The customer is always right … aren’t they?
There’s nothing more frustrating than working with a creative professional who just doesn’t “get” you. But believe me, they’re just as frustrated with it as you are. It’s not your fault or theirs. Really, it’s not anyone’s fault, and it doesn’t do any good to place blame anyway.
The fact of the matter is that all creative projects are going to be a collaborative effort between the client and the designer. You’re both in it together; you’re a team. And a team needs good communication. Especially when the project is something as big as your business website. In the interest of improving communication between business owners and their web designers, I’m going to share some things your web designer wishes you knew but probably won’t tell you.
1. You will have homework.
What web design clients often don’t realize is that your web designer can’t create the website without you. There are things you’ll need to get together for them. Here’s a short list of things every basic web design requires from the owner:
Unless your web designer is creating the logo for you, they’re going to need you to send them various copies of your logo. And not just any copy will do. They will need dark and light, vertical and horizontal versions. And they will need to be high resolution images. Your graphic designer should be able to show you which files your web designer will need.
Some web designers write copy, and some don’t. You’ll need to decide who’s providing the copy during the early stages of the project. Often, it’s better to have your marketing team do it. Or write it yourself and allow the web designer to edit as needed (for SEO and readability). Either way, your web designer needs the copy before they can design your website.
You should have professional pictures of your office building, products, and team. Visitors find original images to be more interesting and relatable. You can use stock for design elements, but you need to have at least a few original images on your website. They also need to be high resolution and suited for web use.
Gather the links to all of your social media accounts. And make sure you have at least two relevant social media accounts opened. Social media is key to the success of your website, and your web designer will want to link those in.
2. Good copy needs good SEO.
If you’re providing the copy, whether writing it yourself or having your marketing team do it, you need to keep SEO in mind. Search engine optimization is vital, and most web designers include the initial setup with the website build. But, they can’t do much for you if your copy isn’t optimized.
You, or your marketing team, will need to do keyword research for your industry. Include keywords in your copy (but not too many!), as well as location indicators. Try to keep in mind voice search and readability factors. If you’re having trouble with any of that, ask for advice from your web designer.
3. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Okay, maybe Rome isn’t the best example since it’s also known for its epic fall. But the point here is that creating your website will take time. Getting impatient only hinders the design process. You can hold your web designer accountable for deadlines without bugging. Try to trust the process. Agreeing on a clear time line before hand will help with that.
4. You’re not their only client.
It’s easy to get caught up in your own project. Your web designer totally gets it. But they also have other clients to take care of. They may not be able to answer your email right away, or Skype with you today. They’re not ignoring you, they are just keeping their other obligations.
5. Web designers aren’t personal assistants.
Don’t try to assign your web designer menial tasks that should be handled by your office staff. For example, have your staff update your copy and send in a finished version rather than emailing your designer to make edits. This will save you money because you won’t have them spending time on non-specialized work.
6. You hired a designer.
Don’t be guilty of “backseat designing.” You hired an expert, and you should trust them to do the work.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to downplay your contribution. Your input is crucial to the design process. After all, it’s your site. Your web designer needs to know what you like and will ask you to choose styles and look at previews. You’ll need to provide constructive feedback and make design decisions. But if you take the reins, it defeats the purpose of hiring someone else.
7. A website doesn’t replace marketing.
Your website should be only part of a marketing plan, not the whole thing. A website doesn’t bring in new customers all by itself. You’ll need online and in-person marketing to complement your web presence and drive traffic to it. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket … or all your hopes in your website. It will lead to disappointment.
8. Google rankings take time and effort.
Your web designer can set up some amazing on-page SEO and submit you to Google for indexing … and it will still take time for your rank to rise. In fact, it usually takes 6 months to a year to see results. On top of that, it will take effort on your part. There is only so much your web designer can do for your search engine rank.
A lot of it is going to depend on backlinks, competition, and authority. You need to list yourself on all business search site,s as well as any major sites specific to your industry. You need to engage your audience on social media, and you need to position yourself as an authority in your field. You’ll also need to edge out your competition in creative ways. Just having a website published won’t cut it.
9. The finished website isn’t the end.
A website isn’t just done when it’s done. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, websites require maintenance as well. Content updates, security updates, software updates. You’ll also need regular backups and malware scans. You need to decide if that’s something you can do for yourself or if you need your web designer (or someone else) to do it for you. This may end up being a long term relationship.
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