posted on:March 7, 2008

Fast Faster


Speed equals distance over time, getting from point A to point B in a certain time. The shorter the time, the faster you are. In our business it means how many working hours do you need to finish a certain project. Since we all calculate our pricing on the time spent per project, how fast you do your work is of a great significance.

fast runner

I am often asked “How fast can you design a home page layout?” or “How much does it take for you to code one page?”.
Since I am a road runner I will use road running analogy. When running a distance on the road you will rarely meet ideal conditions: no wind, flat course, ideal temperature. Every course has it’s own difficulties. When someone asks you “How fast can you convert my page to css?” you can’t say for sure. The project can turn out to be be 10k of uphill running on a hot day or a short down hill stroll. It can even be 15k when you planned to run only 10k. Further more, not every day you’re in top shape and feel like running to the Moon and back. That factor is especially important when designing. If you’re not inspired you can loose extra hours or days over a design.

So, how do you answer that question? If you have done many projects surely you have an idea of what can be categorized as simple, moderate or complex project. Analyze how many hours you spent on most recent ones and you will have some sort of average score. In my estimates I always point out that I am talking about “moderate” projects. That gives me a little breathing space if things gets complicated.
If you don’t have enough experience then it’s better to say more than less. Giving a short estimate can cause troubles as the delivery date approaches and you still haven’t figured out why that darn thing is not working in IE.

How to become faster

The best possible tip for becoming faster is – REUSE. If you’re a designer, surely you have had good (or moderate 🙂 ) designs rejected. Put them aside, they will come in handy sooner or later. A modification here and there can make your design fresh and reusable.
Coders can prepare a set of blank templates that can be used as a start of any project. I have a group of files, basic css file and simple html structure, that I copy/paste to every project that I start. I also have an arsenal of pre-coded elements like various navigations, forms, lists. Big time saver.

Other important thing, especially when designing, is – listen to your client. An hour spent on reading and understanding the client’s specification can save many hours of tweaking and modifying. After all, you will cross the finish line once your client approves your work and pays for it. Respect his wishes and guidelines and you’ll shorten the process.

Just like in running, practice will make you faster. The more projects you do, the more skilled you’ll become. You will learn new tricks as you go and spent a lot less time in solving problems.

How fast are you

I wanted to share my numbers and I would love to hear yours. We could all use this thread as a reference, something to show our clients when they ask for impossible deadlines.

Here are my numbers, as precise as I can get 🙂 :
Home page design – medium complexity: 2 working days
1 page converted to css/xhtml – medium complexity: 1 working day

What are your numbers?

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Comments (14 Comments)

  1. niksy
    March 7, 2008

    Well, most of the time it's the IE problems that needs to be solved. But when you get to "know" the bug and find a (preferably) simple solution, the job gets much easier. Also, when coding, I like to set my CSS definitions to zero values using reset stylesheet, it makes life much easier. Sometimes, these reset stylesheets remove need for using IE hacks (but that's very rare, actually :))
  2. Liam
    March 7, 2008

    A design in about 2 days (like yourself). But I'm still finding my feet with CSS so maybe 2/3 days. - But ideally I'd like to spend a few extra days on each if time allows.
  3. Ash
    March 7, 2008

    It would normally only take a day tops to build a home /master template, but thats before you factor in IE in its various flavors, that normally adds half to a full day again. I love Microsoft so much. Ash
  4. Ray
    March 7, 2008

    Always wondered how long it takes others to code. Designing takes me a bit longer. Strange approach I know but I start out in photoshop developing the general look and graphics, and then when it comes to typography and grids I actually make the refinements in the CSS so probably up to 3 solid days for an average design. I've found my CSS getting faster and faster, or as niksy said, getting to know what will break in IE and avoiding triggering its bugs in your subconscious. Anywhere from 3 hours for a basic page, through to 3 days for a real complex layout.
  5. Fredrik W
    March 7, 2008

    Depends entirely on the project. You can mock up a site in a matter of hours, but if the client wants quality and thought through features they need to spend more.
  6. alupa
    March 8, 2008

    Design Side: 8 hours for main page layouts, graphic choices, functionality descriptions, information architecture is pretty standard for me.
  7. Steph
    March 9, 2008

    Good article, I'm starting to actually clock my time these days, things are getting a lot quicker for me! Coding: simple/moderate: a day, unless IE decides to be a jerk :) Complex: Pretty much what others said, up to 3 days. I really have yet to clock myself on the design yet. Those numbers really all over the place lol..
  8. Mohiuddin Parekh
    March 10, 2008

    I think its good to follow the right approach when it comes to code (html/css) rather than become fast and go for shortcuts, I normally takes 16 hours for Home page layout 8 Hours for 1 page css/xhtml conversion and if its a dotnetnuke skin it takes around 8 Hours.
  9. go
    March 12, 2008

    I usually spend between 8 and 16 hours for concept in ps (includes homepage, company profile and products overview) Then 4 hours for one page in xhtml/css. This is usually for a medium complexity project. The business is all here, if I run out of hours I'm overtime.. wow I just realize it seems like a videogame!!
  10. Dallas Web Designer
    March 13, 2008

    One thing that always seem to make things go a faster for me is test as often as I can. Yes it might slow down the overall design time but it will help you locate the problem easier, which could help you safe a time in the long run.
  11. Web Design Liverpool
    March 14, 2008

    Good point Dallas. What's all the rush anyway? I happen to enjoy taking my time, doing things right first time round is better practice than re-tracing your steps to fix mistakes that where created "competing against the clock".
  12. NJ Web Designer
    May 7, 2008

    I usually end up looking at 10-15 hours design time for a moderate project, and 5-ish on CSS. That's very roughly speaking, and largely dependent on how much copy I am given and how much I have to write. It takes longer when I don't know how much page content I will have before I start mocking up. Though I have to say that the end of the designing and the beginning of the coding overlap one another.
  13. Alexey Abramov
    June 14, 2008

    Good article, I'm starting to actually clock my time these days, things are getting a lot quicker for me! Designing takes me a bit longer. Thanks!
  14. Firebubble Design
    July 27, 2008

    A design never takes the same amount of time for, it can be anything from 2 hours to 2 days to get looking great. CSS and xhtml usually takes around 3-4 hours a page.

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