So, you’ve been sitting on the same website since 2007, and you’ve finally decided that a few aesthetic changes here and there just won’t be enough to remain competitive in the marketplace.
You look at your options and decide to go with a professional web designer to create something that is modern and intuitive and looks amazing. You get some referrals and do some research and find a company that seems to meet your needs and can work within your budget.
You’re all set to go. But then, for some reason, it seems to take a lot longer than you were expecting, and nothing seems to be easy.
Maybe they kept asking questions. Maybe recommended a style that wasn’t what you had in mind. Maybe fifteen other things seemed to slow your progress and delay the launch of your website.
We’ve previously discussed the importance of building a strong relationship with your SEO agency, and most of those principles are absolutely applicable here.
A smooth path from concept to launch requires a good relationship.
You can play a part in this process and help get your website completed and launched on time by following these simple tips.
1 - Recognize Their Expertise
Creating a website is no small task. Although there are lots of templates and DIY site builders out there, you’ve chosen to work with a professional designer because you want to make sure everything is done right.
You have chosen the designer based on their portfolio and expertise, so let yourself be confident in their skillset. They have the knowledge of each essential step of the process to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. This means that when they make recommendations that don’t quite line up with what you first wanted, there’s probably a really good reason behind it.
Establish trust with them as they gauge the complexities and time frame. Remember, quality work takes time and the more you trust, the better the end result will be.
2 - Get Prepared
Designers are problem solvers, not magicians. Their job is to come up with a design that looks great and provides long term solutions for your business. Your job is to provide them with a detailed project scope so they can deliver the best solutions possible.
Many design processes start with a questionnaire which helps the designer learn more about your business and understand more about your target audiences, competitors, site goals, etc.
Don’t skimp on this part. Go into as much detail as possible. The more insight your designer has, the better the design will meet your expectations.
Other information that may be needed includes: brand assets, text content, photos, site credentials, plugin information, etc.
Make sure you supply these items in a timely manner so as not to delay the project.
3 - Collaborate & Communicate
When your designer provides the first draft, they are eager to hear what you think. Make sure you are carefully reviewing their work, giving helpful and timely (and constructive) feedback, and staying involved as the site progresses through wireframes, mockups, and build.
Don’t go silent! When you sign the contract for a new website, agree with yourself to give the project your full attention for the entire process, or else you’re just wasting time and money. If too much time goes by, the goals may change and the project gets blurred. A collaborative, full-focus approach ensures the best possible outcome.
4 - Don’t Overthink It
Your designer wants you to be involved, but not so involved you start to take over their role and insist on micromanaging every tiny detail.
It’s important to remember the trust factor at this point and remember that your designer is a problem-solver first. They always have a reason for choosing a certain font, color, image, or layout and have likely spent hours obsessing over those tiny details.
Designers also think about how the site will convert, if the calls-to-action links stand out enough, how the user will navigate the site, what elements should be interactive, how the layout will respond to mobile devices, etc.
And the decisions we come to are based on our years of experience building effective websites.
The best question to ask yourself is why don’t I like this particular element? Is it my subjective opinion, or does it affect the end goal of the site? If it’s the latter, then it’s worth bringing up to the designer and starting a discussion about it. Then, let the designer come up with another solution.
That’s what you hired us for.
5 - Avoid Too Many Cooks
After seeing the designer’s mockups, you may be tempted to ask others (like friends and family) for their opinions.
This can end up doing more harm than good.
You may feel confident about it until someone says: “I don’t like the blue” or “I don’t like the way this looks” which can fill your mind with doubt. This can put a strain on the client-designer relationship and will likely result in unproductive rounds of changes while discouraging your designer.
At the end of the day, you and/or your stakeholders are the decision maker(s) that fully understand your project goals. Be decisive, leave subjective opinions behind and focus on the goal.
If you must ask for an outside opinion, make sure to give them plenty of context so they can critique the design in an objective way.
6 - You Have a Part to Play in This
While the designer is responsible for the way the site looks and functions, the client is usually responsible for providing the content your visitors will read.
If you don’t know what your website is going to say, it can cause significant delays.
Time is money, so make sure you plan ahead and are thinking of the copy you need to collect throughout the process rather than rushing to write it all at once.
If you are having a hard time with copy, ask your designer about copywriting services. Copywriters will take the burden of writing endless pages of content off your hands while including keywords for the search engines and phrases that encourage visitors to engage that will add even more value to your site.
In the end, it’s important to remember that we’re working toward the same goals. We want to get your site up and running as quickly as possible, but we cannot sacrifice quality and usability to change its appearance in a certain way.
Quality work will take some time, it’s true, but when you follow these tips you’ll be able to see some great results.
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