Collaboration for Web Designers

A lack of collaboration can literally stop a project dead in its track. Most times this is due to a misunderstanding of what collaboration is. American Heritage Dictionary defines collaboration as this: “To work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort”I don’t know about any of you, but the root purpose of collaboration always gets diluted simply cause no one took time to learn how to collaborate effectively.

Collaboration is

While that word can certainly become less of a verb, most times its not always about saying something. As a web designer you’re required to interpret project requirements as not all clients or companies speak your language. This is definitely true for musicians as well. Working with a lead singer who doesn’t know how to interpret musical concepts and ideas in ways that an entire band can understand will ultimately bring ill direction upon each attempt at building a complete composition.

The same stands for clients working with a web designer. Communicating goals and visions to a web designer will require a bit of homework on the subject of building and maintaining a website. Often its assumed that a web designer or firm will handle everything for a client, although there is much responsibility to the client to make sure their project gets interpreted accurately. Flipping this on web designers; taking the time to plot out what a client is expected to be responsible for will save lots of headaches later on in a project’s life span.

Communication is collaboration. However, communication isn’t always one-to-one verbal agreements. Communication can come in the form of a deliverable or a preview or just something tangible. You can talk all-day about how this or that is going to happen, but that communicates much less than just giving the client something to see or touch.

The Mellow Drama of Client to Web Designer Relationships

You’ve heard the complaints from designers and clients alike. Example of a web designer may look something like this, “My client is totally shooting themselves in the foot by going in that direction”. Then you have your clients, “My web designer thinks he/she is smarter than me…”.

It is this subtle banter and bickering that will always destroy a project almost immediately. Collaboration isn’t about getting on the same page, its about sharing the same page. Both clients and web designers have to learn to reach a healthy compromise based on the perspectives, knowledge and skills brought to the table. Working on a web project isn’t a competition of wit and industry smarts. Its a shared effort to get something done. No one person in the effort is more or less important to its completion.

As for web designers, keeping communication simple is crucial. Speak in deliverables and tangibles, iterate often and stop trying to save the world with every project. In the same light, clients need to embrace the knowledge and skills of the web designer. No one is above anyone. If holding back will further capitalize on the other’s strengths, then hold back. Some things just aren’t worth communicating.

I will be continuing this little essay in later posts. Stay tuned.

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