Why you should design your next website in one weekend

weekend project

Just about anything worthwhile can be created in one weekend.

That was basically the message I got from a recent Fizzle interview with Gumroad founder, Sahil Lavingia. Sahil used to work as a designer at Pinterest and left that gig to start his own venture: Gumroad. Coined as the “PayPal killer,” Gumroad combines extremely simple product sales interface with amazing (and simple) design.

So it’s fair to say Sahil knows something about design and business. Gumroad has already been incredibly successful.

And Sahil built the basic functionality that forms Gumroad’s foundation in just a weekend.

One weekend.

Now he’s revolutionizing how the world sells products online.

That’s the power of a “weekend project.”

Why you should design your next website in one weekend

So I decided to put Sahil’s advice to the test in a redesign of Design Blender and Stoked I’ve been working on.

Last weekend, I worked on GDB and here’s what I learned:

Designing a site in one weekend brings out the best designer in you

If you’ve got a decent amount of time behind you as a designer, then you’ve got instincts you can trust. You know when something looks too cluttered, when the typography just doesn’t work, or when the colors are completely off.

By limiting your design time to one weekend, you’re essentially only giving room to your inner talented designer to shine. There’s no time in one weekend for the other designer in you that second guesses design choices, spends hours flipping between 14pt font and 16pt font.

Setting a deadline forces you to decide and run with it.

That doesn’t mean you can’t go back later and bump that font down 2 points later. But this weekend, your project weekend, you don’t have time.

Designing a site in one weekend helps your design be more cohesive

Have you ever worked on a web site only to realize by the end that the design is totally in-cohesive?

You work on it for 22 hours one day, burn yourself out, and wait a week to come back to it. By then, your tastes change, you forget the original inspiration, or you simply can’t get “back in the groove.”

Not only do you risk having a site design that is mismatched and hard to follow, but you also risk stretching out your production time.

Stick to one weekend and you’ll be shocked how easy it is to stay “in the groove.”

Designing a site in one weekend increases the chances of finishing your project on time (or at all)

Redesigning a web site can be a daunting project. There are lots of considerations to take into account.

The process can be overwhelming even to the most experienced designer.

So by setting a deadline (when the weekend is over) you force yourself to deliver.

Will you go back and make tweaks and edits? Absolutely. Will it be sloppy and need some cleaning up later? Maybe a little.

But if you set a timeframe of one weekend, you’re bound to get the bulk of the project completed so you can focus on the important next steps (coding, testing, etc.)

Designing a site in one weekend increases profits

If you’re charging on a per-project basis, you’ll notice that your profit-per-hour goes up when you design a website in just a weekend.

It comes back to bringing out the best designer in you.

You don’t waste time on unimportant things and will, most likely, finish the project sooner.

If you’re not sure if you should be charging per hour or per project, read How Much Should I Charge?

Designing a site in one weekend is energizing

If nothing else, designing an entire web site in one short weekend can be incredibly energizing.

If you find yourself bogged down with the drudgery of running a design business, this can be a great way to reignite your passion for design.

The most important piece to remember

Here’s the catch (you knew there would be one, right?):

Sahil’s advice that anything worthwhile can be built in a weekend should be taken with a grain of salt.

For one reason: because he’s still building Gumroad.

So while you may be able to build the basic design a web site is based around, write a one-page business plan, or write a piece of code that does something awesome in just one weekend, it may take a lifetime to perfect.

So if I dare tweak Sahil’s thoughts just a tad, I would say

“The foundation of anything worthwhile can (and should) be built in just one weekend.”

Agree, disagree? What have you built lately? Share it all in the comments and let’s talk it out.

About Preston D Lee

Preston is a web designer, entrepreneur, and the founder of this blog. @prestondlee

Comments

  1. Hey Preston,

    I really loved this. It reminds me of Hemingway’s “Write drunk, edit sober”. It seems like with this method you just create in this crazy, “drunken” whirlwind of instinct, and then you’re left with a really solid framework that you can go back and tweak “sober”.

    Inspired me to try this on a few things we’re working on :-) Thanks for the boost.

    David

  2. This method is actually how I just designed my most recent website :) I spent a day researching and idea processing, and a day putting it together :) It was actually fun. Of course, I had to make a few minor changes throughout the following week, but it helped me to keep the same basic theme I wanted, which was simplicity. Great post! It was very reassuring and nice to know that I’m theoretically doing things right, and also having fun doing them :)

    Thanks!!

  3. It’s a judgement call. You can tweak on something forever, but not make it any better, which might be a symptom of your fear of putting it out in the world. You can also throw something together over a weekend and it turns out to be crap, and you know it could be better. The skill of knowing when something is finished is something you acquire through experience.

  4. I like the concept of getting work done in “minimum” time why? Like the article explains you cut through the fuss and muss and get to the basics, my site will always be a work in progress yet the “bones” of it are already up and running. This way of thinking also helps in everyday life, as humans and designers we put ourselves through a lot when the answers are usually right in front of us. Thankfully the article reminds me to “KISS” almost every opportunity I have.

  5. Refreshing read! As “unbelievable” as it first sounds, I believe it to be true. It is the mastery of finding The Essence – what the object/subject/project/commission/mission/goal (…etc.) is really about. However, it does take considerable experience (including a good helping of failures) to refine one’s instincts to get there. And then a considerable amount of self-discipline to actually use those instincts. But it does happen. To some. I think we very loosely call those people… artists. Regardless of their discipline/practice.

  6. I think the big thing here is not putting it off, especially with side projects or projects for our own business. We just never get around to them.

    Forcing the issue by planning a weekend event makes you carve out that time, especially when inspiration hits you and you’re totally gung-ho.

    Thanks for the post, Preston! Great advice!

    April

  7. I am surprised to read your article because it’s so me! I tend to “second guess my design design choices, spends hours flipping between 14pt font and 16pt font”. And work on my website too long that “my tastes change, forget the original inspiration, and I simply can’t get back in the groove”.

    Adding to the problem is that I am a beginner in the process of learning building websites so that each time I find a new trick I think like it’ll be great to apply to my site. In the end more time is taken up due to contemplating on applying some idea, actually do them, found out that the end result is not pleasant, take the effect down and find another “cool” trick :D

    I should take up this weekend challenge…

  8. Ok…there’s some good pointers made….however, it depends on what type of websites you are building. Maybe applicable for personal or small scale projects. Maybe I should take up this challenge and see what I can learn from it.

    This will be a first for me…but definitely worth trying :)

  9. Sorry, I disagree big time.
    Weekend are meant for resting, saving powers for the next week. Drinking beer, spending time with friends and family. NOT working.
    The borders need to be clear when you freelance.

  10. One weekend is enough to build MVP and start hustling. There are a lot of communities and newsletters that would love to hear about your latest product and share it with the world.

    Offtop: being the ‘Paypal killer’ can play tricks with Gumroad, I’d rather stick to something less pompous, like Sellfy. Plays well with Paypal, but you don’t have to deal with them directly, which is a huge plus.

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