Timely Advice – How Long Does Dataviz Take? by Eli Holder

Visualizing 3iap timesheets for 10 dataviz client projects. How much time goes into researching, data-wrangling, designing, and building different types of data visualizations?

Every client asks, “How long do you think that will take?” Estimates are an important part of setting expectations (which make for happy projects and happy clients). And, for anyone who’s worked for a fixed fee, it’s important for understanding if a given project will be profitable.

One of the challenges for estimating — and expectation setting — is having a track record of similar projects to reference. If you’re a larger shop, with a long history and full portfolio, you have an information advantage. Smaller, independent shops, or freelancers earlier in their careers, don’t have this advantage so it can be difficult to estimate. Or, even worse, it can be easy to give into the pressure from occasionally overzealous clients fixated on budget line-items (“You’ll spend how long on research?!”).

The goal with sharing this data is to even out that informational asymmetry, and give a detailed reference of time and effort involved in producing (fairly complex) data visualizations.

Data, details, and additional analysis are here: https://3iap.com/timely-advice-how-long-does-dataviz-take-auC2KawtRB2Gvy2IMHPwLA/

For each project, the left side is the distribution of time spent on the project, split by activity type. The right side is a timeline of project activity. Each timeline ‘row’ represents a ‘work day’ (eight-ish hours). Each segment is a single activity. Colors represent activity type. Multiple, stacked colors mean overlapping activity types. Black lines between segments are the boundaries of a calendar day. The line below shows the number of workdays compared to the original estimate.

Data Source: Data is from 3iap's actual timesheets used for tracking time spent on 10 client dataviz projects. Dataset is available at the link above.