You tell your web designer that you have contracted with that you want that “wow factor” for your branding and hope that’s all you need to communicate in order for them to know what to create for your organization. When a web designer hears you use the term “wow factor,” it is akin to hearing you say you want that “je ne SAIS QUOI”—which is French for “I do not know what.”
What is a wow factor for one client can be entirely unimpressive to another client. Web design firms can’t read their clients’ minds. But they can communicate with you to help understand what is a “wow factor” for you and your organization. Before you end your relationship with a web designer prematurely, here’s what you need to know in order to practice good communication with them.
Way #1 to Give Good Feedback to Your Web Designer: Ask for What You Want Up Front
You should take your time and be detailed when answering your initial client questionnaire for your project. Web design firms want to know upfront what their client’s goals, aims, and desires are for contracted projects. They want to know if clients have verbiage, layout, and color schemes that are non-negotiable. They should ask you have you have any models (or examples) of completed projects (such as websites) that inspire you or that you want to mimic in any way.
The more work that you do when completing your initial project questionnaire, the less work that you should have to do later when the web design firm starts to produce drafts for your feedback. Also, you should make sure that you fill out the questionnaire will all of the key stakeholders in your organization to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Way #2 to Give Good Feedback to Your Web Designer: Leave Room for Revision
You should have enough hours in your contract with your web designer to have more than one revision. The bigger the project (e.g., branding and development of a whole new website), the more hours you need in order to go back and forth about what you want in your final product. Remember that each version that they send to you of a final product is a draft. Early drafts often have names like “mockups” and “prototypes.” These drafts are available to you behind-the-scenes and are not posted publicly. If you need to have an “under construction” or “coming soon” splash page as you are awaiting your final product, please let your web designer know promptly. It does not take much time to produce.
It’s also appropriate at any time of the project to ask how many hours you have left in your contract. You won’t have an infinite number of hours for revisions. But you should have enough to go through enough versions of your project to end up with a high-quality product that you agreed upon in your contract.
Way #3 to Give Good Feedback to Your Web Designer: Leave Room for Revision
If you are not pleased with an element of a draft, please be detailed about what it is that you don’t like. Is the main color on the logo too dull compared to how you imagined it? Are the hard lines that you requested under the header of each web page too harsh and formal now that you see it on the web page? Does the web page content that you wrote overwhelm the page and you wish for it to be shortened so that it is easier to read and the visual elements stand out more?
Take the time to think about what is not working and describe it in much detail as possible. Don’t assume that your web designer can’t fix the issue that you are finding. Give them a chance to make sure they understand what do you don’t like, to fix it, or to otherwise propose solutions to the problems that you are identifying.
Way #3 to Give Good Feedback to Your Web Designer: Respond in a Reasonable Timeframe
Be accountable for giving your feedback to your web designer in a timle manner. Good web designers will follow up with you after sending an email or draft—especially if it has been a week and you have not responded. But remember that they need your feedback to move forward with your project. A good web designer won’t consider sending you a completed project without getting the nod of approval for each draft that they send to you.
Your feedback is essential in communicating to your web designer that you are pleased with their work and are ready to move to the next step. If you do not give feedback on a website mockup until four weeks later, don’t be surprised that your web designer has waited for your response to continue working on your website. You wouldn’t want your designer to use all of the hours in your contract to make the website they think you want without your feedback along the way, just as you wouldn’t want an employee at your organization to complete a major project without asking for feedback and approval.
Remember: Web Design is a Collaborative Process
When you contract with a web design firm, you are contributing more than money to the project: you are making a commitment to communicating your vision for your website and giving feedback along the way. To make the most of your web design project, do your best to conduct organizational reflection and to give timely, detailed feedback and trust your web designer to devise solutions to problems that you identify in drafts of your website. After all, you are helping to develope your own custom “wow factor.”