Outsourcing creativity can be a tricky process, particularly when the product represents a person, organization, or corporate brand. This is usually the case with outsourced web design—professionals without the necessary technical or creative expertise will hire pros to turn their dreams into reality. This usually involves a continual back-and-forth between outsourcing firm and client, fine tuning the product until it meets the exact needs of the buyer.
After all, the customer is always right…right?
A Study in Customer Goals
While clients without a creative bone in their body may be comfortable giving outsourced design firms free reign to create as they see fit, others have a specific vision for how they want their site to look. This creates conflict when the professional opinions of the outsourced firm clash with the personal goals of the customer.
It’s a story that anybody who’s spent a day in outsourced web design can tell: a client, seeking a professional touch for their website, hires a web design boutique. The web design firm creates a product for the client to review. In the client’s mind, the product is okay…but they really want to keep their neon green and orange color scheme. Those drop down menus are fine…but they prefer having a long and complex list of navigation links on the side of their page. And what’s that? They took out the seizure-inducing flash banner too?! That was a critical piece of their company’s design strategy!
An extreme example, sure, but it highlights a very real problem in the outsourcing world: customer wants often directly conflict with the time-tested and proven design strategies of the professionals. The client may have an idea of what they want, but clients don’t have the industry knowledge or insight into competitive design practices that make outsourced firms so valuable.
On top of clashing stylistic concerns, there’s also finances to consider—it’s not unheard of for clients to seek out a budget designer and then ask the world of them and their service. Those outside the web design industry may not have an understanding of the costs that go into research, design, and labor. This creates substantial tension when the client realizes they’ll have to pay out a little more than they expected to see their goals met.
As it turns out, what the client wants isn’t always what the client needs.
Outsourced web design firms must balance their professional knowledge with their customer’s needs to find a middle ground with their final product. While you can argue that customers want what they want (and outsourced firms better provide it!) is it really worth it if the final website doesn’t produce the optimized and value-driving platform that was promised?
Communication is key when trying to find this balance. Customers must communicate their needs to their design firm clearly, while outsourced web design firms must ensure that their clients are reasonably informed about their service options. Opening a dialogue early is the best way to help clients manage their expectations for what the final outcome will be—along with ensuring that this outcome is something they’re happy with. If they’re dead set on flashing banners and unorganized UIs, then there may be no way around that. However, it’s the responsibility of the professionals to guide their clients and inform them of the design standards that will generate the best possible results.