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July 8, 2019

Common Pitfalls in Web Design Projects and How to Avoid Them

Author: Valerie Baker

Atilus began as a web design shop in 2005. We’ve been in business nearly 14 years and during that time, I’d say that we’ve seen many different scenarios arise during web design projects.

I’ve personally been with Atilus for just over 7 years. During my time here, I’ve had my hands in pretty much everything – including managing clients and their website projects. During this time, I’ve learned quite a bit about what to expect during the web design process: common issues, time-suckers, and other things that arise that can derail a project.

I find that while each website project is different, I also see a lot of commonalities in the issues that they could face. As an agency, we do our best to be proactive and steer clear of any issues so we can preserve our clients’ time and budgets.

Here, I’ve compiled the top 4 common pitfalls we’ve seen in web design projects over the years and how to avoid those pitfalls. Doing so will help ensure that your website production is smooth and at budget.

Pitfall #1: Putting the Wrong People in Charge

I wrote a blog post a while back called the “The 3 People Who Should Run Your Website Project.” Many clients think that we’re the vendor, they pay us to do the work, so all the responsibility is our own.

However, when you’re beginning a web design project, it’s important to know that it is a collaborative effort. We take our knowledge of the web, best practices, and your preferences to create a website that will help you achieve your goals. To get to that point, we need to have a point-of-contact that will be engaged, communicative, organized, and understand the broader goals of the project.

We’ve run into a couple of scenarios where this didn’t play out so well. One previous client was running the project without seeking feedback or approvals from anyone else on her team. Unbeknownst to us, we received approvals on items and got to the final stage. Once the CEO saw what we created, she hated it and we had to start over.

Putting the wrong person or people in charge can be extremely detrimental to the project’s budget and timeline – and we’ve seen it. The more time we need to use in order to communicate because the person in charge is not doing what they’re supposed to do, the less time we can use to create a beautiful website.

Pitfall #2: Not Paying Attention to the Budget

Budget is always the trickiest subject to deal with when it comes to a project. We structure our projects based on a set number of hours we think it will take. We come up with our estimates based on historical data from previous websites. We estimate we have x hours for design, x for development, etc.

As we move throughout our web design project, we give updates on where we are with budget. If we find that the design phase is already eating into development time, we’ll voice that concern and try to be mindful of those hours.

Upon knowing this information, some clients have requested that we keep updating the design and hope that we’ll have enough for the rest. Often, it does become an issue and clients end up getting dangerously close to their budget or exceeding it.

I would recommend that if your web designer is bringing up budget in the design phase of the project, you should hear those concerns and make any necessary adjustments to preserve the budget for the remainder of the project.

Pitfall #3: Taking Too Long to Give Feedback

Many website projects work based on approvals. Once we begin a new project, we typically start with a sitemap/wireframe. Once approved, we move onto design (etc.).

We’re ready to hit the ground running during website builds and it is typically the client that holds up our timeline. I would highly recommend that if you are beginning a website project, you should make sure you’ll have the time necessary to give your web design company feedback on the items they’re producing.

On the flip side, it’s important to really review the drafts you’re given and make sure it’s what you want. If clients are too swift to approve a design, it’s typically a red flag that they didn’t really review it and will probably changes down the road.

When you’re reviewing any work from your web design company, make sure your review is thoughtful and specific.

Pitfall #4: Assuming a Website Template is the Right Method

To keep budgets low, we’ll sometimes recommend using a template instead. Website templates are great for this and help us put out a product quickly. However, many clients opt for a template for the wrong reasons and don’t consider the long-term ramifications.

While templates can help bring down the budget, it may not be the case in the long run. A perfect example of this is a client who sold items online and opted for a template because of the cost. We encouraged that they go with a custom website because future enhancements would likely be limited by the template, but they insisted. So, we moved forward with that.

At the end of it all, the project overages ended up being what a custom website would’ve cost. Again, templates are a great solution if a client understands its limitations and is okay with them, but otherwise, it often proves to be less expensive in the long run to go for custom.


This blog post isn’t meant to say that every website project is doomed from the beginning, but if you’re aware of the common pitfalls, you can work with your web company to avoid them.

All we want for our clients is a successful product that produces amazing results. And by working together to fix issues quickly, we can do just that.

If you’re interested in learning more about our web design services, click here or call (239) 362-1271.

Valerie Baker

Valerie is the Senior Account Manager & Project Manager here at Atilus.

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