Working with a web designer

Are web designers burning everyone?

No, but most business owners have stories to tell about projects-gone-wrong.

So, what is going on?

Luke 5 Marketing • Web Design • SEO • Tulsa OK

Narratives about web disasters usually involve communication problems. Here a misfire from my own career…

In 2002 I was working for a medical software company with a large office in Kansas City. I reported directly to a senior vice president. He had asked me to create a web version of a commonly-used form that existed in RTF format. (RTF is viewable on most computers.)

We decided the web application should resemble that form. User input would go into a downloadable document to print out and submit.

To make this work, we needed resource files on the server to convert plain text into RTF. But, funding was not available. Result? I spent a lot of time persuading our ColdFusion server to spit out RTF.

I began to think the project was over-planned. If the goal was a new document that looked like the original, then why focus on RTF? A standard web page can provide appropriate fonts and margins.

My boss (Gregory Vap) was one of the most professional people I have met. But I was reluctant to tell him we needed to simplify the original concept. I eventually did say so, but more than a week went by before I spoke up: Communication problem.

If you want to drill down, this may have to do with personality types. I don’t believe that Mother Nature actually creates “types” of people, but the terminology gives us a way to describe general traits. If a web designer is a “nerd”, then here is a definition from wikipedia …

“… a person seen as overly intellectual, obsessive, introverted or lacking social skills. Additionally, many so-called nerds are described as being shy, quirky, pedantic …”

I can see myself in some of that, and I have seen it among my web-designer peers.

When building a relationship with a designer, list every part of the project to be discussed. Set a regular schedule for discussion by phone, video meeting or in person. You need to be able to see each other. Provide procedural tools that allow people to change direction as needed.

An article from Sutherland Weston* touches on these same ideas:

“Remember, most coders and designers are not communicators and may not be comfortable with the outreach component of the job. You should know most designers are really good at doing and not sharing until there is concrete evidence of their work. Partial sharing or “rough reviews” don’t add much value to their work channel as they most often lead to more questions that will eventually be answered once the coding or development is further developed. This lengthens the time to develop and creates what some consider to be unnecessary intrusions or distractions from the project. Many times it’s the undiscussed assumptions made by both the designer and the client that cause the most anxiety.”


* Sutherland Weston — original article