How To Get Design Projects To Finish On Time

client delaying a graphic or web design project

You may think that this article is about completing a project within a client’s deadline. But it’s not. This is about how to make sure clients don’t stall their own project.

How can this be? The client wants everything to be done as soon as possible, surely? Well, no. Not if they haven’t fully thought out what they want. And this, unfortunately for the designer, is something that can happen.

You might agree on a deadline for completion and get the clients to pay 50% of the price. But some clients then drag their heels, taking forever to come back with text or images so the project is held back leaving the designer waiting to finish up and get paid.

Present a clear list of deliverables to the client before starting

One solution is to actually refuse to start on a project before the client deliverables have been submitted. This obliges the client to come up with page structure, About Us page text, images, etc., first before you do one second of work for them.

This has the added benefit of forcing the client to think through their project. It can mean that the inevitable “I’ve changed my mind” moments occur before the work has started not after.

Client confusion and frustration at an earlier stage is better than at a later stage when it will seem more intractable and complicated.

Get the client to enter the text

I love WordPress and I always enjoy teaching clients how to edit the website themselves. A small number of unscrupulous website designers may charge clients for any small text change but that is not the way I do things.

A modern day web designer is an educator. They have to teach the client about the world of web. You have to explain to the client how to publish and edit on WordPress and then make sure that they understand.

Above is a video of me explaining to a client how to create subheadings in WordPress.

WordPress may seem pretty easy to us but to some people with limited experience, it can be forgotten very quickly after being learned. Ensure that the client understands when you explain the WordPress basics and then again a few weeks later to be absolutely sure.

Identify a nightmare client before even starting the project

Clients that prolong and drag their heals through a project are not the sort of clients we want. So we can do our best to identify them before the business relationship commences. There are several “red flags” to look out for during your first interactions with a client.

There are several questions you can ask about the client’s project. If any of them are met with vagueness this is a bad sign. For example:

  • What’s your target market?
  • What’s the purpose of the website (or project)?
  • Who are your competitors?

There are more questions to ask here: 8 Questions To Ask Before The First Website Design. I don’t follow this advice so stringently when the client is

You can do it

You can executive effective design projects with perfect client-designer communication from the beginning. Ask the right questions, specify exactly what you need the client to do and teach them to how to get the best from your creation.

Did this help you? If so, please share!

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  1. Chandan says

    The biggest problem I am facing right now is they can telling me I upload the whole website content say for example if they have 15 – 25 page they need to upload this pages content from me this is very boring job and they have to delay for content and images. I am developer not a data entry operator this job is very boring I am asking client that I can setup the pages and some demo content for 6 – 7 pages and telling him I can tech you how you can change content from yourself and provide documentation for how they can do yourself. But thing is that they cannot understand

    see what client reply after I am asking extra payment for 25 pages content upload job.

    “I’m not in a position to do that Are you a web designer or a what? Tell me, I want to know. And if you are, Tell your potential clients what you are able to do and at what price point. That way the person knows what to expert from the get go. And don’t come back and try to get more payment after you have quoted a price”

    I am agree with the quote that I mention previous and doing the boring job because if I can not do they leave very bad feedback on my profile in freelance bidding website and I can not get project if my profile is weak. This freelancing website are full supported for Buyer not they support Seller.

    So Rob please suggest me how can I handle this situation because I am developer not a content uploder how can I convey this to my client before start the project?

    • says

      Hello Chandan. Firstly, I never would suggest to anyone to work for bidding sites. Bidding sites, as you correctly say, support the buyers not the sellers. You should get your own website and start blogging and try to get work from clients without going through bidding sites.

      Secondly, whether you work on your own or through a bidding site you should always be 100% sure what the job entails before you give a price for it. And, when you give the price, you should price for the worst case scenario.

      As you were unsure that you had to input this content, you could try to open a dispute resolution with the bidding site, if they allow this. But I have no experience in doing this with bidding sites so I can’t guarantee that that will work.

      But the lesson here is to be sure of what the client wants before you start, especially if it’s a new client and if the client is not a part of a larger organisation.

      Furthermore, if a client asks me to add content I say yes but use someone on a bidding site to do it and check the work afterwards.

      • says

        I always have everything agreed in a written proposal so I know what has to be done and, more importantly from my point of view, the client knows exactly what will be delivered.

        If the client comes back to me at a later date with additional work, that’s fine. An addendum is created spelling out the extra deliverables.

        My advice to everyone is, ‘Get it in writing!’

        Keep up the great work, Rob!



  2. says

    Hi Rob,

    It’s amazing how technology has changed “how we deal with clients” in today’s world. CMS is the famous platform…which we called WordPress. There are others but WP is the most worldwide people used. 15 years ago when I first got into this HTML web design, my client couldn’t change the text in their web, I would have to do that for them.

    Now, it’s different. And this is the beauty of being a great TEACHER like you are, Rob. Thank you for sharing me this conversation with Nura. Besides the live conversation via phone, Skype is sure a great tool for communicating with a client. They can see it too visually!

    …and I couldn’t agree more with you on procastination as far as client is concerned. Some just really drag their feet. And I think these are the wrong clients to deal with. I don’t really like waiting for nothing. Again, thank you for all the tips and hints. You always ROCK!!!


    • says

      Yes, I remember doing a static HTML site back in 2003-4, particularly painful.

      I’m glad you liked that video with Nura, Angela.

      Yes, procrastinating clients should be identified and avoided. (Nura wasn’t like that btw) You’ve got it – you rock too!


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