For as long as I have been working in this industry, I have come across angry and sad tales of business owners who had a terrible experience web designer. I’ve heard the stories many different ways; but essentially it ended up that the business owner didn’t get what they wanted and felt like they were getting ripped off.

It’s no wonder why some may be extra cautious when choosing to hire a professional, and why some may opt to do it themselves.

Just to forewarn: This article is kind of a rant/stream of consciousness piece I really wanted to get out of my system. Though, I hope if you take the time to read this (or at least skim read) you might find something that helps. 🙂

The problems when web designers and business owners meet

Some of the common reasons why website projects fall apart are:

  • The web designer only speaks in technical or design jargon.
  • The business owner doesn’t understand how the web works and/or doesn’t value it.
  • The project wasn’t properly scoped.

And when you combine any or all of these together, you get one horrible mess!

But if you’re a designer who doesn’t want to get pushed around — Or if you’re a business owner with the open-mindedness towards digital marketing, then… there may be hope for you. 🙂

What to do when the technical jargon doesn’t make sense

There’s a few things I have to say about this:

  • A lot of people take the internet for granted. Uploading a photo or video to Facebook seems so straightforward; So I get how it must seem weird when your web designer says it needs work to make it properly optimised for your website.
  • As a business owner, you don’t have to understand how the technology works, nor have creative flair. And you’re not stupid if you don’t have either of these. People take courses and spend hours learning code and Adobe Photoshop to get things looking good.
  • As a web designer or consultant, you should be proud and confident about what you know. There’s more to offer to a client than your neat and tidy, standards compliant HTML code.

Good web design isn’t about whether it’s custom coded, built on a WordPress theme framework, or done for free on Wix

I used to get flak from “real developers” because building websites on customised WordPress themes doesn’t make me a “real developer”. And just as often, I once poo-poo’ed on people who built their website on Squarespace, Wix or Weebly. As I write this article now in 2019, I’ve long since learned that’s kinda dumb… and we really shouldn’t do that.

The elite-ness or HTML-valid-ness actually doesn’t matter much for a small business owner. However it can matter if you’re building a web based app, which has very specific requirements.

It took me a while to be okay with people building websites on Wix. I know and they know a professional would be valuable, but money is often the issue. (Or if you’re genuinely interested in taking a crack at web design, but HTML scares you – that’s cool.)

So then, what does a good web design need to do?

It must resonate with the target audience, and solve their problem. (Or in some cases, give them something fun to do.)

How do you have a web design project that actually turns out great?

  • Get as much of the project requirements nailed down as you possibly can. This may involve some teasing out (between web designer and business owner) of what problems exist, and what the audience will think, feel, or do.
    • This “teasing out” or consulting process may uncover things that the business owner didn’t think they can do with a website.
    • This process also helps the web designer assemble the website in such a way that solves problems and attracts better leads.
    • It’ll also help the project stay on track, and avoid the recurring “just add this one little thing” before going live.
  • Have a good reason for putting what you want on your website. If your feature or design decision doesn’t resonate, doesn’t solve a problem, or impedes a website visitor in some way, you’re likely just working on a vanity project.
  • Nail down your priority goals, milestones, and separate your “nice to haves”.
    • Having a website that is at least generating more leads for you sooner is often better than none at all (i.e. holding off for 10 months while you wait for a special piece of content to be produced).

In conclusion

For some web designers, it takes a lot of trial and error until they work out how to optimally deliver website projects.

For some business owners, money wasting and confusion can occur. Which, combined with a lack of knowledge of the web, can foster distrust in professionals.

And well… meetings and consultations aren’t the most exciting thing in the world. But the more you can open up about what’s going wrong to your doctor, the better they can diagnose your situation. 🙂

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