One of the most important tasks of a visual designer is to estimate how long it’s going to take to complete a project. There’s definitely an art to it, and it’s something that took me a long time to get really good at while at my first job right out of college. Years of experience have taught me that things always take longer than estimated, so it’s one of the reasons why I include a decent amount of padding in my design proposals today. It might be shocking to the client at first (“it takes THAT long to create two simple icons?”), but it works out in the end because A). there are no surprises when it takes longer than the client had originally expected, and B). the client is happy if it takes less time than I estimated, which translates directly to reduced design costs.
Here are two sample visual design schedules that I created about 10 years ago for projects I was working on at the time. The one pictured at the top of this post is vector-based, which come to think of it, is actually quite surprising to me considering that I didn’t do much work in Adobe Illustrator back then. I remember it being the easiest way to create project timelines like this, as I could easily click and drag action items easily around the canvas exactly how I wanted.
You can download the source file here
Here is one that I created before the vector version (for a different project). This one is a Photoshop PSD file, and the frustration of making it was precisely why I did my next one (above) in Illustrator. Click on the image to download the layered PSD file.
Visual design project schedule in Photoshop PSD format
I don’t create my project timelines like this anymore, as there is much better software dedicated specifically for this sort of thing. But I still think these could be useful if your project is relatively simple and just need a quick and easy way of showing the time between each project milestone.