How to Work With a Web Designer

Author: Stephanie Taylor Christensen | January 26, 2016

Hiring a professional web designer and developer can be the investment that ensures your site has the brand vibe you want to associate with your business. But knowing how to communicate effectively with the web designer and developers you choose is a critical factor that dictates how seamless the creation process is, and how much time, effort, and money it takes to get the result you want.

We asked web professionals to share their tips on the common mistakes clients often make that thwart the web design and development process, so you can proactively avoid them.

Define what you want to accomplish. Web designer Corey K. Brown urges business owners to approach the process by first defining the intent of the site. “For most small companies, a brochure website is all that is needed to have a web presence. These are very simple to set up and should be cheap,” says Brown. “If a more robust site is needed, this should be discussed upfront with the designer, so the scope is clearly defined and a realistic budget and time period is set.”

Ask questions about their process before you select. A designer’s portfolio of work can give you a sense of their technical ability, style and aesthetic, but how well you work style and expectations meshes with the designers can impact the success of the relationship, too.  If you expect to be mostly hands off, find a designer who is comfortable working with minimal direction. If you want to be heavily involved, be upfront about your desire so you can find a designer who is willing (and happy) taking your creative direction.

Do you have the brand elements the designer will need? You know you need a new website. You probably have ideas of how you’d like it to look. But are you ready to hand off the creative elements a designer will need to turn your vision into reality, like logos, images, copy, and pricing information, in the resolution, required? Preparing these details on your end will impact how long it takes to get the result you want—and at what cost. Rachel Woods, lead designer at also offers a tip to keep photo costs manageable: “On your favorite stock photography website, find an image of a person that really represents your brand, then search for ‘other images with this model.’ You’ll likely find tons of images with the person in different shots. Instant professional photo shoot that will only cost you a few bucks!”

Are my time and budget expectations realistic? The more you understand about the variables that play a role in the site creation process, the better you can anticipate how the project will progress, and what’s required on your end to keep it moving. “The creation of every website follows a clear web design process. A client who understands the basics of this process will appreciate what happens at each stage will be clear about when the process can easily change direction and can communicate more knowledgeably with the web agency,” explains Dmitri Logounov head designer and founder of New Design Group.

“Process is essential to eliminating wasted hours (which may equal higher costs for the client).”

If you’re not sure what to expect from the process, check out this infographic Logounov’s team created to help guide clients from start to finish.

Equip yourself to make basic changes. The beauty of online marketing is that you can test your audience’s response to almost anything, including copy, promotions, and verbiage and placement of the call to action buttons to maximize your site’s performance over time. Marketing consultant Corinna Kellam recommend that all clients allow room in their budget to schedule one hour of time with the web designer for a crash course in how to make basic changes—especially if you intend to test copy and images. Though you may want to entrust (and pay) your pro to handle major design changes down the road, this one hour “how to” will equip you to manage the basic site needs.

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