One of the most important facets of a successful project is communication. There are some things that must be articulated before the design process begins, so that there are fewer hiccups along the way.
Below are some things that your designer should know to make sure you are happy with the end result. These factors heavily impact the design decisions made for your website, and can make a big difference to your return on investment.
What to tell your web designer
1. The goal of the website – what is it for?
It seems like a basic thing, but you’d be surprised how many times people will fumble with this question. What do you want people to do when they get to your site? Contact? Donate? Purchase something? Hire you for your services? Register? It’s important to articulate the primary, and, if applicable, secondary goals of your site. While you’re at it, identify some measures for success, i.e., traffic, registrations, contacts, etc.
2. Who your target audience is
What is your typical client like? What is your dream client like? It’s helpful to know specifically who will be the people you want to visit your site.
3. Who your competitors are
This is important to articulate, so that you can identify the things that make you stand out from the pack.
4. Where your traffic will come from
How will you be driving people to your website? Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What are they looking for when they come to your business?
5. The overarching message of your site
What is the main takeaway you want people to glean from your site?
6. Content organization/site structure
Will you have the final content ready? How will it be organized on the site? A good designer will give you some suggestions for your site structure, but it’s good to have some idea of the path your visitors will take on your site before you start the process.
7. Look and feel
Suggestions for layouts and colours are less helpful to a designer than the overall style and atmosphere. Think of your website as an extension of your lobby or entryway. Is it traditional? Formal? Casual? Contemporary? Also include any existing corporate branding guides.
8. Bells and whistles
Will you need any special features on your site, such as a members only section, password protected material, forms, blog, or newsletter signup?
What not to say
OK, maybe that sounds harsh. A good designer wants your feedback, and we don’t want to stifle that. However, there is a right way to communicate everything. We hear these things sometimes, and to a designer, they can be cringe-worthy. Trying to get to the root of the problem with poor communication can cause delays to a project and cost you money. Here are a few things that make a designer wince, and what to say instead.
1. “I don’t like it”
What to say instead: “I don’t like these specific elements…”
These elements may include fonts, layout, colours, navigation structure, etc.
2. “I want exactly the same site as my competitor.”
What to say instead: “I like these specific elements of this site…”
3. “I won’t have content until a week before launch, but can we start anyway?”
What to say instead: “My content is delayed, and I understand this may impact the final launch date. Can we talk about a revised timeline?”
4. “I don’t care – you’re the expert”
What to say instead: “I’m not sure I know enough about this, can you recommend something, and we can go from there?”
And, last, but not least…
5. “Make the logo bigger”
Seriously. This will have your designer’s eyes rolling like marbles on a plate. Typically, if it’s clearly visible, usually in the top left of your site, they’ve done a good job. But, if you must say something, and you genuinely feel like your brand should be more visible…
What to say instead: “Can you make it (the design) pop a bit more?”