A brief instruction on how to work with a web designer

One of the biggest mistakes our clients make is that they don't really understand who this web designer really is and what, in the end, he should be able to do. With this misunderstanding start all the problems and disagreements.

17th Aug 2020
7 minute read

Who is a web designer?

One of the biggest mistakes our clients make is that they don't really understand who this web designer really is and what, in the end, he should be able to do. With this misunderstanding start all the problems and disagreements.

Most people think that a web designer is a graphic designer who comes up with a design based only on his own taste and his main task is to decorate the site and come up with funny patterns.

This is fundamentally wrong.

A web designer is an architect, whose direct responsibilities include studying user behavior and designing competent, user-friendly, and working interfaces based on this data. It is the designer who must think about what elements, what information, and in what order the information should be placed on the site. The arrangement of blocks, controls, color scheme, visual accents on the site - all this is not taken from the ceiling. Every detail on the site is arranged in accordance with certain principles, and it is the web designer who must be able to justify them. This is his main job, please, dear customers, do not take it upon yourself.

What information must be provided to the contractor?

In order for a designer to design a truly competent interface, he must know the answer to two questions: what do you, as a site owner, want to get from this site, and what your customers want.

It is very important for us, designers, to know your target audience. Often, the description of the target audience is best done not by top management, but by ordinary specialists: sales managers and receptionists. After all, most of the time your clients communicate with these specialists, you should listen to their opinion.

We need to know what goals and objectives you set for the site. Quite often, instead, we hear about the customer's personal preferences in terms of visual design, which ultimately do not allow us to make the site a full-fledged tool for achieving certain results. Websites do not sell, do not bring new customers, they just hang on the Internet. Set clear tasks, specific goals, share your plans for the development of the project, so that we can consider all the nuances.

Brief and terms of reference

The first thing we do with my customers is to fill out the brief. Each designer has their own brief, and this is an important document. The brief describes your ideas, goals, and objectives of the project, plans for the development of the project, target audience, your tastes and wishes (believe me, we always try to take them into account if they do not harm the final result), the ideology of your enterprise and its mission, etc. In general, everything that can help the designer to achieve the set goal is recorded in this document. It is best to fill out the brief together: two heads are better than one. When filling it out together, some ideas may immediately appear or, on the contrary, something superfluous will be cut off. Plus, it saves a lot of time.

Next, the designer analyzes the brief and draws up the terms of reference. Ideally, the TOR is drawn up by the designer, which is adjusted by the customer and, of course, approved. The terms of reference prescribe what and how will be implemented on the site: what elements, tools, blocks, and information will be involved. TOR is a clear instruction for a designer. Competent terms of reference can be transferred to the layout designer and the programmer (if they work separately from the designer), which ultimately will save your time. The terms of reference are the basis of your future project, do not take it lightly.

It may seem that there are too many formalities, but in fact, the brief and TOR significantly save your time, nerves, and other resources.

The prototype is important

After the approval of the technical task, the designer develops a prototype. This is the skeleton of the site, which shows which elements and where will be located, how the user will work with them, and how these elements will interact with each other. This is the main work of a designer, it can take a long time, it is in the prototype that all the basics of your site are laid.

Why you shouldn't immediately make the "final" version with all the design elements in all their glory:

1. The prototype can be recycled many times. And if the frame is easy to redo, then a ready-made layout with all styles is more difficult and much longer to redo.

2. The prototype is usually done in black and white, with minimal detail. This is also done so that when analyzing the framework, the customer would evaluate the usability and not the visual effects.

It is very good if the prototype is interactive and it clearly shows what will happen when an action is performed. I start styling a page only after the prototype is approved and this prototype does not change anymore. This is done so that at the most inconvenient moment there are no comments like: "Let's insert a banner here."

Stylization

After the site wireframe is ready and approved, the designer proceeds to stylize the prototype and turn it into a finished layout. Here we are already guided by the wishes of the customer: colors, style, etc. and we try to make the site to the liking not only of users, but also of customers. In order for this stage of interaction to pass painlessly and comfortably, you should remember and do the following:

1. State your wishes to the designer as much as possible, provide a brand book (logo, advertising, and printed materials, in general, everything that helps to identify you or your company), tell us what style your company adheres to (business, informal, youth, etc.), show the design of which sites you like, etc.

2. Design has its own rules and laws, and designers try to follow them, listen to the opinion of a professional.

Making Changes

Making changes to the layout is a standard procedure that is rarely avoided. Do not be afraid to express your opinion, try to briefly, but clearly state your proposals. Try to tell about all your comments "in one go" so as not to stretch the process of making edits for a long time. Remember, if a designer thinks and, most importantly, can justify why it is not worth making certain changes, please listen to his opinion.

Our customers usually print a layout or prototype, write down their wishes, and send the sheet to us (in person or by email).

Additional pages and files

We always make so-called "additional pages" and advise you to inquire them from the designer. This is a page with typography (styling text, lists, tables, quotes, headers, images) and a page with user interface elements (buttons, links, menu items, dropdowns, forms, checkboxes, radio buttons, icons, etc.) ... All user interface elements should be shown in several states (normal, active, inactive, on hover) and presented in a separate file for the layout designer with clear explanations. This is necessary so that the layout designer could completely "write" the style of your site. For example, if you have a limited budget and you do not order the development of a user's personal account, but use standard pages, they, at least stylistically, will not differ from the entire site.

In the source files, the layers and groups must be labeled and color-coded. The fonts and originals of the images must be attached (for example, the background image: the designer's layout is cut off, but the layout designer needs the original).

Conclusions

1. Listen to the opinion of a professional

2. Respect other people's work and time

3. Discuss the key points in advance: timing, cost, final result, number of pages, and elements being developed. Approve them in writing or by email (not verbally)

4. Contribute to the work of the designer, answer questions, provide information, go to contact

5. Treat people the way you want to be treated

17th Aug 2020

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