Sunday, June 23, 2013

Are You a Bad Web Design Client?

We appreciate every web client we have the opportunity to work with. Once in awhile, unfortunately, we do get that client that makes us reconsider the relationship we have with them. Let’s take a look at the characteristics of a bad web design client:
  • Expecting more design services than you have paid for, or are included in your contract
  • Expecting every design task to be turned around immediately, regardless of time of day or night
  • Last minute requests always needed ASAP
  • Extremely vague about design preferences or requested feedback
  • Asking your designer to copy someone else’s web design exactly as is
  • Threaten to take your project overseas to someone cheaper
  • Disappear for weeks or months without notice when design feedback is required
  • Offer a payment that is far less than what you’ve been quoted or that you are contracted for
  • Try  to each web design best practices to your web designer
  • Completely switch design direction after approving design compositions, and want those changes made for free
  • Treat your web designer like a low skill, replaceable employee
You probably get the point by now. Don’t get us wrong, more often than not bad web design clients don’t start that way. They become bad clients as a result of the web design companies they have dealt with not properly doing their jobs and communicating the right expectations upfront. Most bad web clients we have come across we have inherited, and have been created from their experiences with past designers.

To help everyone, clients and designers alike, from avoiding these kinds of situations,  we are providing following checklist to produce positive web design project experiences.

Before a project starts, clients should always:
  • Request to see the designer’s work that is similar to the kind of project they require
  • Clearly understand, and agree to, all design costs and prices, and review all contract documents completely
  • Provide at least 5 samples of web design projects you like, with explanations of why you like them
  • Provide any and all logos, photos and content that you would like to be used in the design
Prepared, responsive clients lead to motivated, enthusiastic designers. Motivated, enthusiastic designers are more likely to include some design work for free.

It is our responsibility to properly manage your project expectations and produce a happy client. Whether you think you’re a good or bad web design client, if you are relying on an ineffective, outdated website to grow your business or support your non profit organization,  then we want to help.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Are Photoshop Mock-ups for Custom Designs a Necessary Evil? Or Just Evil?

Photoshop mock-ups for web designs are very common, and are also one of the reasons why businesses complain so often about not getting the results they wanted once their websites have been completed. Mock-ups are commonly used in a custom design situation with the intent to show a graphic version of how the final product will appear, or to give a client a choice between multiple design options in a graphic format.

There are multiple disadvantages in providing Photoshop mock-ups for web design clients. Photoshop mock-ups are expensive and time consuming. They are not made to scale, as the mock-up design may or may not be compatible with the final system being used to implement the design (html5 or one of multiple CMS platforms). A Photoshop mockup shows none of the functionality of a website design; i.e. jquery sliders, RSS feeds, etc. Not enough detail is displayed, and it is difficult for clients to understand the concepts with a flat mockup rather than in interactive html site.

Additionally, a very complicated Photoshop mock-up, while attractive as a static image, may or may not be easily translated into a final functioning coded website.  This issue crops up most ofen when a designer, someone skilled in Photoshop, is not a person skilled in CODING a website; their mock-up design concept in Photoshop  may not translate well to the web, and the final site may not completely duplicate their original design concept. And while we do have those clients that insist that their website duplicate pixel by pixel the Photoshop mockup they present us with, they are made to understand that this kind of time and effort comes with a price. A steep one.

In the same amount of  time that it takes to design and create one mockup in Photoshop, an actual first working draft of a functional HTML site can be designed and developed for a client's review. A "live" site can be tested and reviewed for functionality and cross browser/device compatibility as well as looks. It can be displayed on a development site for edits and changes instead of wasting the client's time and money on flat Photoshop mock-ups. What is the point of editing and re-editing (and re-editing) an image (mockup) when you can review and test an actual website and make any changes there? You are more than one step ahead in the process.

We have many clients that come to us with a PSD that has been provided to them by a graphic designer, and it is our task to take that PSD mock-up and create a functional working website. This can be successful as long as there is communication between the client and the web designer, and the understanding exists that not all mock-up designs will look identical to once coded into HTML or Wordpress or the CMS of choice. Not being involved in the editing and re-editing and re-editing of that image cuts down on our time and our costs, but eliminating that part of the process completely saves everyone time and money.