In the last several months, I’ve come into contact with a wide range of clients– everything from a bustling photo business blogger to someone with an idea but no website in sight. All my clients are memorable for one reason or another, but there is one in particular– she knows who she is– and she drives me bananas.
In the best way possible.
She is a perfectionist. I find it funny that of all the web designers/consultants she could have found, it was me. Non-perfectionist, practical, functional Julie matched with creative, artistic, perfectionist blogger Jane Doe. What a duo. I hope I’ve taught her a bunch (and will continue to), but we all know this principle to be true: The teacher can learn from the student too. Here’s what she’s taught me in the months we’ve worked together.
13 Things I‘ve Learned about Web Design from Working with a Perfectionist
1. Nothing is ever finished. Something can always be tweaked, changed, updated, or slightly rearranged into a better (more enlightening) position. As maddening as it is for a goal-oriented person like myself, some of the later changes are the best ones yet.
Takeaway – Don’t forget to build revisions and modifications into your proposal!
2. You need to mess up and around before you seal it up. The idea that you can get your design/brand/idea right in one shot is poppycock. It takes those first 4500 tries before your brain breaks out of its box and moves into the “epic” realm.
Takeaway – Sleep on a new mockup! Don’t just finish it and show it right away. I promise, the next morning, you’ll find something to be tweaked.
3. Fonts matter. And I’m not just talking about your menu bar or your title or your text. I’m talking about that eensy teensy little copyright notice at the bottom of your site…or the caption under a photo. It should be in a custom font that costs $560.00 from Myfonts.com otherwise your whole design karma will be off.
Takeaway – Start a font collection.
4. The beauty is in the details. I can’t (and don’t) practice what I preach on my own websites, because I’m too busy beautifying others. But the details matter. All the little buttons and lines and bullets– when they are customized, that makes the difference between a generic site and a professional one.
Takeaway – Look at sites you love, and pay attention to all the details. Think about elements you can work into your designs.
5. Less is more. When you have great photos and great content, you don’t need a lot of design. In fact, if you notice the design on a website, it may not be well designed. It’s like makeup- if done right, you don’t notice it. That’s the ultimate goal, but see numbers #1 and #2 if you feel discouraged that your web design skills isn’t there yet.
Takeaway – When you have a design mocked up, take things away. If it’s not adding to the design, keep it off.
6. Color matters. When you are designing a header or even just a link color, make sure it’s right. One shade off can turn beautiful into hideous. Think about your reader’s experience when you pick out colors. If you are what I call color dumb, use Design-Seeds to get just the right color palette.
Takeaway – Your clients may INSIST on a color, and it’s your job to explain the complex views of color theory. 🙂
7. Get a theme that gives you room to breathe. Jane Doe was one of the first clients I put on Genesis – a dynamic theme that gives you a ton of control over your design.
Takeaway – If you don’t know Genesis, it’s included in our mentorship program and it’s worth the price of enrollment alone.
8. Use lots of eyes, but not too many. In other words, find people you trust and get their honest opinion. But don’t solicit opinions from everyone. You’ll get at least 100 different pieces of advice and then you’ll be paralyzed.
Takeaway – Join our Facebook group for honest and helpful feedback. Stay away from your mom.
9. People may miss the details, so don’t stress. Doesn’t it sound like I’m contradicting myself? It’s true- I am. After all that time and painstaking care, people may not notice it anyway. That is part of the charm. They don’t realize how good something is– usually it’s easier to notice the bad (and ugly). So if you don’t get lots of accolades for your kick butt design, don’t stress. Do it for yourself. Your perfectionist self.
Takeaway – Join our Facebook group for encouragement and support. Stay away from your mom.
10. If you are a perfectionist, work with someone who’s not. And vise versa. You need both types of people. I may never have cared so much about fonts and pixels until working with her, but I see things now I didn’t before. In turn, she also may have been stuck in her font-obsessed world forever if it wasn’t for me.
Takeaway – Join our Facebook group for people who can help sharpen your skills. STAY AWAY from your mom.
11. Pinterest is like crack, so be careful. You’ll find a ton of ideas for fonts and design while strolling through Pinterest, but I must dole out warning– you may never get to redesigning if you stay there too long. Get in, get out…before it’s too late!
Takeaway – Don’t let your client suck you into the Pinterest hole either!
12. Don’t give people too many choices. This is an old marketing lesson, but it works for design too. If you give people too many options, they’ll feel paralyzed too. Direct them with your navigation. If you do it right, they’ll seamlessly move from one area to the next without knowing it. This goes for email newsletters too. When I send one out with all sorts of info, my open and click through rate is far lower than when I send a quick blurb with a hook, an image, and a link.
Takeaway – When you send out questionnaires or interview forms, keep the choices to 6 or less.