10 things a website designer needs to know from a client

There’s a lot to be said for getting off on the right foot. And when it comes to the client / web designer relationship, clear communication is key. It’s how you arrive at the right balance of aesthetics and functionality. Your end product depends as much upon the clarity of your communication as it does on the skills of the designer. So, we go through what information really is crucial for a web designer to be able to work at their optimum on your project.

  1. Understand the Business
    Even if their portfolio includes industry peers, take the time to convey your own business to your designer. Using competitors is a great way to understand the industry, but remember that your competitors aren’t you. A web design needs to reflect how your workplace functions, your work culture, and business priorities. These are unique to your organisation and should all come across in your final web product. A good understanding of how a final website fits into the daily workings of an organisation will always result in better functionality that fits into your business priorities.
  2. Targets and goals
    Telling your web designer that you want a better website doesn’t give them much to go on. However, in order to express more specific goals to your web designer, you need to identify those goals yourself. So, do you want to increase e-commerce orders? Or is active engagement your aim? Do you hope to increase the traffic to your website, regardless of sales conversions? Perhaps in the immediate term it’s about brand visibility and making a mark in your space. These targets are really important in providing a focus for your product’s design.
  3. Audience
    At the end of the day, your web product isn’t really for you the client. It should appeal to your target audience. Your web designer knows this, so give them a decent idea of who your current client base are, and what the demographics are for those you want to attract. Using profiles will help to structure where your users are likely to be engaged. This is especially crucial if your goal is to expand your reach with a new website.
  4. Deadlines
    Depending on the scale of the project, we’re talking about both a final deadline and the milestone deadlines along the way. Randomly chosen deadlines don’t help anyone. It’s worth having a realistic look at how long approvals will take on the client side and time availability on the designer’s side. Check whether any key personnel are taking time away, will this impact the progression of the project? A realistic and practical deadline will always result in more satisfaction on both sides.
  5. Budgets
    Budgeted outlay will always guide what you can expect from a finished product. Check that you’ve broken down your budget to think of everything and don’t cut corners. Don’t assume that your designer can develop or that your developer can design, and budget for branding and content separately. A budget shouldn’t assume that any of these things are rolled into the other, since they are all different services. If you source an agency that has expertise in all of these things, fantastic!
  6. Functionality
    Obvious, right? Well, you’d be surprised. When it comes to functionality, you really need to get down to the minutiae right from the outset. After all, user experience is now a key part of Google’s core vitals. The expertise of most web designers is very much visual and aesthetic. Which is just part of UX. So if you require the kind of functionality that is beyond templated CMS packages then you’ll need to employ a developer, or appoint a web design and development service.
  7. Content
    Set early expectations for your content. A web designer will expect you to provide the content for them to use, so don’t assume that this automatically part of what your designer offers. Of course, this isn’t always the case. So if you need a service to include content as part of the design and development of your website, make sure that you have sourced a web design agency who has access and expertise to this part of the process. If you’re providing content, be conscious of deadlines and delays in approving the text. Delays here will have a knock on impact on your designer’s work.
  8. Branding
    Your corporate branding will steer a lot of the aesthetic elements of your new website. From colours to font to layout, something as simple as a logo has a huge knock on effect for web and app design. So it’s important for you to be happy with your branding! If your new website is part of a rebranding exercise, ensure that all parties are on the same page. Your web designer isn’t there to create a new brand, don’t forget. If you need additional services, make sure you’re talking to someone who can offer it!
  9. Liaison
    Be clear with your designer who their liaison point is. What is your approval process, as this can impact deadlines and project progression. If each feature has to be approved by several board members, then it’s likely to drag a bit. This can impact your designer’s ability to fulfil their brief so be clear about it from the outset.
  10. The Future
    It’s never too early to discuss ongoing support, potential website amends, additional products such as apps, and added features. These things all may or may not come up as an organisation grows, but it’s worth scoping out whether a designer or agency has the capacity to work with you into the future. Any assumptions made here can cause havoc, so again clarity is important.

It’s true that time is always at a premium and everyone is busy. However, by taking a bit of extra time to bring clarity of communication in your client / web designer relationship, you’ll arrive at a better final product. Businesses should use this advice to brief their designers and designers should use it to probe their clients. At the end of it all, both parties will be winners!