How to brief your website designer / developer
3rd March 2010

You like the portfolio and you love the work. You have decided to go ahead with the web design firm and have even agreed to the cost. Now comes the brief. You need to share your vision for the site with them. Help the web designer get into your head and look at the business from your perspective. Here are some tips.

Do your homework, browse the web and shortlist benchmark sites.

You can save a lot of time breifing your designer if you can simply point out a few websites to benchmark (note the operative word here is 'benchmark' not copy!!!). This will give the designer an idea of your tastes. Point out features you liked such as menu styles, font types etc which you liked. Point out things which you did not like and want to avoid.

Share the vision...use feeling words

Use feeling words to describe what you want the visitor to experience when he comes to your site. I want the visitor to be excited and energized. I want the visitor to be suitably impressed with the content and style. I want the visitor to feel sleepy when he comes to our site (a site for insomniacs perhaps!!). I want the visitor to laugh and get in a good mood when he visits my site. You get the drift.

Now share the nitty gritty... be specific.

I want to use blues and greens. I hate yellows and blacks. I want my logo to be prominent. Avoid verdana. Give your preferences but make sure you don't tie the designers hands completely. Don't tell them not to use any color of the rainbow for example or use only black. Outline your preferences but leave plenty of room for options.

Play Socrates...ask the designer questions

There have been many projects where the client has simply micromanaged the whole job without bothering to ask our opinion even once. Our opinion and experience did not matter. Don't make that mistake. Take advantage of your designers experience. Ask questions about design, style, message, technology and any other topic which widens both your understanding of the subject.

Let the designer interview you and give honest answers

Most web design firms generally have a standard set of questions they ask you. Answer them honestly. If you have not formed an opinion about something then say so. Be detailed in replies which you know what you want. Clear doubts about specific questions. Make sure you do justice to the questions or questionaire.

Last but not least Trust Your Designer

You've liked their work. You've chosen them on merit. Now let them do the job. Don't micro manage. Respect their opinions. Design is highly subjective, so acknowledge that your view point might not be the only one or the right one.

Last but not least don't take any crap as well. Demand the best and get the best.

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