Creating your own website can be a fun experience but it can eat up your time and sometimes involve too much tech that quite frankly you’ve got no idea about. The obvious thing is to get a professional to help and that would be a web designer. However that brings with it more questions. So to make sure you start off on the right foot, this episode is all about my 8 top tips for working with a web designer in the most effective way.
Hiring a web designer doesn’t have to be scary in fact it makes perfect business sense.
“Websites promote you 24/7: No employee will do that.” Paul Cookson
Hi, hi! This is the Help! My Website Sucks podcast with me, your host, Amy Gumbrell. I’m a freelance web designer and I get to help others learn more about websites day in day out so I’m delighted you’re here. Do hit that follow button now if you’d like to listen to future episodes and don’t forget I’m @twocowsweb on social media so it would be lovely to hear from you.
Today’s episode is the final one of the series (that’s right – it has absolutely flown by and you’ll be glad to know there are loads more to come – you have been warned!) If you have listened to the previous episodes you’ll know that I do like to share some of my own experiences as a web designer and so for that reason I’ll be gift wrapping my first series and tying it all up in a neat brightly coloured bow by talking about working with people like me AKA web designers. So what are we waiting for? – let’s get on with it shall we!
You may think that working with an expert is going to be easy peasy. They will create a beautiful website with an abracadabra here and a hocus pocus there – and it will be the exact one you have in your mind. Whoa! Hold your metaphorical website horses. I think I speak for most or all web designers when I say that we are not mind readers. Get your notebooks at the ready or however you take your notes as I’ve 8 tips on how to get the most out of your web designer and how you can help them to help you build a website that works for you and your business. You got that?
Number 1: Be clear with what your goal is
I’ve talked a lot during this first series about defining why you want a website and what it’s purpose is for you and your business. Before you start looking for someone to help you, it is only fair you know what your goal is. It’s no good asking for an all singing all dancing website with bells and whistles and tinsel when actually you just need a simple landing page with basic contact information. Similarly if your long term plan is to have an online shop to sell your products, why ask for a simple pared back no frills website? It’s not helpful at all and can be a complete waste of time for everyone involved. You’ll probably end up getting a bunch of quotes from web designers that don’t quite fit what you’ve got in your head and that’s when the frustration will set in. Stop. Take a moment to breathe and get clear on your goals. I’m pretty sure this will also help in other areas of your business so it’s bit of a no brainer!
Number 2: You are part of the web design process.
Building a website is something you’ve shied away from as you lack the skills and confidence to do it yourself. Fair enough. We can’t all be web designers. However that doesn’t mean you should hand over your project brief and cash and then sit back and relax. Although us web designers love to get our heads down and just get on with it, we must have your input and feedback. If we ask for text to be sent to us, please send it. If we ask for images, send them to us. If we ask you to review designs, please allocate some time for that. Ultimately unless we’ve been tasked with sourcing the content from elsewhere or doing it ourselves, the images and text and branding assets such as logos and colour palettes must come from the client. We can’t play guess the content or make it up as we go along and it is not fair to ask us to do that. You certainly don’t want a below par website that doesn’t meet your expectations so get involved. You will find it much more rewarding – I promise.
Number 3: Keep track of progress on your website & stay involved
This one follows on from number 2 and is all about communication – it is key. A truly collaborative approach involving both you and your web designer in the creation of the final product, is the most productive and conducive to a successful outcome. Stay involved in each phase of the project, from reviewing those initial mock up ideas, to evaluating design concepts, and in particular participate in testing the website. Now that is super important. You as the client will have a much greater knowledge of your customer and how they will use the site.
Number 4: Try not to rush the process
We all want to click our fingers and have a website all ready to go but come on, let’s be realistic. You risk damaging the quality of the website and the functionality if you don’t give your web designer time to think. I mean I get you aren’t paying them to daydream but one of the reasons you wanted to work with them in the first place is because you needed help with your website conundrum. So let those web designers do their job and work out the best and most beautiful and functional solution to that conundrum in their own sweet time (within the deadline decided at the beginning of the process of course!) You chose your web designer after checking up on them and made the decision to work with them. They looked to be a great fit for you and your business so if you trust them to take on your project, trust them to get it done.
Number 5: Give context when sharing with your buddies
We love to share things with our nearest and dearest and getting a bit of reassurance is perfectly acceptable. However, what looks good and what looks bad is highly subjective so be prepared for radically different opinions from different people. It may end up being rather stressful and may create some confusion and doubt for you as the client. By all means tell them before showing them that you asked for corporate or bright colours or fancy fonts, in fact a little bit of setting the scene may just help them stay focussed and give you clear, constructive feedback. Most web designers dread the line ” My aunt says the blue is too icky.” or words to that effect – we can’t please each and every one of your family members so don’t ask us to.
Number 6: Progress not perfection.
There is such a thing as overdoing the design to the point of ridiculousness. Creating a website is not a one time thing – you can tweak and amend after your have launched it. In fact I would absolutely encourage you to do that once you’ve got it live. The reason? You really don’t know how your customers are going to react to your website so best to make changes on the basis of solid data rather than ‘what ifs’ and personal opinion.
Number 7: If it wasn’t agreed at the beginning of the project, expect to pay fairly
Sometimes we start projects feeling really secure about what we want the outcome to look like and perhaps we know exactly what we want it to do. However it’s not unheard of to realise half way through a website build that you’ve missed out a super important feature or you would really like to add something that wasn’t agreed at the beginning. That’s the point. If it wasn’t agreed, your web designer hasn’t accounted for the time and inclusion of that particular task in the schedule. Respect their time and expertise and make sure you understand that any extra charges that the web designer has explicitly advised at the beginning. It’ll be expected. Have a chat with your web designer – it’s the easiest thing to do in this sort of situation.
Number 8: Keep it real
What do I mean by that? Imagine this: launch day is Tuesday so that means you’ll be up there at the top pushing your competitors off the top of their Google rankings perch by Wednesday. Right? Nooo Wrong! Just because you have a website doesn’t mean that people are suddenly going to find it. I know you’ll share your website address with friends and family and people you know on social media or even in your monthly newsletter but that doesn’t mean that brand new customers are going to be able to find you straight away. Did you know that it can take up to 3 weeks for Google and other search engines to even find you if you are a brand new website with a brand new domain name? For those who have had a revamp and are still using the same website address as their old website, Google and those search engines know about you but it will still take time for their web crawlers to have a look at your website and realise you’ve got fresh new content . Getting your website ready for Search Engine Optimisation is one thing but you really do need to be patient with the whole SEO process. It take’s time. Similarly if you don’t tell anyone about your site and you don’t direct traffic towards it, no one will know it is there. You may have launched a wonderful range of homemade perfumed soap for example and the website offers a delightful gift wrapping service unique to the industry. You know it’s a great product and you know that people are going to love it but if you don’t work hard to tell the world about it, you’ll be bitterly disappointed. Ever heard the expression fail to plan, plan to fail? Yep I know harsh but fair. Did you expect anything less of me?
OUTRO : And that’s it! Those were my top 8 tips for working with a web designer. Creating the right environment for a smooth working relationship with them means that everyone goes home happy. Oh and you get the website that works for you and your business. What did you think? Have I missed anything out? As always I would love to hear your thoughts so pop over to social media and say hi. I’m @twocowsweb. As well as the end of the this episode, that’s it for the first series of Help! My Website Sucks. In the next series I’ll be breaking down what goes into building a business website that’s both eye-catching and effective. And so all that’s left for me to say is a massive and humungous thank you for listening and supporting me. I really appreciate it and if you would like to leave me a review, I’d be very grateful . Take care of yourselves and your websites and I’ll be back very, very soon. Ciao Ciao!
For more information visit twocowsweb.co.uk/podcast. Help! My Website Sucks is a Vibrant Sound Media production.