For a web designer — whether you work in a design agency, a design department of a large company, or as a freelancer — it’s a rare occasion that you embark on a project totally on your own. The creation and deployment of a new website is almost always a team activity comprised of clients, employers, other designers, and developers.
Our role as web designers is much more than just creating an aesthetically pleasing web design. It’s our job to be the experts on how web pages will feel and how people visiting the site will use them. Web designers should be responsible for asserting design best practices for accomplishing the project’s needs and objectives. This role should not be taken casually.
Establishing Your Role
Before any pixels are paved, website projects should start with a set of goals and a discussion of how to reach those goals. Timelines are laid out, work is divided, and paths are drawn out to drive the project towards the desired outcomes. It is here, during the planning stage, that a designer must first set their feet and establish his roles and responsibilities. Having an open discussion with your client or your boss about the direction you think a design should take is a critical step to ensuring that all project members arel on the same page.
Having an initial meeting with a client or employer will rarely result in a perfect conversation where both parties are in total agreement on every point of how a new web design should be carried out. However, for the designer, it can often be hard to speak up to the person who is signing her check. Designers who have a hard time telling the person they are working with that they are making a bad decision are putting themselves at an early disadvantage.
Even though this client works exclusively with people, they insisted that their new site include pictures of their horses.
Taking the Shot
For any designer who has done more than a few projects with a variety of people, it will start to become evident that there are patterns and warning signs in site design planning discussions that ultimately lead up to bad design decisions. Oftentimes these decisions fall along the lines of misuse of space, color, alignment, and the like. Years of experience and data analysis on various areas of web design most often provide the web designer with the knowledge and ample ammunition to make the right call in these situations.
This is the time in the process when, for example, you need to tell your client that you won’t condense all the content at the top of a web page simply because they believe the “above the fold” myth.
Despite the fact that better readability can be achieved with increased line-heights, the client assumed users would not scroll to read the text.
If necessary, you may even want to dig into some facts and show clients the results of studies to back you up; there are plenty of usability studies and articles on the Web to help you make your case.
Working in a dialog with your clients will help you reach an ideal solution and allow you to execute a new design in the best way possible, ensuring that you are doing your part to bring this project into the light of great web design.
However, what happens when the client pushes back? People with predisposed opinions about how their website should look can often have a hard time playing the give-and-take game with their ideas.
How hard should a web designer fight for a good design decision before they throw in the towel and let a bad design decision happen……….