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Quick web design approvals. How to give & get appropriate feedback without destroying the design creative.
25th July 2011

Have you ever sat through a meeting that resembled the Bingo Mad Angles commercial, where the obvious was overlooked and everyone was trying to prove their usefulness by giving bullshit feedback. Well, I have sat through enough of those to know that the result is never good. I have also sat in meetings where the client has? simply asked relevant questions and given a quick nod trusting his design team to do the right thing.

So here are a few quick tips to help thing along both for? business owners and web designers alike.

Web Designers - Present a well thought out strategy and design note to the client with your designs

? A website design seen in a vacuum will be judged solely on its design elements which is definitely not how you want your design to be evaluated. A design strategy note before the design unveiling primes the client to view the design in the right context.
Some ideas on what to include in the design notes:

  • Review the target audience for the website
  • Outline the concept & thinking behind the design (hopefully there should? be some)
  • Explain exactly what behaviour you would like the visitor to do e.g. click on the ?More Info'?  button.

Priming the client will help you make a more effective case and defend the design better.

Business Owners - Limit the size of your team giving feedback to 2-3 persons max. Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Imagine presenting the design in front of 20 people (I have? seen owners make their entire staff sit in on a site design? presentation) with each contributing his/her two cents worth. A horrible mishmash of ideas and feedback with no background and relevance. In contrast a smaller more focused team involved right from the briefing stage looking at the designs from a mission oriented perspective makes more sense.

Corollary to this point - Do not leave the design approval work to low level staff.

Atleast have someone of VP level sitting on in the meeting. Senior staff bring experience and perspective to the table. Lower rung staff tend to get caught in the little things instead of viewing the big picture. Also you need people who can communicate effectively with the web team.

Web Designers - Be prepared to defend your design like a lawyer would. You are on trial and so is your design.

Yeah, I know, sounds a bit too confrontational? But? many clients will eat you alive if you are not prepared to defend your designs. Of course this implies that you must believe in your design and feel that what you have come up with is relevant and defendable.?  Don't be confrontational, be diplomatic. Play up the strengths of the design, refer to the original briefs for backup. But this is not a battle to the death. Be prepared to give a little too.

Business Owners - You selected them, appointed them, paid them, so the least you can do is trust your web designers.

Not listening to the web designers feedback is like second guessing your own judgement. If you don't trust the web designers work that means you made a wrong selection from the beginning. If you have hired experienced designers then trust their judgement, allow them some latitude and give their ideas a shot. You might be surprised at the results.

Web Designers - Listen, I mean really listen, to the clients feedback. Clients have something useful to say too.

Although I consider myself and my team as experienced web designers with hundreds of sites under our belt, I many times find clients pointing out things that should have been obvious or come up with really cool ideas. I have had the privilege of working with many very smart and saavy clients and they have taught me a lot too. They are after all business owners who have made it to this level.

Listening is a skill every web designer needs to learn. The type of listening I am talking about is a very advanced form of listening where you not only hear the words but also digest the meaning behind them with your full attention.

It takes two to tango - No web design project would be successful without both parties contributing equally.

It all comes down to respect. Respect between the client and the web designer can speed things along tremendously and that has to be cultivated from both sides. Like any relationship there has to be give and take. One side cannot dominate, bully, intimidate the other and expect good results.

So the next time you are sitting in a design approval meeting remember the Mad Angles ad. Keep it real.

Cheers,
Ron

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