Lost in Translation

Dec 24, 2012

No consultant, vendor, or adviser knows your small business better than you do; therefore, you should be the one to create the vision for your website. However, articulating to a Web designer what you want your website to look like and do can be a daunting task, especially if you’re neither visual nor technical. So what do you do when you feel like Bill Murray’s character in Lost in Translation?

The following recommendations can help you communicate your design needs and achieve a mutual understanding with your Web designer:

  • Reference websites or an element of a website that you like. This should give your designer an idea of your style, what elements you’re looking for, and perhaps what colors you prefer.  
  • Make clear that you want a mobile version of your website. Not all websites automatically look and work well on a phone or tablet. Your designer will have to adjust the way that he or she builds your site if you want a version that renders well on mobile devices.
  • Avoid nebulous terminology. Many of my clients use words like “jazz up” or “dynamic” to describe what they want. Unfortunately, these words are vague and can mean different things to different people. Clarify terms to help your designer understand if you’re referring to a video, animation, colorful photos, or something else entirely.
  • Articulate the tone of your website. The graphical style (i.e., typography) of your website should be determined in part by the tone of its content. Is your content dry or humorous? Let your designer know; most likely he or she won’t be reading the content.
  • Describe your target audience to your designer. Knowing the target audience is important when choosing imagery for your website. For instance, are you trying to reach a certain demographic or a certain age group? Are there any cultural nuances that need to be considered? 
  • Finally, make sure that you are happy with the website design before it is built. View the mock-up, or composition (comp), on your computer screen and have your designer walk you through the comp explaining every element. At this stage, it is easy for the designer to fine-tune the design based on your comments.

In the end, the quality of your website will depend on the talent and experience of your designer. However, following these tips can bring you closer to a website you can be proud of.

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