Constraints of a corporate web designer: Part 1 – Time is money

I have worked in both Agencies and corporate environments (ranging from PLCs to household names) and my personal preference surprising lies with the later. Though at times it is not as creative or indeed as technologically advanced in terms of delivering the latest trends to emerge with html 5 I personally enjoy working and developing a brand fully and evolving it over time. We more fully get to grips with our users due to constant reviews and focus groups carried out on our audience and so I feel my work within a corporate environment is able to be more tailored and deliver the best, if not necessarily the most mind-blowing, user journey and experiences.

I often worked in large organisations with a support network of back end developers, SEO and analytics specialists, front-end JavaScript magicians and marketing managers which allowed me to concentrate more fully on the front end code, the user experience and journeys and the overall design and visual branding. If all teams communicate and work together it can produce something so much more than I was able to achieve by myself in small agencies.

That aside I wanted to talk about some of my experiences where I have felt incredibly restricted in what I was able to do and so was unable to produce what I believed to be achievable. I am unsure what I could have done better, if there were avenues I didn’t explore that would have allowed for this and I hope to learn these answers in future experiences but for now I’d like to explain a little more about my challenges.

Every designer has to face time constraints and in most places it required me to weigh up how long I realistically thought it would take me to complete the project (whether it was logo design, wireframes or writing code). I based this on what I had learnt about my own capabilities as well as judging how difficult my particular client could be in terms of obtaining sign off for an accurate time scale. However, I found in some places this to be a luxury, when a time scale was sketched out this was straight away reviewed and my time allocated to the project reduced so deadlines could be made that would impress in terms of how quickly our team worked but were often only achievable if corners were cut.

This was something that I struggled with as I knew what we could achieve if we were allowed the time I had requested. What I wanted as a designer was not to spend weeks on working out fully what our new brand should look like, though this is something I would have liked, nor was it to have the most cutting edge technologies, such as parallax scrolling, it was merely to have the time needed to keep up with what users were coming to expect.

I dealt with this by adding something in to each new project which, once introduced, would remain in the scopes for future projects. Sadly some things couldn’t be added little by little and they required persuading the business to accept them in the brief. For example, when I started in one place catering for mobiles was so far off the radar that trying to integrate it in to our websites was extra time not deemed important enough. By the time it was considered a must have if it wasn’t for personal development of the technology I would have struggled to keep up with something most other web designers had been doing for months, if not years. I was never prepared to cut corners so often worked hard to achieve something I felt deliverable but was often lacking that extra something.

My way of dealing with this was through personal development, I would constantly update my own website with new technologies and trends I wanted to experiment or get to grips with so that I would be ready for when the time came for it to be introduced in to the workplace and this did help. I pushed for responsive designs to be introduced in work and when they were I was ready to easily implement them. Sadly, I wish I could have done the learning on the job but seeing how far things had advanced by the time I left these little steps made a big difference.

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