You need a new website designed and built and so you hire a web designer. Simple enough, but what you get from that web designer depends on how well you communicate what you want, what you need, and what you expect. That part is very often not so easy.
In order to get the best work from a web designer, you need to know what you want and how to talk about it in a way that will help the web designer understand your goals. What you need might be a website or an update of an existing website, but your web designer will need more information than that. Below are 4 tips for how best to communicate with your web designer and to maintain a good working relationship.
1 What do you really want?
In order to accurately and clearly convey what you really want, you need to think about what it is you need and desire out of a new website.
What we need to know at this point are the who, what, and why:
Who is this website for? Describe your target audience.
What is the purpose? Is it an eCommerce site, a portal, a basic site?
Why would this audience want to visit your site? What makes this site unique?
In regards to the look and feel, the easiest way is to give examples of websites of what you are looking for. However, this does not mean that we can copy the design of a competitor’s website, but you could think about why you like a particular design and how it relates to what you want. Pay special attention to the functionality of the websites you like and what makes you like them.
As web designer we are more interested in why it appeals from a functionality standpoint as well as the look and feel. It will help immensely with understanding what you are really looking for on your website.
2 Establish clear deliverables and a timeline
It will help the communication with your web designer and the development process of the project if you set out clear deliverables and a timeline for completing your website together with your web designer:-
Look & Feel: does the design phase involve a wireframe, a PDF mockup, a working prototype you can see in your web browser or both? How many design concepts can you choose from? How many page designs and revisions are included?
Text Content: is this something you need to provide or is it the web designer’s responsibility? By what date does it need to be available? If the web designer or a content manager provides the text content, how much is it going to cost?
Graphics and Images: who supplies the graphics? What graphic formats are recommended, for example: PNG, JPG, vector, etc.? How many images are needed? Do you need high resolution images or professional headshots?
Browser Testing: what browsers and browser versions is the website going to be tested on? On what operating systems, for example: Windows or Mac? What about mobile testing: on iPhone, Android, phones and tablets? What do the tests involve – usability, look and feel, page load speed and other technical assessments? Will the website look exactly the same on all browsers and all platforms, or preferably, will it be a responsive site that “adapts” to each platform?
SEO/Marketing: is search engine optimisation included in the final cost or is this service calculated separately? What does this involve – keyword research, optimised page titles, headers (H1s and H2s) and alternative text for images, or meta information in the HTML markup? Is social media strategy and marketing included, and what do they include – one tweet a day, two facebook status updates a day? Is an email newsletter included, and how often is this sent?
3 Keep Track of Progress on Your Website & Stay Involved
One of the best ways to ensure a smooth web designer-client relationship is to be involved in each phase of the project, and, truly view it as a collaboration.
Results can suffer and deadlines can easily be missed when you start a web design project and then you disappear until right before the launch date. It is also not a great idea for a web designer to hide while working on the design of a website and only get in touch with you for feedback once the final product is ready.
If either party waits too long before reviewing the work, some important requirements may be missed. It is better to spot problems as they arise rather than after a considerable investment of the web designer’s time. Not only can this increase cost, it can also lead to friction and frustration. Ultimately, it’s the quality of the website that suffers when the client-web designer relationship is not maintained throughout the project.
Stay involved in each phase of the project, from reviewing initial sketches and wireframes, to evaluating prototypes and participating in the site’s testing. This last point is especially important. Your knowledge of your customer base is invaluable when it comes to usability testing and how your customers would likely navigate the site.
A truly collaborative approach involving both you and your web designer in the creation of the final product, is the most productive and conducive to a successful outcome.
4 Trust your web designer
I know it might be hard, but it is necessary - you will need to give up control. That does not mean you won't get what you want or that you can't offer feedback, but micromanaging the design process is not a good idea. You are hiring a web designer because you value his or her expertise and skill, so trust us to take your initial input and create a website that works.
While it's important for designers to be open to constructive feedback and suggestions, it is also important for you to realise that a web designer’s role has more experience, pursues the best path possible, use informed opinions and approaches the project from a user’s perspective.
After you have found the right web designer, establishing a good client-web designer relationship goes a long way to ensuring the success of your project. Make sure expectations are clear, that you provide information and content that is needed, and stay involved throughout the process.
Next to that be sure you have a good website contract in place which details all possibilities, no matter how unfortunate or unlikely. It’s better to be on the safe side and it gives you peace of mind to concentrate on a productive collaboration with your web designer.
Most importantly, trust that you’ve found the right web designer and allow them to use their talents to their best abilities without micromanaging or forcing them to implement solutions. By keeping good communication and staying involved throughout, you can also catch problems right as they arise and keep your timeframe moving forward towards launching your site.
If you need any help with your next website project and are look for a friendly and enthusiastic web designer, please get in touch!