Have you ever handed your project to a new design team, only to watch it go completely off the rails? If you’ve been through the stomach-churning rollercoaster ride of difficult design and development projects, you’re not alone. 

So why does this happen? We’re about to unravel the mystery and transform your next design journey with a playbook for success.

Understanding the Root Causes

Communication Breakdowns

Does it feel like you and your design team are speaking a different language? Communication breakdowns are an all too common cause of project failures because they directly lead to misaligned expectations. To prevent this, your design team should make sure regular feedback loops are established—right from the start. And business owners should ensure that expectations are clearly communicated (up front) so everyone is on the same page.

Lack of Detailed Planning

Imagine building a home without blueprints or a budget. Disastrous, right? Rushing into a design or development project without a solid plan is a lot like that. Without clearly defined project milestones, appropriate resources, and realistic timelines, it’s very easy for things to fall apart.

Unrealistic Timelines

Successful design and web development projects require time for creativity, iteration, and refinement. It’s kind of like a 5-star meal that you don’t want to rush—or run the risk of leaving out critical ingredients or someone getting food poisoning. (YUCK!) Establishing achievable, realistic timelines and managing expectations can prevent disappointment and ensure a more successful project outcome for everyone.

Expecting Perfection

Creative work is an iterative process, and expecting perfection from the outset isn’t ideal. Business owners should encourage a culture of feedback, allowing design partners the freedom to refine and improve their work throughout the project. Likewise, a great design partner will WANT and willingly accept that feedback. It has to be a partnership, not a one-way street.

Ensuring A Smooth Ride

Now that we’ve explored the common pitfalls, it’s time to reroute toward project success. These quick tips will give you the tools to navigate your next design or development project with confidence.

1. Establish Effective Communication Channels
    • Allocate time for regular check-ins and status updates with your design team
    • Be willing to learn and use new project management tools to streamline communication
    • Anticipate potential challenges and work with your team to come up with contingency plans as you go along
2. Define Clear Goals—IMMEDIATELY
    • Clearly articulate the specific purpose and goals of the project, up front
    • Collaborate with internal stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page
    • Share an example of a successful outcome, or what project success would look like for your business
    • Provide detailed briefs, assets, and brand guidelines to help your design team truly understand your business
3. Set Realistic Timelines and Expectations
    • Work closely with your design team to establish realistic (and achievable) project timelines
    • Prioritize quality over speed, understanding that rushed projects can lead to subpar outcomes
    • Keep internal team members in the loop to help manage expectations along the way
4. Embrace Iteration
    • Provide constructive feedback and encourage designers to refine their work
    • Allocate time for revisions to ensure the finished product shines
    • Be open and receptive to the expertise of your design team, leveraging their skills for great results

As you gear up for your next design or web development project, try to approach it as an exciting adventure rather than a daunting task. By steering away from common pitfalls, you can leave the Dramamine at home and ensure a much smoother ride.