Tips for Working with Your Web Design Team

To get the most for your web project dollars, you need a good working relationship with your web site design team. Clear communication, a sense of trust between parties, and everyone is working towards the same goals makes all the difference in results.

What the Design Team Needs from the Client

You hired the design team for it’s knowledge, talent and skill. You should trust your design team to know their business. If your design team recommends that you cut your site text by 50%, try it. If they ask for complete product pricing schedule, provide it in a timely fashion. If they ask for a site review meeting and sign off before proceeding, schedule the meeting and be prepared to make the necessary final decisions. Don’t ask them to make your site look exactly like another site. They should be trying to make your business have it’s own identity.
Lots of clear information. If you’re working with a good design team, you may mistake them for the 60-Minutes investigation squad. Be prepared to explain clearly, completely and carefully, your web site goals, your budget limitations and your business. Even if you write your own copy and provide it to the designer, be prepared for suggested edits, changes and the request for more information. Be prepared to be specific and complete in your information. These folks know that people online want details, and they want them now. The design team is working to convey the necessary information to your best advantage. don’t hide information from them. If there are any restrictions, limitations, special cases or requirements for products or services, be sure the design team knows about them well in advance. It’s much more expensive to have to fix the consequences of bad information.
When the design team requests feedback or answers, they deserve prompt, courteous replies. Take their phone calls, answer their emails. Give them your time and attention. Think of them as your number one sales person, because that’s what your web site is.
If there’s something you don’t understand, ask about it. Do you want to know why they chose certain colors or images or organizational structure? Ask. Politely. They may be working under a misunderstanding or you may not see the whole picture. If they’re answers don’t match the fundamental principles of good web design, ask them why. And they can’t give you answers that makes sense, then…
Talk with your account contact and express your concerns — again politely. If you like the work you’re seeing, tell them that, too. Make sure the design team feels the lines of communication are genuinely open. This keeps you in the loop in the event problems arise or new opportunities become available.
Set up a payment schedule and agreement and then follow it. If you’ve approved of a design and want changes later, be prepared to pay for them. If you said you’d pay for a font, graphics package, software or other materials for development, don’t quibble when the bill arrives. Don’t try to cheat your design team of valuable time or services. It’s not worth the bad feelings later when you call them for additional help. And trust me, you willcall for additional help. If nothing else, think abou the fact that they know all about your site’s structure, hosting setup and Internet access. They know all about your company and your audience. It’s like the guys who install your office locks, you don’t want to tick ’em off.

Most importantly, make certain the design team knows you are interested in the project — without feeling like you’re trying to tell them their business. Don’t be the “ghost client” who “disappears” after the project starts. And don’t become the “Control-Freak client” insisting on approval of every sentence, graphic or tag. Sure, you may just smile, nod and contemplate how well your daughter’s doing in little league as the designers eagerly explain how they used a relational style sheet to optimize for the aging population of your target audience. But they’ll know you’ll keeping and eye on the project and feel your support — which just might get your site a little extra effort.