“We need to stop thinking about the client, agency, and ‘employees’ as separate entities,” urges Net Magazine contributor Carl Smith. He suggests, “think about people who have shared goals regardless of where they fit into a relationship,” as the ultimate approach to creating masterful web projects.
The core approach is refreshing: build a “team” out of the various parts that make up the development of a web design or software. Without client vs. contractor dynamics, true collaborative effort can occur.
So if you are approaching web companies, or are involved with one on a project today, keep this relationship ethos in mind.
Our clients can attest to that pulse-quickening feeling you get when you type in your web address for the first time after your small business website has been completed:
“It’s up and live,” and ready to wield some web marketing influence. You hit “Enter”. There’s the big reveal. Some months of discussion, drafts, and testing later, the site is ready. It looks great, and functions for optimal usability. Your business marketing vision has been expertly communicated online. Let the conversions begin!
That’s the feeling the team at Navigator Multimedia strives to facilitate for their clients every time.
When the client-design team relationship thrives, websites, social media marketing campaigns, logo designs, and other services become marketing success stories. We like to share in that success, too!
A thriving client-design team relationship is enjoyable and productive. Project meetings address concerns and ideas on both sides. There is constructive criticism. There is mutual respect.
And in the end, there are dynamic web projects that excite everyone involved. Here are our 5 tips for finding, maintaining, and thriving in a project-perfect relationship with your web design/online marketing team.
1. Go Local, blind date the team
Stick with qualified professionals operating in your community. Besides encouraging local economic growth and easing communication costs (phone meetings and flights will otherwise be added to your e-marketing budget), establishing relationships and best relaying the “goals” you should all come to share is most efficient in-person.
Finding capable innovators in your community is often as simple as a Google search for “web design [your community here ] “. The first-page results will give you some sense of the company’s dedication to SEO, and provide portfolios of past projects to help you make a decision.
Don’t settle on an agency until you have had an opportunity to meet and greet the ones whose portfolios impressed you. An initial meeting can establish whether you share aesthetic preferences, worth ethic, and communication efficiency.
You need a team you can truly feel welcome and excited to start working with. This often requires a few rounds of “blind date” meetings.
2. Expect a written proposal with clear deadlines and budget terms.
A professional web design team will provide you with a clearly communicated written document that outlines:
- What they will be providing.
- The deadlines for different stages of the process.
- The budget for the project.
Only after you have approved and signed the proposal should any production begin on your project. The proposal provides a point-of-reference for you and your team throughout the process, so there are no false expectations.
3. Be open and accept your important role in the process
You lead your web design project. You approve design choices. You understand the persona of your brand, and your business goals. You are the most important player in the project.
Once you accept that there is some accountability there- you should answer emails from design team members promptly, turn up to meetings, offer examples and input on your project development- you gain the respect of your team, and productivity accelerates.
Consider yourself as part of a collective now: designers, content writers, programmers, and you, will all have ideas as the project moves along. Be open, listen actively to others suggestions, and don’t feel pressured to make decisions right away.
Remember that “new team members who are excited about their roles in a project will breathe fresh energy into the project and those around them” (Smith), so an influx of suggestions for your project is often the sign of positive collaboration!
4. Prepare to communicate your goals, give meaningful feedback, and count on courtesy
Before heading into that initial project meeting, mull these questions over. Designers will need to know:
- How will you be advertising this website/social media campaign/ newsletter?
- Who are you trying to communicate to?
- What are your ultimate goals for this project?
Be specific about those goals. “Make money online” won’t cut it. Consider whom you are communicating to, and what you want to provide. A seamless e-commerce experience? Stronger brand awareness? An information resource about your product or service? Hone in on your specific business marketing goals, and your design team will be on board to make it possible for you to succeed.
The words that haunt the sleep of designers everywhere: “I need my website to really ‘pop’ on the page.” Pop? What does that look like? How does that feel? Lazy mis-articulation of critical feedback and concepts can frustrate and divide designers and clients.
Show an eagerness to provide meaningful feedback to all members of your team with specific details that get to the point. For instance, instead of suggesting, “I want my site to be more exciting,” try offering what would make the experience exciting, specifically. “I’d like to see brighter colours in the fonts or more HTML5 animation, to add an exciting feel,” works better here.
Courtesy from both sides counts for a lot. Absolutely respond to all emails from members of your web project team as quickly as time will allow. Absolutely respect payment terms and follow through accordingly. Absolutely speak up when if you feel the project turning in a direction you are not comfortable with (financially, stylistically, or otherwise), or if there are portions of the project that you need some clarity in understanding.
You might be approaching a web-marketing agency from a seemingly opposite industry, but there are still models of business etiquette that will determine the effectiveness and positive completion of projects of all kinds.
5. Invest in glorious, compelling content
Effective web content facilitates the design process, as it communicates your small business messages and gets users to take the next step (sign up, make a purchase, learn more). As Mashable.com contributor Josh Catone says, “content is an oft-overlooked part of a website design, but critical for the majority of sites.”
If your design team offers copywriting or content strategy services, use them. Professional web content writers create solutions with web design boundaries and layout preferences in mind.
We have more information about choosing a design team, and communicating effectively during the design process. The more you know about what a designer can do for you, and what to expect during project production, the more positive the experience will be.
Ready to communicate your business goals to an innovative, dynamic team of web professionals? Contact us today to get started!
Catone, Josh. “HOW TO: Communicate Needs & Expectations to Web Designers.” 22 September 2010. Mashable.com: http://mashable.com/2010/09/22/communicate-web-designer/