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How to get the Best from your Website Designer

This re-published blog post was from Illiya Vjestica, who is the founder of Smardog Digital, an online marketing consultancy firm based in Leeds. You can read his excellent online marketing blog here.

Posted: 20 Oct 2010 02:27 AM PDT

Every designer needs clear instructions from a client to what they are specifically asking for, unfortunately not everyone knows how to get the best from working with a talented website designer and a lot of clients need help communicating their instructions across more clearly.

You wouldn’t tell a builder to put your front door on the roof of the house, well that’s because its easy to give those kind of instructions there isn’t anything to cloud your judgement and its common sense. What about when it comes to the design? Well read on my friends…

Website Designers are very Creative People

The path to becoming a good or should say great website designer is littered with pot holes and difficulties along the way just like any other career choice. Everyone has to start somewhere and it takes years of practice to become talented in an industry that is very competitive and very oversubscribed. Pretty much everyone has claimed to be a website designer at some point, I’m sure of that.

Sound likes like hard work, it is and you should have respect for their abilities, yes you heard me. It takes real talent and hard graft to become a great website designer, it isn’t easy you know coming up with ideas for new designs, luckily I’ve had the pleasure to work with some of the best talent in Yorkshire. The best designers are meticulous in their planning and often work much longer hours than the average 9-5 job. Drop the perceptions, every designer is unique.

Your Not the Designer

Stop worrying, you don’t have to be a designer or have a BTEC National in graphic design to be able to work with one, stop dictating and start communicating. Don’t try put yourself in the designers shoes and think ‘if I was designing this website what would I do’, this isn’t the right approach. Trust me.

Design is all about communication, Ask yourself what are trying to communicate? What is the message your trying to convey to your audience?

Will Harris put it perfectly in his post about working with designers;

The way to inspire a designer is to give them the message and feeling you want to convey, and the freedom to convey it in a fresh, new way.”

How do you work with a website designer to get the best out of their work? Here are our 5 top tips:

1. Choose a Designer who Suits You

Do your research and look at their portfolio, have a look at their previous work and see if you like the style of their design. The best designers will have a varied and wide portfolio of different websites. Have they had experience dealing with similar websites in your industry or sector? If they have, then it is likely they’ll be comfortable with designing yours. Ask around, don’t be afraid to call their clients and ask about their designs, getting feedback directly from previous clients is crucial when picking a good designer.

2. Don’t Design by Committee

Have you heard the expression ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth“, before starting any project assign a maximum of ONE person to deal directly with briefing the designer. Nobody enjoys being passed from person to person, so who makes the final decision on the design?

Well, it certainly shouldn’t be that of the HiPPOs (Highest Paid Persons Opinion), so who should we ask? Your target audience!

After all they are the ones who will be using the website at the end of the day. So how can you get your audiences opinion you ask? There are a number of testing tools out there, Website OptimizerGoogle’s free website testing and optimisation tool should do you just find. You can test the new website design on a segment of your traffic and analysis the results.

There is a website, Concept Feedback where you can get feedback on your designs, or you can upload the designs to a private link on your hosting and invite your audience to leave their feedback, this has been successful implemented by a number of companies through social media to get the biggest response.

3. Design for your Audience

My friend likes it in blue, that call to action should in be red,  I heard red is powerful for conversions, Susan in marketing thinks all the buttons should be pink. You laugh now, but it is a common occurrence that is why so many website look like a Frankensteins monster, its not always the designers fault there is just far too much input.

It is the customer who buys from you regularly and connects with your products time and time again who you should be designing for. How do you know what they like? By testing, test, test, test and test again. Embrace the love of testing!

4. Send Amends Together, Not One by One

Don’t send each amend by e-mail, it is very difficult to keep track of amends from 10 different e-mails, the designer can easily miss some of them. Instead create a word document and input into all the amends you have for a particular part of project and send them over in one go. This way the designer will be able to go through and tick them all off the list. It will also help you to keep track off what has been done.

5. Trust the Designer

They have had years experiences dealing with the most difficult website design projects, they understand what works best on the web and they should be advising you on the best practice on how things should be structured and laid out. Trust is powerful, if you give your designer the freedom to express themselves you’ll notice the results.

Flick Photo Credit (Web designer) – By Jeremy Keith adactio

Flick Photo Credit (Post Header) – By fdecomite