Podcast 34: The roles of the client and the web designer

Paul Boag

Getting the relationship right between the client and web design agency can make or break a web design project.

In this weeks show Paul and Marcus discuss the sometimes problematic relationship between web design agencies and clients. They also cover how the line between web pages and the browser have been blurred, the evils of speculative work and a great new book by Ian Lloyd.

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The roles of the client and the web designer

Getting the relationship right between the client and web design agency can make or break a web design project. Often both parties enter into a project with very different expectations of who will do what. This is partly because there is such a wide range of approaches adopted by the web design community.

In this show Paul and Marcus discusses how clients can find web design agencies that suit their working approach and how to get the most value for money out of the agencies they choose.

They also propose some general principles for improving communication between client and agency:

Advice for clients

Paul and Marcus suggest the following guidelines for clients:

  • Recognise that the success of your web project is as reliant on you as it is on the web design agency.
  • Don’t under estimate the time you will need to put into the project, especially when it comes to preparing content.
  • Try to avoid getting drawn into subjective design discussions. Rely on the expertise of your designer.
  • Always consider the bottom line and whether additional functionality will generate a return on investment.
  • Be willing to compromise and take on board the agencies advice.
  • Clearly state your expectations up front. Don’t presume the agency will approach the project as you would expect.
  • Remember, the customer is NOT always right!

Advice for agencies

The discussion then moved on to advice for web design agencies when working with clients:

  • Use the kick off meeting to clearly understand any expectations the client has for the project.
  • Remember it is the design agencies responsibility to educate and inform the client about what works well online. If a client fails to grasp the logic of your approach it is a failure on your part to communicate it effectively.
  • Recognise that designing a web site is about compromise. It is sometimes necessary to compromise design and usability for the sake of business drivers.
  • Pick your battles! The client is ultimately paying you to produce a great website so don’t be afraid to stand your ground when their opinion undermines that objection. However, know when to back down.

Site evolution

Finally, Paul and Marcus wrap up the discussion by touching on the subject of site evolution and the need to change the client/agency relationship from sporadic redesign to ongoing site evolution.

For more on this subject see my site evolution post.

Also this week…

Also in the show:

Next week Paul interviews Andy Budd, the author of CSS Mastery, to get his take on the state of web design.