Clients and web designers alike know they need to stick together to make great website projects.

Getting round to it? Not that simple.

Since both sides speak different languages, a certain amount of meeting half-way is essential.

Web designers need to educate their clients on some basic but core principles of how a web design processes and projects look like. This step prevents many misunderstandings and a lot of back-and-forth towards the end of the project when the stress levels start rising.

On the other hand, the clients need to set their expectations straight, explain their needs clearly and make sure to help the designer understand their business or project as thorough as possible.

So, how do you stay on the same team throughout the collaboration? Read on.

Assigning Roles

We’ve basically set out the two roles we have here, but let’s drill down on the details now.

Client Role

Client's role in web design

There are three staples of client’s responsibilities when it comes to designing or revamping a website.

1. Provide all the necessary background information about the business

You as the client know your business best. Information such as the values this business represents, what is the message that should be sent across and what is the target demographics are crucial to being on the same page with your designer.

Design is more than a pretty presentation. It’s a representation of your business, your services and should convey a message that you are actually trying to get across.

2. Step away from the design table

This tip sounds like a complete opposite of the former one, when in reality these two work together.

Respect is very important in every client-business relationship, and this one is no exception. As the cheesy analogy says – you wouldn’t tell a pilot how to fly a plane, would you?

The web designer has gone through a lot of training, projects and research to get to the point of preparing your website. When they provide you with their design, you should trust them.

The design should be done according to the latest technologies and usability patterns in order to attract visitors and lead to conversions.

Your input is very important, but let them do their job. After all, you are paying for their services?

3. Make sure to give constructive feedback

Every feedback is not created equal. Not all people can provide substantial and actionable feedback, but you as the business owner should give your best.

Your feedback doesn’t always have to be positive. It’s okay to feel as if the design proposed is not going to work out, and it’s best to say it very early in each stage.

Negative feedback is also appreciated, but make sure to explain it in a manner that will not make the designer go all defensive.

Both positive and negative feedback should be constructive and well-explained, so the designer can move forward with the project, knowing that (s)he is on the right track.

What is the worst feedback? It’s the nonexistent one. That one you need to avoid by all means.

Web Designer Role

Web designer's role in web design

As the more experienced professional in building websites, you as the web designer need to focus on streamlining the project the best way possible.

1. Ask as many questions as needed

When a designer has a clear picture of what they are asked to do, the time to finish the design process itself has already been cut in half – at the very least.

To avoid the endless wandering around, trying to figure out what you are actually supposed to craft, you need to ask the necessary questions. And then some more questions, if these are not answered clearly.

Some of the important questions are:

  1. What is the website’s purpose?
  2. Who is your target audience?
  3. Can you give a brief overview of the services your website\company provides?
  4. What are the main goals you’re trying to achieve with this website and your target audience?
  5. What are your competitors’ websites?
  6. What are your favorite websites and which websites you think have a close feel to your future site?
  7. What are your color preferences?

If some of these questions spark a discussion with your client – even better!

2. Document, document, document

Having everything in written (in typed?) is a great approach to many partnerships, and this one is no different.

Some ground paperwork such as site maps, wireframes and written creative strategy. Your client may dislike this part taking away as much as a week’s of your billable work, but the trouble it saves later surely surpases the price.

Beside this project-centred documents, you can also make sure to communicate the most important details per email. Emails are easily stored, searched through and provide a clear overview of what was agreed. For the big decisions make sure to seek confirmation through email, and not just chat messages or phone calls.

3. Help your client understand web design

Sure, you have been hired to work on web design and not be someone’s teacher or educator. You’ve spent years perfecting your craft, and cannot work with each client on what is UX, UI and why that navigation needs to stay like that.

It happens that the client says “I know what I like”, “I need something really creative”. That’s all understandable, but you know you need to make sure the website is usable and complies the most important industry standards.

Too much creativity may, indeed, harm your client’s website as users can be frustrated by it’s uncommon layout.

Help your client understand what’s best for their website visitors, and what is needed for making an optimal use of their web presentation. After all, when the clients understand the some of the main web design principles, they will appreciate your hard work more.

Insist on collaborative web design

No matter if you are the client or web designer reading this – you have understood by now that collaborative web design is the one that will take your project furthest:

  • In less time
  • For less effort
  • With less frustration

Good collaboration comes from excellent understanding of each other’s goals and being committed to open communication.

These clear roles will help both sides give each other a great experience and even greater product – website.