In 1995, the TV show Wings aired an episode called “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wrong.” In this episode, Joe and Helen hire an architect to design their dream house. As they discuss styles, ideas, and options, Joe realizes he mostly has no idea what the architect is talking about, and in an effort to sound intelligent, he pretends to love every design option the architect presents. Helen tries to protest in hopes of designing a traditional-looking home but Joe’s faked confidence overrides her. In the end, the architect presents his final design and both Joe and Helen hate the home.
The episode’s plot makes for hilarious comedy, but it’s also all too realistic. Designing a website is very similar to designing a home. You can chose a pre-designed theme, but you’re often stuck making compromises to your ideal design, just like a pre-designed home might have a smaller kitchen than you’d like or not enough storage space in the bathroom. In either case, if you choose to go the route of a custom design, expressing your preferences well makes all the difference in ensuring you’ll love the result. How, then, can you provide valuable feedback to your website designer?
1. Be specific
Obviously, a vague phrase like “I love it” or “I hate it” won’t provide much direction. When providing feedback on your website, be as specific as possible. Here are a few questions to consider:
- Do you like the color scheme? If not, which colors would you want to change? What colors do you prefer instead?
- Do you like the way the site is laid out? If not, what would you move around?
- Can you find what you’re looking for easily?
- What do you want people to do when they visit your site? Does the site’s design make this obvious? Do you think visitors are likely to do what you want them to do, based on the design?
- Does your site make use of design trends you like? Does it avoid trends you dislike?
- Is there a certain page you would design differently?
- Do you like the placement of images and pictures in your site?
2. Be realistic
Make sure your wishes for your website are realistic. It won’t rank #1 on Google right away, even if your designer did everything possible to make it SEO-friendly. Every visitor to your site won’t buy something, no matter how it is designed.
Also, understand that your expectations for your site should match your budget. If you want something extremely specific that will require custom development, that’s going to drive up the price of your website. Ideally, you and your website designer will lay the groundwork for how much control you have before you begin working together. Don’t expect to be able to tweak every aspect of your site on a minimal budget, but if your contract includes custom design and/or development, you’ll have a lot of control over the final look of your website.
3. Be organized
When working with a website designer to create your site, you’ll need to provide a lot of information. From the beginning of the project to the final edits, you’ll be sending ideas, pictures, and files to help the designer get a grasp of what you need in your site. It’s important to submit this information in an organized manner. Bombarding your designer with emails can almost ensure something will be lost in transmission.
Instead, consider using a file-sharing platform like Dropbox, Google Drive, or similar to share files. You can create folders to better organize your content, and you can create a shared file like a Google Doc or shared Word document to provide feedback. Your designer might even implement a ticketing system or use an app like Slack to organize communication. Regardless of how you transmit information, talk with your website designer at the onset of the project to determine the best way to ensure everything is in one place instead of scattered through a barrage of email. If you do decide to communicate through email, it’s best to reply back and forth to the same email instead of creating new email threads along the way.