Have you ever missed important deadlines because you had to go over numerous changes of your design until finally you were satisfied with the results? Have you ever skipped prototyping in order to save time and money? Have you managed to establish clarity with your design team and provide all the assets they need early enough in the process?
If yes, you may find the following points quite useful when it comes to getting quick and efficient work from your design team. They can get where you want and when you want without YOUR timely and purposeful involvement.
Check the key points you need to pay attention to below.
Table of contents:
By defining the functionality and the goals of your new website you’re not only working for your marketing positioning, but also setting one of the most important features for your team of designers and developers. This will bring clarity in establishing a technological and visual approach and prepare the ground for the further web design features. What is the major purpose of your website, what would you like your users to do when visiting?
The key here is to make clear by each reference what exactly you point at - what specific features appeal to you. Take a look around and get inspired by sites and apps across the web - don’t restrict yourself only to your competitors. Yes, it’s important to know what they’re at, but keep in mind that it’s completely normal and even recommended to look at websites of other business areas - this will enlighten you with new approaches that might be applicable and solve some of the technical issues (for example related to the website functionalities) faced by your team.
Don’t neglect the other business areas.
This can also give you a fresh look over the style you have, no matter if you already have one established by a professional agency (time passes, sometimes updates are needed), or you’re in a process of developing one.
Every designer would be very grateful if you provide them with as many references as possible (but remember to point out the best one for you) - this is the only way for the creative team to sense your way of thinking - not only visually, but functionally. So don’t worry if you’re in the restaurants business, but have a sparkle with that beauty shop website - give it a go and feel free to refer to it.
It might be also misleading when clients are only providing examples of their competitors because the reference is meant to let the team know about the taste, the features and the details that move the client. Very often they get confused by examples that don’t match the description given in the brief or certain elements, described by the client, just because the competitors approach is not related to them at all.
Feel free to look at examples, provided by your web designer - just to get an idea. You can always reject, but why restrict yourself?
Point straight at what you like.
Clarity serves you best - if you recommend a certain website because of the animations, the layout or the contact form they have - make this note to the web agency, so they will be aware of what to look at. If you like the animations - don’t expect them to use similar fonts for example. Always define what precisely attracts you at a certain reference and you’ll receive work as close as possible to your ideas. Discuss as much as you can to squeeze out the essence.
Prototyping matters, it’s the very first step of the process which can significantly ease the layout configuration later.
Many clients skip this step due to the impression that it will save them time and money. Prototyping, even in the simplest way done, can avoid so many confusion situations both for the client and for the dev team, that the benefits of it completely overcome the cost of the time invested.
Knowing where is what and how it’s supposed to function is the vital skeleton of the site/app - without a clarified construction things can never run smoothly.
So here comes the team on your side - use them to prepare mockups, or, if you still think it’s very time consuming - at least discuss with them precisely every screen of the future website and they will know how to help themselves.
Before your website is being designed it’s in your favour to get prepared with your most powerful weapon - the assets you already have. This is a significant step, because you already might have invested a lot of money in a developed brand style guide and just skip providing it, or even some elements of it. This will not only demand a lot of work hours from the web designers to adapt layout, colours and typography to your style and try to define it, but might also lead to some contradictions that will affect your brand.
The best time to provide assets is as early as possible.
Let the web designer get familiar in details with who you are and you’ll receive much more adequate proposals for design much sooner.
If you have a style guide - the colours for the website will be defined, but keep in mind that various screens may render them in a different way, so it’s always a good idea to discuss with your web designer their intention of colours application. For example, you may need to add some more to your palette in order to cover certain functionalities of the site/app or to slightly change a certain colour to ensure legibility when it comes to text or visibility of images. Keep in mind that the brand style guides are often developed primary for print purposes - maybe this will change in the next few years, but still this is often the case, so use your web designers’ experience and get an advice how to apply your brand palette in the context of the web.
We often have observed client attitude to colours - since they have their emotional impact on people, often the reason for colour preferences are very personal and not objective.
The web team will always think of what is the best usage of each colour and stay on the cool side in the name of the better work result.
Feel free to discuss your ideas with the designer and stay as objective as possible.
If you already have a developed brand style then you must have the typography rules in brand application defined already. But yet there are 2 important keynotes here.
First, fonts are a key asset and getting the designers familiar with it as early as possible will keep them safe from any confusion and you - from time and money wasted on unnecessary discussions.
If you have defined brand fonts - they must be in you assets, ready to be used in your new website.
Second, your fonts might just not work on websites or apps - keep in mind that these have certain restrictions in terms of web safe fonts. Most popular fonts have their web versions but usually these are paid per website and traffic so please keep that in mind. It’s the agency team responsibility to inform you and react on time if your style guide fonts are inapplicable. They should check with you if you already have purchased web fonts or suggest you the closest possible web safe font combinations. Ideally, you should see examples in situ. If you happen to work with an internal designer - consult your options with them. If you don’t have any - better rely on the advices of the web designer you’re hiring - it’s their obligation to be familiar with typographic features and advise you best.
Another important step here is font size - yes, web is different. The rules for legibility and text preservation are strict and they might slightly differentiate from your style guide. If this is the case, don’t hesitate to discuss this topic with the web designer, they should make you familiar with the best approach that will ensure the preferable options to display your information. Typography is also definitive for the whole structure, so the designer might use it to get more creative, too - unless it’s not controversial with any style guides.
Typography defines major visual characteristics of the brand and as a significant factor holds the key to the perfect representation of your company - so better use all your options to achieve the maximum out of it.
Web renders fonts differently
Yes, this happens, but stay cool - this is how things function and here’s your hero team to decide what’s the best approach.
Providing images on time and sharing your preferences of their usage, if you have any, with the agency team will prevent you from many wasted hours of rework. Image application often depends on the layout rules, so remember that when choosing images the web designer will take this into consideration and pick images not only by content and other criteria, but also according to the best visibility of the image in the layout context on the most common screen resolutions.
Very often the digital agency team will need to invest even some time in reworking your images to unify them stylistically or, the most important part -
Optimise the images size - this will make the website execution much smoother.
One of the obligations of the web team you work with is to be always aware of the most common screen resolutions, display settings and test to perfection the execution of you website on these screens. We have observed many confused clients, using old browsers/machines that are no longer supported - emphasising on them, just because somebody in the office uses one. The most important thing you’re possibly trying to achieve is to
get as many visitors as possible, having a clean and engaging user experience on your website/app
In this case you’ll feel much relief and security in the websites/apps success if you get informed by your agency about the most common screen resolutions and browser versions and make sure that they will test as much a possible, using exactly these screens. x But, the same approach is legit for you - if you’re trying to judge whether your web team has reached the goal - you also must restrict yourself to the most common screen resolutions and browsers. If you have a super sleek innovative design with many animations for example - it’s technologically not possible to run it smoothly on Internet Explorer 9. What we help you get valuable statistics about the current usage of different OSs and devices is StatCounter and you can run your tests on websites like BrowserStack.
Emphasise on what’s most common and stay up to date.
Think about these very simple steps as a way to achieve clarity and flawlessness in the design process, which will bring your site to a new level and save you a lot of effort and time.
Always discuss with your web team - you’re a client, you’ve got the right to be enlightened. And what a better way to make sure you are on the same page and working towards the same goal?
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