The short answer to this question is NO, they certainly shouldn’t! For a web or graphic designer there are always going to be deadlines. They are a part of any brief; a client always has a timescale in mind. The question is whether the client’s idea of a realistic timescale matches the designers and their workload. No good designer will take on a job where the quality of the design would be compromised just to meet an unrealistic deadline. It is just not worth his/her reputation.
A good designer will, however, be able to meet a tight deadline with effective management of the project. To manage a design project a designer needs to be aware of the following:
1. How long it will take to do each particular part of the design and how that will fit in with the internal scheduling of all the design projects that are current.
2. How long will any outsourced parts of the design take? For example a print job will be heavily reliant on the printer’s schedule so this will need to be checked and factored in.
3. How much of the project will rely on the client? – for example if the client is required to supply copy for the website design, they will need to be made aware of when it is needed and the consequence of that deadline being missed.
4. If the design project is for a larger company that will require multiple sign offs for approval it is probably worth allowing a little more time for this in the schedule.
5. For very large projects where there are many parts or stages to the design it is always worth allowing extra time for the inevitable changes or additions. These will often happen as the project moves forward however meticulously it has been planned out.
A very effective way to ensure that the project is managed properly is for the designer to agree a timeline with the client before work begins; this can be done as part of the contract. The timeline should include:
1. Production deadlines
2. Approval deadlines
3. Deadlines for the supply of content including copy and images from the client.
4. Testing deadlines
5. Launch/delivery dates.
Be sure that the client is aware of the importance of the timeline and how each milestone deadline that is not met will affect the overall project.
If the project management and the timeline are executed properly there will be little reason for a project to run over time. It is very important, however, that the communication between the designer and the client is good. It means that any hiccups or delays can be resolved straight away; everyone is in the loop.
Respect the deadline
If the timescale is very tight and the designer has any doubts that the deadline would not be met then he should not attempt to take the job on. Sometimes in this situation the client has an unrealistic idea of how long a project will take and if they have not left themselves enough time to complete it then the designer would be wise to steer well clear and keep his reputation intact.
It is always possible to ask if a deadline can be moved before a project starts. But the designer will loose the respect of the client if he suddenly asks for an extension halfway through the project. Deadlines must be respected at all costs and should never jeopardise the quality of the design work or the reputation of the client.