Web Design Process: How to Resolve Conflicts

Every web designer has worked on a site design project that has had moments of frustration—like the client who changes the direction of the project late in the game; the client who can’t leave the content alone and makes multiple revisions right up to the deadline; the new stakeholder who’s brought in at the last minute.

For web designers, these are more than just bumps in the road—they mean wasted time, money and effort.

Although frustrations like these can’t be eliminated, they can be managed. Identifying potential areas of frustration and prioritizing the ones that are the most costly and have the highest probability of happening can help designers focus on what needs to be addressed first.

Design by its nature is a risky endeavor. Designers make things and express complicated ideas in ways that have never been seen before. Here are two tools that interactive designers can use to manage the process and avoid frustrations.

The Design Brief

By developing the brief with the client’s help, a website designer creates a guide for how the project will proceed that can be shared with all stakeholders. As an alignment tool, the brief documents direction—taking some of the subjectivity out of the design process.

The design brief is a very important control tool. By outlining the direction with stakeholders and documenting it, web designers create accountability for all involved in the project. By having the brief in writing and accessible to all, clients are less likely to make costly and time-consuming changes later in the design process.

The Sign-Off

Along with the design brief, sign-offs at specific times during the web design process help check progress so that designer and client are in sync on status before committing time and effort toward a particular direction. Sign-offs are usually done before and after the concept phases, so designers can confirm a general direction before executing the concept.

This article was excerpted from Dave Holston’s book “The Strategic Designer.” To get detailed instruction from Holston about how managed the design process for web projects, sign up for his new HOW University course Managing A Web Design Project from Start to Finish, which begins TODAY.