How to Work with Web Designer

24th November, 2009

How to Work with Web-Designer

If you’ve struggled with Web designers in the past, or currently, and you’re trying to find a better way, then we’ve compiled some guidelines that may just help your current or next project run a little smoothly. We hope. We’ve worked, and continue to work, with a lot of Web designers through our client projects. What we’ve come to learn is that designers of Web sites face some unique challenges, coupled with the challenges of perception from many clients.

Web designers are a hybrid. Designers must first understand the nuances of “graphic design” such as layout, typeface/font, semiotics and colours. They must then integrate this knowledge and skill into the technical constraints of the Web. This is far from simple. The design and technical issues must also tie in with usability (how people use the Web) and then with the “information architecture” of the site overall.

When you speak with a graphic designer who works in traditional mediums, such as a print brochure, there is still a lot to consider, but there are fewer technical elements such as the constraints of the end-users monitor size, speed of access, browser types and computer platform or business layer applications the Website may have to integrate with. Web design is a complex ballet of moving parts that when well executed result in a person moving about a website with ease, not even realizing how much complexity is hidden beneath the design. So what are some main points to consider in working with a Web designer:

It’s Not Lightening Fast: Many clients work on the assumption that because a designer is using a computer then the design is easy and should be quite fast. A website design often starts with a pen and paper drawing, and then goes to Photoshop for some trial and often work with several iterations before you ever see the draft for consideration. This can take a few hours to a few days.

Many Considerations: A good Web designer will ask you a lot of questions, to clearly understand what you’re goals are, the business needs and the vital elements. To make a project run more smoothly, haves much of this worked out in advance. The more you have worked out, the easier it is for the designer and the less chance the original scope of work will change. A designer will make recommendations on changes based on their experiences. This can be invaluabale to a successful project.

A Small Change Can Be Very Big: Even just changing the colour of a button or two can have a broad impact on overall site navigation and take a number of hours. Changes are often necessary during the design process, but should be considered carefully.

The Clients Responsibilities: At times during the project the designer will need some help. This is most often items like content, images, video and audio files. A designer will ask for these in certain formats (i.e. a jpeg or png image, a wav. file etc.) waiting for these items can significantly delay a project from completing.

Do Your Own Testing: We’ve been surprised by how many clients leave all the testing to the design firm. A website, even just a microsite, needs testing. You should try to break links, make sure they go where they’re supposed to and review the content for spelling and correctness. While the designer will have a QA process, they may be too close to the trees to see the forest.

The best way to work with a Web designer is to understand they have many parts to consider when building a site. The applications used in the site, widgets, database integration, Content Management Systems and their limitations on top of the design. Open communication, clear setting of expectations and timelines can help lead to a successful Web project.