
These all help you gain experience in different areas of design so that when the day comes for your big project, it won’t be quite so bad. Good luck out there!
Whoa, wait just one second… This guy is walking me through how to avoid failure? Come on! That’s not what I’d want to read. And this isn’t what you want to create. We all know that things will go wrong from time to time – especially in a big project – but avoiding failure is not what people want to read about.
How can you prepare for a big, scary design project? Prepare by building your skills and gaining experience working on smaller projects before diving right into the deep end of a larger one! Remember, it’s helpful to allow enough room for flexibility during the process while keeping the overall goal in mind.
Why should you practice good time management, organization, and communication skills?
being organized throughout the entire project will help you stay on track with deadlines, refine your ideas, and collaborate with team members
practicing good communication skills helps to gain rapport during meetings with your client(s) so that they understand what you’re trying to communicate
practicing good time management allows you to have more freedom during the project while still working efficiently. You’ll be able to make fewer sacrifices along the way, allowing for better quality work in the end.
Prepare by building your skills and gaining experience working on smaller projects before diving right into the deep end of a larger one! Remember, it’s helpful to allow enough room for flexibility during the process while keeping the overall goal in mind.
Start with small projects and move up in scale and difficulty until you can handle anything thrown at you. You will be able to make quick decisions based on previous experience, save time and energy, and most importantly save money.
What are the steps of a design project, and how can you make sure each one goes as smoothly as possible?
Gather the requirements, build a plan, create an estimate, develop a prototype and then test. Even though each step is complicated in its own right, if done correctly they become easier as you progress through your project. However, there are many common mistakes that you can avoid by planning ahead.
Firstly, you need to collect the requirements that your design will need to meet. You should include user stories and personas that reflect who you are designing for, along with a list of any constraints or deadlines that have already been set.
This step is essentially about putting together a brief, which outlines what it is that clients and stakeholders want and need to be achieved. This way, you’ll have a better understanding of the project as a whole from the beginning, which will help you to plan your time successfully.
In addition, it’s important to group these requirements into high-level tasks that will feature as milestones in your project plan – this can give you an indication of how long each task will take to complete.
Planning perfect preperation
Building a project plan is a good way to break the tasks involved, and visualize their relationship between one another for a better understanding of what you need to do. You might also want to consider using mind mapping software or methods to present your information in a more engaging way that can be shared with others. Once you have created your initial plan, it’s important not to stray from it as you progress through the project so as not to compromise its integrity.
Once you have planned your project, you can start making an estimate for its total cost and deadline by turning your goals into concrete figures. This process includes adding up any costs associated with completing each task on time – such as internal and external resources and their associated rates, which can be labor or materials.
The estimate should also include the salary of any members of staff involved in the project, as well as your own time and expenses – so it can be easy to lose track of how much you’re spending. However, if planned correctly, you will have budgeted for these factors already during your initial plan.
You need to make sure you understand exactly what needs to go into the design before wasting time on creating a prototype that doesn’t meet the required specifications. If your client misunderstood some elements of the project brief, then they might ask you to produce something that’s difficult or impossible to build.
This is why it’s important to develop the first version of the product on paper, using low-fidelity wireframes to communicate what you’re envisaging. This way, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page before investing more time and money into the project.
Once you have the finalized requirements for your design, it’s time to create a prototype – either digital or physical depending on what your client wants. This will give you an idea of what the product will look and feel like when it’s built, as well as make changes to your design before committing any resources. You can use a combination of sketches or storyboards, along with low-fidelity wireframes to help bring your vision to life.
The final step is testing your product to ensure that it works the way you want and meets all of your goals. This can be done by you or someone else with a fresh pair of eyes to help identify any gaps in functionality caused by misunderstandings during earlier stages of the project. Your stakeholders should also take part in the testing phase – not only is this valuable feedback for revisions
How can you deal with any problems that come up along the way?
The planning stage of this project is crucial, so it’s important to pay attention to the requirements of your client. Prepare properly by setting up milestones and getting an understanding of what they want before beginning to build anything.
While you might not be able to reduce all problems during a design project, it’s always worth thinking about how you can anticipate any issues that are likely to arise. The more you plan at the beginning, the better your final product will be.
It’s also important to let people know what they can expect from this project before it starts. Prepare updates every so often so everyone knows how things are progressing and has a clear idea of when it is expected to finish.
How to deal with problems that arise?
Typically, the best way to deal with problems is to get them out in the open. It might take some time and effort but it’s worth putting things right instead of ignoring any issues. If you’re not able to fix it yourself, present your findings to the client so they can decide if there are any additional changes they want. The earlier you notify your client of a problem, the more time you have to make sure everything is sorted.
Customer service is key in this kind of project and making sure everyone knows what’s going on, will reduce stress levels throughout the team. Prepare from the beginning and things should run much more smoothly for both parties when problems arise during the design project.
What should you do when the big, scary design project is finally completed?
Although it’s an exciting moment when you complete your design project, it’s essential that you don’t stop there. Continue to monitor your product and keep customers informed of any updates as they become available.
Prepare for future changes and carry out regular maintenance on your new website or app as required. Prepare for these problems before they happen and then you won’t experience too many surprises! Write something funny and bold
I’m not sure what I should do now that my big, scary design project is finished. Maybe I’ll just go on a walk or take a nap. Or maybe I’ll celebrate by eating an entire cake!
Just kidding. Prepare for future changes and update your product as necessary. Then you won’t experience too many surprises!