Creating a new website or updating an existing one can be either a smooth, synergistic process that benefits all involved, or a convoluted nightmare with late-game changes that bog down development for both client and designer.
Designers can become frustrated, feeling like there’s a lack of respect for their expertise and direction, while clients can get annoyed, feeling that the designer isn’t listening to them or taking their ideas literally enough. To have a successful partnership for website design, communication between both the designer and client is critical.
When you work together and collaborate, the designer explains their design decisions, and the client can provide input into their needs and user objectives. To create and foster this relationship, designers need to implement a design methodology to keep the client in the loop at all design processes. It is important for both parties to keep lines of communication open and to agree to steps before taking them to ensure the timeline and deliverables are being met.
Here are the top five ways to get clients and designers to work together to build a successful website that meets their deadline.
1. The Kick-Off
Before one web page is created, it’s critical to have a sit-down between designer and client to discuss the design details. This is the opportunity to understand the requirements from both sides and discuss items like:
- Business Objectives
- Success Criteria
- Design Objectives
- Target Audience
Here, you establish the parameters of the designer-client relationship. Determine who is responsible for what, and discuss any objections to the primary design specifications, things like color palette, logo placement, and site flow. The designer is responsible for providing a way for the client to communicate and provide feedback during the design process.
2. Find Inspiration
Now that everyone understands their roles, it’s time to work on a design approach. This generally involves opening Photoshop/InDesign/XD and framing out the design. However, this is a lot of time spent before everyone has had a chance to agree to the site’s direction.
Sometimes a designer will ask their client to show them sites they like to get a better idea of their wants. While this approach has some merit, it can also lead to issues. First, the client isn’t always the best person to identify examples of good design. They may select sites based on either content or flashy design without consideration for its relevance to their needs or implementation as a whole. Second, asking what sites the client likes is focused more on personal taste than on nailing down a design that will meet its business objectives.
A better approach is for the designer to provide a few websites with elements they feel are appropriate for the project. This approach allows the designer to explain why they selected the websites and offer the client to provide input within bounds of what is possible and relevant for their site.
3. Create A Mood Board
Mood boards are for more than brides and college kids. A designer can create a mood board to visualize the colors, fonts, images, and screen elements for the client to look at. This allows the client to visualize the tone and feel of the website and ask for adjustments to fit their needs.
Creating a mood board opens up communication and collaboration between the designer and client. Some designers create multiple mood boards to offer options for their clients because they’re a simple way to show aesthetics over content. Allowing the client to provide input and pull design elements from mood boards to create one cohesive design makes them feel like they are a part of the process.
4. Use A Wireframe
Once the aesthetic values are selected from the mood boards, it’s essential to provide a rough outline of the site itself. Wireframes provide the structure of the website and its pages. The designer can provide ideas on layout, page hierarchy, and content.
There are two ways to create a wireframe, hand-sketched and digitally produced. Depending on the designer’s comfort level and understanding of the client’s needs, either one will work. However, a hand-sketched wireframe is easier to edit, allows the client to make a quick sketch of their own, and keeps communication open between designer and client. Even if the designer and client come up with a sketch they both agree to. A digital wireframe needs to be created so that it can be used for design testing.
5. Testing The Design
Once the designer and client have communicated through the design methodology, it’s time to test the website’s design. When testing the design, a neutral third party evaluates the site elements based on their own experience. This information is invaluable to both the designer and the client as it tells them if they are on track or if additional changes need to be made.
There are two types of design tests to perform:
- Flash Test – The user is shown a wireframe design for five seconds and asked to recall the screen elements they saw. How many items are recalled is a good indication of the content hierarchy being correct.
- Emotional Test – Each mood board is shown to the user and they are asked to associate the feelings they have toward the mood board. They are also asked to provide opposing words. This test gives an indication that the aesthetics are pleasing and getting the intended response from the viewer.
Combining the test results and the client’s feedback, the client should sign off on the design and allow the designer to start working on the final design.
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Whether you’re looking to increase sales, brand recognition, or generate leads, BHirst Media is here to help. Get in touch with us today for your free consultation.