7 Traits That Make a Great Web Designer
Nabil Bushnaq | December 30, 2015
When hiring a web design firm there’s always that hesitation — are these guys any good? Will they create something I like? And more importantly, will they create something that benefits my business?
These are great questions because you’ve probably heard that nightmare story of the friend who hired a creative design firm for the big web redesign. They produced a beautiful new shiny, colorful, award-winning piece of art.
But visits and online conversions went down. Way down. That’s a nightmare scenario.
To help you avoid this fate, we created a checklist on what makes a great web designer. Use it to ask the right questions and narrow down your choices to the design agency that will suit your needs.
1. They Put Themselves in Their Customers’ Shoes
The firm you’re considering may be staffed with designers who have fine arts degrees from a prestigious design school, or industrial design degrees from a prestigious university. But none of this matters if they don’t put your customer’s’ needs first.
The best designers put themselves in the customer’s shoes. The purpose of designing a website is to help your customers get to what they came for quickly, whether it’s to buy from you, get customer support, or find out where your stores are.
Your web designer should have empathy with even the most un-savvy web visitor, and what he or she goes through when browsing your website. They should make navigating your homepage as easy as possible so they don’t get frustrated and hit the back button.
2. They Have Your Goals Foremost In Their Mind
A great web designer also puts your goals first- and more specifically, your business goals. What is the purpose of your website? Is it to drive online sales? To raise money for a great cause? To help customers find your retail locations? To order a pizza?
A great designer will take your business goals and design a user experience that gently directs your visitors to where you want them to go using the shortest path possible.
3. They See Beauty in Simplicity
Whether you’re an Apple fan or not, you must admit that Apple’s beauty is its simplicity — and simplicity leads to ease-of-use. Apple’s fan base is fanatical about the beautiful simplicity of its iPads, iPhones, and iPods that are just a joy to use.
Great web designers share the same love of simplicity when designing your website. They seek to minimize distractions and unnecessary features on yours while building in a sense of beautiful simplicity in your site’s navigation and online tools.
4. They’re “Fast Perfectionists”
This seems like a contradiction in terms, so let me explain. A great web designer is one who has perfected the art of creating an (almost) perfect design under a tight deadline. They’re deadline-driven, but they are also detail-oriented.
Now know this: it’s really difficult to balance the two, which is why only the best web designers can do it. But you need that magical combination because you need to constantly close sales, and you also have a reputation to protect. These both require speed and perfection. A great web designer can do both.
5. They Design with Many Devices in Mind
Gone are the days when your web design firm only had to worry about one screen, your desktop. Now they must design for more than 230 different screen resolutions, including all kinds of smartphones, tablets, phablets, desktops, laptops, and those large-screen high resolution monitors designers love.
The great web designer will design for all these resolutions so that your website will rock any screen, whether your customers log on from their Samsung S6, their MacBook Air, or their big screen TV.
6. They Get You
A great web designer doesn’t need detailed instructions. In fact, they wouldn’t be a designer if all they did was take your exact specifications and turned them into a design. That would make them a draftsman, not a designer!
A great web designer will have a conversation with you about your needs and wants, and then synthesize everything they learned into a design that meets your needs.
To do this, a great web designer needs to be a great listener — and also must be somewhat of a mind reader.
But they’ll balance that with a couple or three options for you to consider, so you can choose which best represents your vision.
7. They’re Not Afraid to Suggest Alternatives
Finally, a great web designer is opinionated. Of course, their goal is to design something you want, but if they see that you want something that won’t work, they’re not afraid to push back and point out why it won’t work, and suggest what will work (using their informed judgment).
And they’ll do it with tender-loving care. A great designer won’t argue their point of view with you but will work with you in a collaborative way to explain their reasoning. And they’re also big enough to hear your reasoning and accept your final decision.
Above all, a great designer is a human being who can synthesize all these things, deliver a great, functional design that helps your clients reach their goals while helping you meet yours, and will have fun in the process. And frankly, who wants to work with a grumpy or boring web designer? Not me. Design is a labor of love — but it also takes time, and the more time I spend with somebody, the more I want to spend it with somebody who is fun — and somebody I know who will treat clients with the respect and kindness they deserve!