Essential Tips for Getting the Most from your Web Designer
Working With a Web Designer
Does this sound familiar? You need a new website, your first website, or perhaps you need a redesign of an existing website. So you just hired a web designer, or are considering it. Which means that you are about to step outside of your comfort zone. I can understand that. Most business owners are not overly familiar with web design, or what exactly that entails. But that also means that you are most likely not getting the most from your web designer.
Deciding that you need to work with a web designer is one of those things where most people really aren’t sure what they need to be doing or what they should be expecting. You want to be getting the most from your designer, but you’re not really sure how to do that or what your role is in that process. And this is a problem … for everyone. So, we’ve put together a few tips on just what to expect from the unexpected in web design.
Web Designer 101
Know What You Want … and Don’t Want
What’s your style? Professional, Minimalist, Conservative, Funky? Do you already have specs, text, art, and images ready to go? It is really tempting to just hand over every piece of content you have already. And while your designer and creative team may be able to handle it all, you really just need to address the specific elements you think are killer and those that leave a less-desirable taste in your mouth. The more your designer knows about the specifics, the better your creative team can produce desired results.
On the other hand, if you are totally unsure as to what you need to provide, or how and when you need to provide, you should ask your web designer. Most web designers or agencies have a certain workflow, so they may be waiting on you to provide a few things before they can get started. If you want to get the most out of working with your web designer you need to be aware of that.
Feel It Out
Know the steps, understand the process, and have a plan of attack. These things your designer can tell you and should even be listed out in great detail in your contract. Do you want or need more than just a website? Email marketing? Social media management? How about new copy? Ask these questions so you know what the web agency can offer you and for how much. That way, you familiarize yourself with the bigger picture and can make better choices based on the recommendations your creative team dishes out.
If you don’t let your web designer know exactly what your expectations and requirements at the start of your web design project you are most likely not going to get the most out of them. Web design is one of those things where changing course in mid-stream is definitely not a good idea. Nor is changing the scope of work during your project, especially if your new website is nearing completion. Instead you must be clear up front of what you will need to meet your short and long-term business objectives. If you really don’t know ask your web designer for suggestions. they are experts at this, don’t forget!
Estimate for Style
Of course we all want the biggest bang for our buck, and that’s why we get an estimate before we sign up for a deal. We all know to “shop around” and compare the scope of work. With web design, you not only have to estimate and consider what final files will be delivered, what the deadlines for completed work and process milestones are and what the established cost and payment terms are, but you also need to estimate for style. What designer can best convey, produce, and reflect your company’s overall philosophy and identity? So check out references, cruise their social media, and view their portfolio.
As you can see simply going for the lowest cost estimate is most likely not going to provide the results you need. Instead you should consider the cost of your new website as a business investment. So let me ask you this; when you buy a piece of machinery do you simply go for the cheapest one you can find? Or do you opt for a higher priced model that will continue to serve you and your business for years to come? As a smart business owner you should consider long term benefits over cost.
Modes of Communication
How are you and your creative team relaying information? Email, web chat, FTP file transfers, tele or video conferencing? Or, how about even the traditional way – in person? Establish beforehand how you and your designer intend to communicate with each other. Sure, a phone call will suffice for a quick question or status check, but any detailed request or information should be handled via email; that way both sides have it in writing. Work out dates and times when either party will not be available ahead of time so that any delay in the project is foreseen and anxiety is reduced to minimal nail-biting.
You should also anticipate the unexpected. Of course you and your web designer or agency have every intention of sticking to the agreed-upon plan. But this is life, and things can get screwy. Everything from accidents and medical emergencies to that sudden unavoidable business trip can cause your project to go sideways. While you can’t prevent the unexpected you should at least have a backup plan ready, just in case. And don’t forget to tell your web designer when things go awry. They will be better able to accommodate changing needs that way than if you tell them long after the fact.
Any stellar creative team knows that time is of the essence when developing an online presence. Creative teams usually set aside a block of time to work on the strategy and production of a site, so their response time should be nearly immediate. One thing that will definitely prevent you from getting the most from your web designer is not being responsive yourself. This is especially important if your web design team is waiting for critical information from you.
That can include everything from reviewing content or design concepts, approving image purchases, or providing the technical info required to launch your website. It’s important for you to know when this is happening and to be available to respond in a timely fashion to the team’s questions, presentations, rough drafts, and revisions. That way there is no unexpected setback or delay of project due to simply no response.
Alright. So “follow up” is not entirely essential to the production flow of a website, but it is a good idea for you to drop a note once the project is complete. You can give feedback or address concerns that might not have been so evident during the process. And since websites are designed to be built upon, you may want to stay in contact with your designer in case you want any additional services that they provide.
Keep in mind that your web designer or agency strives to provide the best possible results not only for your project, but also for all potential future clients. If something did not work well for you there is a chance it may not work for others down the road. Professional web designers and agencies can handle criticism. It provides them with means for improvement. So don’t be shy. Your web designer will appreciate your honesty more than your silence.
- Establish one point of contact | This will make everything easy and direct with less confusion and hearsay.
- Listen to your creative team | You spent a lot of time researching the best fit for you and your business, so trust your decision and let the rest flow.
- Be specific and be honest | They are professionals, they can handle being critiqued, and they want to get it right for you.
Need More Help Getting the Most from Your Web Designer?
If you are not sure where to find a web designer or agency there are a variety of options for you. Perhaps someone you know knows a web designer or professional web design agency. Maybe one of your business associates can make a recommendation. Or you can look at some recommendations from review sites like Clutch, UpCity or Expertise. A word of caution, be careful if you use local notice boards such as Craigslist as postings on these platforms are not verified.
And if you are still not sure about how to got the most out of your web designer don’t worry! Simply reach out and contact us. Our expert team will listen to you, answer your questions, and find the best way for your business to get the online presence you need. That is one of our specialties, after all!
Did You Get the Most Out of Working With Your Web Designer?
Did you recently or not so recently work with a web designer? What was the outcome? Was there anything you would have done different in retrospect? Is there anything you wish your web designer would have done different? Please feel free to let us know so our audience can benefit as well, and grab our feed so you don’t miss our next post! And feel free to share our post with your audience!
We appreciate your help in eliminating bad business websites, one pixel at a time! Thank you!
By Gregor Schmidt
Co-Founder / CXO