July 21, 2015 Aaron Carpenter

How To Get The Most Out of your Web Designer

Web design is a specialty service.  There is a lot of training and experience that is required before someone can produce significant results in web design.  Results can be measured in traffic, sales, engagement, and functionality just to name a few.

So how do you know if you’re getting the most out of your web designer?  We’ve written this article to give you some tips if you are currently working with a web designer so that you might feel a little more comfortable when you start the web design process.

Quick Web Design Lingo Reference Sheet:

Web Designer: Someone who designs your website.  This is the person that will work in Photoshop, or some equivalent software to create the ‘look and feel’ of your website.

Web Developer: This person builds your website.  They are responsible for prototyping complex functionality, and working with designers to make sure that what is being designed is accomplishable technically.

Wireframe:  These are very rough sketches of your website layout.  Usually, you just draw out boxes where you want elements like your feature sider, blog posts, images, contact forms, etc.  Start out by drawing a very large rectangle (the outside border of your website) and begin drawing boxes inside of that where you want the different pieces of your website to go.  Your designer will typically help you through this process and offer helpful suggestions along the way because their experience has taught them best practices of how to lay out a website.

Web Architect: Usually, this is a project manager or a highly qualified professional that is experienced in multiple disciplines of web.  Typically, they have experience in design, development, search engine optimization, and web application to business and business management.

Domain Name: A domain name is a web address that you purchase from a registrar (like NameCheap, Godaddy, etc).  This is acts like a shortcut to your website.

Hosting: This is a company, sometimes the same as your registrar, that rents out a computer to you that is hooked up to the internet 24/7/365 which your website will be stored on.

Contract: You should have one.  Most people don’t know that intellectual property laws hold that the designer always retains rights to the design unless explicitly signed over to the client.  If your contract with your web designer doesn’t have this clause in the contract, you’re likely not going to be the owner of the design, and if you choose to move on to another service provider, you may not be able to take the design with you.

(Looking for more answers to industry jargon?  Drop us a line and we’ll happily clear it up for you.)

Ok, I’m working with a web development company, now how do I get the most out of the experience?

Accurately conveying what you desire in the website, how you’d like it to work, and where you’re fuzzy and looking for help is the key to your ideal end result.  This is typically addressed in the first stage of web design during a process called discovery.  During this process, your web development company will ask you a set of questions to help explore your business, web idea, and your intentions for the project.  Ideally, they’ll also provide helpful suggestions along the way that will offer a more rich user experience.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your time, the most of your web designer / web developer’s time, and get the most kick-ass project developed possible.

  • Write it down.  Write everything down.  It may be a great idea in your mind but until it’s down in words even you might be a little fuzzy about how it actually looks.
  • Sketch it out.  You might not be Michelangelo or Banksy, but that’s okay.  Sketch it out the best you can.  Wireframes are a great place to start, especially for complex web applications.
  • If you have questions, ask.  The phrase web designers and web developers here most often is “I don’t know very much about this but…”.  That’s totally fine, we know you don’t!  We’re not an expert in your field either.  So, ask away!  It’s better to get the questions all out on the table so everyone is on the same page.
  • Mange your expectations.  Web design isn’t easy.  It’s a very complex, highly specialized field of work.  We may make it look easy, but that’s because we’ve spent thousands of hours sharpening our skills.  Everything takes a certain amount of time to accomplish.  From discovery, to design, to development, to deployment.  An excellent web developer will be able to give you close estimates as to how long those things will take, but it will always be an estimate.  We are working with new clients everyday, and how quickly we progress through the same set of tasks depends on the client too.
  • Be patient.  Web design is a collective process of marketing knowledge, logic and programming, and practical application of current web technology.  Things will come up that you do not expect to have as hurdles to jump.  Take a breath, tackle them one at a time together.  When in doubt, ask your designer or developer how best to proceed, or what the options are.
  • Learn to lean on your designer.  Unless you’re in the habit of developing professional brands, banners, websites, brochures, and other promotional material that impresses you when you look at it, you are probably not in the best position to make executive decisions about how to best lay out a project.  You are, however, essential in the processes because your’e the expert in what you do.  You know very well how to connect to your audience.  You know what your primary objectives are.  So relay that information to your designer and lean on their experience and wisdom on how to make those ideas and objectives look great and come to life.
  • Have fun with it.  The more you can make this fun and less like homework, the more compliments you’re going to end up getting on the final website.  If you’re feeling stuck or frustrated, take a step back.  Let it go for a little while and come back to it with a fresh mind.  Also, reach out for help to your designer or developer if you feel stuck, they can probably offer several different solutions to what you’re struggling with.

If you stay focused on the above points when working with the web development team to build your next digital masterpiece, you’ll find that you’ll get far more value out of the project.  Not only that, but you’ll be focused on utilizing everyone’s expertise in the best possible way.  Don’t forget, you’re an expert in the room too, you’re an expert in your field.  Your web development firm will be relying on you for that information and critical insights into how best to connect to your audience.

About the Author

Aaron Carpenter My name is Aaron Carpenter and I've been building web applications since 2002. Helping shape internet experiences for people to best match what their users are looking for, and creating web applications that become online tools to help manage businesses is what I love to do most.

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