Knowing Your Role in a Project

Most web design and development projects will feature many individuals trying to work together to create a web site. Some of the common roles of individuals involved on your project include:

  • Business Stakeholder
  • Content Creator
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Copywriter
  • Web Designer
  • Web Developer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Usability Specialist
  • Information Architect

One person may fill multiple roles on the project but there is often a team of people building the site working with a team of people who are experts in the site content and business. In order for the project to go smoothly everyone must contribute their expertise and support each other.

Stepping on Toes

Individuals attempting to do work outside of their area of expertise is a common problem. Knowing your limitations and recognizing the skills of others is key to avoiding conflict and bad decisions during a complex design or development project.

The role that is most regularly undervalued is that of the Graphic Designer. Everyone tends to fancy themselves a Graphic Designer without really understanding the skills that a good designer brings to bear on a design problem. Graphic Designers have years of experience in understanding and applying color theory, Gestalt principles, typography, human perception and information processing, and more. They are experts in using tools such as Photoshop, Fireworks, and Illustrator to create high quality images as part of well proportioned layouts.

As a client of a design firm it is important to understand that each decision that a designer makes is supported by years of experience, applied theory, and an understanding of the unique problems that your project presents. If you’re not sure why they made something green or placed it in a particular location be sure to ask so that you understand why it was done and can better provide constructive feedback.

What is the Role of the Client?

A web design team cannot hope to complete a project without the assistance of the client. Your expertise in how your business works, your knowledge of your customers, and your understanding of your industry are crucial pieces of knowledge that guide the decisions of each member of the design team.

Clients are needed to work with the Information Architect, Usability Specialist, and Copywriter in gathering content for the site and organizing it to create an easy to navigate site. Your design team will work side by side with you to review material that you have and to create a plan for generating new content for the web site. Your insights are vital to understanding how to best present information to visitors of your site. You understand common industry jargon and can decipher technical, domain specific content that you have been working with for years.

By making sure that everyone is clear on their role in the project we can avoid conflicts and ill-informed decisions throughout the life of a project.

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