Each small business needs to work with a web designer to create and maintain a business website and an online presence. If the process is not managed well it can be overly time-consuming, and ultimately may be unsuccessful. From extensive experience working in both camps, here are the top eight tips to help make the web design process run smoothly. These tips give you, the client an insight into how you can play a role in achieving a successful web design outcome.
1. Be Realistic With Deadlines
Form an agreement with the web designer on the project timeline and be explicit about when you need deliverables such as the first draft, the beta version, and the go-live. Keep in mind though that some aspects of web design can be more time-consuming than you might imagine. For example, it only takes you a moment to instruct your web designer to “clean up that background”, but it may take the web designer a number of hours to complete, depending on the image. Always remember that there is a lot of specialized skill and knowledge that goes into a professionally designed website.
2. Volunteer Examples
Giving your web designer examples of website designs that appeal to you is the best means by which to accelerate the web design process. You may not consider this your role, but it is vital to realise that the web design process is a collaborative effort. The more clearly you can explain your vision, the better. The web designer will still come up with work that is original, but your examples will provide them with a great place to start.
3. Accept That The First Draft Is A “Draft”
There is a reason it is named a “first draft” – it is just a starting point. Consider the first draft as the initial step on the road to a completed piece of work. Your input is crucial at this stage, and any decent web designer will welcome the suggestions and constructive criticism you have.
4. Avoid Feedback That Is Too General
Unfortunately, there is nothing constructive about merely telling the web designer: “Make it pop”. What does that mean exactly? And what in the world is the “wow factor”? Providing specific examples and descriptions is much more helpful, and your web designer will have greater appreciation for this more direct feedback.
5. Consider the Components
There are a number of main components which make up the principles of web design. Providing feedback comments on each individual component can assist in narrowing down what you are wanting to see in the completed web design. As the client, it can sometimes be difficult to know specifically what you do like and what you do not like about the web design work. However, it is not particularly constructive to just say: “I don’t really like it”. Teasing apart the web design to its components can make it simpler for you to distinguish what you do and you do not like. It is also more constructive for the web designer if you can say: “I do not really like the choice of colours”. The primary components of web design you’re most likely to reference are colour; fonts; imagery; navigation & usability; and layout & overall aesthetic.
6. Avoid Being Too Controlling
Do be sure to include a spot for the web designer’s input and creativity. If a client is overly particular or if the client loses faith in the web designer, then the client may begin to control every small change to the design and begin to micro manage the web designer. The web designer gradually gets shut out of the creative process, meaning at some point they may cease attempting to have any artistic input at all. When this occurs, the web design project can start sliding down a perilous path.
What generally has occurred in this situation is that the web designer is unclear on exactly what the client requires, the client has confused that lack of clarity with the web designer being a bad designer. The client has then felt that they needed to take control of the project. An effective web designer will know how to fix this situation. The best thing you can do yourself in this situation is take a step back, get some perspective, discuss matters with the web designer, and attempt to show with visual examples exactly what it is that you require with your designs. The project can then get back on track.
7. Do Not Fear Asking Questions
You are funding the web designer for their creative and functional process and for their point-of-view, but ultimately you are the client. If an image or element they introduce puzzles you, ask the web designer to explain why it has been included. Rein in the web designer if necessary. If something was confusing to you, it may well be confusing to your audience also.
8. Know When to Say Stop
The web design is never going achieve absolute perfection. It is easy to become obsessive and lose perspective when you are very involved in something. Take a step back, breathe in deeply, and attempt to see things from the point-of-view of your intended audience. If the web design result is very close to what you desire but just not absolutely perfect, it may be time to celebrate what is great about the result, and move on.
Web design is a subjective process, and there is no one correct way to go about it. It should be a collaborative effort. Understanding the project process, maintaining expectations that are realistic, having patience, and using strong communication methods will all contribute to a positive, successful outcome.
This article was contributed by Magicdust a full service digital agency and web designer providing businesses with open source development, e-commerce websites and online marketing services.