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July 1, 2016

Tips for Working With Your Web Designer: The Circle of Revision

Author: Kristen Bachmeier

What I call The Circle of Revision can be “one of the most dangerous places for a client to enter.” From what you are about to read, you may think I am nuts but hear me out here. The 1st goal of any web designer is to design a website and balance both looks and functionality. The 2nd goal is to be able to explain why you designed it that way. This 2nd goal, and getting buy-in from the client, is super important for moving projects along and I’ll go into more detail in a bit about why. First lets go through a basic run through of what the design process looks like.

The Wireframe

A wireframe, also known as a screen blueprint or page schematic, is a visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a website.” Wireframes are created for the purpose of arranging elements to best accommodate the users experience and clients’ needs. There are numerous different types of ways to draft a wireframe including sketches on a whiteboard, pencil and paper, or a computer program. The wireframe is drafted with the client, target audience, need, and site elements in mind. It is important that you learn these 4 things about your client so thwireframesat you can relay the look, feel, and functionality into your wireframe and eventually the design.

Draft Design Begins

After the client reviews the wireframe, you should ask them if they have any questions or if they’d like to add anything to the page’s skeleton because the meat is about to be put on. Once the draft begins review all your notes about who the client is, check out some of their competitors’ websites, and get your ideas together. Nothing should just be plopped on the page, there should always a reason behind your methods. Take care of your client as if the site you were creating was your own.

web design exampleDesign Revisions

Your Design is complete. Now here is where you must take all of the information you know about the web, the client, its target audience, and your design you’ve created and get ready to explain to the client why you did things the way you did. There are times where the client has an idea and it does make perfect sense. Other times they will have requests that you think are from 1995 and/or unconventional. You have to be able to tell the client in a natural way why things are not 1995 anymore. It is normal to have 2-3 revisions for a standard web design.

Resistant client

Man, Silly, Funny, Crazy, Weird, Odd, Peculiar, PersonLet’s say the client is resistant, you’re on your 5th draft, and the requests are absolutely absurd and unusual to you. This is what I call
the DANGER ZONE in entering the circle of revision. The Circle of Revision is when you keep going around and around and around with design changes trying to get the client what they want. It wasn’t about a year ago until I realized how to deal with a situation like this but I have an ace up my sleeve now that will help you and your client get out of this spin and on to the road to completion and relief.


WARNING: The Ace should only be used in desire and unique situations. A situation that you see is going to spiral and waste money on both ends of the spectrum (the client & you). The ace is as follows: “I will do what you ask for these edits but it’s against my belief as a web designer and these changes that are requested can affect the ability of your new website to produce results in the manner you wish. If we go forward with these changes that are requested, this will be the conclusion of any future design changes.” It may seem harsh, but at some point you have to put the foot down to prevent the circle from going around because overtime it will almost always become a “Frankenstein” of a website and it will beat you down to a pulp (mentally of course!) trying to please what cannot be.

Overall when sites come to this point I’ve noticed that in the end things are better. The most surprising thing to me is that the client will respect you for pointing these things out because in the long run the client cares about the results! Just remember… YOU ARE THE EXPERT!

Kristen Bachmeier

Kristen Bachmeier is Atilus' Director of Operations and helps to oversee all client accounts and day-to-day operations. Kristen also has a background in digital marketing, and has been working in the digital marketing space since 2012.

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