Before starting my own web design company I worked as a sales rep for a couple other companies that offered websites in their portfolio. There was one thing I learned very quickly about the web design business… the actual person who does the design work, rarely if ever meets with the customer. I’m sure you’re thinking exactly what I did…How can that be? How can someone design a website for, well anyone, without sitting down and talking to them about it? This post will help you understand why that is, and what you should expect when you work with a web design company.
If you look at the homepage on our website the first thing we say is that web design is an art form. I’m here to tell you that is 100% true. A true web designer is extremely left brained (that’s the creative side for those of you I just lost). When they sit down to build a site their mind is wrapped around how to take all the parts (text, pictures, links, etc.) and turn them into an image that represents who they’re building it for and the story that needs to be told. It’s not an analytical process, but one that is more suited for an artist than it is a sales person or management type. We all have friends who are exceptionally creative, or maybe that person is you. But ask that person to explain their process or what goes through their mind when they’re in the creative mode and it may give you a headache. It’s no different than an analytical person trying to explain to a creative mind how they organize their week for maximum efficiency. Blah, blah, blah is all that’s heard.
This is where a project manager comes in. A good web design company has a person that sits in the middle of the whole process and works with both the customer and the creative team designing the site. This project manager generally has 3 main tasks.
First, they need to be able to sit with a customer and extract what their vision and expectations are for the website. Are you trying to sell or market a product, or is the site’s main purpose to inform visitors? Are you looking for something simple and clean, or something with lots of graphics and dynamic navigation? Obviously there are many more questions that need to be asked, but you get the idea.
Second, they need to be able to take the information they got from the customer and translate it to the creative staff designing the site. This task requires painting a picture that the designer can latch onto and run with. Even though they are passing along specific information, it’s often presented in a very broad and general manner. The whole idea here is to give the creative team what they need to grasp the concept of where this site is going, but to not drill down so deeply that there is no room left for the creativity to flow. After all, this is to be a unique product for a particular customer, and the web designers’ true skill involves turning message and concept into imagery.
Third, the project manager needs to be able to do just that…manage a project. The creative staff needs to be able to create, but this cannot turn into an endless process. The customer needs to be given the proper expectations on timeframe, end result, and what they are getting for the price they’re paying. The customer wants it yesterday and the designer often wants more time to achieve perfection. This part of the process is continuous. The creative team needs to understand the timeframes they’ll be given, long before they work on their first site. The customer needs to understand this is not something you do in a day, so you can hurry up and get it on the web.
My team works very hard to give our customers unique websites with clear messages. It takes both the project manager and the designers to achieve this. So when you meet with someone from a web design company, don’t expect it to be the actual designer. Understand that it takes that middle person to keep the project moving so that it meets everyone’s expectations.