I have come to understand the importance of open communication between designer and client. Over the years, working as a Website Designer, I have found that each project has its own unique brief but that the principle around designer/client communication remains the same. Despite changing website missions and goals, best practice rules don’t change and it’s important for both the client and designer to understand them. Below is Part 1 of my tips on how to create and maintain a good client/designer relationship.
Being able to communicate honestly with a client or designer is essential in creating a successful website that both the client and designer are happy with. I always encourage my clients to be upfront about liking (or not liking) an aspect of the design or functionality, as it saves us both a lot of time to communicate honestly and be on the same page with the direction of the build. There is nothing less productive than getting to the last leg of a project and the client saying they don’t like the design, whilst having already approved it to date through several rounds of changes. A designer simply cannot know a client doesn't like the website functionality or a design until they are told so.
It works in reverse too, as it’s the designer's obligation to give clients their professional opinion based on their experience of what works, what is effective and provide the client with options. As we are the experts in the web industry, our clients really appreciate when we express to them that an idea, function or design brief doesn’t align with the website’s aim.
I recommend for both designers and clients to be honest during the website build. Honesty, communicated in a professional manner, will only ensure that the end product is strong and will save a tremendous amount of time for both parties.
This advice may seem very obvious but it still needs to be addressed. Respect and attentiveness is vital in the designer/client relationship. Communicating in a professional manner, whether it be by email, over the phone or face-to-face, will help create and maintain a good designer/client relationship. When egos get in the way and professionalism is lost, communication barriers arise; these can be hard to overcome and it's not in the best interest of the project. Loss of effective communication can be detrimental to the designer and client who need to work together as a team.
The website process should be a collaborative one. Designers appreciate that clients bring invaluable information to projects about their company, industry, demographics, etc. One of the things I love most about my job, besides designing, is learning about different industries, products, and services. Designers need clients to give them a crash course on what makes their company tick so we can articulate that information into an effective design and site build.
Additionally, clients need to appreciate that the designers are the experts when it comes to building websites. Our years of experience on previous projects provide case studies, and therefore proven research and results that backup the decisions we put forward and make.
A successful site build with strong results only comes about through a team effort between the client and designer, both bringing their expertise to the team.
Designers understand that our clients are not experts in online marketing or at building websites, so providing specific examples of sites they can talkaround can help clients grasp the details of a project. Designers often provide examples for key functionality and conversion effectiveness so that clients have a clear understanding of what we want to achieve and why.
When a client brings examples of sites they like to the website briefing, the designer develops a clear idea on the client's design and build expectations. As designing is a creative and subjective process, there are no right or wrong answers, but this means there are also infinite possibilities. During the design process, when a client is as specific as possible about what they like, the designer is far more able to deliver them a design they like from the start. When a client can provide not only reference sites they like, but detail the exact aspects of the site they love, it is a huge timesaver and makes the design process smoother and easier all-round. The more specific the references and reasons the client likes it, the quicker the designer will capture the look and feel that the client wanted to achieve.
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