Making Web Designers Collaborators
Many small business owners make the mistake of viewing web designers as contracted labor instead of co-creators in the business. Since so much business exposure occurs online, web designers provide more than a specialized service. They create a culture for the identity of your business.
Steve Lowe, CEO of Innovator, LLC, a consulting and custom software company, advises that the most important thing to consider when hiring a web designer is to make sure the designer’s style meshes with that of the company’s style and marketing attitude.
Only when designer and company share a vision can the website reinforce the company’s brand image.
Since the need has grown for great web designers, websites now exist for the purpose of connecting business owners with web designers.
Path.to and Elance.com serve as networking sites for web designers and business owners, enabling both to find web site designers who can act as collaborators, complementing the business owner’s skills and values.
It is vital for the designer and business owner to include each other in every step of the process, giving the other a sense of ownership.
The business owner has ultimate authority of the site and also the amount of capital available to invest in it, but the web designer authors the artistic vision and should openly share his creative ideas.
Open communication allows for efficiency in both design and budget. Feedback loops in the design phase also saves a lot of expense in recoding pages after the fact.
Katherine Cleland of Cleland Marketing gave great advice to small business owners in how to make web designers collaborators. These are key elements the designer will need at the beginning of the project:
Have a group of other websites that have the look and feel you want
Have a sample site outline already drawn or written down
Images they would like on the site
Customer testimonials for the site approved by clients
Have at least some draft text for every page
Answer “what do you want the visitor to do when they arrive at your site?”
Cleland says most of the frustration for designers and much of the added cost for small businesses is the wait and redo time when these critical elements are vague in the contract phase, which delays or puts the project on hold.
As with any business collaborator, clear communication and joint ownership is the key to effective partnership. If business owners pursue this with their web designers, both parties will maximize the value of both the collaboration and the website.