Ten Things Web Designers Can Learn From Failed Projects

Posted on October 25, 2012 by
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Experienced web designers have all of them; failed and unsuccessful projects. From design disasters to graphics busts, there could be something good come from failed projects you’d rather forget. Even major firms have had to deal with some design snafus. When starting recovery process, you should define what went wrong and make a solid resolution to not repeat them. Although you shouldn’t dwell on past mistakes too long, you could use them to improve yourself and your future projects. These are lessons you can learn from failed web design projects:

1. Accept credit and criticism
It is relatively easy to take credits for web design projects that turn out as planned, but it is really tough to deal with criticisms that come with failure. By handling these critical conversations properly, you can build a strong framework for your future projects. Accept criticism well and smile, the same way you’d handle credits. Ask for feedback when a project fails. You can improve your skill set by understanding what didn’t work.

2. Determine what went wrong
Over the course of a project, make a list of things that worked and didn’t work. This should allow you to pinpoint why and where things went wrong. Were parameters unclear or was the timeline too short? But you often need to move on when there’s no clear answer. Sometimes clients and web designers can’t get on the same page, because web design is very much a matter of taste. For example, while they don’t meet clients’ requirements at all, you might consider them as some of your best work.

3. Communication is key
Build relationships with everyone involved when starting each project. To allow all ideas understood and discussed among those working on the project, you should keep all communication channels open. Make sure clients have seen your previous projects and understand you. Often communication issues and lack of understanding are the reasons why projects don’t come together during each stage of a failing project, so review how information is transmitted. If details aren’t clearly stated, try to use any tool at your disposal, including text messages, email, direct discussions and others.

4. The client is always right
Clients usually allow very small room for your ego. Successful web designers always build something that’s wanted by others. Although you have the experience to know what looks best, it is impossible to be right all the times. Always concede to the clients’ wishes, but explain to them why something works.

5. Revise consistently
Rome isn’t built in a day, so is your design. Rarely does the first sketch look finished after the first try. Continue evaluating and working. Many times, well-planned projects end up falling apart completely due to poor revisions, missed deadlines and insensible time constraints. Offer clients with multiple alternatives for a specific design. Working up only a single design may put web designers in a like-it-or-leave-it situation. You have more opportunity to achieve success with several alternatives on the table.

6. Manage your time
Time management is a crucial skill to master for any professional. Although you can produce something clients like, it won’t be impressive if you spend three times the allocated schedule. Poor time management can also be disastrous for freelancers, because they earn based on time-to-fee ratio. Review how you use your time. Track your time allocation by logging how long it takes to finish something. You may find that you easily got distracted by other things or you regularly underestimate the time needed complete a web design project.

7. Manage deadlines
During later stages of the project, offer clients a preview of what the final design might be like. Allocate time for possible request for changes or revisions. If you do this properly, it is possible to finish early. By beating deadlines, web designers can avoid being caught off guard by unexpected developments. This allows you more leeway when retooling certain design elements such as fonts, colors, navigation bar and others.

8. Research more
A portion of your web design project isn’t really about design at all. Web designers should understand their projects fully before they draw the first sketch. They should grasp what clients are envisioning; also learn about clients, including their past web design projects. What were the font selections, color schemes and overall themes? Did the client make a major redesign? Understanding where your client has been with their current design can help you predict the direction of your future project.

9. Push the limits
After years in the same situation, people can get too comfortable with something. The same is true for web designers. If you have been in business for a few years, people can start to see some patterns in your work, like visual effect, color or look. Try something new and always push yourself. Pushing the limit can be appropriate for clients who seek redesign, because they tend to choose something more edgy. Don’t create something that is essentially replicas of previous projects; but you still need to maintain certain elements that distinguish your unique identity.

Although calculated risks often pay off in web design, they’re called “risks” for a reason. Understand the potential costs and benefits from the start. Note that pushing your clients too far can damage or break your relationships. Pushing each other’s limit can help nurture your relationship, but it should be a collaborative process. But if your client is unwilling to develop or change some parts of the design, you shouldn’t be too pushy.

10. Try again
Failures can happen no matter what you do. The reasons can be well understood, but other times completely unknown. Sometimes, your hard work gets thrown out the windows with little consideration. Your client may dislike your set of style sheets or color palette. If this happens, file rejected ideas for later uses, so you don’t need to start from the scratch the next time.

Conclusion
It is easy to get discouraged when a project doesn’t work out. Even for successful web designers, failures are a part of their career. You may have a string of uninterrupted success, but at some point you’ll encounter face dealing with a failed web design project. Try to take as many of lessons as possible from unsuccessful projects. Set aside enough time for internal evaluation and get enough feedback. Don’t dwell on mistakes or argue consistently. To do better the next time around, you should focus on things that are controllable.

Author :

  • Adam Scott