Website Design, Strategy, Social Networking, SEO, Susan Pomeroy, Ph.D.

Eight Ways to Get the Best from Your Web Designer

by Susan Pomeroy

8 ways to get the best from your web designer

At least half my clients have come to me because something wasn’t working with their previous web designer. Generally, what’s bugging them is the communication process. And because they’re not comfortable communicating with their designer, their sites have gone stagnant. I’ve heard things like “He only communicates by email; I can’t ever just phone him.” Or, “I was shocked when I got my bill, he never said it would cost that much.” Or “He said he can’t fix [fill in the blank problem] without buying [fill in the blank expensive new technology]—do I really need it?”

Usually, these businesspeople suffered in silence over a period of some time before their paths crossed mine. They’ve had to shrug their shoulders about work that never got done, plans that stayed in limbo, money not made, money spent unwisely, and precious time wasted.

Do you want the site of your dreams, and depend on your designer to get you there? Here are eight ways to have a more comfortable, productive, and ultimately, profitable relationship with your designer.

  • Use your designer as a consultant. If you discuss your thoughts and plans for changes with your designer while your thoughts are still in gestational stages, she or he can often give you feedback, ideas, and suggestions for cheaper/better/easier ways to accomplish your goals. They’ll also have time to research new technologies they may have heard or read about that might help you achieve what you’re looking for—before the last-minute crunch.
  • Batch your changes. If you batch your web revisions together rather than sending 15 individual emails, it saves your designer time, and saves you money.
  • Don’t pretend to understand what your designer is talking about. Keep asking questions. “How will that help me?” “How will that save me time/money?” “How will that (technology, process, proposal) help me achieve my goals for the site?”
  • If your designer asks you to sign a contract, read it carefully! One client, Erica, came to me for web site changes which required the original Photoshop files used to create her site. Her former designer responded with a snippy note instructing her to read her contract. Yes, he owned the Photoshop files… and wanted to charge her over a thousand dollars to ransom them.
  • Which brings me to the next point: clarify up front whether you own your site design and artwork.
  • Communicate proactively and clearly about money, pricing, and what you’re willing to spend. Never be afraid to ask “Is there a less expensive way to accomplish the same goal?” And the follow-up question to that one, “What are the trade-offs of doing it that way?” When you ask—and you must—your designer should be able to state clearly what can be accomplished given the funds you have. That said, all technical projects occasionally run into unexpected glitches that aren’t anyone’s fault. Which leads me to the next item.
  • Be accessible and easy to communicate with, without being a micromanager. You may cut yourself off from crucial information by being either inaccessible, or overly invested in details. Give your designer room to work while letting them know you’re available when needed.
  • Choose a collaborator, not a web site Nazi. Your designer is there to give you their most skilled support and advice to help you achieve your goals, not to impose a vision, style, or business model upon your site. If you can’t communicate with your designer, look for another. Immediately!

If you have a designer already, these are proactive ways to get a lot more out of the relationship. If you don’t have one yet, they’re selection criteria. Whether you need a designer once a year, or once a week, you and your business deserve the best.

 communicate with your web designer

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