Changing the perception of web designers

Most clients or bosses think of web designers as implementors, and yet many have so much more to offer. How then do we change this perception?

When a client comes to a web designer they almost always come with a brief outlining what they want built. Sometimes these briefs are less than useless, but there is still a perception that the client defines the solution and the web designer builds it.

Things are pretty much the same for many in-house web designers. Somebody higher up the food chain decides what needs to be done and comes to the web designer to do it.

We should be seen as problem solvers

In many ways this is an absurd state of affairs. Most web designers live and breath the web. They are far more aware of the web’s capabilities and know how it is being utilised in different ways. In short they are often better placed to identify the ‘solution’ or ‘brief’ than the client is.

What should really happen is that the client or boss comes to the web designer with a problem and the web designer then suggests some solutions. For example, the client should come with a business need such as “we need to increase online leads by 20% before the end of the year.” It’s then the web designers job to work out the best way of solving this problem.

Unfortunately we are often just perceived in this light. How then do we shift that perception?

How do we change perceptions?

It is this question that I want to discuss on next week’s podcast. I want to look for ways to move the perception of us from being implementors to problem solvers.

Although Headscape has had some considerable success in this area, we certainly don’t have all of the answers. We are still forced to turn away good clients because we cannot convince them to treat us as more than implementors.

That is why I want to discuss this in the comments. I want to understand what techniques work for you and what frustrations you have had. I also want to discuss whether there is anything we can do as a community to change perceptions on a larger scale.

So, over to you. Let’s hear what you have to say below.

“Hypnotist” image courtesy of

  • Greig

    What a load of rubbish, your clearly do not understand higher education. You sound very arrogant.

  • Lois

    Great food for thought. Thanks for this.

    BTW, looks like you have the “core digital team” slide twice. :-)

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  • Thomas Minnefor

    Great review of the digital organizational hurdles in higher-ed. As internal web teams become more conversant in analytics, the dialog with management should improve. Internal web teams would benefit by making design recommendations supported by analytics that reflect an understanding of the marketing context of a site. The vocabulary of analytics can also be a hurdle, but if management can be shown how simple, tangible, design changes can be measured, the use of analytics should gradually become part of management culture, which in turn will help drive organizational change.

  • TheTransformation

    Perhaps Digital is the wrong word?

    What would “Digital Transformation”‘ be called in the year 3017? I prefer the term “Consumer Transformation”.

    the humans, the people, have been transformed over centuries into vulgar consumers, addicted to our particular technological needs (from Ford to Facebook). Nothing new here, simply the “Consumer Transformation” is now accelerating exponentially.

    • You are almost certainly right BUT that is not how senior management think of it. They realise that digital has changed thing. They can wrap their head around that. Customer experience is just not a thing they care as much about. They are too inward looking for that. I find talking about digital transformation is a way of introducing the idea that customer expectations have changed.