Defining Design Expectations

When starting to design or redesign their website, many companies use adjectives to describe how they want the website to look. Words like “fun,” “professional,” and “high-tech” seem to be great ways to describe a website, but the reality is that these adjectives can mean different things to different people.  “Fun” to one person might mean a bright color scheme but to another person it might mean a lot of moving elements and hidden surprises.


Though these adjectives provide a good starting point for a design, they need to be further defined in order to be useful and make sure the client and the designer are on the same page.


One way to define these ambiguous adjectives is by putting specifics to them. What colors, image styles, fonts, etc. are you picturing? It can be helpful to state what you want your visitors to do and feel as they visit your website. “When people visit our website, they should get excited about the prospect of serving people around the world and be able to easily find ways to perform that service.” Then identify some ways that you would like to accomplish that. “Our site will rely heavily on vibrant photographs showing the people and destinations that our service tours will visit. There should also be a prominent map that people can click on to see the details of each tour.”


Sometimes it can be helpful to look at other websites that portray the aspects that you are looking for. These examples can be of companies in your same industry or websites that address unrelated topics but use features and designs that you would like to have on your website.


When using other websites as examples, it’s important to point out which aspects of that website you like. “I really like the use of illustrations on this website to explain the product” or “I like the clean layout and search function of that website.”


The design and personality of a website should fit in with the company’s overall brand identity and messaging. For example, if your company deals in financial services and is trying to project a conservative, professional look, having a “fun” website may not be a top priority.


These expectations will evolve as the website is designed, but being able to define your expectations from the beginning can help you better communicate with your web designer and make the whole process go much smoother.