What to expect from your web designer

Over the years I’ve heard so many “shake your head” and pure horror stories regarding web development projects that I often stop listening part way through. I’ve heard it all before.

But today I heard something that made me stop and think. A prospective client was expressing frustration over something that his web designer told him. She said that it was “his job” to give her the content in the order she wanted it and when she wanted it. “She’s telling me that I have to do 40% of the project,” he said. “It seems to me that I should have known this at the start,” he concluded.

It’s important to note that he wasn’t angry with his designer. He was merely expressing frustration to a stranger whom he had called for help with writing content. What got my attention was the common refrain surrounding expectations.

What, then, should a client expect from a web designer?

Setting and managing expectations are key ingredients to any business relationship. Now I don’t know what the designer originally told her client. I’ve set forth “to do lists” for clients hundreds of times and quite often the difficulty of certain tasks don’t hit home until the job is at hand. But in my case, clients rarely get to the point of frustration because I CAN write content if they need me to – of course, change of scope change of price.

When you’re talking to most web designers, however, you’re not talking to writers who know CSS and HTML. You’re talking to graphics people, who, for the most part, don’t write. Larger firms may have staff writers or they have a relationship with a content developer like me. But smaller, local web design firms usually just shrug their shoulder and point to that to do list, the one that states that content is YOUR problem.

So when you’re search for a web design firm – I prefer web development because it’s more inclusive – make sure to spend a good bit of time talking about content. After all, I would argue that content is more like 70-80% of most web projects, not 40%.


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