10 Tips on How to Communicate with Your Custom Web Designer


If you are inexperienced with design and design workflows, it can be hard to communicate with a Custom Web Designer as to the appearance of your website. It will take your designer longer to determine what you want and more time in the design process can translate into higher costs for your website than originally budgeted. Here are a few tips to help communicate and save money.

Don’t use the following words and phrases:

Try not to say any of these popular buzz words made up by the non-designer advertising industry depicting feelings instead of reality when talking with your Custom Web Designer.

1 – “Pop” as in “Will you make that really pop?”

Web designers really can’t define what that means other than “make it look better.” We need something more explicit such as, “Will you add more colors? I would like more orange in the design.” This is much clearer, to the point and will result in the design you are trying to achieve.

2 – “Jazz” as in “Will you jazz it up a bit?”

Just as in the above, this causes confusion. Be more to the point like, “Will you add a better picture in the header? This one doesn’t portray what I’m trying to get across such as…” The clearer you are, the better the overall design and imagery will be.

3- “Feel” as in “I just don’t feel it.”

Custom Web Designers can’t translate a design based only on feelings. Be specific like, “I don’t like the navigation bar.” or “I don’t like the entire layout. Maybe something such as this website…” This will help the Custom Web Designer tremendously.

4. “Edgy” as in “Can you make it more edgy?”

I’ve been a Custom Web Designer for 15 years and have managed around 20 Custom Web Designers in that amount of time. Trust me, none of us can define what “edgy” really means; can you? Use terms like, “Will you make it look more like the Coca Cola or Nike website?” This is much clearer communication.

Other Tips

The rest of the tips on communicating with your Custom Web Designer deals with certain methods that slow down the design process or makes it confusing for the designer.

5. Web Design by Committee

Don’t design by committee. This is just a recipe for disaster as opinions are like elbows – everybody has one. (Note: Yes, I know the real saying, but I’m trying to keep it professional here.) Designing by committee is when you bring other people into the design process.

That may be all right with one or two people; but when you introduce anyone who has never attended any of the meetings with the designer, they could come up with something completely different that has no bearing on the original design and will most likely add dramatically to the scope of the original project.

This means more money and will result in total frustration for your Custom Web Designer. Either limit the committee to one or two people who attend every meeting with your designer or have your ‘committee’ meet by themselves, come to a consensus, and one representative present the results. Our best projects have dealt with a committee of one person who made all decisions for the company.

6. Send-it-Up-the-Ladder Method

The send-it-up-the-ladder method is related to the design by committee method except for one thing. The scenario is that the Custom Web Designer meets with the client or a committee and then designs a website and sends it for approval. The committee then sends it to the ultimate decision maker – the boss or owner – and they send it back because it isn’t “edgy” or doesn’t “pop” or doesn’t have feature “X”, “Y”, or “Z” that was never discussed at all before the design company gave a quote for the project.

This method almost always results in a dramatic scope change and/or a frustrated client and designer. Tip: If the ultimate decision-maker is not part of the committee, immediately make that person a member or you will otherwise most likely see a price increase.

7. Shotgun Web Design Method

The shotgun web design method is where the client expects 5 designs so they can “choose from the best.” This is also a recipe for disaster.

A Custom Web Designer spends 6 to 8 hours a day designing. If you ask them to spend all of that creative energy on 5 designs for one project, expect to pay triple or even quadruple the costs since they will spend that amount of extra time to design 4 or more websites that will never be used again.

8. Throw it Out There and Let’s See What Sticks

The other problem method is the client who wants the Custom Web Designer to “throw something out there and see what sticks,” which translates to “I have no idea what I want, so you get to guess.”

Custom Web Designers are not mind readers. If you just take some time and find some good sample web designs (two or three) to show to the web designer, it will speed up the design process and make everyone, including you, much less frustrated.

9. Flash Websites

Don’t get me wrong, Flash is “cool” and has its place; but not as an entire website for several reasons. Number one is that when you make a flash website, it is just like making a video and embeds all of your content (text) into the “movie” (what flash files are called). Google, and all search engines for that matter, rely heavily on text to categorize (translate: prioritize) your website. If Google cannot access the text (content), it cannot properly index your site. If Google cannot index your site, it basically ‘ignores’ your site and it will sink to the bottom of the search engine optimization ocean.

The second reason to steer away from entire Flash websites is that right now (2010), “they” are predicting a 400% growth rate in the next 5 years for smart phones with access to the Internet. More and more people will be surfing and searching on their phones. I do; my wife does; my sister, brother-in-law, their kids and even my mother does. That’s 100% in my family alone!

So what? Well, none of these phones can play Flash movies (the file explained above). So if your site is completely flash-based, your site will not be able to be seen on these new shiny phones. Don’t cripple your website because you want it to be “cool.” We can make it “cool” in other ways that will allow it to be seen by iPhone/smart phone users.

10. Trust your Designer

What is the best tip to save money for you and frustration with your Custom Web Designer? Trust that person. I am a Custom Web Designer and have designed over 200 websites. I know what works and what doesn’t. I know that comic sans should be thrown out as a font unless I am designing a day care website. I know you should never put blue text on a red background as color blind people will never be able to read the text.

I am the expert, so trust my judgment when I say, “Let’s put a call-to-action here” or “Let’s add a benefit-driven headline there” or “That might not be a good idea because of …” This is the Custom Web Designer’s job. We do it every day, so just trust us.


In summary, the clearer your communication is with a Custom Web Designer, the greater help you are providing and will save on the overall costs of your website. Be part of the process but not all of the process as this website ultimately is for your clients and not for you. The ultimate thing your website should do is convert a visitor into a customer.

For more information regarding tips on how to communicate with your Custom Web Designer, call our sales staff at 1-888-516-0172 or email [email protected]


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Comments (3)

  1. LOL. I love it! I’ve dealt with so many clients like the above that I can’t say. I think that web design is a really hard industry and is so very subjective. I can only say that I wish I could hand this to incoming clients to let them know from the start how to deal with me.

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