When you’ve managed a few website projects you get used to getting feedback and passing it on to your design and development teams. How things pan out from there is determined by both expectation and people management and how you deal with them can greatly affect timescales, morale and the overall quality of whatever it is you’re working on.
How many times have you been tempted to fire off an email like this?
Dear O. Deer
I just wanted to write and thank you for the insightful PowerPoint presentation you sent me; it really did help to lift the mood in the office this afternoon.
It’s heartening to know that even though I’m surrounded by a team of talented web designers and user experience professionals you can still inspire with some hastily harvested clip art from Google images.
Although we have all enjoyed taking turns at trying to make sense of the doodles that you faxed over, it is great to see that you do finally appear to have made up your mind what you want us to do.
I’m sure we’ll have no trouble in creating a new homepage concept that combines the “sophistication of Hugo Boss” with “the excitement of skiing” and “the upside down reflection thing used on the Apple website” so leave that one with me. It’s also good that we’re okay to consider using some purples, especially because we now knows purple is like blue, but less aggressive.
You’ll be pleased to hear it most definitely is possible to make the call to action bigger, turn it into a circle and make it glow like the ignition button on the new space shuttle and I’ll be sure to bring that up in the next stand up meeting.
In fact, I think it would really give the team a lift if you could spare the time to come down to our little corner of the office and motivate the troops in person. I know how much the designers appreciate it when people stand over their shoulders telling them exactly what to do, so let me know your availability.
Warmest possible regards
Web Dev Manager
In truth, it’s unlikely anyone has ever had to deal with quite so many clichés, but there something about a new homepage or a website redesign that gets certain people very excited. Before you know it they’re digging out their Etch-a-Sketch and sending you replacement wireframes.
So, to prevent well-meaning feedback destroying the creative process while still giving your customer exactly what they want, you’re ideally looking for a client that’s an “and” not a “but”.
“I’m not a designer and so I want your guys to look after that.”
If you find one of these then wrap your arms around them and never let go.
But, just in case you need them, here are a few tips for turning the “buts” into “ands”:
- Introduce your team before you start. Get them to take your stakeholders through some of their work to help establish them as the experts they are
- Prepare one or two case studies to demonstrate what worked well and what didn’t on a recent project
- If it’s the first time you’ve worked together, sit with your main point of contact to run through how they can help you get stuff done. Setting out ideal timelines for feedback is a must
- If you’ve worked together before and it didn’t go so well, then now is a great time to kick off a mini-review. Go back over the lessons learned, explaining how things could run smoother in future and gathering any feedback from them at the same time
- Always build in some contingency to your timescales. Even when everyone is on the ball, life happens and things change
It can be frustrating at times, but with a little bit of pre-show work and regular communication throughout the project you can greatly increase your chances of a stress-free working relationship.