Increase your productivity and avoid death by revisions


As designers we understand that a design can never be perfect, so it comes as no surprise to us when revisions are requested. Revisions themselves often come with the best intentions. However, if you don’t have a process in place to handle revisions you could eventually find yourself wanting to crawl into a hole to avoid speaking to your clients. Below I outline steps you can take to keep revisions, and your sanity, under control.


Limit revisions in your contract

Limiting revisions you’re willing to do on a design (whether the limitation is on number of revisions or hours of revisions) establishes your credibility and shows confidence in your abilities. Client’s hire you for your expertise, so they should respect your ability to create designs that accomplish their intended goals.

Side note: If a client is constantly changing their minds, second guessing you, and nitpicking your designs, it’s time to let go of that client.


Take emotion out of the equation

Every design you create needs to work towards accomplishing a goal you and your client both agreed upon. Having a goal not only helps you while you design, it is critical for managing revisions. Anytime a revision is requested you need to ask the client (and yourself) if the requested revision will improve the design’s ability to accomplish it’s intended goal. By focusing on the design’s goal you’re able to take emotion out of the equation, and establish yourself as the design professional in the client/designer relationship.


Charge extra for revisions

Revisions are impossible to predict. You can budget time in your schedule to handle them, but they’re still an unknown entity until the revision request has been made. Because of this, I classify them as a distraction and a killer of my productivity. And when something kills my productivity I make sure to charge extra for it. This ensures I’m still able to generate enough money to make up for my lack of productivity. In addition, high prices on revisions will force clients to prioritize and ensure the revisions they’re requesting help the design accomplish it’s intended goal.

Side note: If you’re having a hard time staying productive, the Staying Focused in a Noisy World article will provide you actionable tips to help increase your productivity.


Set a deadline

Since revisions are unpredictable it’s important to set deadlines on when revisions can be requested and your turn around time. Establishing these deadlines in your contract will ensure you’re in control of your schedule. You don’t want a client to come to you 6 months later with a week’s worth of revisions while you’re deep into a large project. For my contracts I tend to offer revisions for two weeks after the project ends, with a turnaround time of 72 hours.


Lump revisions together

The scope of revisions can fluctuate wildly with some taking mere minutes while others could take hours. Often times revisions are “quick” tweaks and require less than 15 minutes to complete. While it’s great when revisions are quick, they can destroy your productivity if your client keeps requesting them one right after another. To avoid this, ask your client to create a prioritized list of revisions. Once they’ve created this list you can set aside a chunk of time to complete all the revisions in one sitting.