After the initial planning stages are over, many new website design projects will move on to the design stage. This is often one of the most exciting times of a website project as it's the part people will see. This will become the new face of your business, so it should reflect your business accurately. But what happens after your website designer sends you the design comp? This is the time where you'll be looking over the design internally and sending feedback or approving the design. THIS IS IMPORTANT.
In the planning stages of our design projects we talk with you about the goals of your website, your customer profile, things you like in design, colors, structure, etc. There is a lot that goes into a website design, so by collecting this information we hope it makes the design phase go smoothly. Most times it does, but it still doesn't mean you should ignore the design comp review stage and just glance and approve. Follow these 8 steps after you have received the design comp and begin the review process.
Set some internal deadlines as to when you want to provide design feedback. If you do not have deadlines to meet this phase may drag on longer than you'd like. Remember, any delays here will cause delays for the overall project.
Determine who should be involved in the review process. Tip: It should not be everyone in your company. If you do it will take a long time and there is no way you are going to make everyone happy. Here are some people you should consider:
- The president/CEO/owner or whoever makes the final decision. Don't find yourself in a back peddling situation by not including decision makers.
- At least 1 sales person.
- CMO or marketing director.
- The primary website project contact. Don't put them in charge of handling all contact with the website development firm and then cut them out when it comes to design.
- At least one person that is not involved with the website project. This can be someone internally at your business or a complete outsider.
- Someone that meets the buyer persona of your product/service. If 90% of your business is from women between the ages of 55-75, get someone that falls within the demographic to provide some feedback.
Get enough people involved so things don't get overlooked, but don't go crazy. The more people involved the more difficult it will become.
Step outside the box. Please try and remember that your website serves a purpose. Its purpose should be to drive leads, sales, conversions, awareness, etc. The primary objective of your website should not be that it "looks pretty". If you can set some of your design opinions to the side and instead ask "will this help us meet our goals?" you'll end up having with a high performing website instead of a "pretty" website.
Gather feedback and review. After gathering feedback, revisit the design and make more notes.
Step away. Forget about the design comp for a day or two (don't forget you have deadlines) and then review one more time.
Send feedback. This should be in one feedback document not 15 different emails. Be concise with your feedback notes but try to explain why you like or dislike something or why something should be changed, offering alternatives. By offering alternative ideas and good explanations we can avoid treading water and delaying a project. After this step if the design has not already been approved, you should be getting a revised design comp.
You have the revised design comp, now revisit steps 1 - 6. It should go much quicker than the first go-round.
You will now either have a design comp that can be approved or further revisions are required. When sending final approval for a design, just be certain it is to the point that you are happy. It is much easier to make changes to design comps than it is a live website. If further revisions are required, be patient. You want a good end product, so if your project has to be delayed slightly that's OK. Remember, a good end product doesn't mean it just looks nice...a good end product will reflect your business well, but it will help you achieve your marketing goals.
Why Follow this Process when Reviewing Design Comps?
Design is often one of the biggest delays in a website project and not always for the right reasons. Knowing what to expect and preparing for this phase of a new website project will not only help keep the project moving, it will also ensure that your investment serves its purpose. By no means am I saying that you should nitpick every minor thing, because that's not the case either. You've hired your designer for a reason, so you do have to put some faith in their abilities. Just don't leave this phase out or hastily approve a design for the sole purpose of project advancement.