As you know, a web designer is what I am. And I work with genuinely incredible clients, all of whom are awesome people, but no matter how good the relationship, there are always things that you can learn from the process.
Here are my battle-tested tips on how to work best with your web designer.
Work as an ongoing partnership
Come to the table with ideas and feelings about what you want and need, but don’t just say “I need a website” and then walk away.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want
It might be a crazy idea, but sitting down and brainstorming it out is the only way to go. Don’t be afraid to ask what you think is a “stupid” question (there aren’t any). And don’t let your designer intimidate you with jargon or condescend to you. It’s not your job to know what they know. It’s your job to know what you want.
Focus on problems, not solutions
You’ve hired a professional, which means you should be able to ask for something, discuss the options (if there are any) with your designer and then allow them to solve the problem.
Never say “I could do this myself, I just don’t have time…”
It implies that your designer’s time and expertise are inconsequential, since even though you are a musician (and a good one), you must have dedicated a similar amount of time to the design and development process, are up to date on HTML5 and know how to code in PHP. Now, maybe you did, in fact discover your incredible musical talent after being a designer for many years, but then that makes you a good partner in the process.
Get it in writing
Make sure you have a scope of work document that clearly lays out the process, the sign-off points and the deadlines needed.
Know what you want, who it is for (your target market) and what your competitors are doing. Preferably, bring links to those sites that you like, sites that you hate and sites of your competition.
Get to know your designer
Ask your friends and colleagues for recommendations when looking for a designer. Read your designer’s website and get to know them a little bit. If you’re able, meet with them in person to see what they are like. Depending on the size of your project, you might need to be working with them for multiple months, which means you should have some good synergy with that person.
Be honest, but don’t knitpick or micromanage
While your designer is working on the site, there should be regular check in points, but if you peek at the design while they are working, don’t send emails saying “I don’t like that colour” or “titles need to be in all caps”. Those are notes you should keep until you have been given the site to review. Receiving notes of that nature during the build can slow things down and throw off the process.
You have deadlines, too
It’s your designer’s job to bring the site in on time and on budget, but you need to be right there with them. If your agreement stipulates that you are responsible for all content for the site, make sure you have delivered it to them by the date you both agreed. If you can’t meet that deadline, just communicate.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
It’s everything in life, and it’s everything in the design process. Talk to your designer regularly in whatever format works best for you. Are you better by phone? Tell them that, and then call when you need to. Are you better by text? Let them know and start texting away.