One question I see web designers ask is should they allow their client to pick their theme or not. Imagine you are working with a client, and you a specific framework for all of your designs (like Genesis or Divi for example). Should you give your client a list of themes within that framework and work from there? The answer is no. You, Web Designer, should not give your client the ability to choose the theme, and here’s why.
You Are The Web Designer, You Are The Expert
They came to you for a reason, you are the expert in this situation. You know what design choices work well to help your client achieve their goals. Your client, on the other hand, doesn’t have that design experience or knowledge. What they think looks good, or what they want isn’t necessarily what will be the best choice for their needs. You have that experience & knowledge, use it.
When you are building a house, does the client get to determine how the foundation is made, or the framework of the house? No. They determine what they need in a house, how many bedrooms, what size rooms, and if they want an open floor plan vs traditional Colonial, and so forth. The architect and builders have control over the materials used in the frame and foundation, and how those things are built. That’s because they know the building code requirements, and what’s structurally sound. The same applies to websites. Clients absolutely should have input on what features, and design choices, but not the assets that impact the site’s structural integrity and basic functions.
Control Your Web Design Process
You are the expert. You are the one controlling the web design process. When you visit the salon, do you tell your hairdresser the method they should use when cutting your hair? No. They cut your hair based upon the techniques required to give you the style you ask for. The same is true for your web design process. Your web design process is set up to ensure that the project proceeds smoothly for both you and your client, and the project is completed on schedule.
Allowing your client to select the theme indicates to them that you aren’t confident in your abilities. It opens you up to clients trying to control the process which can throw the entire project off track. If they choose a theme at the beginning but halfway through decide that another theme is better, then what? You risk ending up with an unhappy client if you don’t switch themes, and the project running over it’s projected timeframe if you do. Controlling your web design process allows you to give your clients clear timeframes and expectations. Throwing that aside leads to a chaotic project that often runs over time and with a much larger scope than initially intended.
Don’t Forget About Custom Themes!
Sometimes a custom theme is a necessity. Depending on the project a custom theme might be the best solution for the client. For those projects using a theme can slow down the process or add extra work. Custom themes are essential for many projects and limiting yourself to a selected theme can be a disservice. Very simple and very complex web design projects are often the best candidates for custom themes, to achieve greater control over the outcome and avoid time spent removing unused portions of code and adding your own.
How To Show Clients What Their Site Will Look Like Without Relying on the Theme
Template themes can serve as a valuable, time-saving, foundation for a web design project. The decision of which foundation to use; which theme should be left in the hands of the web designer, not the client. Serve your clients by ensuring that their website is built with the right tool for the job. Instead of relying on the theme to help inform the client about the ultimate design of the website, use your wireframes and mockups. These tools are valuable to help clients understand what their site will look like without the need to rely on a theme.
Wireframes give the client the structural backbone of the site. They can demonstrate how the site will respond in mobile, tablet, and desktop views. Wireframes also help clients understand the layout of the site, where images go, how the content will be laid out, and how forms and buttons will work without the distraction of colors, fonts and other design assets which can be selected or changed at a later point in time.
Site mockups are perfect demonstrations of how the site will look in more detail, including all design elements, and the structural and functional elements presented in the wireframes. Use your mockups to show your clients the outcome of the project, and how all of the parts will go together to form one cohesive website.
Embrace your role as web design expert and take control of your web design process by taking control of what themes you use to base your work on. By removing this choice from your process you can have a smoother design process and produce higher quality websites.
Not sure what theme to use? Get help from an expert! Get in touch today to learn how I can help you spend more time embracing your passion for design and less time coding.