In my time running discovery calls with entrepreneurs, I’ve noticed that there are two main fears about working with a designer.
1. Fear that when they hand over the reins to their website, they lose total control and input.
👆These entrepreneurs have trouble believing that a web designer will take their input and ideas into account.
2. Fear that they won’t get what they want as a final product.
👆These entrepreneurs have trouble trusting that a web designer can translate their ideas into reality.
Luckily, both of these can be solved with great communication!
When clients begin a project with me, I send them an onboarding guide that details what it will be like to work with me. One of the pages is titled “Let’s make a (crystal) point of great communication.” I talk about my studio hours, how they can get in touch with me, where they can find the information they’ll need during our project, how they can expect me to communicate with them, where they can find their deliverables, and most importantly, how they can communicate feedback and revisions so that they get what they want.
Based on this welcome guide, here are my top tips for communicating with your web designer so that your project runs smoothly and your ideas get translated into crystal-clear reality.
1. Define your goals ahead of the project or in collaboration with your web designer. Knowing your brand’s values and the desired feelings you want to create ahead of time will make the smaller decisions easier. This way, you can link your feedback to the goals of the project.
Example: It's important that the first impression of the logo and header feels lighthearted, but the solid colour block feels heavy. Can we revisit the header layout in this version?
2. Remember that although you are creating a website for *your business*, in actuality you are creating a website for your *ideal client*. It’s important to engage in feedback and revisions from their point of view, so that your website can connect with your clients and get you the sales you want! When you’re answering your web designer or responding to a draft, explain what is working and what isn't working from your clients' perspective.
Example: I think this colour palette is more girly than my ideal client would resonate with.
3. Before hiring a designer, ask them to explain how and when they will communicate with you. Will they work with email communication, or will you have calls booked throughout the project? If your designer has policies in place about how quickly they respond to emails or during what times they are accessible, this is important to know from the outset so you can determine if their communication style is a good fit.
In terms of value alignment, it’s important to know what your designer is committed to on their end of communication. If they’ve made requests of you but haven’t shown you how they will communicate, that could be a red flag.
In the CQC Brilliant Beginnings guide, I make this commitment to my clients:
IN EFFECTIVE DESIGNER/CLIENT COMMUNICATION, I COMMIT TO:
- providing you with carefully crafted, intentional drafts that reflect the project goal
and your visual inspiration
- responding to all of your questions and comments thoughtfully and considerately
- keeping our project moving with prompt responses and changes
- launching on time
- sharing my honest opinions, experience and expertise with you and making
suggestions from my designer's perspective
4. Sometimes visual concepts are hard to explain and it’s challenging to find consensus on what any one concept means. That’s why I recommend using visual examples to represent feeling statements like "I just want it to pop" and "It doesn't look modern enough to me" by pinning to the Pinterest board or attaching a screenshot image. Using visuals to inform visuals is almost always more effective than just using words.
5. Communicate in a way that is honest and open, and also friendly. This one may feel like common sense, but we all need a reminder every now and again. Stating your opinions while also being friendly will help keep your relationship with your web designer positive.
Example: "It's important to me that my brand feels funny, can we add some humour to the
copywriting?" rather than "The tagline isn't funny enough."
6. Commit to collaborating without micromanaging. Try to keep in mind that you’ve paid a designer for their expertise and experience, and telling them exactly what to do might prevent them from being able to fully show up and do that for you and your project.
Personal/professional story time: the times I’ve been micromanaged on a project have been very difficult and resulted in a lesser result than what could have been achieved otherwise. Why? Because I turn into a robot following instructions, instead of making design decisions from my informed point of view. I get less creative and less productive, and the overall decision winds up feeling “less than” for both me and my client.
There’s another way!
Example: "I'm finding the headers hard to read, is there something we can do about that?"
rather than "Make the heading larger, increase the spacing, make the font italic and use a
7. Often, your web designer is waiting on your response to a draft or version before completing any more work. Set yourself reminders to respond promptly so that your project stays on timeline, and before you hit send, make sure your response answers every question you were asked. Avoid partial responses or delayed responses so you don’t hold up your timeline.
Solopreneurs are used to having a hand in each part of their business and doing a lot of the work themselves. Does that resonate with you? I’ve worked with enough small business owners to know that giving up that connection to the behind the scenes work feels really scary for most people! If this is something you’re feeling, connecting with a web designer who helps you be involved in the process and takes your feelings into account is very important. A good working relationship with your web designer is 100% possible, and I hope that you are able to find the perfect designer for you so that you can get the final product AND the web design experience you’ve been dreaming of. If after reading this article, you think that we might be a good fit, I’m happy to chat! My discovery calls are always free and time-unlimited, so I can fully listen to your needs and give you honest guidance.