Deciding on what you want your new website to look like and how it will function is only the beginning of the web design process. You will then need to find a web designer you can work with, and you will need to convey your ideas to your chosen web designer.
As with any creative process, there can be differences of opinion between client and web designers. And sometimes, technical and budgetary constraints may mean that you must compromise to a certain degree on your initial vision. On the other hand, your web designer may also develop ideas for your website that you had not considered.
So, how can you work with a web designer to get the website that you had envisioned? And how can you avoid some of the common misunderstandings and subsequent disputes between web designers and their clients? Here are ten tips to help you work with a web designer to get the perfect website for your needs.
1. Select a professional web design company
If you have no prior experience in web design and development, it would be best to hire a professional web design company to develop your site. An established web design company will have the resources and the experience to build a site to your specifications. And just as crucial, professional web designers are used to working with clients who are not familiar with web development. You could save money by hiring a freelancer to develop your site. However, a freelancer may not have the depth of experience required to design and build your site, and there is no guarantee of quality when you hire a freelance web developer.
2. Don’t select a web designer on cost alone
When looking for a web designer, it would be best not to focus too much on price during your initial search. Instead, look for a web design company with experience in developing sites in your sector, and one that can provide plenty of testimonials and references. Of course, you will have a budget for your new website, and you will always be able to find a web developer who will develop your site “on the cheap.” However, the crucial thing to do is find a web designer who can deliver a website that will help you achieve your business goals.
3. Communicate your business goals
The look and feel of a website are, of course, critical. However, there is no benefit in having a fabulous looking website if it does not achieve your business goals. So, your first task before you talk to a web designer is to define your business goals. Your goals might include things like raising brand awareness, generating leads, or selling products online. These broad goals will later be translated into detailed functional requirements.
4. Take inspiration from your competitors
The easiest way to illustrate what you want is to refer to other websites on the internet. You will not want an exact copy of someone else’s website. Even so, competitors’ websites will provide useful examples of the type of functionality that you require. You will probably be given a questionnaire by your web design company that will be used to develop your website specification. You can save yourself a lot of time by using other websites as examples to illustrate your answers to the questionnaire. Using real-life examples will also help to avoid any misunderstandings.
5. Make lists
A web designer’s worst nightmare is a customer who doesn’t know what they want and keeps changing their mind. Incomplete and ever-changing specifications are what cause delays and cost overruns that inevitably lead to disputes. The best way to avoid falling into this “scope-creep” trap is to prepare detailed lists of what you want. List out all the pages that you envision your website containing, for example. If you have product descriptions that will need uploading to the site, communicate the number of products to your web designer at the project’s outset. The more detail you provide with website requirements, the less likely it will be that there will be delays or unexpected costs.
6. Produce the content first
If you were wondering what comes first, the content or the website, it’s the content. Your content will get your business message across. It is your content that will largely determine your search engine rankings. You will also likely find that writing the content will prompt you to think about additional pages that you will need on your site. Talk to your web designer If you are unsure how to write search engine optimized content. A professional web design company will give you guidance on how to write website copy. Most web design companies also have content writers they can use should decide not to write the content yourself.
7. Agree on project scope
The most crucial thing you can do to ensure a painless web development project is to agree on the project’s scope in a written document. A detailed web design document will include the website’s pages and the functionality required. In complex projects, the database design will also be included. The scope document will consist of the deliverables, the timetable, and any dependencies. The scope document will also specify the responsibilities of both the design company and the client. A detailed web design scope document is crucial because it protects both the client and the web design company.
8. Consolidate input and feedback
You will be asked for feedback through the course of the development of your new website. You may also want to change the project’s scope or amend some of your original design ideas. It will be best if you don’t fire off ideas and feedback piecemeal, though. Instead, save your feedback and send the design company periodic feedback and change requests at agreed intervals. If you send an email to your web designer every time you want a change or have some feedback, individual emails may get overlooked. There may also be knock-on effects that must be considered before changes are made. So, designate one person in your organization to be the sole contact with the web design company. And send consolidated requests for changes periodically as agreed with the design company.
9. Make sure that deadlines are kept on both sides
Your web designer should meet the agreed development deadlines. However, not responding to requests for information or changing the project’s scope will inevitably result in delays. It is only right that you chase the web design company if they are late delivering on their promises. But you will have deadlines that you will need to meet, too. Ultimately, the best way to work with a web designer is to work as a team. Develop a good working relationship with a web design company from the outset. Then, you will have a long-term partner who will work with you on future enhancements to your site as well as the initial build.
10. Be realistic
One of the advantages of working with a professional web design company is that they have a reputation to protect. So, you can be sure that they will do all they can to deliver a first-class solution for you, on time and within budget. However, even the best-designed website will not rocket straight to the top position on Google the day it is launched, and the best web design company cannot deliver on time if you ask for significant changes to your site at the last minute. When you hire a web designer, you are investing in an asset that will grow over time. So, be realistic about what you can achieve when your site first goes live.
To sum up, working with an established professional web design company will usually yield superior results. Even so, you will still need to communicate what you need and agree on the deliverables with your chosen design company. After that, working with your web designer, meeting your deadlines, and staying in-scope will ensure that you get a well-designed website that meets your business needs.