Webpage Design: The Ultimate Feedback Technique

Talking about webpage design can be tough. Even after you get used to the lingo and terms like FTP, UX, SEO and CMS no longer faze you, there are a wealth of other things that are difficult to communicate. Maybe you don’t like the shade of grey that fills the main navigation container. Perhaps the sidebar isn’t configured the way you would like. Maybe the footer padding settings aren’t right…and in my examples I’m using the right terminology.

Terminology most outside of the web design business don’t know.

It probably seems that in order to get your designer to do what you want (without endless, tedious trial and error) requires you to learn a whole bunch of new terms and have a basic understanding of the various elements of your webpage?

Not any more.

In the article below I’m going to reveal THE easiest way you can give your developer the feedback he or she needs to tweak things so that you end up with exactly the sexy beast of a website you’ve visualised having.

Now there may be some web designers who will not be happy with me for sharing this with you. As a design client it gives you much more granular control over how your website ends up looking, which could potentially be a good thing, or a very bad thing for both you and your designer.

I’m going to tell you a secret that you mightn’t be overjoyed about but it’s the truth so brace yourself!

Web Design Basics: Don’t let bad design be your fault!

If you use this technique and your website ends up looking like the website equivalent of the bride of Frankenstein then it’s partially your fault. Its critically important that you trust the advice of your web designer. If you don’t I would urge you to consider finding a new one that you do trust!

I think I’m safe speaking for designers in general when I say that most designers *want* to give their client’s an outcome they are happy with. Unfortunately the reality is that not everyone has a good sense of aesthetic design. Maybe you are the exception to the rule and perhaps you have exceptional taste (hint: you are not capable of determining that about yourself) but even if you have, you are not a professional designer.

Professional designers read blogs about the latest techniques and trends in design. They spend their lives immersed in colour palettes and typography. Through just osmosis alone, a professional designer is constantly training their “eye for design”.

Webpage Design Advice

Please, for the love of all that’s good and holy, find a web designer that you trust. All designers have an “eye for design” and their own “brand of design” that you can see in their portfolio. If you don’t see it in your potential designer’s portfolio, don’t use them! Seriously you have lots of options.

Whomever you choose you should trust their eye for design, more than you trust your own. This trust is important because your designer has objectivity you probably don’t.

The Ultimate Web Design Feedback Technique

It is a real challenge to describe what you want changed when it comes to design elements on a web page. I am amazed on a weekly basis how even when I use all the correct terminology sometimes what I want done gets lost in translation.

The simplest way to remove this issue of communication is to change the mechanics of offering your feedback from a “Tell me what you don’t like” to a “Show me what you don’t like” paradigm. Simply put: if you show your designer what you want changed, it will be much clearer and much more effective than writing elaborate responses that may or may not get your message across effectively.

The best news is that you don’t need any design skills in order to become a master at this technique, but you are going to need to install a small piece of free software called Jing.

Step 1:

Go  here to download and install this software: http://www.techsmith.com/download/jing/

When the installer file downloads, simply double click it and follow the installation instructions.

After Jing has installed and you have started it up you will see the control interface somewhere at the edge of your display which looks like the diagram to the left.

You can test to see if it’s working by hovering over the sun to see if it pops out as in the diagram.

Step 2: Open a browser window

Open up the web page you need to offer feedback on in your web browser. I would recommend you use Chrome or Firefox (NOT Internet Explorer).

Side Note: Internet Explorer is a horrific, unbelievably poor, woefully woegeous, incomprehensibly crap, steaming pile of llama shit. I know because every time I try to use Internet Exploder I end up involuntarily using the F word like a cross between an angry Gordon Ramsey and an agitated dock worker with Tourette’s).

Step 3: Fire up Jing!

Click on the + shaped icon that pops up when you hover over the Jing sun symbol at the edge of your screen.

Your screen should grey out and a yellow cross should begin following your mouse pointer around. Simply click and hold your mouse button, and then drag the yellow cross the top left corner of your web browser to the bottom right corner of your web page.

Hint: You’ll want to leave plenty of room on either side of the web page so you have room to write your comments. Jing doesn’t scroll the page down so you might need to do two Jing captures for each page, depending how long each page is.

Step 4: Capture your screen shot

Click on the Capture Image button after you let go of your left mouse button.

Step 5: Add directions and comments

Easily and quickly add your arrows and comments using Jing. The controls to do can be found on the top left of the Jing window. Point at elements you don’t like and add text comments to describe how you would like them changed.

Colours you don’t like? No problem, explain how you want them changed. Weird spacing? Point an arrow at it or draw a box around it and add some text to help your designer understand what you don’t like about it.

Step 6: Share your feedback with your developer

Now you’ve added all your comments, it’s time to share it with your developer. I would recommend using the Share via Screencast button (the first one!). When you click that button Jing uploads your image with your comments to Screencast and copy’s the URL to your image onto your clipboard.

Open up your email client and either click Reply to your designer or Compose a new message. After saying hello (it’s nice to be nice!), simply hold down your Ctrl key and press V on your keyboard. That will paste the URL to your commented image on Screencast into your email.

Click send and hey presto! Your designer/developer is now up to speed! Hurray!

Have you ever had to give a web designer feedback? How was your experience?