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5 ways to offer constructive feedback during your website design project

As any designer, whether a website designer, graphic designer or interior designer will tell you, a project is only as good as the relationship between a designer and the client. A clear vision and brief, a grounded concept of who the website is being designed for and an ability to offer clear, actionable, direct and constructive feedback will ensure that the project stays on timeline and on budget.

Feedback, when offered constructively, acts as a compass to guide both parties through each creative decision, allowing the client’s vision and the designer’s skill to converge. In this blog post, I’ll explore five effective ways clients can offer constructive feedback, guiding the website design project toward success.

  1. Start with a crystal clear vision

If your vision for your website is carefully considered, grounded, clear and strong, it allows any creative and strategic decisions to be made quickly and easily – you simply follow your brief. Any choices can be weighed up against your initial brief and inspiration board and this will guide you towards a website that meets your strategic and creative goals. When you’re pulling together an inspiration board for your website, it’s best not to try and tackle it in one sitting – your vision should be strong and thought through, not built on sand, and if your vision has been pulled together quickly or on a whim, your tastes will change as time passes. No designer wants to limit you to your first concept, but at the same time a wavering vision or too long at the revision stage will lead to an extra investment, which can easily be avoided. I always recommend building an inspiration board over a period of time, even if that entails pushing back the start date for the project. Gather together every photo that speaks to you, returning every day to add more images to your board for around a week. Take a few days off to let the dust settle, before sitting down to curate your mood board, adding and deleting images and making notes on any that speak to you. If your mood board is a jumbled mix of ideas, or created without care, your designer will struggle to realise your vision and it’s extremely likely that your preferences will change over time. Likewise with a written brief – a few bullet points that have been really carefully considered will always move the project forward more effectively than a brain dump of pages of ideas, so it’s always worth refining your brief carefully. Clarity up front significantly reduces the need for feedback and revisions, and if your vision changes that’s absolutely fine – just be aware that it will have implications for your timeline and budget.

  1. Be specific

A good designer won’t be offended by your feedback, as long as it’s clear, direct, actionable and objective, but they might well be offended if you expect them to clutch at threads of ideas and offer vague feedback in return for their efforts. “I don’t think I like that shade of blue…” “That font doesn’t resonate with me…”. As a designer from any industry will share, we’re absolutely here to use our skills to realise your vision and we aren’t expecting you to do the hard work for us, but equally we can’t read your mind and we need feedback that’s constructive and specific. Provide clear direction and share what you do and don’t like about the revision – otherwise as a designer it feels very much like you’re clutching at straws as you desperately try to guess what the client might approve. Ensure your feedback is objective, specific and actionable, offering examples or references as part of your feedback always helps too.

Instead of this vague and subjective feedback: “I don’t think I like that shade of blue,”
Try this objective, specific and actionable feedback: “I feel like that blue doesn’t fit with our brand guidelines and existing photography – could we try a warmer deep pink instead?”

Instead of this vague and subjective feedback: “This isn’t what I had in mind – it doesn’t resonate,”
Try this objective, specific and actionable feedback: “The design deviates from our initial discussions about a clean, minimalist aesthetic. Can we pare back the design to reintroduce some simplicity and streamline elements? Here’s a website that I feel does this really well.”

Instead of this vague and subjective feedback: “It doesn’t grab my attention,”
Try this objective, specific and actionable feedback: “To capture attention, could we introduce a focal point or enhance contrast between elements to make key focal points stand out.”

Instead of this vague and subjective feedback: “I feel like it doesn’t reflect my personality ,”
Try this objective, specific and actionable feedback: “I would like to explore some textures and images that would inject a little more of my personality into the website – here are the images I had in mind.”

  1. Consider the end user

As a designer, we want the website to feel like you, resonate with you and of course to be something you feel really proud of, but at the same time we always have the end user in mind. Instead of thinking “Do I like this design?” put yourself in your prospective client’s shoes. Evaluate the design to ensure it aligns with the target audience’s needs, and when it comes to the creative elements remember that your designer and her team will have a clear idea of how best to interpret your ideas in a way that will best resonate with your prospective client.

  1. Be timely

To keep the project on schedule and on budget, offer feedback in a timely manner. If you need time to annotate a design or consider how best to articulate your preference that’s absolutely fine – just communicate your timescale with your designer.

  1. Trust your instinct

Rather than asking the advice of friends, colleagues, family and everyone in between, pause and listen to your gut feeling. Are you feeling clear headed? Are you keeping your brief in mind? Does the website align with your brand pillars and values? What could be driving your feelings? Are you responding from a place of fear or uncertainty? Do you have confidence in your vision? Are you second guessing what others might think? Deep down, are you stalling launching your website for other reasons? Trust is key – trust your designer, trust your instinct and stand behind your vision to create the best possible website for your business.

About the author

Clare Cahill is a website designer with a passion for creating websites for interior designers. Clare creates classic, strategic websites that stand the test of time, as well as offering software based solutions to streamline your workflow behind the scenes.

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"Clare took my website from generic and drab, to capturing my brand in every single way."

“If you’re a designer in need of a professional website designer, Clare is absolutely your go to. Clare took my website from generic and drab, to capturing my brand in every single way. Her knowledge around processes, aesthetics, and website functionality are at the highest level in the business. She is quick to respond to feedback and quick to make any changes should you want any. As designers- we are built to focus on creating beautiful spaces for our clients. Let Clare help you with the backend of how to elevate what you do and help target the right clients for your business. I can’t say enough wonderful things about her services.”

– Sarah Williams
Locke Interiors

Your Questions Answered

Choosing the right creative partner feels like a huge step – there are so many designers out there. Below, you’ll find the answers to some of the questions I most often receive. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

For years, I worked with professionals from a range of industries, including law, investment and finance, sports clubs, hospitality and consulting. I decided to focus on supporting interior designers because I know it is a field I can add extra value to with my eye for visual spacing, balance and typography.

That said, I love to support professionals from other fields – please get in touch to find out whether we’re the right fit.

The best person to ask is my past clients – please take a look at my case studies for a thorough answer! I take a lot of care over the thoughtful experience I put together for my clients – it’s important to me that I demystify and simplify the web design process so that you can enjoy the journey.

I also believe your website should be a powerhouse, working hard for you behind the scenes while you focus on your clients and then enjoy your life behind the scenes. I am passionate about using SEO and intentional design to leverage your site and bring your ideal clients to your door.

It is important to me that my clients receive the service they need within their budget. Your proposal will vary depending on whether you need support with branding, copywriting and digital strategy, and whether you require a blog. As a rough guide, projects usually cost between £3,000 ($3,800) for a simple one page site and £10,000 ($12,000) for a full website and blog. I itemise my proposal to allow you to pick the investment that feels right for you.

You can read more about how much it costs to build a website here.

I take a 50% deposit at the start of the project, with the remainder payable prior to website launch. Alternatively, you can choose to pay in instalments, with the website launch scheduled after the final payment has been received.

My Care Packages start from £100 ($125) per month, which includes hosting, updates, backups and security checks.

If you would like extra design work, including support with adding blog posts and sourcing images, I can handle that too! You can pay monthly, quarterly or annually and schedule your design hours monthly or quarterly depending on what suits your workflow.

This really varies – if you have a clear vision for your site and your content and images ready (or plan to work with a copywriter), your website could be ready for launch within a month from when I receive the final content. I schedule projects as they come in, depending on my workload and yours, and we plan a timeline together at the outset of the project.

You absolutely can, but keep in mind that it is usually the biggest job of the website build. I have a brilliant copywriter who is on hand to support you with your copy if needed, and would be happy to put you in touch. Click here to learn more about copywriting and your website design project.

I have done a lot of branding work for previous clients, including selecting and refining a colour palette and typography and logo design. I can also support you with print design for your business cards, letterheads, invoicing and email templates, as well as social media templates.

I have a sixtypoint SEO checklist that I work through for every client to ensure we give your website the very best possible chance of ranking for SEO. If you wish to get more support on SEO, I have an expert SEO consultant who provide you with a tailor made strategy and content plan for the first three months of your business.