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3 Steps to Staying Sane Waiting for Design

Once you have agreed on a design concept, it’s time for your designer to sit down and plan the work. This entails thinking about what grids, master pages, style sheets, fonts, and image files are required to produce the finished file. If your designer can move from artistic design to engineered production within your schedule, that’s ideal, but it doesn’t always happen. In the meantime, the waiting process can be hard.

Here are a few ideas for helping you stay patient (and sane) as you are waiting for final design.

1. Expect the unexpected.

Plans are perfect only until the work begins. Designers will inevitably miss something. That is not only okay, it is expected. Don’t get upset when it happens.

2. Pad your timeline.

The unforeseen will always occur. Make sure to pad your timeline to account for it. Once you create a timeline for the project, pad it by 1.5 to 3 times. When the project is finished, do a post mortem and assess how close your estimates were. If necessary, add a larger fudge factor next time.

3. Communicate often.

Regularly ask the designer questions like, “How is the work going? Do you need anything?” This will keep you appraised of the situation and let your designer know that you care about the challenges he or she is experiencing. (Ask—don’t pester!)

Remember that you aren’t the only one waiting. Other stakeholders can get anxious, too. That creates pressure on everyone. Send e-mails to different stakeholders in the company (marketing, product development, executive team) updating them on your progress. Keeping people in the loop tends to ease pressure, even if the schedule is running behind.

Next time the files go to design, don’t fret about how long the process will take. Expect delays, pad the timeline, and communicate with all of the stakeholders regularly. You might be surprised how much more smoother the process seems, even if nothing actually changes in the world of design!