As a brand owner, it is quite common to be in the position to point out flaws and problems with elements in the design of a commissioned website when it is first presented. Part of being a web designer is being critiqued if any aspect of the requirement is overlooked or the direction of the design isn’t as expected. Feedback plays a vital role in the execution of a project and it is given throughout the lifespan of building a website including after it has been deployed. When given in an unconstructive manner, it can be the difference between a long, healthy working relationship and a short, distasteful one.
Feedback should be an open discussion where ideas are allowed to move back and forth not just a list of changes that are sent down to the designer. This opens up an avenue for the designer to address questions that need clarification and this way both the brand owner and the web designer can be a part of the solution.
This article highlights a couple of guidelines that will help give useful and constructive feedback to your web designer.
- Communicate your Needs and Observations Early:
As earlier stated, effective communication is key to achieving the desired outcome of a website design. Early communication of needs establishes the assurance that the necessary elements are incorporated into a design at preliminary stages before the project advances beyond the foundational level and it becomes quite inconvenient to correct. This ensures that all the elements work well together to give a satisfying result.
To get as many details as possible before the start of a design project, website designers often outline what information clients are expected to provide so that there are no gaps when collecting data vital to the design. This informs the designer in great detail about what the client expects from them at the end of the day and it also helps the client understand the distinction between reasonable and unreasonable demands. No information must be left out in these early stages.
- Provide Clear and Qualitative References and Examples:
When giving feedback to a web designer, it is advisable to avoid generalization while stating observations because generalities can be hard to streamline and work with. Providing example-based comments with qualitative references such as websites of competitors or websites with desirable features similar to the expected outcome will help get a look and feel of what a client expects.
Giving non-specific feedback like: “The site looks bland” or “Jazz it up” can be hard to understand because it does not address a particular issue and ultimately adds no real value. What exactly is bland? The color-scheme? The images used? The font-style? Clients are expected to express themselves in a detailed manner to help the designer understand their perspective of the situation and make necessary changes to the design.
By using specific comments like “I would prefer if the images in the about section had more spacing and a grey background” send a direct message to the designer and he can apply the necessary fixes as specified.
- Pay Less Attention to the content and More Attention to the Layout of the Design.
It is important for clients to understand that the initial mock-up of a website does not represent the final design. What this means is that at first, images are merely placeholders that will almost certainly be changed, and dimensions also often get amended during the course of a web design project. During reviews, more attention should be paid to word and image placement and how they interact with one another to make the design work. Constructive feedback on this aspect is critical to a desirable final outcome. Other elements such as the banner, sidebar, footer, and other elements of the design should come next.
- Feedback does not always have to be Negative.
Web designers work really hard to bring clients’ imaginations to life, and every now and then the presented designs meet and even exceed the expectations of a client. some positive affirmation on a job well done is what is expected in this situation.
Even though feedback meetings typically focus more on ways to improve work, it is appreciated when clients share what’s working really well within a design. Not only does this pat on the back give a much-needed encouragement to keep working hard for clients, but it also allows to build up a knowledge base of what clients like so that more ideas in that field can be brought to the table.
In conclusion, giving constructive web design feedback is a valuable skill that not only helps save time but also helps the design process move forward. Clients should not hesitate to raise questions or any concerns they have with the web designer. After all, it is their job to find unique and creative solutions for your project. But remember that feedback is a two-way street. A collaborative effort will achieve the best results.