1. Present us with a problem and ask for solutions

A lot of our clients have a specific issue to solve. But instead of letting us explore it from a professional perspective and present a suitable solution, all too often they come to us with a home-grown solution in mind. With the best will in the world, there are almost always multiple solutions to a web challenge and client-generated ideas are often clunky and clumsy.

While you understand the problem you’re facing, we’re the best qualified to explore it and recommend the most sensible, cost effective, future proof and robust solutions. Asking questions like “what is the most cost effective was to solve my problem” means you get the most out of the relationship.

2. Talk about how long things take instead of what’s possible

Is it possible? Almost anything is possible. But if your budget only covers a few hours’ work and the solution you’ve dreamed up will take days or weeks to achieve, the options are limited.

It makes much more sense to ask how long something will take rather than ask whether it’s possible. Doing so opens up more alternatives and doing things this way around means our next question follows on naturally: “How much time would you like us to spend solving the problem?”

3. Be realistic about your budget

You can pick a cheap web design and development partner. But when you pay peanuts, you tend to get monkeys. It helps to set a realistic budget.

Websites costs money. The more complex and extensive they are, the more they cost. Web companies have to cover their costs just like you do. It doesn’t make sense to turn up with a few pounds and expect miracles. If you’re on a relatively tight budget, approach the website design agency and explain the issue. Be honest about your budget and we’ll enjoy a positive, practical, realistic discussion, no matter how low key your resources.

4. Don’t ask your designer to reinvent the wheel

Templates are brilliant. If someone tries to tell you they’re not, don’t listen. Look at it like this instead: if someone talented, creative, business-savvy and dedicated has spent time and effort creating a beautiful website template, it makes sense to use it rather than reinvent the wheel.

After all, these days people expect a certain website layout. They want to be able to find the navigation, the blog, the products and all the supporting information quickly, where it usually lives. There isn’t any need to start from scratch unless you have an exceptionally good business reason for doing so.

We don’t do ugly, pre-set Microsoft word site templates. The website templates we use are all hugely powerful and beautifully designed. We only deal with premium WordPress themes, created by severely gifted and talented people.

Building great themes is big business, and entire teams are often dedicated to developing and refining a single template to perfection. It can mean literally thousands of hours of work on just one site template, and the resulting pre-made solutions make awesome starting points.

A top quality template means your web design supplier can work fast and efficiently, which saves you money. They can change the design and layout pretty quickly and don’t need to worry about upfront development costs. We use WordPress premium themes for almost every website design project, and many of the themes we work with are award winners. If you’d like to take a look at what we can do, here’s a link to ThemeForest.

5. Understand the music isn’t in the violin…

You wouldn’t believe how many times we hear things like this: “my nephew has Photoshop and he says he can design us a site for a couple of hundred pounds, after work in the evenings”. As you can imagine, it makes our hearts sink every time!

Say you’re an accountant. How would you feel if someone said, “My five-year-old can count, so he can do your year-end accounts for you.” Hm.

Web design is a serious skill, a proper profession, not just something any old bod can pick up in a few hours, days or weeks. Web design companies exist for good reason. The best web designers are trained in graphic design. They do it all day, every day. They understand the ins and outs of complicated stuff like Graphical User Interface design and the User Experience. And their expertise is worth paying for when it delivers.

Being able to use online design technology is one thing. Being capable of understanding the business need for a project and providing a professional solution with the right impact is quite another.

6. Understand there’s no need for a custom-made CMS

Once upon a time, not so long ago, you had to write complex code just to carry out the smallest change to a website. Those days are long gone. Today you should be able to easily update your website yourself. If a design agency suggests you need your own bespoke Content Management system, walk away… you don’t.

As a rule custom solutions are restrictive, expensive and unnecessary. Like all the best designers we embrace open source technology. We use WordPress, trusted by millions, continuously being improved and updated by a community of thousands of talented, dedicated developers.

7. Remember responsive web design

It’s absolutely essential for a website to work equally well on mobile phones and tablets as it does on a desktop screen. It isn’t an afterthought. It’s a must whatever your sector, industry, products, services or audience. Responsiveness isn’t an added extra you can drop if your budget is running out – doing so could be the biggest false economy you ever make.

Some website designers don’t ‘do’ responsive. Others only consider it if you ask. We do it automatically – everything we do is responsive.

8. Fall in love with web developer wireframes

A wireframe is a rough sketch, a visual guide, a skeletal website framework. Wireframes reveal the plan for arranging the different elements of a website to the best commercial advantage.

While it only takes a few minutes to change a wireframe, it takes much longer to change a Photoshop design and even longer to make changes to a test or live website.

Learn to love wireframes and the entire design process will be smoother and more cost-effective. With their help you can iron out issues early, more easily and faster than if you leave it until later in the design and build process. When your web company comes to you with black and white wireframes, listen to their suggestions and make your own. This could be the most important meeting of all, and your finished site will be the best it can be as a result.

9. Get your content ready in good time

Ask your web design and development team when they’ll need the content for your website – the words and pictures – and have it ready promptly. A good web designer will give you a clear indication of what content is needed, by when, in what format and including which keywords.

If you don’t have any content and can’t write it yourself, a professional web design team will also be able to recommend a good copywriter. It’s much better to be prepared than face delays because, while your site is ready in every other way, you can’t quite get to grips with writing the perfect ‘about us’ page!

10. Trust the web design agency experts

Whether you’re a comedian, accountant, financial adviser, artist, manufacturer or whatever, you’re an expert in your field. So are we. We know our onions.

It’s important to trust your web design and development agency to do the best possible job. Let’s be honest: they know what’s what, you don’t. If you’ve chosen well, they’ll have the right levels of expertise in everything from the graphic design itself to web development, content creation, SEO, digital marketing, on-site optimisation, communications, branding and everything else that contributes to genuine online marketing excellence.

Need help with a new website design or a redesign?

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