No Client assumes they know anything about web design until they’re looking at a mockup they’ve paid for. At that point, they have a very strong opinion about what works online and what doesn’t, like what shade of blue is best, how to correctly make something ‘POP’ or how to cram more information ‘above the fold’. Whilst your input as a client is completely valuable and even necessary, it needs to be framed and focused in the correct way.
Remember your web designer might not present you with a perfect mockup of your potential website on the first try. This is good because it can lead to a discussion about what problems still need to be solved, what’s actually important as it relates to your goals or something you might have even considered. It’s one thing to talk about your website in abstract terms and a very different thing to see it mocked up in front of you.
When giving your feedback, the most important thing to do is to remember that your site needs to serve your audience and business goals. Not your own tastes. Your audience will be seeing, using and hopefully buying from your site. You need to put your personal views to one side.
Every design project is a balance between visual problem-solving knowledge (from the web designer) and knowledge of the audience and the business (from you as the client). This is what makes every project different and keeps things interesting. So rely on your web designer to propose the best visual solution for your business. Before you start asking for changes, ask your designer some questions.
These questions might by: Why was the information designed in this way? Why was it placed there? The web designers answers and knowledge might convince you to keep something as-is.
If you aren’t convinced by their mockup, that’s okay. You won’t hurt their feelings if it’s off the mark. This is a process. Be clear and specific about what you think isn’t working and frame it in a non-personal, noninsulting way. Trust me us web designers are used to change requests, but we can get defensive if you question our creative abilities (I mean who wouldn’t?).
Your change requests should be actionable. Saying something like “move that up a touch” or “dial the red back a bit” means absolutely nothing. Instead say why something isn’t working, like “that blue matches our direct competition I rather use orange from our logo instead.” Focus on what’s not right or what problems still exist, instead of telling your web designer specifically how to fix things. They’re professional problem solvers, so give them something to solve.
If you ask for feedback from other people, like your spouse, your marketing dept, your ‘web designer cousin’. Remember that they might not completely understand your online goals or the problems the design is trying to solve. Take this feedback into consideration, but don’t get your web designer to make all of the changes suggested.
Your web designer isn’t going to be your Yes-Person either so they might disagree with your change requests. This is actually a good thing since it’ll force you to evaluate what you’ve asked for and make a stronger case for the change. Disagreements happen, mostly because a good web designer is passionate as you are about creating an awesome product. At the end of the day, you both want the same thing.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about every design element before you make a change request
- Does this help accomplish my goals?
- Who needs to see or know this information?
- Why is it worth clicking?
- Can this be simplified and still make sense?
- Is this necessary?
- What’s the obvious next step?
- What problem does this solve for my audience?
- Does this change someone’s mind?
- Is this exactly what I want to say, in the voice and tone I want to say it in?