How to Avoid Burnout During Web Development Projects?

How to Avoid Burnout During Web Development Projects 01

It is common for website developers to start coding out of passion. However, once they find out that they’re good at it and that this profession has a huge scope to earn money, they start monetizing their skills. They either look for a full-time job in web development or freelance projects. 

Whichever road they choose, the journey is pretty difficult. Once you decide to monetize your web development skills, you need to handle a lot of things other than just coding. These may include getting projects, communicating with clients, sticking to deadlines, handling payments, dealing with frequent feedback, and whatnot! Hence, passion turns into an overwhelming experience for most developers. 

We interacted with some developers to learn their experience with web development projects. Turns out most of them overestimated their capacity and were exhausted as they had to work 60-70 hours a week. Some of them shared that, even though their incomes improved by 3X, they didn’t seem to care about what they were doing anymore. It was hard for them to work with multiple companies and prioritize tasks according to clients’ schedules. 

Developer burnout is a widespread phenomenon where web developers feel extreme mental and physical stress due to unlimited work pressure. This article will try to find out the causes and symptoms of this burnout and the tips to avoid it.  

So, let’s get started. 

What is Developer Burnout and what are the symptoms? 

The idea of “Burnout” is attached to work-related stress. Burnout can result from several job-related factors and can create an acute negative impact on your physical and mental health. It is basically a medical condition and anyone can face it at some point in their life. A survey by Deloitte has shown that 77 respondents out of 1000 full-time US professionals had experienced employee burnouts. 

If you’re a website developer and are facing any of the following symptoms, chances are that burnout has got the best of you: 

1. Coding is no longer a passion for you 

When your passion turns into pressure, it is hard to stay motivated. Suppose that you started out as a website developer simply because you enjoyed coding. But now with so much stress, you may become dispassionate toward coding. Coding can simply feel like a liability to you. 

2. You’re exhausted all the time 

You’re in a state of constant mental fatigue. You’re always drained and feel least energetic to complete pending tasks. All you want is some free time to relax. 

3. Your work performance is degrading 

Burnouts can become too exhausting for web developers. Hence, concentrating on work and maintaining a consistent work performance can seem too much at times. This in turn can affect your work productivity. 

4. You’re feeling isolated and anxious 

If you’re stressed with your job responsibilities, you’re very likely to isolate yourself from your peers. Also, as soon as you lose interest in your job, the feeling of anxiety will kick in. largely because you will still need to maintain the deadlines and handle client feedback. 

5. Your physical health is also deteriorating 

Massive stress is very likely to take a toll on your physical health. The common symptoms being headache, stomach pain, body pain, etc.

3 Major causes of burnouts for web developers 

Can you relate to the above symptoms? Then you can probably relate to the following mistakes that you’ve been making. We’re pinpointing the three major causes responsible for burnout in website development projects. 

1. You’re spending more than 8 hours on the computer every day 

We’ve come across people who work up to 70 hours a week. That’s way over a standard 8-hour working a day. It may seem that longer working hours can help you streamline your tasks, but in reality, that’s not always the case. It is actually a very unhealthy habit that initiates burnout.

2. You don’t have a work-life balance anymore 

No matter how busy you are, maintaining a work-life balance is very essential. Web developers often forget to maintain a healthy routine as they dive into a pool of tasks. They fail to eat healthy food, get proper sleep and spend quality time with their loved ones. All these can affect a web designer’s physical health as well. 

3. You’re doing it all by yourself 

If you’re a freelance web developer, chances are that you are handling it all by yourself. Starting from lead generation to client communication to project management to payment handling, it’s all your job. That can be overwhelming and at the same time challenging. With so much on your plate, you can mess up it all. 

5 Tips to avoid burnout for website developers 

Try these tips and prevent burnout like a pro: 

1. Set boundaries and don’t mix up your personal and professional lives 

Setting boundaries is the very first step to avoid burnout. Start with reducing your working hours. Working for 10-12 hours a day won’t take you anywhere. Instead, try to bring it down to 8 hours a day. Also, maintain strict boundaries. When you’re working, provide 100% focus on it. Alternatively, when you’re done with work for the day, make sure that you’re completely detached from your professional life. 

That means no professional involvement during the relaxation hours. We understand that you may lose some clients due to this, but trust us that your mental health matters over everything at the end of the day. Unwind from time to time and log out from all accounts to spend some “Me-time”. 

Also, make it a point to take at least one leave every week. If you can manage to take two consecutive leaves on weekends, that’s even better. Don’t create an impression of consistent availability for your clients. 

2. Hire a project manager 

Don’t take all the workload on yourself. Instead, hire a project manager who can share some responsibilities with you. For example, if you’re a developer and enjoy coding, stick to that. Let the project manager do the additional work like client communication, payment negotiations, paperwork, etc. This will reduce your stress to a large extent. All you have to do is catch up with the project manager from time to time to get the necessary updates. 

We came across a developer who was largely benefitted by hiring a project manager. This developer was smart enough to understand that too much work pressure was leading to burnout. To avoid that, the developer had hired a project manager and shared up to 30% of tasks with the manager. The result was a lesser delay in project delivery and more transparent client communication. 

3. Set practical deadlines and learn to prioritize tasks 

Often, developers try to impress the clients with quicker deadlines. But does that help in the long run? Not at all. Unrealistic deadlines only lead to half-baked development projects, frequent feedback from clients, and eventually burnouts. 

So, what developers should focus on instead is setting practical deadlines and time management. Once you learn to prioritize your tasks, everything will fall into place. You won’t have to put in extra effort or hurry development projects. 

From the very first client call, you should make it clear that you can complete a certain task within a certain time. Some projects may go out of your hands due to this, but this strategy will surely help you prevent burnout. 

4. Take short and long breaks 

Start taking breaks. Don’t plan to work for 8-10 hours straight. Keep taking 10-minute breaks after every 2-3 hours or so. You can walk around, stretch in these breaks to stay productive. 

Taking long breaks can also work for web developers. Why not go for a long vacation? That way you can disconnect from coding and other activities for some time just to come back stronger. Such trips can work as stress-busters and when you return to work, you’ll be more productive than ever. 

5. Learn to say “No” 

Don’t just say “Yes” to every project/client. Financial gain is important but not more than your physical and mental health. Rather than accepting all web development projects that come your way, focus on the interesting ones and help you evolve as a developer. 

Final Thoughts 

We hope you have a clear idea of burnout, its symptoms, causes, and the tips to avoid them. So, work toward achieving a healthier lifestyle. Remember that you became a website developer in the first place because you enjoy coding. You should have the scope to continue enjoying that, no matter what! 

Creating Scope of Work Documents for Your Website Design Clients the Right Way

Creating Scope of Work Documents for Your Website Design Clients the Right Way 1 01

SoW documents for website designs can be a tough nut to crack. Understanding the project requirements, setting timelines, and getting them right is vital for the project’s success. Most website designers could make better SoW document, and they know it! 

A poorly written SoW document can cause project delays, misunderstandings, confusion, and the worst of all- scope creep! What is scope creep? Scope creep refers to the unlimited changes and increasing scope of work that a client can bring despite getting everything just right. 

A well-defined scope of work is critical for a design project; it will:

  1. Help you understand the project better.
  2. Ensure you and your client are on the same page
  3. Act as a shield for you from scope creep

This blog will help you understand how to make better SoW documents, point out to you some of the most common mistakes that designers make when creating an SoW document, and tell you what leads to a poor SoW. 

Common mistakes designers make when defining the scope of work

There are a few mistakes that seem hard to miss, but most designers tend to make them. Here are a few of these mistakes that you can skip and learn from. 

1. Poorly defined initial requirements

This is one of the most common mistakes designers make when defining a client’s scope of work. When you poorly define the client’s requirements in your SoW, you leave room for anonymity, leading to confusions, scope creep, and unnecessary project delays. 

Keep this rule in mind- Be as specific as possible; your client will appreciate it, which will help you in the future if any conflicting requirements are brought up, which weren’t previously discussed.  

2. Set unrealistic project timelines

Most website designers tend to over-promise and set unrealistic project timelines, which can become tough to meet. The right approach here should be not to plan too tight and leave some room if things go south or any part of the project takes longer than expected.

Deadlines should be realistic, attainable, and purposeful. You also need to effectively communicate those deadlines to your clients and explain to them why the project takes as long as it does. Explain why timelines too slim can cause chaos and compromise the project. 

3. Unclear outline of the functionalities and website workflow

A vague outline of the functionalities and workflow in your SoW leads to an unclear idea of what your final product looks like. 

Again, be as specific as possible. Understand the outline of the website design, the functionalities and workflow. The better you are acquainted with them, the faster will be the pace of the project. This way, you do not lose time and resources, trying to get in touch with the clients to understand the same things over and over again.

What leads to a poorly developed scope of work document?

Many things factor in when you create an SoW document, and getting them right, helps you effectively execute a project. Here are a few things that lead to a poorly developed SoW. 

1. Lack of proper communication

Communication can make or mar a project. If your client can rightly communicate their requirements, you will write a better scope of work. Similarly, if you can share your doubts and ideas, that can help you understand the project better. 

Communicate better, and get all the information you need to draft a thorough scope of work. 

2. Confused clients

This happens to the best of us. A client, when not sure about their requirements often leads to a poorly developed SoW. The confusion can be at any point, be it getting their colour preferences right to finalising images they want on their website. As a service provider, you can help them narrow their choices to something they like for a successful and hassle-free project. 

3. Making assumptions and not asking enough questions

We often tend to assume things based on our past experiences, but each client has different requirements and understanding them can only make your collaboration effective. The way to go about this would be asking questions, however little or easy they seem. They are your key to understanding the project. It also helps you gain the required clarity to keep the project on the right tackle. 

4. Unclear initial scope

There are two types of client that you can come across as a website designer:

  1. Those who are clear about what they want, right from the colour scheme to the font size. 
  2. Those who are confused about what they should know and consider before starting a project. 

You can help them out by educating them, informing them of their available choices and the necessary resources. This will not only help them visualise their website design, but it will also help you get a clear scope before starting the project. Trust me; you do not want to start over once you are halfway into the project because the client was not aware of their option or decided to take a different approach.

5. Lack of detailed scope

Most designers have a vague SoW lacking the necessary details, leading to confusion and misunderstandings during the project. I cannot emphasise enough on this point. Get into as many details as possible, so you have a thorough idea of what kind of design your client is looking for. This will also ensure you and your client are on the same page about the project.

6. Lack or delay in stakeholder involvement

In some situations, a person from the client company who communicates and coordinates with you about the project does not involve the stakeholders in the project’s key decision-making. After completing the project, when the product is ready, the stakeholders request something entirely different from what you worked on. 

This is a big setback for any project. It is important to regularly get the stakeholder’s approval for the project’s success. E.g., Run your timelines by them, ask for their vision for the designs, etc. This can save you endless resources and fastrack the project.

How to avoid creating a poorly developed SoW?

1. Clearly define the project

Ask these few questions to start off and then work your way to more specification:

  • What type of website are you building?

A landing page, an e-commerce website, a blog, what is your client looking for? This should be the first thing that you ask your client about the project. This question seems somewhat necessary, but it is a critical one. The type of website you will be designing will help you strategise, set deadlines, evaluate your resources, and decide the project time. 

  • Understanding the website’s target audience

What does a typical user of the website look like? What are their preferences? Why do they come onto the website? Understanding the target audience will help you put yourself in their shoe and design a website that is not only good to look at but also extremely functional.

  • What goals need to be achieved through the website?

With different goals come different strategies. What purpose does your client aim to achieve through this website? Do they want to get customers to buy their products, get people to read the blogs, or contact them for a consultation? By understanding this, you can use design tricks up your sleeve to help achieve those goals.

  • Discuss samples

This works best when your client is indecisive. By discussing some designs and colour schemes, you can understand what your client wants and does not want, so you can steer clear of their negatives and focus on what they approved. This way, you can save the time and resources that would otherwise create multiple sample designs.

2. Decide on samples and inspiration

Ask your client to look at various kinds of websites they like and understand the style they are looking for. Ask them which colours they like and which ones they don’t. Talk to them about the emotions of their brand and how they want to project themselves. This way, you can convey their vision through your designs. And ultimately help you develop a better SoW.

3. Keep in mind the negative scope

There are times when your project demands some resources or additions that were not initially discussed when you started. Let your client know about it before starting the project and factor them in your timelines as variables. This will make you and your client better prepared for the project and help you stay on schedule. It is an excellent practice to factor in negative scope in an SoW document.

4. Clearly define the technical requirements

You need to know what you are building, technically.

Ask your client technical details of the project, e.g., If the development platform matters? Would the website be a public-facing or a members-only platform? This helps dictate the website design flow, and getting them onto the SoW will be helpful.

Take away

  1. Be curious and interested to get a detailed SoW.
  2. Be careful with project timelines.
  3. Get your client to sign off on the SoW.
  4. Communicate well to avoid confusion.