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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    6

    working with a web designer - help with timing of payments, proofs etc

    Hi,

    I am using WHT to find a good web designer for a new website, but despite being in the IT industry for some time (C++ etc), I have no experience of working with a web designer, particularly a remote one.

    So I wanted to get some feedback from those who have been there, on what I should expect from the designer and what I should be providing to the designer. My questions are in the following areas :-

    1. Payements - is partial payment up front the norm or do I hold payment until I see the first design?

    2. Proofs (hope I have the right term) - should I expect the designer to produce a number of basic design proofs so that I can pick the one that works for me? Or am I way off base and most designers only produce the one design and I am expected to be happy with that?

    3. Inspiration from me - I have put together a list of designs I like to give the designer. I assume this will help? Is there anything else I should be putting together to help the designer?

    4. Content from me - do I need all the the content up and ready before contacting a designer. I know, probably a dumb question, but just looking for thoughts on this.

    thanks
    mike

  2. #2
    I'm unsure how much of this applies, because notoriously designers on WHT are quite cheap, and sell premade templates, however not all of them. Here's my advice anyway..

    1. A retainer is normal but I would suggest not paying any more than 25% of the project worth upfront. Then depending on the length of the project periodic payments during the engagement. For example if you're contracting a particularly large project taking 2-4 months, you can bet they won't do all the work before seeing a single payment.
    2. I suppose different designers work different ways, but I would advise using someone who's willing to provide initial concepts/proofs, then go through a thorough revisional process with you. Don't settle for something you don't like, but remember that your visitors are the real client.
    3. Showing designers designs you like is always helpful, because they can look for common elements, style/type-face/colours etc. However you should also provide them with as much information about the project as possible too. How you want to be portrayed, your biggest competitors etc. Usually you'll be taken through discovery & brainstorming discussions, which I wouldn't expect to be as simple as what I've typed.
    4. Not usually, however you may find that if you're not contracting them for content writing too, this can sometimes hold projects up. As a designer I love to have a general idea of the content volume going into a page, however not everyone will require this. I would advise having content ready, or at the very least make sure you work on it whilst they draft up some initial concepts.


    Above all else, make sure you get a contract. I'm not saying you're stupid, but you have no idea how many people come here and post about being ripped off, then the WHT community finds out there was never any contract so they have no legal leg to stand on. Also, check up on testimonials. Contact your potential designers' clients privately, and get a true picture of what they were like to work with, whether good or bad I'm sure most will be glad to share their experiences.

    HTH
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    6

    Great advice 'Equentity - Pauly' - thank you

    Quote Originally Posted by Equentity - Pauly View Post
    I'm unsure how much of this applies, because notoriously designers on WHT are quite cheap, and sell premade templates, however not all of them. Here's my advice anyway..

    1. A retainer is normal but I would suggest not paying any more than 25% of the project worth upfront. Then depending on the length of the project periodic payments during the engagement. For example if you're contracting a particularly large project taking 2-4 months, you can bet they won't do all the work before seeing a single payment.
    2. I suppose different designers work different ways, but I would advise using someone who's willing to provide initial concepts/proofs, then go through a thorough revisional process with you. Don't settle for something you don't like, but remember that your visitors are the real client.
    3. Showing designers designs you like is always helpful, because they can look for common elements, style/type-face/colours etc. However you should also provide them with as much information about the project as possible too. How you want to be portrayed, your biggest competitors etc. Usually you'll be taken through discovery & brainstorming discussions, which I wouldn't expect to be as simple as what I've typed.
    4. Not usually, however you may find that if you're not contracting them for content writing too, this can sometimes hold projects up. As a designer I love to have a general idea of the content volume going into a page, however not everyone will require this. I would advise having content ready, or at the very least make sure you work on it whilst they draft up some initial concepts.


    Above all else, make sure you get a contract. I'm not saying you're stupid, but you have no idea how many people come here and post about being ripped off, then the WHT community finds out there was never any contract so they have no legal leg to stand on. Also, check up on testimonials. Contact your potential designers' clients privately, and get a true picture of what they were like to work with, whether good or bad I'm sure most will be glad to share their experiences.

    HTH

    Equentity - Pauly,

    Thank you for the detail. Very thorough and great advice. I particularly liked the advice on a contract and "How you want to be portrayed, your biggest competitors etc. Usually you'll be taken through discovery & brainstorming discussions, which I wouldn't expect to be as simple as what I've typed."

    If I may seek your advice one more time. For the contract, what form would that take.

    I was thinking it would cover payments ; delivery times ; number of proofs and revisions ; who supplies what - content and graphics. I assume I would have them sign and date it and fax it back to me.

    Thank you.
    mike

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Pflugerville, TX
    Posts
    11,222
    If I may seek your advice one more time. For the contract, what form would that take.
    A contract will typically carry four main components: Statement of Work (scope), Quote, Terms of Service and a signatory component. Anything more is optional. A proposal will often contain a contract within it, in addition to other materials meant to inform and persuade the potential client to sign on.

    I was thinking it would cover payments ; delivery times ; number of proofs and revisions ; who supplies what - content and graphics. I assume I would have them sign and date it and fax it back to me.
    Contracts may go into more or less depth, depending on the nature of the engagement. Sometimes it is necessary to give the type of detail you're talking about here, down to the precise number of proofs and revisions. Sometimes you'll get a general satisfaction guarantee, where you're guaranteed one final product and the design road that gets you there might come via one concept or a half dozen, but the process gets ironed out during latter stages of discovery instead of during early discovery prior to signing.

    Some contracts go into little or no detail, and you have to determine for yourself whether you're comfortable with what you've been presented. A contract isn't set in stone until it's signed - the proposal process can be a very flexible one if need be. Typically, once a proposal/contract is delivered, the project manager and potential client will discuss its terms, the scope of work, make sure any necessary clarifications are made, add/subtract/modify the services being provided, generally fine-tune everything. On a complex project, a contract might be revised a handful of times before everyone's happy with the terms and the project gets underway. There's nothing wrong with this - it's for the protection of all parties involved. After all, you can never be too clear on expectations
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  5. #5
    Not usually, however you may find that if you're not contracting them for content writing too, this can sometimes hold projects up. As a designer I love to have a general idea of the content volume going into a page, however not everyone will require this. I would advise having content ready, or at the very least make sure you work on it whilst they draft up some initial concepts.
    I will say this is very important too. Make sure you have a detailed plan on what information you want on the site, rough number of pages you think you need, color schemes, partial layout designs. Do you want flash, a lot of interactivity(JS)? Do you need a shopping cart system, ASP/PHP forms, back-end databases?

    Nail these down by looking at different websites and get a VERY good idea of what you want. Personally I don't like "texty" websites, so as a developer I like to condense the information down and bullet-list items a lot which leaves room for media. As a reader I'm much more likely to read 2-3 line paragraphs than 4-6+.

    Also, I deal with this a lot but not sure about other developers (from what I can tell a lot of developers don't). Quality of work in a sense of things like handicap compliance (alt text for images, elimination of <table><tr><td> tags, descriptive links, etc) and maintainability of code. Nobody wants to get sued like Target if you make it big. Just make sure you like at some of the other sites they've done.

    Don't know if that last point applies well but it might be something to think about.
    Last edited by Donor; 05-21-2008 at 10:16 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Switzerland
    Posts
    8
    Are there any companies out there that can help you with contracts?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    6
    As a professional designer/developer, I would like to suggest the following.

    Reputation
    Try to approach previous clients. Check out the designer portfolio and look for sites credited to the designer. Contact the site owners for general feedback about how the working relationship went, timeliness, professionalism, flexibility etc.

    Payment
    It shows good faith if you make some upfront nominal payment. But dont pay the balance until you are entirely happy with the finished product.

    Proofs
    The designer should be able to provide JPEGS of layout ideas before committing them to HTML. This is where you should describe in detail all your requirements for colours, styles, fonts etc etc. There will be room to change later, but the more design/layout aspects you can fix upfront the better.

    Inspiration from me
    The more the better. The more info you can provide about what you like/dislike, the closer the initial ideas will be to your requirements. Dont be afraid to go round in loops, changing colours, fonts, layouts etc. Designers expect this. Frustration comes if you want to revisit the basics much later down the line after things have been committed to working HTML. Its not the end of the earth if you do change things later, but it can make for a frustrating time for all.

    Content from me
    This can come much later. The designer can fill the site templates with dummy content to show how pages will appear. This will be replaced as you provide real content.

    Hope thats useful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    6
    Regarding contracts, the designer can/should provide this to begin with. I would suggest you take this and remove/revise any aspects you are unhappy with or which you want reworked in someway (eg amending notice periods, including/excluding specific types of activity etc).

    If there is MUCH more you would want added to the contract thats not already stated, then you would be best to seek legal advice and not simply amend the existing document.

  9. #9
    If you want to use an online portal you might want to look at something like odesk.com which helps you track what they are doing.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Switzerland
    Posts
    8
    Quote Originally Posted by vakart View Post
    As a professional designer/developer, I would like to suggest the following.

    Reputation
    Try to approach previous clients. Check out the designer portfolio and look for sites credited to the designer. Contact the site owners for general feedback about how the working relationship went, timeliness, professionalism, flexibility etc.
    Shouldn't the designer provide references for you to contact. Personally I think it's very rude to just contact anyone who had a website build by a specific designer.

    Strange advice from a "professional" designer/developer.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    6
    Yep, designers can and do provide references.

    Some people might not want to approach a designer directly until they have checked their portfolio and ensured that the work displayed is genuine. You'd be suprised how many people claim work is theirs.

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