A lot of people want to know what goes on during the design process of a website, or any project really. So here's a window into our world.
There is often a generic time-line for every project, it differs between every project, but most often it looks like this:
- Initial meeting with the designer/developer to tell them about the vision for the project. Be specific with each other. At this point, the client communicates exactly what they are looking for or tells the designer that they have a blank canvas, and to be uber-creative.
- The designer/developer then needs time to figure a bid on design hours or an entire project fee to encompass their time spent on this project. At this point, they also need to communicate when payment is due.
- You then negotiate a contract for cost, deadline, and desired features built into your project, or items highlighted in the design. No work should commence before a contract is signed and in both of your hands!
- Then the magic happens! This is the part designers get excited about and they come to you with a couple of samples of their best and brightest ideas for your project.
*** (This is often when clients decide to take initiative with the design, and turn it into something different than the original vision. Designers, don't get frustrated about this, it happens with everybody, it's always a part of the design process. To save time and money the client should be very clear about their vision during the initial meeting with the designer. Draw up your ideas, show examples of what you like, and be sure to be honest about what you want. This saves you both from the uncomfortable meetings half way through the project not agreeing on where things are going.) ***
- Share your thoughts on the design. Be careful on this step, because if the client overly offends the designer the rest of the project will be a burden instead of a fun interactive experience that brings your project to life. Designers shouldn't expect to nail the design on the first try, so if they get defensive, tell them to change careers to be an artist, not a designer for hire.
- After you agree on the design, production begins. If it's a website, it gets cut up into pieces to either work on a content management system(CMS), or to become a cool web animation. If you're setting up a CMS website, it takes some time to get the system to work exactly how the client wants and also time to get the design to be fluid with the system. Designers, don't under-bid for this time, and clients don't take anything less than what you asked for. If you do this, you will both be proud of the finished product if you don't compromise.
- Who writes the content? This should be decided in the initial meetings. Some designers aren't gifted with copy writing. If a project requires it, it can be outsourced to a wonderfully gifted writer we know. Clients should agree to either pay extra for content writing, or to write it themselves and have it prepared for production.
- Have a final meeting, or final call about the product before it goes live or gets published. Clients should proof-read like crazy, and designers should do their best to proof read as well. Often you both have looked over this item a thousand times, and you miss the smallest thing. Get some fresh eyes to look things over, it saves you both from a little embarrassment in the end.
- Go live and enjoy the ride. Turn the website on, or pass out the brochures, and watch people's faces light up!
- Designers, don't be afraid to ask for referrals after the project! Your clients are your best resource for more clients. If they talk about their experience with you, you'll know about it when you start getting phone calls from their friends.
Thanks for reading through our typical design process. I hope this sheds some light on a few things, and helps both clients and designers help build better relationships with each other.