Working Website Design and Development: what to do and how to review

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Working Website Design and Development: what to do and how to review

Website design reviews are part of the process of developing great looking, high performing websites.

When you decide I’m getting a new website, it probably doesn’t even enter your mind. It’s a bit like Reviews? What reviews? What are website design reviews?

This is totally understandable. When people come to FivebyFive asking for a new website design, they’re generally in ‘big picture’ mode. They’re thinking bells, whistles, and anything else that shines. Website design reviews? Not so much.

But if you want to build the website of your dreams – one you love at first sight – there’s a way to go about getting it. And reviews are a big part of bringing that baby to life.

Website design reviews occur at different design stages

At different stages of the website design and development process, there are different website reviews. Some are design focused, considering the look and feel of your website.

As the website development moves closer to launch, website design reviews direct attention to functionality and user experience.

Of course, there is overlap between these two areas, which we’ll expand on here, but the main message is: reviews matter. They can make the difference between getting the website you want and a website that doesn’t feel the love.

Ready to nail your website design reviews? Let’s go there!

Understand the website design and development process.

Having developed thousands of websites over 12 years, I’ve learned one thing. Website development works best with a process.

Now I didn’t have this insight from day one. I worked it out through a process of trial and error. With a clear process for development, it’s much easier to show clients when it’s their turn to step into the fray.

I can explain this process in three words: design, review, consolidate.

Many business owners think that once they’ve engaged a web developer, their work is done. The big news is (in the words of the Carpenters): it’s only just begun.

The truth is website design and development is like a dance; one that’s done together. If we’re talking groove here, it’s more Fred and Ginger dancing in sync than a solo dancer busting out moves on the dance floor with not a care in the world.

Working through the website design and development process is work. Yes, your developer does their thing, but ultimately as the website owner, you need to do your bit too and that is where website design reviews come in. Firstly understanding the process will make sure that happens at exactly the right time and in the right way.

Here is how we roll at Five by Five

Design.

Once we’ve received initial design input and home page content from you, we’ll work up a home page design. This is done with inVision, an online tool, which allows us to share a mocked up version of the site. It’s invaluable for giving people a real life look and feel of their new site.

At Five by Five, a new design is always accompanied by a video from our designer. In the video, we’ll explain the why and how of thinking behind the design. If it’s an updated version of design, we’ll go over where changes have been made.

The big tip here is: make like an NRL referee. Go to the video.

Why? Because the video is the background to the thought and work invested in the design. Once you’ve listened and watched, it’s time to move to the design and provide feedback.

Review.

Guess what? Now it’s your turn to shine. That’s right, time to get into review mode. The great thing about inVision is it also allows clients to provide comments directly into the design at the exact spot where they’d like to give feedback.

Consolidate.

Once we’ve received feedback, our designer integrates the changes reflected in those comments. Then we do it all again.

Website design reviews are an iterative process made easier by clear, constructive web design review comments.

Website design critique: what to say

My wife is the first person to admit technical peeps like me are a work in progress when it comes to feedback, both giving and receiving. And I’m a very close second.

There’s no doubt, sensitivities are always involved when it comes to website design critique. However there are ways to navigate this process with confidence and ease. The following examples help convey what I mean.

This is crappy. Not helpful.

Hi Sam. I’ve given some thought to the icons and feel these examples would work better. Would you please change the icons to something more like this? Thanks, Jon. Much more helpful.

The second example takes a little more time, thought, and care, but it yields a much better result. We see also kinds of feedback, but the design reviews that work best are those clearly and respectfully shared.

Avoid web design review overwhelm

Few people can absorb their new design and provide constructive feedback in the same session. Often it takes two or more runs around the block to take in the design, clarify thoughts, and consolidate comments. This is code for: you need to allow enough time. There’s simply no other way to building the website of your dreams.

At this point, many people become overwhelmed. They simply don’t know how to assemble their thoughts, much less get them down to share. If that’s you, here’s how to jettison the roadblocks:

Step 1 – Spend time, maybe ten to 15 minutes going over the design (no distractions). Take a break and then come back to the design.

Step 2 – Make a list of the comments on a piece of paper or in a separate document, whichever is easier. Once you’ve written those comments, go back over them. Ask yourself:

  • Are these comments helpful, constructive, and specific?
  • Do they provide clear direction to the designer if you want changes made? The last thing you want is a designer scratching their head trying to interpret your feedback.

Step 3 – With all the comments assembled, upload these to the mocked up design.

If more than one person is involved in the design review, this process of consolidation is even more important. Let me explain why.

Not everyone is supposed to provide feedback

Everybody has an opinion and criticism is one of the easiest things to give. But it doesn’t mean the opinion or criticism is warranted. This is relevant for website design review.

Well before the website design review process starts, get clear about who from your business will be involved. Is the business principals? Is it you and your business coach? What about your team?

If you’re not clear about who is responsible for providing feedback, everyone will give you their opinion. While this can be helpful, more often it causes confusion.

As the business owner, you know your business best. On that basis, you’ll also have a clear idea about whether a website design is ‘you’. By all means, seek the opinion of a trusted person or people, but check in with yourself before including their feedback in your comments. If you don’t, you may find yourself in a painful backwards/forwards cycle in which your website design stalls.

Final tip on website design and development reviews

People think website design and development reviews are about providing feedback, but really they’re about time.

Time to get creative before you start your website project. Time to reflect and consider if the design is ‘working for you’. It’s also about making time to prepare clear and helpful notes that move you one step closer to loving your website.

Want to learn more about building the website of your dreams, check out these other great tips.

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