How long should it take to complete a design?Some of the greatest works of all time were "unfinished". – Arts Heaven

As a graphic designer or artist in any medium, time is of the essence. When you take on a client’s visual project, you should know roughly how long it will take to duly complete it. Of course, we don’t live in a vacuum, and there will always be factors that holdup project timelines. It’s still helpful, though, to budget your time in a way that you and your client know what to expect.

Did you know, some of the greatest works of all time were ‘unfinished’? (See here). As graphic designers providing a service though, it’s important to find a balance between quantity and quality. By the end of this article, you will know how long it should take to complete different assets to improve your time management and efficiency.

Why should you budget your design time?

Open-ended systems are productivity killers. Meaning, any part of your workflow that isn’t a means to an end, will have you going in circles. This is especially true for budgeting your design time.

Tip: Break your workflow into completable parts. Once you complete a design phase, don’t return to it! Keep pushing forward. (Unless you made a critical design error early on that must be fixed.) Otherwise, you risk going in circles by scrapping your progress thus far. 

For those familiar, Spongebob made a critical error in his workflow here. He did not break his project up into smaller, accomplishable goals on a timeline. He attempted to start from the top, with no clear goal other than to “finish the assignment” and ended up overworking his intro, hilariously.

Spongebob spends hours writing the word "The"

How long should a graphic design project take?

As a general rule of thumb, 

  • Most single digital collaterals take from 1 to 6 days to complete
  • Most print collaterals take from 6 to 12 days to complete

Note, however, that these timeframes don’t account for your individual workload, the “creative development or ideation phase”, and delays in supply chains and paper shortages like we’re seeing today. Simply use this as a guideline, or benchmark, and reshape it for your specific medium, workload, and pace.

 

Graphic Design Project Timelines by 1-Stop Design Shop

How long should digital work take? General turnaround times for informational purposes only.How long should digital work take? General turnaround times for informational purposes only. How long should rushed digital work take? General turnaround times for informational purposes only.How long should rushed digital work take? General turnaround times for informational purposes only.

Rush Jobs

As a graphic designer, be prepared for rush jobs. Clients coming to you from outside the design world may think design turnaround times are shorter than they actually are.

Other reasons for putting a rush on jobs could be the client’s need for last-minute creatives, special events, or simply waiting until the last minute. Have a system in place to quantify rush jobs, so you can balance your existing workload while going above and beyond for a client in dire need. A good place to start would be to cut the above timelines in half or three-quarters. You may want to add a rush job fee, because at the end of the day, it may take away from design time that was already contracted to other clients who gave you enough time to deliver.

Q: Can you put a rush on my job? A: Call us ASAP (781) 938-3866.

Rush Jobs at 1-Stop Design Shop

Q: Help! I have an emergency! Can you put a rush on my job?

A: We will always do our best to accommodate your deadlines. If the product they want does not work within your timeline, we have a number of compatible solutions that will. 

Call us as soon as an emergency happens and we will work with you!

You can find our contact information (here.)

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