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Create A Project Timeline

How can we create a project timeline that builds towards testing and implementation?


Mapping out a timeline will help your project team set tangible goals each week and to conduct quality research, prototype solutions, and test with users.  Create something at the beginning will put you in great position to make an impact and help you stay accountable to your goals!

Effective ways to do this:

  1. Talk to your studio leads and align yourself on your studio’s goals for the projects.
    • See what goals the studio is aiming to achieve. Look for social events and ask if there ask which other events are mandatory.
    • Check Create a Studio Timeline to see how studios create timelines.
  2. Set team goals and make a team charter
    • A team charter clarifies team direction while establishing boundaries. Create goals and charter as a team so everyone has a clear understanding and a buy-in. Check out this team charter template!
    • Your team charter is iterative. The charter is a helpful guide to keep people accountable, but it shouldn’t limit your team!
  3. Create your team timeline
    • What steps of the design process will your team go through this term? What should your progress look like to reach that goal? What are expected outputs for each week?
    • Note when studio-wide the critiques or reviews are scheduled. Those are opportunities to receive useful feedback!
    • Note when final review, expo, or presentations are scheduled. Those are great opportunities to work on your pitching skills and succinctly communicating your work!
    • Add in time around final review to talk about the next steps of your team.
    • Be realistic. If your team will meet twice a week for an hour-meeting each, set goals based on those boundaries. It is better to be up-front about other commitments than to drag on and create tension in the team.
  4. Receive feedback on your timeline by a mentor
    1. Invite a mentor, studio lead, another team lead, or an experienced member who has a good understanding of the design process.
    2. Show them your timeline and get feedback on it.
    3. Make changes as necessary.

Network Best Practices

Work with your mentor to create an effective timeline like DFA Rice
Dr. Matthew Wettergreen, from DFA Rice, shared the best practices from his freshman engineering class to help the studio form teams. Based on this advice they formed teams based on project preference and personality rather than skill combinations. He also helped them make a timeline to get their projects to test, check it out below.

Create team charters and project timelines as a studio like DFA RISD|Brown

DFA RISD|Brown held a studio retreat in Fall 2013. At this retreat, the entire studio got together to introduce the members to each other and build a community. Not only that, the teams created their team charters and project timelines with the help of the studio leads. The retreat was sponsored by Founders League which offers community, space, and programming to Rohde Island's startup community.

Understand and create in 10 weeks with this sample DFA National project timeline

When engaging with potential community partners, it’s important to set expectations and show examples. Below is a sample timeline used by DFA National to give partners some sense of how the project teams will conduct the design process. The timeline below is fast-paced and mostly facilitated by mentors, which may vary across the studios. Download the sample project timeline here.