How to Communicate With Your Web Designer to Get Exactly What You Want
Website design projects can be tricky. And when you’re not a designer yourself, finding the right words to communicate with your web designer in a way that translates your vision can be quite the head scratcher. You want one thing but don’t know how to explain that to your designer? Ahh!—it can be frustrating. That’s why communication is key—to website design, to client relationships, to internal brand process, and your relationships in general (professional, and not so professional). Failed web design projects often begin with unclear expectations or misunderstood goals, vision, and intentions. Get clear about what you want and know just the way to tell (or show) your designer so they can create a voilà site that complements your brand.
The Creative Breed of Web Designers
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 fine, you can think of a web designer as a digital architect. They are responsible for designing every piece of a website that you see: layout, UX design, color palette, graphics … everything. Some, not all, web designers have coding and SEO capabilities too. You will want to ask your web designer first before adding these types of tasks to their list. If not, find a coding specialist, as well as an SEO expert, and let your designer do the fun stuff—creating a visual representation of your brand online. To enjoy a wildly successful outcome with your web designer, brush up on your communication skills. Designers speak in designer terms so make sure you’re able to effectively communicate with your web designer with these 5 simple steps.
1. Get Clear On Expectations
Successful web design begins with a conversation, so don’t skip this crucial step. Communicating expectations with your web designer upfront creates a fruitful landscape for productivity defined by boundaries. 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 will likely include the web designer, art director or brand director, and project manager. For a freelancer, decision makers will likely just be a web designer. When meeting, clarify goals and identify the logistical problems together before the web designer dives into the creative work. Although it’s the most important first step to designing a website, too often this conversation doesn’t happen. When this is the case, the project is lead into unforeseen snags in the backend and misunderstood goals. This can slow down the web designer’s execution process, which could lead to costly do-overs, delayed website reveals, and frustration for both you and your web designer. Here’s how to have a clear conversation that will adequately identify the goals and expectations you have for your website. 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—this doesn’t really tell your web designer anything. Be more specific and bring additional information to the table. Explain the issue best you can so they can fix the problem the best they can. 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 find ways to design your site in a different way, fixing the issue. Follow up your concerns with clearly stated goals. Some good examples could be:
- “We need new visitors to sign up for our email list.”
- “Returning customers should be signing up for the 8-week course.”
- “We want to promote the seasonal product on each page of the website.”
- “X product needs to be seen by more people. How can we get it in front of more customers?”
- “Our About page is where we want people to be. The goal is to connect with customers with our story and make sure they who we really are as a brand.”
2. 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 that you’re paying for. You may have some insight on why customers are dropping off your shop page. Maybe your prices are too high. Or your product images just aren’t quite grabbing their attention. The web designer may use your suggestions or come up with something new. What if your designer sees it as a design issue? Your product images could be too close together and it comes off unappealing. Or the font that displays your product’s name is too hard to read. Your designer will be able to point out those issues and give a designer’s perspective on “how” the problem can be solved. For example, if you’re worried that one call to action button on your homepage isn’t attracting customers, you might think it has something to do with the messaging, color, or size of the button. The web designer could have a different solution. Their solution deals with spacing, positioning of the button, or removing surrounding content that is overpowering the button. Easy peasy.
3. 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 of website revamp tasks 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 available for the important stuff. Let’s say you need a revamped home page, a new look for each of your product pages, a new contact page layout, and updated bio pages for each member of your team. What is your priority? People generally (not always) visit your homepage first. If someone new is turned away because your homepage is outdated, unappealing, or not clear about your brand or how they can make a purchase, then you’re in trouble. Your homepage should probably be priority #1 in this case. Then, let’s say your product pages are the second most visited pages on your website. Make sure those priority #2 and other tasks follow behind, also in order of importance. Always make sure to organize your priorities in order of what will help your brand with the most conversions right out of the gate. Then switch the focus over to your less-visited interpages when those chances are made.
4. Communicate With Your Web Designer Through Visuals Whenever Possible
As business owners, we may not always know how to exactly get our visual thinking, goals, and preferences across to designers in a way that makes the most sense to them … and to us. While small business owners might speak and understand a concept auditorily, web designers conceptualize things visually. Take advantage of this and communicate with your web designer in their language. Did you find an awesome and visually pleasing web page that you love and you think it will work well for your brand too? Share it with your designer. Would you like a specific product image to be displayed for each of your product pages? Bring it to your designer’s attention and show ‘em. What about that super awesome infographic webpage that made XYZ’s brand process so easy to understand? Will it work for you? Give it to your designer as reference. But don’t forget to communicate specifically what you like and don’t like. When designers can actually see what you’re thinking, it becomes easier for both of you to understand one another, making sure you’re both on the same page. Showing, rather than telling, puts the web designer right in your head. And, if you’re feeling ambitious (go you!), send your notes and task list in visual form too. Use boxes and color coding to get your point across. Doodle graphics and charts (event if you’re not an artist) to illustrate the point you’re trying to make. Take these steps and you’re pretty much guaranteed a badass website. And don’t forget about that gift basket that’ll probably be coming your way around Christmas!
5. Think of Design as a Process
Once you complete all of these organized lists and provide everything to your web designer in pristine perform, leave it to the wind. That’s right, web design is a process. It’s in everyone’s best interest to respect the process—it takes time. 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. Home page is finished? Tell your designer to send it over so you can take a look. Looking fabulous? Awesome! Your designer will move onto the next steps. Be patient in the process, communicate when needed, and start getting amped to see your brand new, eye-catching website when the appropriate time comes along.
You know that exotic breed of creative animals we were talking about earlier? We have a few hiding away at the Bareknuckle headquarters. We’ll rangle ‘em up to sit down and have a chat. Even starting with a 15-minute call or a beer will get the ball rolling. Communicate with our web designers that will result in developing a site for your brand that’s top-of-line and eye-catching—even to those who find themselves deep-diving into submerged interpages. These creative animals got you covered!