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The ability to communicate using sophisticated language is what sets us apart from the animals. We begin using language before we can actually speak and by the time we hit Kindergarten, most of us have a fairly impressive vocabulary and are certainly capable of using those words to get almost anything we want.
So why is it that communication between intelligent adults can sometimes be so difficult?
Somewhere between learning to talk and taking our first steps into the working world, we realize that everything we say will not always be greeted with praise and adulation. We also learn that expressing our ideas and opinions opens us up to criticism so we compensate, either by speaking less or by speaking louder.
Considering that the design team is mainly made up of communications professionals and that the website is itself a communications tool that will be used by the client to ‘talk’ to her customers, communication issues on such projects should be fairly minimal, right?
Well, not exactly. Like true love, the course of a website development project doesn’t always run smoothly from beginning to end.
Good communication between the client and the design team is essential to ensuring the final product looks and functions as the client intended and is something all involved can be proud to put their names on.
When it comes to developing a website, there will be things the client knows or does best and certain things that can best be accomplished by the design team. So, the first step is to establish “who needs to do what”, so the project can proceed efficiently.
The client is the expert on her business. She knows her industry, customers and products. She has all the practical details that are so important, like contact info, hours of operation and specific services offered.
The client also has to tell the design team her preferences in terms of colours, styles and other websites that she likes or does not like.
In the end, the website represents her and her business, so the client is responsible for the information and graphics that are published. She needs to be confident that the website is properly branded to her business and does not contain any false information or project an image she does not like or that she disagrees with.
The more information the client can provide up front, the easier it will be for the design team to create the website she wants. Better to offer more information than necessary and let the design team whittle it down. Otherwise your website may end up being little more than an expensive online business card.
The design team consists of at least one project manager, programmer, web developer, graphic designer and copy writer. Each member of the design team has his own area of expertise and they work together to develop the best website possible within the scope of the project. While the client will own the website, the design team also has a stake in the finished product and certainly wants to create something to be proud of.
For the process to move along smoothly, the client has to step back and let the design team do its job. She has to remember that she hired them for their expertise in web development.
As for the design team, they have to keep in mind that the client ultimately owns the website and has the final say when there are decisions to be made.
Keep the lines open
Communication is vital throughout the website development process. If the design team stops consulting with the client, the website can easily veer off in a direction she doesn’t like or agree with. If the client stops responding to the team’s requests for feedback and further information, frustration can quickly set in as the development process grinds to a halt.
The important thing is for the team and the client to keep talking. When communication breaks down and things start to go wrong, it can be easy to forget that everyone involved has the same goal: to create an amazing website both client and design team will be proud to put their names on.
Tips for clients:
Tips for Design Team:
Tips for both client and design team: