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April 15, 2008

How to Get What You Want from Your Website Designer

If you’ve been involved in the design of your company’s web site, you probably already know how difficult it can be to convey the type of website design you want.

Website design is a matter of personal taste. What one person finds attractive and professional, you may not and vice versa. Oftentimes, what you want is a matter of “I’ll know it when I see it,” but unless your graphic designer is a mind reader, that’s not enough information to assure you’ll get what you visualized in your own head.

Below is a list of questions to help you solidify in your own mind and communicate to your website designer the look and feel you believe would best represent your company.

Website Design Questions

  • Do you prefer website designs that contain many different colors

(<> as an example) or designs that use

fewer colors (<>, for instance)?

  • Do you prefer bright colors (as on>) or muted

colors (as on <>)?

  • Do you prefer website designs that have white backgrounds behind

the text (like <>) or colored backgrounds

behind the text (such as <>)?

  • Do you prefer sites with black type for the main text (such as

<>) or those with colored type for the main

text (like

  • Do you prefer website designs with a horizontal layout (such as

<>) or a vertical layout (like

  • Regarding navigation, which button locations do you prefer – horizontal across the top, down the left (as on <>) or the right side

(, in blocks (as on <>),

or a combination of some horizontal and some vertical (as on


  • Do you want a straightforward, rendering of the logo,

or would prefer something with more color gradation or artistic treatment

(<> as an example)?

  • Does your company have a motto or tagline that should be incorporated into the design?
  • If yes, do you prefer the site tagline in a straightforward, headline-style format or do you prefer a more stylized format (as on

<> or <>)?

  • Some sites have faded terms related to their businesses embedded in

images (<> and <>,

as two examples) -Do you like this technique?

  • Do you prefer sites with actual product images (as on

<>), or those with stock photographs that

evoke specific responses, such as a sense of dependability or

professionalism (<>, for example)?

  • Do you prefer website designs with straightforward, realistic photographs of

products or those that contain artistically altered images of products

(<>, <> and

<> are examples)?

  • Do you prefer to have your product images on the left side (as with

<>), along the top (as with or down the right side (as with


  • Are there any logos for industry quality, certification programs or

association memberships that should be part of the site’s design? (See

<> for example)

Of the sites you viewed above, please provide feedback on the following questions:

  • Which sites from the list of examples do you like best? And why?
  • Which do you dislike the most? Why?
  • As you review the sites, which company logo placements do you feel are the most appropriate for your company?
  • Which color schemes do you prefer, as you look at these sites? And why?
  • Which color schemes do you absolutely hate? Why?
  • Are there any other web sites that you have seen that you like or feel demonstrate the style of design you prefer?

Answering each of these questions will go a long way in helping your graphic designer to create a website design that satisfies your graphic sensibilities.

Angela Charles is president of Pilot Fish, a website design and SEO firm based in Akron, Ohio.