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Over the years I’ve worked with many folks on many projects. If I had to choose one thing that separates an extremely successful project from an ok project I would choose the relationship I have with the client contact. To that end I offer the following 7 things a client can do to work better with his or her website designer to ensure a successful website project.

1. Have a clear idea of what you are looking to accomplish with your website

Before the project even gets the green light do some homework on your end. What? But isn’t that the website designers job? While it’s true that your website designer will make suggestions and steer you in a good direction, having a clear idea of the project requirements and goals makes a huge difference and will get the project off to a good start!

2. Be open to suggestions and the reasons behind them

A modern website has a lot happening on it. Your website designer will be making suggestions throughout the project to help steer you away from common pitfalls. These suggestions will be based on best practices and the experience of the designer. Be open to these suggestions. I’m not saying you need to accept each and every one but having trust in your website designer is important.

3. Understand that website content does not grow on trees

This may sound silly but I’ve found that client content is the primary reason a project gets delayed. Understand that it’s not enough to simply point to a competitor’s website and say, “I want something like this”. Content for the website will need to come from you. Clients tend to underestimate the time and effort that goes into creating quality website content. Though it would be nice if it grew on trees!

4. Don’t get hung up on visual design details

Now don’t get me wrong, the visual design of a website is extremely important. However getting hung up on tiny details (the button color being a slightly lighter shade of red) can become unproductive. There is a saying on the web: “Content is King”. Should you feel the need to obsess I’d recommend starting there. It will improve the overall website far more than the color of that button.

5. Adhere to deadlines that are set

This may seem like a no brainer but it happens too often. At the start of the project your website designer will put together a timeline detailing the tasks to be accomplished. Attached to those tasks will be deadlines. I can tell you from experience the frustration that comes from having a project stall due to client deadlines being missed. Simply put, keep the project on track and stick to the deadlines.

6. Recognize the effort you will need to put into the project

A website is not an ad or a postcard (and think of the time that gets spent on those!). It is far more dynamic. As the client you will need to make a significant commitment to see the project through. Yes, your website designer will handle all the technical aspects of building the website but you will need to approve designs, write content, review draft versions of the website and answer questions that come up along the way. Make sure you allocate enough time and resources to make the project a success.

7. Don’t let your website die on the vine

Once the new website goes live it would be easy to sit back and relax. This is a mistake. Personally, I spend many hours each week working on this website. Unless you have some unnatural and amazingly captive audience you will need to continue work on the website even after it goes live. Updating content regularly, sending marketing emails, ensuring good search engine placement – these are just a few. Don’t let your new website die on the vine!

So there you have it. 7 things a client can do to ensure a successful website project. If you’re reading this and saying, “Duh, I know that,” fabulous! You’re off to a great start. However I fear you’re in the minority. I cannot stress enough the importance of the designer / client relationship and hope these 7 things will help clients better understand steps they can take to make their website project a resounding success.

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