Nothing creates dread in the workplace like an Unreasonable deadlines, but when well managed they are rarely as impossible as they might seem..
Fast Design ≠ Great ProductShipping a quality product definitely needs time. A design must evolve through various stages before it can be put it up to the outside world to consume. Always have the mindset that your project is going to need some breathing time to settle, Do not rush up with only intention to complete it as soon as possible.
Understanding the Design ProcessUnderstanding the design process from start to finish is absolutely necessary. There are certain stages that has been defined through which each must pass to become a completed design. Putting it simple — ideation, research, the actual design, testing, repeat . Defining what you are going to do at a very early stage will help save you lot of time.
Speak UpOnce you’re done fixing you process or get a rough idea about it, you should now be able to calculate an approximate time each project is going to take. I’ve seen designers defining short deadlines, just to show off that they are better than others. Don’t do it. Time doesn’t define you. Only define a deadline when you are sure about completing the work. Demanding work is the client’s responsibility and defining the deadline is yours.
Learn to Say NoIf your PM/Client forces you to complete a work in a ridiculously short period of time — straight up refuse to take up the project. Design is not easy. Coming up with a better product is one thing, and so is your mental health. Stressful work is going to cause damage both to the product and yourself. Learn how to say no and say it. Good clients will always know that a good design is going to take time and wouldn’t demand more. If they do so, feel free to get yourself out from the project.
Get Early FeedbackGetting early feedbacks on your design will help you adjust your course and sail in the right direction. It also clears out the confusions and brings more clarity into the product you’re designing for. Make sure you always sync up regularly with your developers and know if the design you do is feasible, — are there development constraints, platform issues, etc. If your developer thinks it isn’t gonna work or it’s going to take a large amount of time, listen to them.
Copy the CompetitorsYes. They’ve already done it. And it works. Copy it. Improvise out of it. Always make sure you analyse, research and study all the available competitors before coming up with your own solution. There might be a very simple solution out there in open to take, and possibilities that you’ve been thinking about the problem in the wrong direction. There’s a designer at the other side of your competitor who went through all these process and came up with the optimal solution.
Get the FreebiesThere are plenty of resources available on the internet for free and commercial use. If you find something that fits into your product, get and use them. Try using free icons/illustrations inside your product. A hamburger icon is going to look the same if you make it or just reuse it from a free resource.
Use Native/Default ComponentsDo not reinvent the wheel. The user just need a dropdown menu. If it is available by default as a component, Use it. Do not design something that looks-like-a-dropdown-but-it-is-custom-made stuff and waste time. There are people working and putting in a lot of effort to come up with default components for web, mobile and other platforms. Use them, because it just works.
Submit Your Incomplete WorkDo not feel shy to submit your unfinished work. Only when you do, your client/PM will see how close you were to completion and how some additional time will help you come up with the best version of it. Accept that you’ve failed to complete the work within the deadline you defined and genuinely ask for the extra time you need. Remember why you started.
Always remember these are only helpful when you get your process right. It is your hard work + smart work combined that’ll bring out the best of yourself. And also keep in mind, coming up with A Good Design Is Always Going To Take Longer Time Than You Think.