How to Work with a Designer
January is just around the corner and typically it’s one of my busier months. Everyone is ready to start the new year right and for bloggers, that often means a site overhaul! The process of redesigning your site should start with some research on your part — finding a designer.
Lots of the designers add a link in the footer of sites they’ve designed, so if you’ve found a few sites you like, that’s a good place to start. Simply scroll to the bottom and see who designed it! You can also reach out directly to a blogger to see who designed their site if there’s no footer link.
When reaching out to designers, the first thing you should ask in my opinion is timeline, availability and average cost. To me, those are the things that can help you narrow your list easily. Don’t be surprised by waitlists, all the blog designers I know book in advance and have waitlists, sometimes long ones!
Before reaching out to a bunch of designers, make sure to browse their portfolios and get an idea of their aesthetic to see if it’s a good match for you. If the designer doesn’t have a similar aesthetic to you, you’re most likely not going to be happy with the result, so choose wisely!
After you’ve found a designer, let’s talk about how to work with a designer! Here are a few tips to help the process run as smoothly as possible.
1. Know What You Want
Whenever you start the blog design process, you should do so with a pretty clear vision of what you want the final product to look like. By no means does this mean you should have anything sketched out or have specific design details — that’s obviously why you’re hiring a designer, but you should know what you want in your design. That might be specific features, colors, fonts, a general look and feel that can help guide your designer to create the type of site you want. I find that sharing links to 3-4 sites you love and pointing out any elements of those sites you really love helps hugely. Typically I can spot a trend between the designs and get an idea of what you’re going for and take that knowledge to create something you’ll love.
2. Don’t Micro Manage
Second biggest rule of working with a designer! Don’t micro manage us. We’re creatives, we work differently than a lot of other people and somedays we don’t get around to checking our inbox because we’re in the zone. If you haven’t heard back in weeks, well, that’s a problem.
Also, listen to your designer! You hired them as a professional and typically, they know what they’re doing. Occasionally I’ll make suggestions to clients and explain my decision and for the most part they typically understand and agree with my suggestion. At the end of the day, your final result is a direct reflection of my skill level and I want you to end up with a site that both of us are proud of!
3. Be Decisive & Honest
One issue I run into all the time is clients wanting to make last minute changes (sometimes major) to the design after it’s been approved. As a designer, this is one of the most frustrating things I encounter because once designs are off to the developer, it’s not as easy for me to make changes and sometimes those changes cost. It’s important that you carefully review your design before you give it the ‘okay’ because changes can be costly and put stress on the relationship between you and your designer.
If you don’t like something, be honest (and kind), for the most part we don’t care. It’s your site and you should be happy with it!
4. Be Kind
Sometimes, things don’t go as planned and one party gets angry and frustrated. Thankfully I’ve only had a small handful of these problems, but they’re never fun. Sometimes they’re out of your designers’ control too, so don’t forget that we’re human, so act accordingly.
5. Read Your Contract
Every contract is different, but it’s best to fully read and understand your contract with your designer and developer and to be aware of what you’re suppose to provide and when and what they’re providing to you.
6. Be Prepared
When we’re developing and launching a site, we’ll need all kinds of information from you. Logins to specific accounts like FTP, hosting, affiliate networks, email servers. We’ll also need your social media links and any images we’re suppose to be putting into custom pages, etc. Have all of this information collected in one spot and make sure to test all your logins before sending them over! If you don’t know what FTP is, you can always get that information from your web host.
7. Be Flexible
A lot of times we design something and then when it gets to development, we’re not able to develop it exactly like we thought. The internet can be tricky and sometimes we can’t forsee things before the development process starts. For the most part, we get it as close as possible, but understand that we’re not magicians over here and we can only work with what the internet will allow us to do! Being flexible will make the experience a better one for everyone involved!
While these things won’t ensure a perfect design process (nothing can), they’re the issues I most often run into with clients and ones that are easily avoidable. So as you start thinking about your own blog redesign, take these things into consideration as you pick and work with a designer and developer!
What tips or tricks do you have to share from your experience working with a designer or developer?