Successful web design is an involved and time-consuming process. These strategies will help you get the best from both your web designer and your budget.
1. DO read the terms of trade carefully before signing or paying a deposit: This document protects you both. Make sure you are completely happy with the terms of trade before you sign or pay for anything. Don’t let mismanaged expectations from either party bite you on the backside. Asking for changes to the terms of trade after the project has commenced can lead to disappointment, communication problems and increased costs.
2. DO give weight to your designer’s opinion: Your web designer’s knowledge and experience can help you make decisions. Although no one knows your business like you do, many designers have the insider knowledge and acumen to give you professional, informed advice.
3. DO put time and effort into the brief: This is your most important role in the development of your website. A vague brief results in a vague website. A good designer will provide a thoughtful, detailed briefing template to help you collate your own thoughts and goals. More often than not, you’ll find questions in the brief you’ve never thought about before. Take the time to do so now.
4. DO have everything ready beforehand: Your designer can’t build your site without the words and pictures that go on it. Don’t worry if you don’t know what you need before you start the process, because your web designer will usually help you sort this out. Remember to allow additional time for the project if you need to engage other contractors, such as a graphic designer or copywriter.
5. DO stick to the agreed schedule: Like your own, your web designer’s schedule is chockers. Even if you submit something just one day late, your designer might have other commitments for the following fortnight, so the delay you thought would only set your project back by a day could cost you weeks. If you think you mightn’t have something ready on time, tell your designer as early as you can so she can try to re-jig her calendar.
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6. DON’T expect your web designer to solve your business woes: Your new website might help you look flashy and drum up new business, but if your customer service is sloppy, your product underperforms or you’re forever running behind schedule, nothing your web designer can do will help.
7. DON’T expect your web designer to be accountable to anyone other than you: It’s tempting to ask friends and relatives for their opinions to help you decide on a design, but at the end of the day, it’s your business, and you’re the one who needs to make the decision. By all means undertake usability testing or any other actions that will help arrive at that decision, but the only decision you should present to your designer is the final one.
8. DON’T assume your web designer can start today or finish tomorrow: The prep is even more important than the job itself, and it takes time! As a guide, allow a fortnight before your web designer can start a job, and then another week for briefing and prep. Depending on its complexity, the turnaround time for the web design and development of your new site will typically take one to eight weeks.
9. DON’T change your mind about the web design once the site is in development: Putting sufficient time and effort into the brief will help prevent this from occurring. If you do need a web design element changed after the original is in development, be prepared to fork out extra cash. Unfortunately what looks like a small change to you can potentially add days of work for your developer! If this issue arises, communication is key. Chatting with your web designer will help you determine whether the changes are worth the time and money.
10. DON’T be afraid to be honest: If you’re unhappy about something, say so as soon as you become aware of it. That gives your designer time to resolve the issue. If you only speak up at the end, it may be too late to resolve the problem without costing more money.
DO please step up and add your own tips for successful web design to this list. DON’T forget your own experiences could save the rest of us pain, heartache and hard-earned cash!