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5 Tips for Working with a Design Agency

Whether you’re working with us, another agency or an independent designer we have some simple advice to help you get the most out of the process.

Tip 1: Understand Your Project

It might sound obvious but really understanding the aims, objectives & scope of your project is fundamental to ensuring its success.

Before getting an agency involved it’s a good idea to think carefully about what you want to achieve with your website project and to try and get agreement within your organisation.

Most design agencies will have some form of briefing process, usually combining a basic questionnaire with a follow-up face-to-face meeting, designed to tease out this kind of information. By doing your homework in advance you can help get your project moving right from the start. The website briefing docs you can download from our Contact page are a good starting-point for this.

When we enter the briefing stage of a project our aim is not only to really understand your project, but also you as a company. We believe it helps us to make better informed decisions about the solutions we recommend. So as well as clearly articulating your aims and objectives for the project make sure your agency is aware of your unique selling points and overall business values.

Tip 2: Seek a Collaborative Approach

We recognise that when it comes to your business, you are the experts and hopefully when it comes to designing & developing websites you’ll see us the same way. That’s why we believe in a collaborative approach, a partnership of expertise if you will, as the best way forward.

What this means in practice is communicating regularly and openly about your project, bouncing ideas off each other and working together to create a solution that meets those core aims & objectives referred to in Tip 1.

As an agency we love clients who really want to get stuck in, but we also recognise that for some of you this simply isn’t practical. It’s a good idea to make sure your designer understands how involved you can be from the kick-off so that they can adapt their project approach to match.

It’s also a good idea to identify all the key stakeholders on your side, people who need to have a say in the development, who hold key bits of information, or crucially, have final sign-off. That way your designer will know who to involve and ensure they are getting the full picture at each stage.

Tip 3: Give Effective Feedback

Design feedback is an area of potential friction between client and designer, but handled well it can be one of the most productive stages in any project. If you’ve been working collaboratively from a good initial brief then there shouldn’t really be any unpleasant surprises in the designs your agency delivers. But inevitably there will aspects that need tweaking.

Try to avoid delivering your feedback as just a list of design changes like, “increase that font size and make the box green”.

Instead, communicate the core issue that needs resolving, e.g. “I feel like the headings are getting lost and the background colour is making this section feel a bit cold”.

An experienced designer will have a whole range of design solutions to the issue you’re raising and should know which one is most appropriate within the context of your design. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t offer potential solutions, but it is important to communicate the core issues you’re trying to resolve to avoid missing out on a potentially better solution.

If multiple people will be giving feedback from the client-side it’s a good idea to try and collate the results and get agreement so that you can deliver a coherent and consistent set of action points to your designer. They’ll thank you for it and you’ll be helping to ensure you get the most out of the process.

Tip 4: Prepare Your Content

It’s often said that ‘content is king’ so considering carefully what content to include in your website is an important aspect of its development.

Most design agencies will have a process for teasing out and collating this vital information. But there’s no getting away from the fact that even relatively simple sites often require a lot of new content writing. Being prepared for this and getting ahead of the game by thinking about your content right from the start can really help keep your project on track.

A good place to start is by considering what information simply has to be part of the new site and the working down from there.

The earlier in your project essential content can be fed in the more deeply it’ll be embedded into the core of the design and the more time everyone has to spot what might be missing or need re-writing.

Tip 5: Have fun!

Perhaps this last tip is the most important of all. Designing a new website should be fun! We love working with new people in different industries, solving the unique challenges that their projects present. We find that as long as everyone involved communicates honestly, constructively and often during the project it can be a truly rewarding, creative experience for all.

Nick Barron

Written by

Nick Barron

In his role as UX Director Nick ensures that everything we do reflects a clear understanding of our clients’ aims as well the expectations of their audiences.