No other tools are as good as timelines if you want to present a sequence of steps in a chronology. Timelines are a great way to show a phenomenon’s history, milestones, goals, and evolutionary development for both education and business purposes. This article will surely help you create timelines for different audiences and purposes.
Table of contents
- What is a timeline?
- Teaching with timelines
- Different timeline designs
- Steps for creating a successful project timeline.
- What makes your timeline successful?
- Final word
What is a timeline?
A timeline is a visual representation of all major events and activities that have occurred over time. It marks achievements, milestones, or expected results related to a specific topic. For what purposes a timeline is used depends on many factors. For example, a project manager may use timeline templates to show project status, a business owner would like to show the developmental phases of their company history, and a teacher would like to have a timeline to depict human evolution. A timeline can represent past events, forecast expected outcomes, or be a mix of past, present, and future activities.
For business projects, timelines can be applied to:
- Establishing a goal
- Developing or teaching coursework
- Showcasing work history
- Displaying project updates
- Creating a work plan
- Visually representing milestones
Teaching with timelines
Timelines are the best presentation tools for educators for a variety of academic purposes. It can be used to document events from history or a story lesson sequentially. Timelines will help students keep events in chronology as they write synopses. Besides, a timeline helps to organize information in a step-by-step flow to better understand change, growth, cause and effect, and the important social, historical, and all events have scientific significance.
For education, timelines can be applied to:
- Organize facts.
- Summarize information.
- Show linear connections.
- Display logical relationships.
- Show chain of occurrences.
Different Timeline Designs
Many timeline designs and styles can be applied according to your subject. It wouldn’t be good to cram all timeline styles in a box. So, you can choose a style to create a timeline in many different ways. Then, you can select a proper one in the below list to apply when making a business, education, or project timeline.
Horizontal timelines or parallel timelines often uses to show linear progression. It is best to fit your events chronologically. Horizontal timelines are commonly used for demonstrating project management, historical developments, and forecasting.
Vertical timelines are best for inserting graphs and statistical data. It enables a user to create a Y-axis to discuss variables related to an outcome. It will be the usual visual representative for project management and putting events in a chronology.
Non-linear timelines are narrative timelines sometimes used for film, literature, and video to tell a story. It tells your story out of chronology. These can come in spiral, radial, or arbitrary forms. Most often, It is connected by interlocking pieces that might be created with chain or arrow shapes. Non-linear timelines are useful for discussing multiple variables having longer sequences.
Steps for creating a successful project timeline.
How to create a project timeline may be a confusing task for designers and project managers. But having a plan will make your effort easy, allowing everyone to stay on task and work as efficiently as possible. I suggest following these easy steps to create a simple, easy-to-read project timeline.
Step 1: Create project summary.
Possibly you have already completed brainstorming that includes every possible aspect of a project, such as goals, objectives, challenges, budget, and deadlines. A project summary requires editing this information into a brief that encompasses all the key points while also being brief enough for quick sprint reviews.
Elements to include in a project summary.
- Project description and important background information
- Project milestones and plans
- Project objectives
- Project goals, target audience, and desires results
Step 2: Establish the project scope.
Review and jot down all the steps that are required to be completed. Break them down into manageable tasks. Breaking down all subsets and prioritizing each item.
Step3: Estimate how long that task will take.
Once you establish who will complete each step, you must estimate how much time per task. According to the nature of your project, allowing a reasonable amount of time is important.
Step 4: Define task dependencies.
When you start assigning tasks, many will likely allow for simultaneous work, keeping each team member independently busy. Essentially though, the project will hit a point where some steps depend upon the work efficiency of others. Therefore, you’ll also want to inform team members if someone will be waiting on them to finish a task so they can plan their schedule accordingly.
Step 5: Establish milestones.
Once you determine your task time, you should have a place to monitor progress. Creating milestones at the beginning or end of each step allows team members to assess the phases of a project. Milestones can be events, dates, or specific deliverables—anything that offers a tangible way to track progress.
Step 6: Create a project timeline.
Finally, the time has come to put all these elements in your project timeline. This is the part where you can opt to utilize one of the project management boards, use a readymade template or build a simple shared spreadsheet. Begin by choosing a timeframe—days, weeks, months, however long you have decided the project will take to complete.
What makes your timeline successful?
Timelines should carry messages across to an audience. Therefore, timelines need to be created to make the various interconnected sections easy to understand. The tips below can help to build a successful timeline.
Timelines should be neat and clear: putting so many factors in the timeline design makes making a head or tail out of it impossible. So, avoid messy timelines for easy reading.
Ensure precision: Make sure your data is in line with the topic. If your timeline looks creative and visually appealing, what benefits when it involves inaccurate data? Make certain data given in the timeline is precise and not misrepresented.
Goals & Results: When preparing for timeline designs, ensure that goals and outcomes are defined accordingly because most timelines come with goals and outcomes. It would help readers if you stressed key milestones and reporting for their anticipated outputs and outcomes.
Add explanatory texts and labels: Add descriptive texts and labels to ensure your timelines are properly marked. If needed, add a descriptive note for your goals, objectives, and outcomes. This will help to conclude your timeline properly.
Scalable & editable: The data given in a timeline should be scalable. If someone puts wrong information, you must ensure the timeline can be customizable to changes. This is because there might be a number of ideas and issues that comes during the discussion that might be unnoticed at the onset of prior meetings, which might considerably insert the timeline once it’s presented.
Business, education, and many knowledge sectors can use timeline tools to ensure they stay efficient. It allows readers or audiences to keep on track with their tasks as well as connect with each other. Whether you want to learn a new skill or want to become a project manager, you will benefit from creating a proper timeline.