Many clients are not really sure what happens when they hire a graphic designer or a marketing agency to create a logo, website, or other materials for their business. In reality, there is no reason for there to be a mysterious curtain behind which designers work their magic. Having the client and the designer understand the process not only improves the end product, but also helps improve communication and satisfaction for both of them.


First off, it helps to have an understanding of what design is. There are literally thousands of different definitions of design. One of my favorite definitions is “art with a purpose.” Yes, design is what makes something “pretty,” but in many cases, it is also what makes it work. A product that is well designed not only looks good, but also accomplishes its objectives and is easy to use. In the case of websites, aesthetics and function are integrally connected, so web design refers both to the look the website and its usability.


Design is not a mysterious wave of the wave and “poof!” a beautiful website or product appears. It involves hours of research and work. First the designer works with the client to define the problem and establish parameters (budget, deadlines, technology limitations, etc.) The designer then goes to work – researching similar projects, exploring options, and coming up with a solution.


There are often several rounds of revisions through this process as the client gives feedback and the designer adds or changes different features. Throughout the process, the designer is striving to come up with a finished product that helps communicate something, is easy to use, looks good, and meets the client’s approval.


To do this, they follow design guidelines that help the final product look professional and lead the viewer’s eye where the client wants it to go. They do this using different principles and elements of design such as line, contrast, shape, color, and so on. They combine these elements in a way that not only looks good, but also helps the viewer understand what the website is trying to communicate.