Web design business mistakes: Using the right web-based tools

John Reeve | June 23rd, 2009 | , ,

Part 5 in a 5 part series

Get online with easy-to-use, comprehensive project management software—and use it!

Whether it’s off-the-shelf project management software, an affordable hosted solution such as our software, Intervals, or your own internal system, every web design and development company (including freelancers) benefits greatly from good project management software. Not only does it help avoid going over budget on a particular project by giving you a running count of time and resources spent, it also helps you better budget for future projects by summarizing how time was spent on past projects. It also reduces paperwork, facilitates collaboration through group task management and document sharing, and makes billing easier. Make it a requirement, not just a suggestion, that your employees or freelancers use the system as part of their work process.

When shopping around for the best project management, time tracking and task management software, we recommend you look for the following:

  • Strong time tracking tools with useful reporting
  • Intuitive task creation, assignment and management
  • Unlimited user accounts—don’t pay higher fees for having a larger team
  • Analytical/productivity tools and reports that let you run the numbers on your project from a variety of angles
  • Financial tools in the form of financial reports and invoicing features.
  • An elegant and easy-to-use user interface—you’re a design firm; your project management software should reflect that
  • Client access—the ability to allow clients to view or access part or all of the system so they can track your process and progress. While it may be a bit unnerving at times to allow clients “in,” if you value accountability all your potential client arguments will be instantly supported by your numbers.

How Pelago learned this the hard way

We started work on a large contract that required hiring several subcontractors. We hammered away at the project for weeks, not tracking a single minute of it. When our subcontractors invoiced us at the first milestone we were shocked. It was twice the amount we had budgeted. Our profits from the project were reduced to nothing. Tracking our time would have alerted us to the project going over budget. Not all was lost. From this fiasco was born our search for a viable project, task and time tracking solution. We tried paper timesheets, Excel spreadsheets, open source projects, and a few online project management apps, before rolling our own web-based software. Intervals proved to be invaluable for tracking our time on any project, large or small, by accounting for all of our billable time and alerting us to overages before they happened. Now that we are more disciplined at time tracking and task management at Pelago, we have experienced far fewer mistakes and increased our billable hours and proficiency. If small businesses can learn from our mistakes, why not also learn from our solutions?

5 Responses to “Web design business mistakes: Using the right web-based tools”

  1. Almighty says:


    Good information regarding web design management.


  2. rocky says:

    this is a very nice post

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Intervals Blog

A collection of useful tips, tales and opinions based on decades of collective experience designing and developing web sites and web-based applications.

What is Intervals?

Intervals is online time, task and project management software built by and for web designers, developers and creatives.
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John Reeve
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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Jennifer Payne
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Jennifer Payne

Jennifer is the Director of Quality and Efficiency at Pelago. Her blog posts are based largely on her experience working with teams to improve harmony and productivity. Jennifer is a cat person.
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Michael Payne
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Michael Payne

Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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