Selling web design concepts: How to act as your own interpreter for clueless clients
Most people assume web design is an “assembly process”, rather than a functional approach to business needs.
That translates into some of the horrendous business sites you see online. If you’ve seen the difference between a top of the range, well designed construction software site and a barely credible, dysfunctional menagerie of odds and sods trying to pass itself off as a business site, you’ll know the problem. Some people have no idea what good web design can do for them. You need to explain yourself in meaningful terms which makes your design ideas understandable in a business sense to the client.
The problem with being a web designer is being an expert on a subject few other people fully understand. The problem is that many people have their own ideas of what a website “should” do, rather than what it can do or what it needs to do. The absolute necessities, like functionality, can get lost in glitz, or worse, insecure or outdated functions. These are problems, not opportunities for the web designer, because they can interfere with good design, even if they make extra money. This is where the “interpreter” function comes in.
Stage by stage interpretation
The first part of interpretation is to establish a business objective. The trick is to steer the conversation away from “looks” and round to “does”.
A commercial website for an electrical goods seller. The web design needs are obvious. These sites are high graphics intensive, and if you’ve got a marketer or sales manager involved in the web design, you can make a very good case for a very straightforward website without bells and whistles.
You can use a few examples of your work to outline the design structure and design elements, one at a time, if necessary. These sites are always good basic web designs, and if they’re not flashy, they also don’t have any extraneous garbage.
The selling points in this case are:
- Simplicity of design: Explaining the virtues of a no-clutter, single stream website can be too technical. Concentrate on the ability to “expand’ the site as the business develops, which takes care of the desire for bells and whistles and lets you concentrate on a good functional design.
- Cost effectiveness: This is literally true, and most business people will react strongly to any marked difference in price. Dollars beat looks any day, and if it’s also obvious that extras don’t include revenue potentials, the basic design will beat any alternatives.
- Technical issues: The requirements for basic websites, online stores and ordering are pretty simple, but they have priority over Flash ads, pop ups and other additions.
Ask questions to help explain your design issues
Asking someone a question will always get a better response than attempts to explain the inexplicable. Ask the client what they specifically need. The answer will be a pretty rational approach to basics, rather than a wish list of things they don’t need. They won’t ask for 3D modelling video capacity if they don’t need it.
The other thing to note about asking questions is that it makes the client double check their own ideas.
This has been a guest post from an un-named source.