In the perfect world, your job as a web designer would be like this:
- meet with the client in person
- review their project needs and goals
- set expectations
- create the design
- present the design to the client
- get approval without revisions
- design goes to production
Wake up. We work in less-than-perfect laboratory conditions. So, web designer, here is the most important piece of advice you will hear today, this week, this month, this year, ever (circle one). When a web design project starts to go south …
Hit a moving target.
If you have the skills to foresee (or interpret on the fly) the client’s next move, you can react quickly with design comps and revisions. This skill will help you communicate why your client’s less-than-great ideas are not the optimum choice. Through client education you will create trust and trust allows a designer to do what they’re supposed to do – design. Having said that, here’s some bonus advice: Have a plan B and use it only as a last course of action.
Have a Plan B
Not every web design client will accept your well-meaning direction as the best design solution. Fairly common areas of contention might include a client’s resistance to sensibly sized logos, normal navigation schemes, and universal usability guidelines.
Do your best to present your case and educate the client. But remember, no matter how well-supported your ideas may be, a client may not see the value and want to do it their own way. This is why web design portfolios don’t show every design you have ever worked on. And I suspect this is why some Home pages are still built with auto-playing sound files.
Suddenly I miss Plan B
Once the client crosses over from making less-than-great decisions to giving less-than-great direction, you may feel you’ve lost all credibility as a design resource, which is sad; something you did not sign up for; something your art school admissions brochure didn’t mention. When the client crosses that threshold, you have simply become a tool; a warm body who can assist in carrying out the client’s ‘off target’ digital vision. And to that I say, sometimes the goal of finishing the current web project is simply the means to get to the next one.
Don’t discount the value of your skills, they will again be utilized correctly by another client. Hit the target even if its moving away from reality and good design standards. You may save the design. Or you’ll get to the next design project quicker. Hopefully one with improved laboratory conditions.