The design review process is a critical step in any web project. We welcome you to review some of these helpful tips, so you can make the most of this step—and get the most from your design.
Tip 1: Hold Nothing Back
During the review process it’s important to be honest with your designer. Open lines of communication and collaboration make any project that much better in the end. Don't be concerned about hurting feelings; a professional designer knows not to take feedback personally. It is better to be direct.
It is the designer's job to hear what you’re saying and interpret it as constructive feedback.
Tip 2: Familiarize Yourself With The Agency’s Review Process:
The design review process here at Verndale typically has four stages. It’s important to be familiar with the goals for each particular stage of the review process.
1. Concept Review
The Goal: Make sure we’re on the right path
Items discussed should really center on the overall look and feel of the concept. The focus of the meeting includes open discussions about the proposed layout, the priority of items on the page, and the design of the navigation structure. Try to avoid getting bogged down by little details such as placeholder copy and imagery.
2. Changes and Additional Design Templates
The Goal: Evaluate the changes from the concept review and discuss additional design templates
At this stage we confirm the first round of changes, making sure they were successfully made, and resolve any pressing issues. In addition, we usually demonstrate a few more design templates so we can begin diving a little deeper into discussions around copy and imagery.
3. Finalize the Design Templates
The Goal: Review all design templates
During this time we finalize the unique design template and touch on the page details. Often we discuss items such as imagery, icons, and the important attributes to include within the pages themselves.
The Goal: Approve any tweaks that are made and then move forward
Here we focus on the details. We need to make sure that all t’s are crossed and i’s dotted. If they are, great — we’ll get your sign off and move into the HTML phase of the project.
Tip 3: Know the Project Goals and Your Users
It’s important to keep in mind that you are not designing a site for you or your colleagues. Your site is for your users; therefore, you should know them and what they are looking for. It’s amazing how many companies lose sight of this and drive the design toward an organizational agenda that the end user doesn’t understand.
In addition, it’s imperative that you identify the measurable goals for the project up front and always have them in mind when making project decisions. Measurable goals could include generating leads, making sales, improving PageRank, creating opt-ins for newsletters or subscribers, or attaining a number of phone calls. These goals should be known to anyone participating in the design review process. Design is a subjective process, but it’s the designer’s job to speak up when goals are being compromised by the suggested changes.
Tip 4: Listen to Your Designer Reasoning
It’s important to listen to your designer when he or she is discussing work and why certain decisions were made. Web designers have a lot of experience about the web and how users interact with it. Obviously they understand design techniques — how to best use white space, leverage grid systems, color, etc. — and are very familiar with the technical limitations of the web.
Web designers are more than "pixel pushers." If you direct them to push pixels, then you may be reducing their role to that of production artist, a choice which won't allow you to get the best value out of your designers' experience.
Tip 5: Try to Avoid Designing by Committee
If your organization has several layers of approvals, that’s ok. It’s important to identify key stakeholders for your agency up front. Then you can strategize how and when to bring them into the fold of the review process.
We recommend working with a smaller group throughout the web project and then presenting later as a broader group. This helps minimize the risk of "designing by committee," which involves more participants with different opinions about the design. Large groups of decision-makers often look for ways to find common ground in order to accommodate all members -- a practice that often compromises the design.
Hope this helps. We’re looking forward to our next design review with you.