Whether you’re already knee-deep into revising the contents, structure, flow and design of your small business website, or you’re just contemplating reworking the site, you’re undoubtedly hoping for a smooth and simple process. Perhaps you have “low drama” people on your team; perhaps you’ve already found copywriters and other vendors to handle parts of the process, and you’re pleased by the preliminary conversations you’ve had so far.

But what happens when things start to get hairy? What happens when incoherent copy comes back or a shabby logo design hits your desk, leaving you sighing and frustrated? When and how should you offer constructive criticism? When should you “pull the plug” on a relationship with a vendor (or someone in house) and find a new person or team to assist?

These are prickly questions, and the answers could have profound ramifications not just for your website’s look and feel but also how your company functions in the months and years ahead. It’s easy to go wrong in both directions. For instance, you could be too lax and too forgiving with a vendor and wind up with a product that doesn’t look good… or things could “come to a head” and explode into a fight once you eventually, begrudgingly acknowledge that the work is substandard. On other hand, if you are too quick to fire or to give criticism, you could lose good people and also set your project back for no good reason.

Obviously, the clearer you are about the purpose of the design and the copy — and about the principles by which you want to govern the process — the better. As they say in sports, the best defense is a good offense: by doing proactive work upfront and getting everyone in line with your vision, you won’t have to criticize and cajole as much.

That said, here are some other general strategies to help you keep things on track:

  • The sooner you feel that “spidey sense” that the process is slipping off of the rails, the sooner you should speak up. If the copy is coming back with typos, or if the initial design sketches just seem “bleah” and/or inappropriate, don’t wait until third round of revisions to say anything. It’s easier to course correct when you have three or four weeks before a deadline than it is to ask people to pull all nighters.
  • Offer up a “praise, criticism, praise sandwich.” Here’s the basic idea. First, say something that you like about the work that’s been done (or about the person who is doing the work). Next, state the criticism. Finally, finish by saying something else that you like about the person or the project. This practice will make people more receptive to what you have to say.
  • Be specific and concrete. Rather than make it personal, say exactly what you didn’t like and exactly how you would like things to be different. Leave ego out of it, and make it about the work, not about the folks involved.
  • When things go wrong, build systems to prevent problems from recurring. For instance, say that your current design guy just keeps screwing up. Rather than blaming the design guy alone, think about how your company can revise its hiring or training systems, so that after you fire your current design person, you won’t accidentally hire or train another bum steer.

To maximize the effectiveness and beauty of your site, call the experienced team here at Connective Web Design for a free and thorough site evaluation as we’re the top Los Angeles Web Development Company.