Web designers and their clients are supposed to build a relationship over time. A good design is built on a foundation of creative collaboration and mutual understanding.
When business owners feel like their websites aren’t built to specs, it’s the result of a disconnect between the designer and client. Sometimes, it’s the designer’s fault; other times, it’s the client’s. Here are a few tips for creating a lasting relationship (and a beautiful website) with your site designer.
Learn How to Communicate Your Ideas
Being clear and concise with your ideas is the most important thing you can do. If you can’t articulate the concept of your business clearly, the website will suffer. In the worst-case scenario, the site will confuse your brand, which leads to failed marketing and eventually (if not corrected) a failed business.
Your site designer needs some room for creativity, but if you don’t give him or her some sort of starting point, your website will be as muddled as the instructions you provided. It’s your designer’s job to take some basic information about your business and use it to guide the creative process of building your site. You should be able to provide the following information:
- Business goals and objectives.
- Ideal customers or at least a rough idea of them.
- Brand specific guidelines, including colors, logos, and other criteria.
- The overall personality you want your site to convey.
This type of information isn’t hard to identify; you’ll likely find most of it in your original business plan. Using this information, a web designer will be able to generate a few great ideas for your site. You can then work together to develop the seed of an idea for your site and expand upon it until it’s realized. The key is working together; your designer can’t do it alone. This brings us to concept number two: feedback.
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Offer Feedback – But Only When Asked
Be prepared to offer useful feedback throughout the design process. Almost all designers provide regular progress reports to their clients. They’ll host the site on their own server for you to explore. It’s available to you 24/7 so you can check on progress whenever you want. Designers want feedback, but only when they ask for it. Don’t worry; they will.
Try to avoid giving unprompted feedback; it’ll disrupt the creative process. Your designer might already be in the middle of making changes, but you just can’t see them yet.
Instead, make a list of helpful feedback so it’ll be available when your designer asks for it. Whether it’s a font you don’t like, a different shade of green you want used, or some other change, you should be prepared to ask for it when the time comes. Keep in mind that designers aren’t robots. They need regular feedback to make sure you’re both on the same page.
It can be helpful to set up weekly or monthly meetings with your designer to share some feedback and reconnect on your goals. This can keep him or her accountable, and it involves you in the creative process without being too overpowering. While the designer is likely to ask for feedback as some point, remember that if you wait until the site is finished to voice your complaints, neither of you will be very happy.
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Content Creation Is Up to You, Not Your Designer
Web designers shape the infrastructure and look of your website to show off your content, but they don’t design it. Creating material for your website is your responsibility. A web designer will make sure it looks fantastic and works well, but they can’t do everything. Many clients make the mistake of providing sample content as a placeholder for the real thing. This can be detrimental to the creative process. Designers will have to go back and remodel the site, and they won’t have much information to work with.
When you provide designers with real content, such as site copy, images, and videos, they’ll get a better understanding of your brand. They’ll be able to lay out and design your website based on the tone of the material you’ll be displaying. This makes the overall website more cohesive and helps ensure it’s delivered to you on time.
Relax and Trust Your Designer’s Judgment
Trust your designer. These professionals build entire careers on creating websites. You wouldn’t want someone micromanaging your work, would you? It can be easy to imagine your designer as a wistful artist who does everything on a whim, but that’s not the case. Designers are experts; they know what they’re doing, and they know what’s good for your business website.
That’s not to say they’re always right, but it does mean you should generally trust their judgment. If your designer wants to educate you about a process, let them. Most designers want to make managing a website easier for you. They want you to understand the fundamentals of design so you understand the value of their work. Plus, it makes you an enlightened customer. Keep an open mind; relax, and let your web designer guide you through the process.
Stay Positive and Have Fun With It
Designing a website is an exciting step, so try to have fun with it! Aim to keep a positive attitude and be understanding. There may come a point where you’ll need to have to have a difficult conversation with your designer. Maybe you just can’t stand the layout or you really want to include something on your site – but your designer likely won’t be thrilled about it.
Either way, a disagreement could pop up. However, if you stay friendly and positive even when you’re putting your foot down, your designer will be happier working on your site. And that will show in the finished piece.
Don’t Expect Good Design to be Cheap
Above all else, always remember that you get what you pay for. This is true for all things in life, but particularly true when it comes to subjective careers, such as art and design. You’re paying a designer to take a raw concept and refine it into a tangible result. If you’re not prepared to pay for their talent and technical expertise, you can pretty much expect to be disappointed.
Use common sense when researching designers. A web designer who costs $10 an hour is inexpensive for a reason – generally a lack of experience. Even if your website turns out beautifully, it’ll flounder if it doesn’t portray your business correctly. That’s why good designers are paid the big bucks. They have that magical something that allows them to translate good design into your design. You wouldn’t let an inexperienced carpenter build a luxury home for you, right?
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After reading all this, developing a good client/designer relationship may seem complicated. But it’s like any other relationship. A successful partnership should be built on trust, communication, and respect. When something works, celebrate. When something doesn’t, discuss it with your designer in a productive manner.
Be prepared to offer concrete examples of what you like and what you don’t like. Be fair with your feedback, and try not to waste your time or the designer’s. Mostly, be cooperative. After all, it’s a collaborative endeavor, and collaboration takes more than one person.