The website design process is a partnership between the client and design agency. As long as expectations are kept in synch, the project will flow smoothly and in a timely matter.
To keep distractions to a minimal with our design process so that the best results are produced, here are several expectations that the client need to consider.
Design is Not all about the Visuals
Website design is not just visual elements and how a website looks. It is also about:
- The marketing strategies employed to meet the goals of the website. This can affect everything from the functionality to how the website is organized overall (the sitemap), how individual page layouts look, and how the copy is written.
- How features of the website function.
- How the individual interactive elements on a webpage function.
- Making the website accessible so it can present information and functionality everyone can use.
- Making sure it will respond to different device screen sizes, so it is not only visually appealing but accessible.
- Identify what functionality may need to be scaled in the future and reasonably plan for it.
- Making sure the website is maintainable.
In fact, strategies and functionality is more important than how visually pleasing the site may look to someone. For example, you may like a certain colour for your links and feel it fits with your brand colours better. If the link colour does not have proper contrast with the pages background color, then the link will be difficult for some people to see. Likewise, if the link text is to close to the colour of other text around it, it will be harder for some people to distinguish the difference and thereby conclude a link is available to visit. This ultimately makes the website less functional and potentially decreasing the chance of meeting the goals of the website.
Decisions are Based on Project Goals
Clients shouldn’t focus on the minute details of the design. You hired a designer with years of experience who knows what works and what does not. Just like you wouldn’t tell a car mechanic how to fix engine problems, questioning the size of the logo, font-size, or white space on a page is not part of your job. It just slows down the project, increases cost, and gets you bogged down in the details you hired the designer to deal with.
The user experience of your website is most important. It is designed with your business audience in mind to meet the goals of the project. What we like is not the priority.
So, when there is a part of the design under scrutiny you should be asking yourself more generalized questions like:
- How will users respond?
- Will it meet the goals of the business for the website?
instead of worrying about cosmetic design decisions which are subjective.
Focus on Problems and not Solutions
Clients need to focus on problems, it is the designer’s job to figure out the solutions.
For example, if you are unsure of the colour selection for links in articles on the website are ideal, you shouldn’t just go suggest alternate colours.
Instead, you need to explain why you do not like the choice of the existing colors. Maybe you feel the links are not as noticeable as they should be or it alters the mood of the site to much.
Depending on the type of problem, the designer will have a certain reason for the existing choice. It might be due to accessibility or effect the strategy and goals of the website. In any case if they believe you have a valid point, the designer can then take your problem and work out an effective solution that not only takes your problem into consideration but keeps the design of the website cohesive and the goals in sight.
Remember, design is very subjective. Everyone has a personal opinion, but we first must consider what is best for the users, and their experience with the website.
Competitor Websites as Inspiration Only
Reviewing competitor’s websites from a design, functionality, and marketing strategy view is an important part of designing your own website. From them you can cherry pick the good ideas while discarding the bad. It also allows you to gauge the level of quality of not only the overall website build, but marketing strategy you are competing with in your business niche.
You do need to remember though that just blindly following what others have done is a mistake. What works for a competitor’s website, might not necessarily work for yours. Plus, without any data to back up your assumptions of the competitor’s website, there is no way of knowing for sure if the website is even truly effective. You need to take your own business operations into account along with the goals of the website and your audiences needs.
You want your website to stand out as a leader and not just blend in with the rest of your competitors. So, reusing all of their visual and functional design decisions is not ideal.
Avoid Designing by Committee
The more people involved in the design the more complicated it gets. With too many decision makers the design becomes a collection of compromises, and the website as a whole may become uninspiring. Ideally you need to keep the number of decisions makers to a minimum. It should be the person who is the primary contact on the project as they have a clear understanding of why certain decisions have been made.
If more than one decision maker is required, if possible, it is best if the designer meets with each person separately. This keeps conflict to a minimum and leads to more honest feedback instead of the whole group just agreeing with the main authority figure.
Receiving feedback from someone outside the project who are not your target website visitors (like friends and family) should be avoided as well. They have no context to the design process and do not understand the project goals.
The great thing about websites is the design and content is not permanent. It can be changed at any time.
If something goes live that looks not to gel with your visitors, it can be changed.
If you are not sure about the existing design of a section in a critical part of the website, and you have other design options, they can be switched out and tested over time to see which one performs the best.
It comes down to trusting the agency or freelancer you hired to design and build your website. They have years of experience in the field and have worked on many projects before. They will design a website that will appeal to your audience and meet the project goals.
Following the above suggestions while listening to the recommendations of your designer will lead to efficiencies and overall a more successful project.