I’m in the process of redesigning my corporate Web site, which has not seen a lot of love or attention since I launched my digital marketing and social media consulting business two years ago.
Having looked at thousands of Web sites (an occupational and personal hazard) and helped a growing number of clients develop and design their Web sites, I have a pretty good idea of how I want markevans.ca to look and what I want it to do. The challenge I’ve discovered is turning a vision into reality is challenging and, at times, frustrating.
At the same time, it has been really insightful to be on the other side of the table. It has given me a new appreciation about a client’s needs and how the process of creating a new or refreshed Web site needs to be structured.
One of the biggest lessons is that simply having a vision isn’t good enough. Nor is it enough to talk to a designer about the look and feel that you want. The problem is neither approach gives a designer enough insight and information about what you want or like. Design is a very subjective and personal thing so one person’s idea of good design can be radically different than other person’s.
Here are a few “rules” about Web design that I consider essential:
1. When you’re deciding on a Web designer, review their portfolios to see if their work and style aligns with your vision. Be critical. If you don’t like what you see, move on. If their works catches your eye, ask for a meeting to get a sense of fit, including how they like to work and the processes they use. Ask for references to get more information and insight about how other projects happened.
2. Before you launch a project, select a number of Web sites you like. They don’t need to have similar themes but it helps to pick Web sites that have the look and feel you’re striving to achieve. At the time, you can pick Web sites that have particular features you like. At the same time, ask the Web designer for Web sites they like to get a better sense of their taste.
3. Make sure there is a structured process that starts with an initial meeting, followed by a brainstorming/information session, and then by wireframes and mockups before you get to actually creating the design. Along the way, there needs to be opportunities to change things, although there should be limits, otherwise you’ll be change/edit hell.
4. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t like the work being done. At the end of the day, it’s your Web site and you want it to work for you. It means if the process or design isn’t hitting home, speak up or forever hold your peace.
5. The cost of a Web design can be small or huge depending on your needs. Establish a budget before you start so a designer knows what they have to work with if, in fact, they decide to work with you.