Get the Most From the Web Designer You Hire

Josh Hoffert
Senior Designer & Frontend Developer

1. Before you hire, take a closer look at their portfolio

Backing up a little to before when you actually hire a designer, spend some time and take a close look at their portfolio of work.

You want to see the designer’s breadth of experience: Have they been designing for a while? Have they successfully completed projects that resemble yours, for companies that resemble yours? Go visit the sites shown in their portfolio. You want to see successful implementation of various functionalities, especially ones that you think you might want for your project. You also want to see if their visual design style is adaptable to your project. Some designers are very versatile, while others have an established style and it might be difficult for them to produce work that looks different from that style.

2. Brainstorm together.

Once you’ve settled on a designer and you’ve committed to working with them, the first couple of meetings will typically involve a lot of discussion, planning, and brainstorming.

These brainstorming sessions are crucial. Do a little research beforehand on how to brainstorm effectively. During the session, let the ideas flow. Don’t feel inhibited – an empathetic and experienced design team will create a comfortable environment for the free flow of ideas. Get all your thoughts and dreams out there, and be open to hearing the input of others on the team. There are no bad ideas during a brainstorming session.

Then, once everyone’s had their say, come back down to earth and make the hard choices about what can be feasibly done. While your project’s scope might have to be pared down and some ideas put off to the future, don’t worry – the brainstorming experience you had is incredibly valuable. In these meetings you get to lay out your vision for your business and you get the feedback of professionals. The ideas that result from these brainstorming sessions can shape your business for years to come.

3. Have your assets ready.

With brainstorming and planning over, it’s time for everyone to get down to work. Your designer has their design brief and they will now be designing in earnest.

If you’ve promised to provide content – especially assets like logos and photos – then get your designer that stuff. Gathering it and delivering it all at once is preferable to emailing it piece by piece. Make sure everything’s organized and in all the formats they’ll need. Use Google Drive or Dropbox to share large files. Creating a shared project directory on Google Drive is also a great idea.

4. Be clear about who is going to provide content.

In my experience, even with a site redesign where existing content will be used for the new site, there will still need to be at least some new content. For example, your new homepage’s headlines and text will need to be tailored to the goals and look of your new page.

Who is going to do the work to come up with this new content? If you’re a marketing pro, then now’s your time to shine. If you’re not and you want the help of your designer, then you can save time by agreeing to work collaboratively. Try setting up a working meeting where you or someone from your team can meet with your designer and write together. This approach will cut down on slow, drawn-out, email exchanges.

Whatever process you and your designer settle on, be clear about who is going to do what and when. If you want a collaborative process, then schedule time for it and show up. If you promise content by a certain date, then follow through. Your designer will do their best visual and UX design if they have finished or close-to-finished content ready at hand. Your project’s momentum will slow if your designer has to wait for content.

5. Be open to your designer’s choices.

A good designer will have a reason for every choice they make in their design. They will lay out their reasoning as they present their designs to you and make it clear that their design choices aren’t merely subjective but that they have been made with your company’s goals in mind.

Another way to look at your designer’s choices is to understand that the perspective of your designer is somewhat different from yours. As a stakeholder in your business, you are well-versed in what your company needs. Your designer, on the other hand, is seeing things from your point of view as well as from your customer’s. It’s not always easy to see things from someone else’s point of view, let alone multiple perspectives, but an experienced, capable designer has plenty of practice at it.

With this “designer’s perspective” your designer is trying to create an experience which satisfies everyone’s needs. The experience that users will have of your site is made up of all the many design choices that comprise what your designer presents to you.

If you keep the designer’s unique perspective in mind as they present their designs, you’ll see that they’re bringing a valuable kind of expertise to your project that goes well beyond simply making your site visually appealing. Take advantage of having access to a designer’s perspective by listening closely to your designer’s recommendations.

- Josh HoffertSenior Designer & Frontend Developer | 

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