How long does it take you to do web design comps?
October 27, 2007 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Designers: How much time does it take you to do website comps?

I started a new a couple weeks ago, and I'm running into problems with my employer asking for website design comps in a shorter period of time than I believe it should take. I'm starting to doubt my own abilities. Well, I'm not, but its hard as a new employee when they're trying to tell you how it is. My previous experience hasn't been in this rigid of an environment, which isn't helping any.

My last job we didn't have anything that could be considered project management, and as long as you showed you were doing the work, timeliness were flexible. When I freelance, I am in 100% control of what I estimate. Which is partially why this feels so off, as my estimates and my bosses don't seem to jive.

Before I push back, I'd like to hear from other designers (low and high) how much time it takes you to do your comps. Initial comps, entire site comps, etc . . .
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sure you can already predict some of the qualifiers that will be coming: i.e. how well defined is the target audience for the site, how much direction have you been given, etc. Is it a redesign? Coming from scratch? etc.

So the best I can give you is I usually would create a comp for the home page and then one for an inner page. Assuming a basic understanding of the target audience, etc. I would say an initial comp with those two pages takes an average of two to three days, but there are so many variables, it makes this a hard question to answer . . .
posted by jeremias at 10:35 AM on October 27, 2007

I second what jeremias said. I would also say that the revisions often take more time than the initial design comp. People are often bad at knowing what they want, but great at knowing what they don't want, so you'll often get much better communication after showing them something, whether they like it or not. If you're lucky enough to be working for a great communicator, you'll probably be able to get a homepage comp done in a day.
posted by CrunchyGods at 10:49 AM on October 27, 2007

It sounds like you're asking the wrong question. You're focusing on small detail (how long should this take) vs the real issue: You boss wants something faster than you think you can produce. So it really does matter how long it takes someone else to a web comp, what matters is that you and your boss have conflicting ideas on how long things should take.

So, have you communicated to your boss that the timeframe seems unreasonable? and before you do that, can you articulate exactly what about the timeframe is unreasonable from a business standpoint? Saying "I feel I should have more time on this on order to make it like right" probably doesn't mean anything to your boss except that you're a prima donna artiste and hence one more problem he has to deal with. If you need more time, you need to demostrate how getting it will increase sales i.e. allow more profit.

Also note whatever your timeframe you're given, it is totally and completely possible to do a mockup. Seriously, it's entirely possible. Will it look as good as something you have a month to work on? Of course not, but it'll be done. Maybe that's all your boss is looking for.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:00 AM on October 27, 2007

Agreed, it's impossible to answer. It's like saying "How long does it take you to create a website?" More detail is needed, or a different question is in order.
posted by The Deej at 11:25 AM on October 27, 2007

At the agency I work for, designers are typically given 2-3 hours per comp for the initial design, then 1-2 hours for each comp in revision rounds. Final touch-up rounds for approvals generally recieve .50 hours per comp. To qualify, these are web site comps for large and sometimes complex e-commerce applications. Our designers work from wireframes and finalized UI specs, for each project.

20 Design Comps R1 = 40-60 hours
20 Design Comps R2 = 20-30 hours
20 Design Comps Final = 10 hours

The only instances where we ask designers to turn things around faster than that are for projects that come with an existing styleguide and branding standards. For a redesign with established parameters, styleguides, branding standards, wireframes and specs, we'd probably give 1 hour per comp, less or more depending on the complexity of the set.

Also, at our company the designers are the ones who craft these hours estimates. There really aren't situations where they're asked to complete work within arbitrary or management-recommended timeframes. The only situation where a designer is asked to complete work against an estimate that they did not create is if designer A asks for X hours, but is then unavailable so the work shifts to designer B who uses designer A's estimate when doing the work.

Good luck!
posted by cior at 12:07 PM on October 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

BTW, seems like a pretty straightforward question to me -- I simply opened up a few of our recent bids, looked at a project plan for a current engagement and ran a report on the hours spent comping on a project we recently completed.

Sure, there were a lot of qualifiers to the numbers I gave, but the OP has a question that can be answered by folks in the industry. I'm curious to see more answers from other folks who work at agencies.

So remember, just because you don't have an answer doesn't mean that the question can't be answered by someone more qualified.
posted by cior at 12:12 PM on October 27, 2007

So remember, just because you don't have an answer doesn't mean that the question can't be answered by someone more qualified.

I dunno.. This sounds more like a project management question than anything industry specific.
Despite all the jargon.

The asker is probably putting more effort into certain aspects of the work than the boss wants. The asker should communicate with the boss about how to streamline the process (i.e. cut corners in mutually agreeable areas. Or, boss dictated areas, if it comes down to that).
posted by Chuckles at 12:52 PM on October 27, 2007

OK, I overstated that.. It is both a project management question AND an industry specific question. Still..
posted by Chuckles at 12:55 PM on October 27, 2007

How long is a piece of string?
posted by Jairus at 5:32 PM on October 27, 2007

Late to the game as usual. (My askme rss feed seems to have died.)

Once I get started, one comp is finished in less than a day. In my little world of freelance web developers/designers, the design for a home page is worth $300-$500, so you don't want to spend more time than is worth that amount of dough.

(That figure has nothing to do with the price of the site development, so let's not focus on it too much, eh?)

However, the first web design company I worked for hired this guy who could produce 3 comps in a day. Pretty good comps. That is the standard to which I have always compared myself, and have since deemed myself a not-great designer. (It's not my main function in my business.) But I haven't worked closely enough with any designers since then to know how fast or slow they design. I do know that if I ask a designer for a comp I won't get it in under a few days, but that's because the designer has a dozen other clients, not because it's going to actually take a week.

And I'm just talking about a comp; the look and feel. I'm not talking about spending ages designing the site architecture or nitty grittying over page names or anything more than greek copy. This time does not include meetings, brainstorming, strategy, or any kind of discovery time. You can spend weeks on that stuff.

I'd be interested in hearing what your boss is expecting, if you're interested in mefi/e-mailing me. :)
posted by iguanapolitico at 4:12 PM on October 28, 2007

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