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November 07, 2007



I've read what Andy had to say (several times). In my opinion, he's not making sense. Maybe he's not putting his points clear enough?

"No client ever caused a designer to miss a deadline."

"I know that some agencies make it a practice to regularly contact clients to request that one or more deadlines be pushed back, for one reason or another. There’s no two ways about it: this is exclusively the habit of badly run and irresponsible agencies. Clients of these companies (or individuals) should never put up with such shoddy practice, and should be busy finding better, more responsible agencies with which to spend their money."

"Always hit your deadlines."

"Clearly describe the importance of the project schedule. Make sure that the client understands that when they fail to meet their timeline obligations, the project will likely be damaged in several ways—and they (the client) will have to suffer specifically outlined consequences."

"in my contracts it clearly states that any delay or out-of-contact period of 5 days or more will mean that there may be a waiting period equal to that delay before we can work the project back into our schedule to resume work—with appropriate adjustments to the milestones, of course. This helps to motivate the client, protects us somewhat, and mitigates the damage to other deadlines)."

Can't have it both ways. Either you are missing the deadline due to the client not keeping up their end. Or you're not.

Or, the milestones go ahead, but lacking in some elements of the project agreement?

But if you are meant to launch a website at xxx date, then it's no good launching without promised copy and artwork wile still saying you've reached your milestones and deadlines. No way out of it. You've got to go back to the client and get that deadline extended. And yes, it's the clients fault for not keeping to their part of the agreement.


"When the crap hits the fan it may mean that long hours and extra effort are required in order to meet the deadline. If that’s what’s required, just do it. The alternative does not reflect well on you or your reputation."

In the early days, I went through years of reacting to crap because of deadlines ignored by clients.

(One client in Scotland is still promising to send copy for a project meant to go live six years ago. Gotta love 'em.)

But you know, designers have a life. Period. If the client cannot hold up their end of the contract, then the deadline will most likely slide by without being met.

Do I feel like a bad business person after reading Randy's views on the subject? Nah.

note: Randy is still one of my fav design writers. We are just not seeing 'chi ching' to 'chi ching' on this one.

Dan Ward

Hiya Lisa! Great post, and lots to think about.

I have a funny relationship with deadlines, in that I try to set them aggressively... and generally end up beating them. I think it's because I don't like to have things hanging over my head, plus I tend to work quickly (I'm a fast reader, writer, etc), and as a general rule, if I say I'll be done on Friday, I wrap it up by Wed night.

So, I find that having a deadline helps inject the creative tension I need to accomplish creative tasks... but I'm generally my own client.

I think you're right bad clients messing things up. Even if you communicate clearly, in writing, etc, it's funny how some people manage to misunderstand, etc and generally be what Shrek calls "the opposite of help."


A real thinker. Excellent article. The only thing I've seen with unreasonable deadlines is unreasonable work.

I can't tell you how many botched jobs, lost clients, angry CEOs I've seen because of this very thing. Not to mention good employees leaving failing companies because of the unrealistic deadline. I too, in part, lost my last career position because I refused to sign my name to a job where the amount of quality - due to deadline, was dictated to me by the employer not the client. The client's deadline was a couple of weeks; the employer's, a couple of hours. Not a pretty ending.

Excellent, thought-out article.

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