My first experience with a web designer was from the other side of the computer, when I was asked to one for the organisation I was working for and manage the build of a website. While I didn’t do too badly with it, it was the first time I’d had to work with a web designer, and I made quite a few mistakes. There isn’t a rulebook out there on how to work with designers, and I know that it can be quite a daunting thing – which is why I’ve written this post.
Below are the 5 main tips I’d give to anyone who wants to work – or is working(!) – with a web designer. Or, in fact, any kind of designer!
Every good client – designer relationship is founded on good communication.
If you have any worries or concerns about your work with your designer, it’s really important you talk to them about it. Your relationship with your designer is a professional one, and they shouldn’t take any reasoned concerns you raise personally. We’re often a pretty conscientious bunch, and just want to do our best to create something you’re happy with.
It’s also true that there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Everyone has a different level of understanding about web design, so if your designer is talking about something that just leaves you feeling baffled, tell them!
Don’t forget that communication is a two way street though; if you’re not happy with how your designer is communicating with you, tell them, and try to resolve it. If it seems unresolvable, you have every right to find a different designer.
2. Be specific with feedback
If you’re asked to check work and give feedback to your designer, try to be as specific and clear as possible.
If you don’t like something, try to stay away from vague phrases such as “it doesn’t pop” or even just “I don’t like it”. Instead, try to identify what exactly it is you don’t like and explain this to your designer. Stay polite, kind, and don’t make it personal.
If you do like something, it also helps to say so! Not only is it nice to hear when you’ve got something right, it can help guide your designer in how to adjust any elements you don’t like.
3. Read your contract
It’s so important to properly read any contracts or agreements of work your designer send you before you start any work with them.
This will help you understand what is expected of you, when any deadlines are, how many work revisions you are allowed and who is responsible for what. It may even help you identify whether your web designer is the right fit for you before you start work, rather than discovering halfway through a project that your expectations can’t be met by your contract.
If you have any questions about your contract, don’t be afraid to ask your web designer. They are used to clarifying elements in a contract.
4. Let your designer problem solve
A lesser recognised skill of web design is problem solving, and I highly recommend you make the most of this if you’ve hired a web designer.
If you spot a problem, or you’re looking for a solution to implement something on your website, give all the details to your designer and ask if they can advise you. Don’t be too directive by coming up with the solutions yourself and telling your designer what to do.
The reason for this is that they live and breathe web design every day. Their knowledge base should be pretty vast, and they will be able to think through a large range of solutions to come up with one that should be the best fit for your needs.
Let’s say you’re unhappy with a colour that’s been used in a section of your website. You think it’s too dark, and you want something a bit lighter and fresher. You could contact your designer and say “please change the colour in this section to [insert colour value]” (and do this probably several times until the colour is better), and the designer would do it, but you’ve excluded them from the process.
If, instead, you got in touch and said “I think the colour in the X section is too dark; would it be possible to have something lighter and fresher?” then your designer will understand what your needs are, and will be able to play around and come up with something different to suit the design… potentially even something entirely different and better which you wouldn’t otherwise have considered.
Think in terms of problems, and let your designer suggest solutions.
5. Progress… not perfection
This is actually my mantra at the moment, as it’s something I struggle with a lot personally!
There is no such thing as the ‘perfect design’ or ‘perfect website’ (design is subjective after all), so if you spot yourself focusing on really minscule details and asking for super minor adjustments, step back and ask yourself whether it’s really helping.
I always tell my clients that it can be helpful to think about whether ‘right now… is this enough?’. You’re not trying to create a perfect, unchanging masterpiece – a website is a fluid, changing tool to help you promote yourself to the world. It should change and adapt over time, so let go of any need to get it ‘just right’ and focus on making progress.