How to Communicate With Your Web Designer to Get Exactly What You Want
Failed web design projects often begin with unclear expectations or a misunderstanding of how to communicate with your web designer. Before you can dive into a project, you need to know what a web designer is actually trained to do. Web designers are an exotic breed of creative mammal that hail from deep in the urban cubicle forests. They speak in images and can go full days without food or social interaction during deep work periods. They have a high tolerance for dimly lit offices and caffeine and can often be seen drawing on walls or sipping coffee straight from the pot.
Too much? OK, you can think of a web designer as a digital architect. They are responsible for designing all the pieces of a website: layout, UX design, color palette, graphics … everything. Some web designers have coding and SEO capabilities, but you will want to ask your web designer first before adding these types of tasks to their list.
To enjoy a wildly successful outcome with your web designer, brush up on your design communication skills to effectively communicate your needs.
Get Clear On Expectations
Successful web design projects start with a conversation. Schedule a time when your decision makers (project manager, business owner) can sit down with the creative team’s decision makers. For a creative agency decision makers would include the web designer, art director or brand director, and project manager, but for a freelancer, it would just be the web designer. Together you can clarify goals and identify the logistical problems before web design dives into the work.
Too often this conversation doesn’t happen, which leads to unforeseen snags in the backend and misunderstood goals. This will slow down the web designer’s execution process, which could lead to costly do-overs.
Start by stating the problem as best as you can. “No one is buying!” is a problem that could stem from sales, operations, marketing, or design, so this doesn’t really tell your web designer anything. Be more specific and bring additional information to explain the issue. Maybe you see people hovering on the shop page, but no one is buying. Maybe people click through your site but keep bouncing on the same page. Whatever it is, being specific will help your web designer fix this issue more quickly.
Follow up by stating your goals clearly. Some good examples would be:
- “We need new visitors to sign up for our email list.”
- “We need returning customers to sign up for the 8-week course.”
- “We want to promote the seasonal product on each page of the website.”
Communicate With Your Web Designer By Asking The Right Questions
Once the team is clear on goals, ask the web designer how they would go about solving this problem. Asking “how” sparks the creative problem solving you’re paying for. The web designer may use your suggestions or come up with something more effective.
For example, if you’re worried that call to action button isn’t attracting customers, you may think it has something to do with the messaging, color or size of the button itself. The web designer may have a solution that deals with spacing, positioning of the button, or removing surrounding content that may be overpowering the button.
Prioritize Your Request Lists
Once everyone is clear on the problem and the goal, it’s time to task out the to-dos. Before emailing a list to your web designer, organize the list based on urgency and importance. A blank page has a way of convincing you to jot down every single thing related to the topic at hand. But, handing over your brain dump is not productive.
Instead, re-write your brain dump into an organized task list with the most urgent tasks at the top. Clarity on your end keeps the web designer’s brain power for the important stuff.
Communicate With Your Web Designer Through Visuals Whenever Possible
Web designers conceptualize things visually, so take advantage of this and send speak their language. See a web page you like? Share it! This puts the web designer right in your head. If you’re feeling ambitious, send your notes and task list in visual form, too. Use boxes and color coding to get your point across. Take these steps and you’re pretty much guaranteed a gift basket come Christmas.
Think of Design as a Process
Once you complete all these organized lists and provide everything to the web designer in pristine perform, leave it to the wind. That’s right, web design is a process and it’s in everyone’s best interest to respect the process. Even after all that planning, one task may take longer than expected, while another could get buttoned up in half the time. The only way this whole “process” thing works is if you keep the communication lanes open.