Things a client can prepare for to save time on a website project
A site built using the proper process is not cheap. This process includes discovery meetings, planning and plotting out information architecture, Visual design, development and any post-development requirements. Being lucky enough to be part of this process, I have noticed a few steps that clients could perform to save billable hours throughout the process. This time saved can either be devoted back into refining design details or even help the project finish under budget.
First, come with specific goals and a good grasp on what you want your site to accomplish. Making you rich doesn’t count. Focus on and communicate what is at the core of your product or service. It is easy have a checklist of flashy features that you want to replicate but do they directly serve your needs? Such features should never be the focus or reason of a redesign. Remember how people use websites–to find information, not to be entertained or wowed (unless your product/service/content is entertainment.) If you come with a clear objective in mind it will help the agency develop appropriate marketing and visual direction for your project.
Not quite as simple, but potentially the largest time saver, have an idea of what and how much content needs to be organized or developed for your site. This also helps an agency provide a more accurate quote or allow multiple quotes be more apples to apples. You don’t need to know how it will be organized or prioritized visually–that is the responsibility of the information architecture expert. The later in the redesign process, the more costly changes due to lack of content planning will be. Adding 2 columns to accommodate added information after a design composition approved, broken down into HTML and incorporated in to a content management system (CMS) is a huge waste of time and energy. I am not suggesting that you need to have every page written for your new site, but the more accurate the initial content inventory represents the final goal, the tighter the wireframes and the more the proposed design will represent the final result. As Jeffery Zeldman wisely states “Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration."
Clearly communicate any subjective design preferences (particularly strong objections) before entering the design phase. When an agency designs a site for a client, they keep the target audience in mind; however, they generally rely on the client approval throughout the process to move forward. If you have any personal objections to certain color schemes, imagery or type of layout, communicate this as early as possible. It is understandably hard to look past personal tastes in a proposed design. At Blohm Creative Partners we are constantly evolving the process to iron this out as early as possible, but there still have been times when strong layouts have been thrown out prematurely because they feature a color that doesn’t fit well with a client’s personal preference. If a designer knows to avoid this, or can try to verbally rationalize these objections before putting time in image editors and code development, many hours can be saved.
If you come to the table able to provide answers for these questions, you will save much time throughout the process and help improve the quality of the final result. Obviously there are a lot more complexities and variables in a custom project; however, these questions always need to be answered-- the earlier the better.