In one of my previous posts [How to find a good website designer for your small business] I mentioned that there were seemingly a lot of people who’ve had a falling-out with their web designer. Part of the remedy is to find a web designer with who you “click”. But what happens after you’ve clicked and the design relationship develops? To avoid the pain of a break-up down the track, consider these 10 dos and don’ts for getting along well with your web designer.
1.Do provide a clear brief – web designers are not mind-readers.
The more input you can provide, the better. Your brand colours, style and personality form part of it. Also outline exactly what you’re offering and who your ideal customer might be. Consider the future needs of your website too, not just what you need to get started. [Read more in Why web design needs more than a brief brief.]
2. Do give feedback.
If you’re not happy with something, say so. There’s no point sighing inwardly and ending up with a website you’re unhappy with. Give your designer a chance to explain their rationale behind the design (or technical reasons, in some cases) and they should give you a chance to explain your own thoughts and feelings. Only then can you come to an agreement.
3. Do listen to advice.
You hired a web designer for their expertise, so take heed of what they say. Just as you would if you’d hired a builder. A good web designer will know what works, what can grow and change with your business, and what to steer clear of. Design should be a 2-way conversation.
4. Don’t change your mind 20 times (or even 4 times).
Understand that changes take time and effort. Asking your designer to keep altering or replacing components of the design because you keep changing your mind (beyond the original brief) can really strain the relationship. Hark back to points 1 and 4, or be prepared for additional costs.
So when your site is almost complete and you say “Hey, I just found this really cool website that does whiz bang whirlygigs..! Can you add them?” know that you’re not likely to hear “Sure, no problem” in response. More likely it will result in a Change of Scope and require more of our time and your funds.
5. Don’t expect to get the exact same design as another site you like.
Unless you want a cheap, templated website, you should only look to other websites for inspiration. Sure, you can check out your competitors’ websites and even collect ideas from them, but don’t ask for one that looks the same, or even works the same. Besides potential copyright issues, there are differences in platforms and add-ons, etc, that affect the way a site is built.
6. Don’t plagiarise content.
When you are asked to supply some text or other content, it needs to be new and fresh. Again, copyright is one issue (and yes, there are ways to track plagiarised copy). Another concern is Google – your site’s ranking can be penalised for repeating existing content. If you can’t write your own content, you might want to hire a copywriter to assist.
7. Do be honest about your abilities.
These days most people use a computer or device in some capacity, but you need to be “reasonably proficient” to keep a website updated. If you’ve never created a Word document, don’t know how to use tabbed browsing, or are severely dyslexic, I suggest you don’t ask for a Content Management System (CMS). Your web designer can probably offer a maintenance package or a simple fee structure for making ad-hoc changes for you.
8. Don’t delay the project because you’re “too busy”.
There are always times within a project where you, the client, need to provide content, feedback and reviews, etc, and progress halts while the designer waits for the go-ahead. This is your website and an important part of your business. It pays to put in some of your own energy and momentum to get it working for you. (Besides, if you leave it too long, I’ll have forgotten where I’m up to!)
9. Don’t expect your website to be set-and-forget.
It’s not a case of “build it and they will come” – you need to actively market your new website, keep its content updated and relevant, and continue to tweak it as you continue to tweak your business. See point 8 above about putting in some energy. And point 7 about getting help if you need it.
10. Do pay on time.
I shouldn’t need to say this one. If the work has been completed, and meets the brief, it’s time to pay. Look what happened in one extreme case when someone didn’t cough up: http://www.businessinsider.com/revenge-freelancer-hijacks-gym-chains-web-site-over-pay-dispute-2013-2