12 Needs of Web Design

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With the spirit of the 12 days of Christmas in mind I decided to write about 12 important aspects of Web Design. Recently I read an article on Website Magazine’s website entitled “Website Redesign Lessons from 50+ Digital Professionals” and decided to extend this idea.

What I deem as the 12 most important needs of Web Design are as follows:

  1. Undersell and Overdeliver: One thing I have noticed that web designers do is promise to do things they do not have the skills to complete. They end up spending a substantial amount of time scouring Google to find out how to do something. Do not make promises you cannot keep. Do not promise you can do something that you have never done before or do not know how to do. More importantly do not charge someone for something that you cannot do. Meet with your client, understand their needs, and develop a plan based on what they are looking for and use what skills you have to create that product.
  2. Collaborate and Listen: Some people believe that creating a website and launching it online only includes the initial website and nothing more. Web designers realize that needs change and sites will need to be updated at some point; if not constantly. There needs to be an open line of communication between web designer and client. The client may need the website updated weekly; for example, a pizzeria with changing coupons and specials, and the web designer needs to be able to meet those needs. Without a line of communication the client and web designer are not on the same page and the clarity and freshness of the website suffer.
  3. One Size Does Not Fit All: One noticeable thing I have seen with web designers is that they have one limited strength and that is all they can do. One local web designer is only able to design websites using WordPress and Joomla and another local web designer is only able to design websites using Flash. A client may need an eCommerce site, or a static webpage, or maybe even a combination of many things. The web designer needs to recognize that certain clients may have needs that go beyond their scope. While it is possible to find the rationale for the requirements and offer alternatives this may not necessarily be agreeable to the client.
  4. Don’t Go Live Until You’re Ready: The worst thing a web designer can do is launch a website prior to approval from the client. The client should have the final say on when their site goes live. Their website is essentially a marketing tool for their business, non-profit, etc. Even the smallest of mistakes or issues on a website can limit return customers/visitors. A recommendation is to have a specific section of your own website where you can load in the appropriate files to allow the client to preview how their site will look. Once the website is approved, launch it, and the client should benefit.
  5. Visibility: When most web designers think about visibility they think about color schemes and Search Engine Optimization. However, here visibility is tied to the viewership of the website. If your client’s website is supposed to sell hearing aids or glasses it is probably a good idea not to feature sound [hearing aids] and to have larger text [glasses]. The visibility of the website needs to be in correlation with the visitors. For example, if your website relates to dog owners it should have friendly tones.
  6. Use the Right Host: Many web designers will use the hosting company they prefer over a client’s preference because they know what they’re doing. Finding the right hosting company is imperative to the success of the website. You need a secure website? Find a host that offers security. You need a website with WordPress or Joomla? Find a host that will help you with the install. Make sure the client is aware of why you chose the hosting company and any charges associated with it. If you make changes in the hosting company be sure to alert your clients – both about the change, why the change was made, and any new costs associated.
  7. Make Copyright Clear: One of the biggest issues in web designing is that clients have you doing the website for them because they have limited knowledge in the area. Most clients believe that if they own the domain that they own everything on it. That is not the case. You need to be upfront with clients that the code is yours; you spent the time creating it and making sure it works. The client needs to be aware of this; as they may decide to go to another web designer and need to realize that all they’re taking is the domain name. One thing web designers can do is purchase the domains on behalf of clients. While the clients still pay the renewal fees it gives them the understanding that the “website” isn’t theirs because they are limited in understanding the difference between “website” and “domain name.”
  8. Become Educated: Web designers will often design websites for many different companies. It is important to understand the basics of that company’s field in order to adequately produce a website. For example, a previous client sold plants. They were often in a rush to get things onto the website to be able to start selling them that many of the plant’s names were misspelled and had to be Googled for the proper spelling. Web designers should be able to hold a conversation about the client’s website content so that modifications can be created without the need for extensive research.
  9. Communicate Plans: It is not only important to collaborate on a website, but to also communicate plans. Clients may need a site updated once a month, or once a week, or once a year. It is important to be able to formulate a plan that allows the web designer to meet the clients’ needs. For example, if the client needs the website updated every Monday with new sales it is important to set aside time either late Sunday evening or on Monday morning to meet these needs. Communication of when updates are needed and when they will be completed sets a plan that is tangible to put clients at ease.
  10. Setup Storage: Sometimes clients need certain things stored on the website and it is important to be able to house it for them. For example, a nice newspaper article may be produced about a client’s company. They may want that up on the homepage for a while, but eventually it may be moved off onto the “news” page. Newspapers now require people to pay money to retrieve older articles, so it may be necessary to “print” the article as a PDF and store it on the website that way. Certain companies will have press releases that need to be stored on the website forever; even if they are no longer linked on the specific website. Clients will want to know where things are too!
  11. Setup Conference Calls: One thing I do as a web designer is periodically setup conference calls with clients just to check in; even if no changes to the website are needed. One thing a web designer can do to differentiate themselves from everyone else is providing a personal touch to the relationship. These days web designers are a dime a dozen and sites like Wix are putting some people out of business. Taking a general person interest may result in clients sticking with you.
  12. Needs May Go Beyond a Website: These days anyone who creates a website usually wants some kind of social media attached with it. It is important to be able to determine whether or not you need to complete the social media tasks or if the client can handle them. If the web designer is controlling and updating the social media it is necessary to express the costs associated with these actions. The client may be able to figure out how to use social media to promote their business, but might need a push in the right direction. It is appropriate to find out the needs; potential training, links, or even just a tutorial can help determine whether or not the client can handle social media on their own or not.

These 12 aspects can lead you to creating efficient websites that clients will be proud of. If clients like your work they will stick with you and even recommend you to others. Adding a personal touch can go a long way!

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