Let the designer be the designer

You’ve hired a designer to create or re-create your website. Great. Congratulations. This tells me you’re serious about creating something that matches your ambition for what you want to create with the resources required.

And if you work well with your designer, I am certain you will succeed.

Hiring a designer is a good first step. But what happens next is every bit as important. And there’s a lot that can go wrong on the client’s end of things in any design project. But this post focuses on one phenomenon: what happens when the client tries to be the designer.

It can happen at any point but it’s most likely to occur when the designer comes back with something (a page mockup, the treatment for a form, a menu, a slideshow etc) and the client doesn’t like it.

As humans we have agency over our lives and the things we experience. Or we want to. So it’s a natural response to attempt to fix the things we see that are broken.

In the name of getting your money’s worth I urge you to resist it.

Good feedback: On the news page, I can’t tell the stories apart.

Bad feedback: Make the headlines bigger.

Speak to your concern, not to the solution. Let the designer propose a solution. After all, there are a bunch of ways out of a design dilemma. When you choose one (in this case, making the headlines bigger) you preclude other choices (adding negative space, alternating background colours, borders, etc) which will have a ripple effect throughout the site.

After all, designers think about this stuff all the time. They’ve encountered these problems before and they know what works.

And you’re paying them for their knowledge.

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