Warning: Not everyone will agree with the conclusions drawn here. Some of you may be smarter than the rest of us and found ways to limit the damage. If so, write your comments at end of article so we can all learn from your experiences!
If you are a web designer you know what it feels like when a client? starts tinkering with your initial site design with the stated goal of adding his own unique vision of how a page should look and behave.
In this situation your sexy looking proofs (or test landing page) may start to resemble a giraffe rather than a panther.
And, this can happen no matter how hard you try to set expectations or parameters in the scoping and collection phase.? In fact, the initial impetus for the site may have been when the owner first called you up to redesign his current site, which you both agree belongs in the 1980s, and needs an urgent facelift.
If you are? smart you start by outputting a PDF proof from Photoshop or Illustrator that provides a visual flight path for the site for your client. This helps limit your risk before you begin HTML coding or customizing a free WordPress install inside the Midphase Cheap Web hosting platform.
Hopefully he signs off on the PDF so you can meet the agreed upon deadlines. Of course what usually happens next falls within what we call the 10% rule. He likes 90% of the web design but wants to add a few so-called minor modifications.
He of course, wants the design to ?POP?. And, this may occur even if your design exceeds initial expectations and is generally considered to be above the presentation offered by competitive websites.
This is the beginning of what we call a design mutation. In the next few days, you experience a sinking realization that theseminor? changes are in fact endless. With each new change your design slowly begins to degrade and provide new entry-points for the owner to make yet more changes.It’s a slippery slope indeed!
He may then put together a committee of critics who proceed to dissect, analyze and break apart the original design flight path.? You are now entering into what is known as design hell. It seems everybody, and, we mean everybody, is a web design expert.
You are now faced with a barrage ofwhat-ifs? and further suggestions that are designed to suck the lifeblood out of your system and push out the launch date.? You honestly feel like there is a conspiracy against you and it’s getting worse every day.
You are now no longer a web designer, but a machine part on a factory line. You can actually feel yourself being transported on a conveyor belt as the website owner and his cohorts tear up each new design and argue incessantly amongst themselves.
The final result is what we call a Design Frankenstein. Somehow you have helped create something that you are sure is awful but everyone involved is? happy because somewhere on the page it has their unique thumbprint.
At this point,? you get paid and seriously consider becoming a bartender or going back to college to become an accountant. Yes, web designer,? your job can be unforgiving and we understand and sympathize.
To visually illustrate this crazy process check out this infographic from Oatmeal that is hysterical. Who has not felt part this way at least once in their life?
Now there are some ways to contain this design hell.Most of you probably use some variation to keep things under control. Here are a few suggestions that may help.
Identify key decision-makers.? Use this round to collect every crazy idea and thought.Let this round persist for as long as it requires getting some consensus.
Get everyone above to agree to use a collaboration or project management system like Yammer or Basecamp respectively. This will allow you to clearly set milestones and guide them through the next few phases. They will also love the tech aspects, which will make you, look like an IT hero!
Identify three websites that everyone likes. Take two or three ideas? from these sites and discard the rest.? Get everyone focused around these two or three ideas.
Develop a site map. Preferably put it online for easy reference. We like Gliffy.com. It is very slick and very easy to use. Paste the online sitemap into Yammer or Basecamp so users can review.
Round 5: Build three variation-designs in Photoshop.? Spit them out as PDFs and let the committee tear them apart internally. Important: Give them a 3-day deadline to come to some form of agreement. Also state that you will only allow, at most, two more design iterations to ensure you meet deadlines.
Round 6: Build one HTML version of the home page and make sure the committee signs off.? If necessary using screenshot technology like Jing to illustrate key areas of the page and support your design arguments.
Round 7: Make sure you collect a deposit before you start coding. Use Freshbooks to issue an electronic? invoice and keep things neat and tidy. Consider using WordPress, Drupal or Joomla to manage site updates and complexity. All three are available on our affordable Midphase Hosting Plans.
If you follow these guidelines you may be able to win by knockout, in Round 7, rather than losing? controversial split decision in Round 12. Good Luck!