October 9, 2007
Unfortunately once you’ve finished designing your piece, the work is not over. There are several additional pieces to consider when you’re working out your timeline:
Time for other vendors’ work
Writing, proofreading and photography have to happen before the design portion of a project can begin. Get timeline estimates from all vendors and make sure that everyone involved in the process knows when their deadline is. For example, if you have a writer working on copy for a one-page sales website you’ll need that copy at least a couple of weeks before the site is launched. This lets the designer use that copy to design and code the site. Once the design is complete allow enough time for printing. You’ll also need time for web coding, backend development, hosting setup and domain name propagation. Printing is an often-overlooked time component and it can take quite some time to do properly! For most projects I’d suggest allowing a minimum of one week to print the project. Two weeks will prevent the printer from rushing and will give all the final pieces plenty of time to dry as well. And remember that if your printer isn’t local you’ll have to allow enough time for shipping your printed materials as well!
Time to distribute
Once a website is launched or a printed piece comes off the press, the process isn’t over!
If you’re producing a website, and not planning to market in any other way, be sure that you allow enough time to get noticed by the Search Engines. This can take several weeks or even months. If you can afford to market with both a website and some other method, you’ll have a much more effective marketing campaign in a short time frame. Some ideas for this include promoting the website in your email newsletter, in your partners’ email newsletters, hanging or mailing flyers, doing a postcard mailing, or distributing an article online.
It also takes a bit of time to get printed materials out into the world. Allow a couple of days to address, stamp and send any mailed pieces. You’ll save money if you allow enough time to send your materials bulk rate – but that often results in your pieces taking longer to deliver. If you’re distributing flyers or putting an ad in a magazine, find out about the vendor’s lead times for these activities as well.
Time for your target market to react
This is especially important if you’re producing marketing materials or a website to promote a class or an event. You need to make sure that all the designed materials are available to your clients early. Do it far enough in advance for them to consider your offer, budget for it, find out more about your company or your offering and then make their purchasing decision. A good rule of thumb is the more expensive your class or event is, the more time your target market will need to consider and justify it. It’s also good to get things out early enough for people to plan their schedules around it. If your target is solo entrepreneurs it might be hard for them to clear their schedule for a full day if given 1 week notice – even if they’d really like to come. But if you give them 3 weeks notice it might be easier to schedule. If your event requires people to travel you should certainly give more advance notice so that they can book a flight at a reasonable price and find a hotel room.
With all of these considerations, it might seem that you need to start planning your design project many months in advance of your event. But the truth is that a lot of these steps can be done quickly. It still is advisable to allow as much time as possible to address each step thoroughly and without rushing the project. If you follow this method your finished design will usually be better and more effective.
Author: Erin Ferree is a brand identity and marketing design strategist who creates big visibility for small businesses. Through her customized marketing and brand identity packages, Erin helps her clients design effective websites that help them extend their brands, bring in new clients and make sales. http://www.elf-design.com