This article will help you get the most enjoyable and productive experience out of working with a web designer.
While website builders are a quick, easy, and cheap way to build a site, we know that sometimes you need something with a little more… va va voom. That’s where using a web designer or agency is really worth the investment!
Creating a website yourself can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be time-consuming and tricky if you’re in need of a complex site. Web designers take your ideas and turn them into a professional website, making them ideal for individuals and businesses with advanced needs – and a generous budget.
48% of people said that website design is the number one factor when deciding on the credibility of a business, so it’s understandable why so many people seek professional help when building their websites.
But using a web designer can bring its own problems – how can you be sure you’ll get what you want? Is there a way to make sure everything goes smoothly? You don’t want your website to end up like a bad haircut, with you smiling painfully as you realize, too late, that it’s not how you imagined at all.
We’re here to put those fears to rest. This article will give you helpful tips on how to set up a smooth relationship with your web designer and communicate your ideas clearly, so both sides go home happy.
The first step should be to plan your project well in advance. In fact, we wouldn’t say ‘plan’ – you need to put together a brief with some clear ideas on what you want. Even if it’s early stages, you should think about the basics of what you need for your site, such as:
- How many pages you need
- What features you want
- If you need ecommerce functions
- Any extra services you might need
Think about which fonts, colors, and styles you like or dislike, and why. Think about your target audience, and whether you already have any branding you want to bring forward to your new site. It’s also worth putting together your favorite examples of websites to show your designer what you like.
If both you and your web designer are clear on what the goal is, it makes it easier to grow the idea together, rather than ending up with something you didn’t want.
Otherwise, it’s like taking a blurry CCTV photo along to the hairdressers and asking them for a similar style – they won’t be able to do a good job, and neither of you will end up happy!
A great way to set yourself up for success early on is to find the right web designer for your project. You don’t want a clash of creative ideas, or to regret your choice later down the line.
Don’t just choose the cheapest web designer you can find, as it likely won’t save you money in the long run if you’re constantly having to make changes. Do your research, read up on testimonials, look at examples of past work, and see if the agency matches your requirements, style, and general vibe!
By familiarizing yourself with your web designer before approaching them, you can feel confident in their ability, as well as show that you haven’t just picked them at random.
Designing a website can be a lengthy process, so you want your site in the hands of a web designer you enjoy working with. Think of it like choosing a business partner – you want someone you can trust, that you get on with, and who you can openly share feedback with.
A quick top tip: make sure you sign a contract with your web designer. This will make sure you’re both on the same page, and protects both sides from misunderstandings or problems further down the line. Make it specific and be clear on deadlines, expectations, and the project’s goals and outcomes.
Your contract will be unique to you, your project, and your agreement with your web designer, but here are just a few things you might outline:
- Is it a one-off job for your web designer, or will you be paying them a monthly fee to maintain the site in the future?
- Project objectives
- Budget calculations
- Payment terms
- Project timeline
- Who’s responsible for what
- Deliverables – outline exactly what it is you’ll be getting
- Ownership of content
- Cancellation agreement
Be as detailed and specific as you can, and go through everything with your web designer – this way, nobody is left with unexpected – or even unpleasant – surprises later on.
As with all great collaborations, communication is key. Be clear about your ideas, your business, your audience, and your brand. Web designers are professionals and experts in their field, but they’re not mind readers!
Usually, you’ll fill out a survey early on to give your designer an overview of the project, covering everything from your brand to your target audience and beyond. You should go into as much detail as you can, and dedicate a proper amount of time to filling it out.
The other important thing to note is that you’ll have a much smoother journey if you prepare your copy in advance. By writing your content first, it means your web designer won’t have to keep making changes as you add, remove, or swap content.
Your website is like your baby – you’re putting a lot of time, money, effort, and love into its growth. It’s very common for people to find it hard to let go of their website baby and allow someone else to take the reins.
You don’t have to be totally hands-off – it’s all about staying involved in the project, without stepping in every five minutes and trying to do your web designer’s job for them.
Of course, you should give feedback and be clear on what you like and don’t like, but you should also listen to your web designer’s recommendations and consider them carefully. There will be good reasons they’ve suggested this or that, so make sure to listen before making judgements.
This means you can sit back and relax knowing your site is in the best hands, and your web designer can do what they’re best at. After all, they’re the experts, and constantly requesting minor changes will only slow your project down.
But you just said to sit back and relax! Yes, well, while you can put your feet up when it comes to actually designing your site, there’s still lots you can be actively involved in. Much of the project will rely on you meeting deadlines as well as your web designer.
Here are a few of the things you can do to help out your designer:
- Get the copy done in time
- Provide resources like images or branding needed for the project
- Dedicate time and effort to reviewing designs
- Give clear, constructive feedback
- Sign off on designs on time
- Take part in testing the website
Some people will request a project, and then sit back and wait for the finished product. This is not the way to get on with your web designer, or end up with a website you love.
You can’t do your web designer’s job, but you’re still an important part of the work. By taking an active, positive, and hands-on approach, you’ll make your web designer’s life much easier, and encourage a productive relationship. Basically, together you’ll get things done!
We’ve established that nit-picking – however well meaning or unintentional – is forbidden. But good old-fashioned, constructive feedback is definitely encouraged. It’s the golden ticket of collaboration, and should be used at all costs!
Lots of people find feedback difficult to give, for fear of it being received badly, but it will make your relationship with your web designer much easier. We’ve put together a few tips for building a beautiful feedback exchange:
- Gather your thoughts – there’ll probably be multiple sketches, mockups, and designs for you to look at throughout the process, but make sure your feedback isn’t scattered. If you’re sending one email after another with new changes, your web designer will feel bogged down, and unable to create a clear picture of what you actually want. Sit down and gather your thoughts into one feedback session at each stage.
- Keep it constructive – think about why you don’t like that color or that font; don’t just say you hate it. You don’t want to dismiss your web designer’s work, so always think about the reasons behind your choices and listen to what they have to say too.
- Say what you like – positive feedback is just as useful as constructive feedback! It’ll tell your web designer when they’re on the right track, and help them make more decisions in line with your brand.
- Keep it between you – this is a big one. Sharing mockups or designs with friends and family can quickly escalate, until you’re left with a ton of feedback from a wide range of people. Try to avoid this. Instead, share designs with a select, trusted few who understand the full context of what you’re showing them. That way you get constructive, balanced suggestions rather than a random selection. Nothing will ruin your relationship with your web designer faster than making changes based on your Aunt Nora’s dislike of the color blue.
Giving clear, balanced, and thought out feedback when you’re asked to will do wonders for the success of your project, as well as create a positive working relationship with your web designer.
We’ve mentioned the “r” word a few times now, and that’s because it lies at the heart of your website’s success. Ideally, you want to build a long-term relationship with your web designer, as they’re in the best position to look after your site.
It’s usually established in your contract if your web designer will continue to update your website, or if it’ll be entirely in your hands once the site has been built. Either way, it’s a good idea to keep in touch in case your site does need a revamp, or any urgent attention.
Whether it’s new projects in the future or just keeping your website up to date, it doesn’t hurt to think of your web designer as a long-term partner rather than a one-time hire. Without them, your site could become dated, or even lose its ranking.
Go back to the idea of treating your web designer like a business partner – you don’t need to ring them up every day for a gossip, but stay in touch and nurture a professional relationship.
This article has outlined the main areas of advice for ensuring a smooth and positive relationship with your web designer, as well as sharing tips on how to make sure the end product is something you’ll be happy with.
By now, you know all the key dos and don’ts for working with a web designer, including:
- Be clear in your brand, feedback, and goals
- Sign a contract to protect both you and your web designer
- Trust your web designer
- Pitch in where you can, but remember they’re the experts
- Don’t be afraid of giving or receiving feedback
Hiring a web designer is a smart choice if you need a complex site, and have the budget to commit to a high quality service. It doesn’t have to be scary – by following our tips, both you and your web designer will go home happy!
Is hiring a web designer faster than using a website builder?
That depends on how long you would take to build your own site, but generally, no. With a website builder like Wix, for example, you could have a site up in an afternoon. Web designers put a lot of time and effort into building your site, so it usually takes around an average of 30 days depending on your project and how busy they are.
Do I need any tech skills to work with a web designer?
No! You won’t be building your site, so you don’t need to worry if you don’t have any tech skills. However, you should have a very clear idea of what you want, and be ready to budget, plan, and answer lots of questions to get the most out of hiring a web designer.
Do web designers just make your site look pretty?
No, they do much more than that! They approach building or redesigning your site to optimize it for user experience, functionality, and aesthetics, and some even handle your site’s SEO as well!
How much does a web designer cost?
This really depends on your project! You will get an upfront cost which you pay once, for the actual work put into building (or redesigning) your website. Then, if your web designer will be updating your site, there’ll also be an ongoing monthly charge for upkeep. You can find more details on how much your website should cost in our definitive guide.