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How to communicate effectively with your website designer

June 8, 2015

Good communication is often essential for success on any project. In fact, lack of communication is probably the single most common problem affecting any website development.

But communicating your desires and goals to a designer for a new website, or with regards to any amendments to your current site, can often be a challenging task. You’re focused on what works for your business, and designers are focused on creating something that looks great in their eyes.

It’s understandable that problems can and do develop.

Follow these 9 tips however, and you’ll be well on your way to being understood by your web development company, and will hopefully be able to enjoy good communication and a pain free process!

1. Be specific

Clear and accurate briefs are a godsend to designers. The more information they have, the more they’ll understand exactly what you’re looking for and the better their delivery will be. Vague explanations leave lots of wiggle room, and you might not like the end result.

When providing a brief to your designer, try and include a brand persona for your company, alongside any brand guidelines like fonts, colours, logos and tones of voice. Providing these will help your designer understand what your business is about.

2. Give examples wherever possible

Following on from that point, if you’re struggling to explain exactly what you are looking for in a brief, don’t be afraid to provide your designer with lots of examples. The more features from different websites you show to your designer, the easier they will find it to understand the kind of style you are looking for.

If you do want to trust a designer’s instincts and leave things up to them, be prepared to stand by that decision.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

When you’re in the planning stage of a project, don’t be afraid to ask any questions that pop into your head. If a comment is made about something you’re not sure about, it’s better to clarify at this stage rather than further down the line when work has been carried out and changes are difficult to make.

Similarly, a good web development agency should also be asking questions back to you too. They shouldn’t expect you to have all the technical know-how and expertise, and will understand that there will be things you haven’t thought about.

4. Ensure you have a main point of contact

A number of projects break down because small business owners end up communicating with all different kinds of people at a development company, and because every designer works different, things get lost, important points don’t get passed along, and feedback is missed.

From the get go it’s important to establish a single point of contact who you’ll deal with and who will be responsible for ensuring the project runs smoothly. You’ll be able to build a rapport with this person, and understand the way they operate.

Make sure there’s a single point of contact on your end too. If it won’t be you directly, introduce your staff member who’ll be the main point of call for the project at the earliest opportunity.

5. Set out a calendar

Once you’ve planned out the initial stages of a project, be sure to set out a calendar that everyone can contribute to.

Define specific milestones along the design and development process, and check that they are achievable for everyone involved.

6. Plan how you’ll communicate

It’s also useful to have a calendar in place to clarify how you will communicate with your designers; schedule phone calls or meetings in advance, and agree on methods and timings.

Designers are busy and often get wrapped up in a certain project, so are unlikely to be able to take your call at the drop of a hat. You need to give them time to work, because checking in every single day can be extremely counterproductive, stifling any creativity.

Instead, agree on dates and specific response times. Unless it’s urgent, jot down any notes or queries you have, and pass them along at the next call or meeting.

7. Be prepared for revisions

No matter the size of the project, revisions are going to be required. Being prepared for these and understanding what is needed to make certain changes is vital to prevent a communication breakdown.

Sometimes changes aren’t as simple as they might seem. Agree to a set amount of revisions initially, discuss them beforehand, and then leave the designers to do their work. Give positive feedback on the work already completed, and don’t change the goalposts.

Stick to your plans, and let the designers work with you to get there. There will be much happier and more willing to make changes if they know you appreciate their work and are fully supportive.

8. Don’t be vague

The last thing a designer wants, at the initial stage of the project or after you’re reviewed some work, is a vague instruction of what to do next. Clarify everything wherever possible, and don’t be afraid of speaking your mind.

Designers would much rather hear exactly what you have to say so they can be one hundred per cent clear on where you stand. It will help them to better understand exactly what you’re looking for.

Ask why a design decision was made too, and you’ll likely get a very logical reason back, helping you to understand the way they work and the choices they make.

9. Try and be understanding

On any project of any size, bugs can develop, unforeseen circumstances could happen, and things may go wrong with technology, as you’re no doubt aware of yourself.

These things frustrate designers and developers just as much as they do yourself. Whilst it’s easy to get annoyed and concerned for your business, pestering your development team won’t make them work any faster.

Instead, try and be understanding; your support will be appreciated and you’ll get the best work back in return. Ultimately, the key to a successful project is planning well ahead and agreeing on actions before any problems develop.

Understand that communication works both ways, and show respect for your design and development team. You’ll get that back in return, and everyone will work to the best of their ability to create the site for your business.

About the author

This article was written by ByteStart’s regular web and technology contributor, Nick Pinson. He is a Director at iWeb Solutions, an e-commerce website design agency based in Staffordshire. Twitter: @iwebtweets

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