The Web Designer Client Relationship

A good web designer client relationship can be critical to the success of a well-built and designed website. Web designers spend a large portion of their day explaining the processes of creating a website to clients who, reasonably enough, have little understanding of how it all works.

The time spent on explanations, answering questions and in some cases providing justifications, is unpaid time unless we factor it into a quote. This can mean the client themselves may drive up the cost of their website project, or negatively influence the success of the project if they don't contribute material when required or if they aren't organised enough to make important decisions on request.

So the purpose of this article is to explain to anyone interested in having a website designed some of the things you should know in order to ensure the process is a quick and happy one, and also as inexpensive as possible.

Client Responsibility

We should point out here that we generally supply our clients with documents which explain how to prepare for a new website. These documents will contribute to removing the guess work out of what can be quite a demanding task. However, they do need to be read and understood, and acted on.

There is so much information on the internet about website ownership, internet marketing, social media marketing and a host of other stuff which is all worth reading, but there is very little information that defines the role of the web designers client.

Highest on the list of things every website owner should know, is that the secret to a successful website is the client themselves. A designer may produce a truly outstanding website only to see it lie dead in the water because the client does nothing to promote it.

There is a common misconception among many clients that once they have hired a designer to produce a website they can then walk away with the expectation that magic will happen with little or no input on their part.

A designer can really only point a client in the right direction. It is the clients commitment, ability to make decisions and act on them, and delivery of the necessary elements of the website which can only come from them, that will ensure the quality and the success of the website.

Web Designer Responsibility

Having said all that, we designers understand that there is a great deal a client has to know in order to make informed decisions. It is surely the designers role to explain as much as possible - but it definitely needs to be a two way street. The client also needs to listen to what the professional is advising.

There is an inherent danger in web design that if we do not clearly define the clients role early on in the process, they will end up trying to define ours.

Serious problems can result if the client starts to make decisions which are best left to the designer or developer, who is or should be, working for the best interests of the client.

One of the most important aspects of the development of any website is the material it will contain, and yet most clients won't have considered what is involved in creating or collating this.

Writing good website content (page text) is not like writing for any other medium. I find most of my clients underestimate its importance, despite my best efforts to explain. I personally don't enjoy writing website content even though I have years of experience and can do it in my sleep. Copywriting is one thing I would much rather outsource to someone who enjoys it, and frequently do.

After the Job is Done

Once a website has been created and populated with enticing content, it should not be left to stagnate. This usually leads to a decision being made after a few years to re-design, when in reality what should have happened is that the website should have been an ongoing and evolving project which grew along with the company.

Your web designer may or may not be the logical person to maintain the website on an ongoing basis (other than to keep its technologies up to date). If the role of the website is to be a useful marketing tool, then the business owner needs to consider who will be the best person to take over management of the website to ensure that it fulfils its job. Many business owners don't understand this aspect of website ownership at all, and under-estimate the power of internet marketing for the growth of their company.

Website owners are sometimes deaf to their developers excellent advice regarding future management of their new website, especially as it involves ongoing costs. Clients may think that this advice is based on further revenue making on the part of the website developer. However, if websites are not properly maintained with system updates as they become available, together with regular database and file backups, they become a major security risk. No-one is going to manage a clients website on an ongoing basis free of charge. Would you maintain someone's car free of charge if you are a mechanic? Ongoing website maintenance to some degree can be automated, which will still include a fee, but this is not advisable in our opinion and the manual procedures are generally outside the scope of the website owner - in 99% of cases.

It may not be enough to just have a website if you want your business to prosper through the internet. Depending on what your business offers, it may be fitting to use social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or others. In many cases, social media marketing is essential to online success. These mediums also need to be proactively managed in order to be effective and someone needs to be doing that work. Do you have the time, or should you employ an expert?

If you have read thus far and want to be better informed about attaining a successful website, I recommend that you purchase and read The Website Owner's Manual, written by English web designer and entrepreneur Paul Boag. You will reap valuable benefit from its pages.

If you employ my team to develop a website for you, we will be able to produce exactly what your business needs - but only if you are a pro-active partner in the process.

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Call us today on 07 5345 6011 or 0418 723 886 for more information.

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