5 Tips to Make Your Web Design Project Awesome

What’s the secret to making a website design project awesome?

In many cases it comes down to the working relationship between the designer and the client. I’ve had success working with both novice clients who have never worked on a website and experienced clients who’ve been through the process a dozen times. I think the path to success often comes from a client understanding the following:

1. Don’t Rush (Unless You Have To)

I’ve worked on many websites where we had to work backward from an important marketing date. But on many projects, I’ve had clients who just need to have their site ASAP!!! Rushing a project can have a huge impact on the quality of design. In many cases, I’ve even rushed to complete a design and the client hasn’t even started their website copy. Producing something great takes time for the designer and the client. Designers need time to be able to creatively solve design challenges. Clients (especially small business owners) need time to figure out how they want to communicate what their business is.

Don’t be afraid to take your time to figure it out the first time. Nobody wants to be completely revamping a website after a couple of months because it doesn’t speak to your visitors.

2. Be Involved from the Start

Web designers are often guilty of going off to their dark little caves to work in secrecy on your project. They like to take their notes and go away to work on the design until they are ready to present the final work. In many cases this approach leads to problems, but it comes from past experience with website owners who overwork a design.

A better approach is for you and the designer to work together from the start. You are the expert on your business. A web designer needs you to help them understand your business, its customers and what goals you have for your website.

You should be involved in seeing draft sketches, wireframes, designs and test sites. When the web design reaches its final state, it will be is something that you are both happy with. By being involved in the design process from the start, your project can avoid having design crushing feedback arriving at the end of the design phase.

3. Clearly Define Your Audience

Clearly communicate to your web designer who is the audience of your website. You’ll need to really think about who is your customer today and tomorrow. It might be a good idea to create detailed customer profiles based on demographics, purchasing habits and interests. You can even assign names to these profiles to really make them come alive.

If the web designer does not fully understand the target audience they could easily present the entire site in the wrong way. For example, if the website is for an older audience it might need to have a simple layout structure and larger font. If the audience is a group of experienced website users, then social media links and integration will be important.

4. Focus on Problems, We’ll Figure out the Solution

I’ve been in early talks with clients where they specifically tell me how to design the site or what technology to use. I’ve also seen half completed projects where a client will see a problem (e.g. that the colour scheme is not appropriate for his audience) and tell the designer how things should be changed (e.g. change from pink to blue).

Web designers are experts at creating websites, that’s why your hired them. Instead of telling your designer exactly what to do and how to do it, communicate the problem you are trying to solve (for example: people are not completing our newsletter sign up form). By asking the designer to come up with the solution, you’ll leverage years of their experience solving problems for other website owners.

5. Don’t Say Goodbye

Many website owners hire a web designer to redesign their website and then walk away. It is important for someone to be responsible for continually adding content and coming up with new ways to reach customers. You’ve put an investment of time and money into your new website, why would you walk away and never look at it again. You’ve planting an awesome garden – make sure you someone is gardening the website.

If you are hands off and want the designer to take care of your site, set-up a follow-up meeting every 3-6 months. If you have a content management system, use it often. Either way, don’t ignore the site until it’s been 3 years and it’s time to completely start over and rebuild your out of date website.