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How Long the Project Will Take

When it comes to setting deadlines for completion of a project, clients tend to want their projects "done yesterday." A typical question you will get is, "How fast can you get this done?" You should know how long it takes you to do something and how much time you have to devote to a particular project given your current work load, but remember, you can't complete anything until the client gives you everything you need. So if you say, "I should be able to have the website designed in four weeks," the client could dilly dally around for three weeks before he gives you everything you need and still expect the project to be completed by the end of the fourth week. To avoid this type of problem, always tie the deadline for a project to the client's performance. For example, if you are contracted to design a website, you could say, "I can have three design concepts ready for you within the next two weeks. After you approve a design, I can have the basic pages with generic text and photos completed in one week. After you give me the actual text and photographs, it will take another week to add the content to each page."

If the client quickly adds the time in his head and says, "So it will take about four weeks," you need to counter with some real-life examples. You would say, "Well after I present you with the three design concepts, it typically takes clients about a week to determine the design they want. You might like the color and background of Design #1, but prefer the menu structure of Design #2. Then I have to combine the two designs for you to look at again. So that process would add at least another week to the project timeline. Then there's the issue of supplying the text and photographs for the individual pages. Do you think you'll be able to have it all ready in the next three to four weeks? I know it seems like plenty of time, but this is usually the thing that slows a project down. Clients get busy running their businesses and don't have the time they think they will to devote to this part of the project. The total time the project will take really depends on you."

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