One of the sentences I hear from a majority of clients is: “We had a web designer, but now we want to change the site and they don’t get back to us about anything.” That’s nice for me, but after hearing it a LOT from various clients, I think I’m starting to understand why.

Are you thinking about creating a web site for yourself? Do you need to renovate or repair an out-of-date site? Then read on and you may avoid being one of those hapless souls who never have their increasingly frantic emails answered.

Tip #1: (it’s an important one, so I’ll put it first) Make sure you budget your time as well as your money. Designers try not to be divas, but they do require consistent attention. If you are given a web address by which you can go and check on the site’s progress, please go there often and take notes. While no one likes to be micro-managed, it’s important to let your designer know that you aren’t happy with something about the site as soon as you notice it. If you wait until a week before your target launch date to tell the designer that the way the navigation is structured isn’t what you wanted after all, it’s like trying to turn around an 18-wheeler going full speed, annoying and potentially very expensive.

Tip #2: Have a (somewhat) clear and firm idea of the site you want to create. If you don’t, you force a designer to make stabs in the dark as to what you are going for. That gets expensive for you and frustrating for your designer. A good way to firm up your concept is to sit down with a pen and some paper and just free associate. Think of words that relate to your site and write them all down. Another good tactic is to go to competitors’ sites and search engines and find similar sites. Write down what you like and send the sites’ urls to your designer. They will love you for it.

Tip #3: Do not grab images off of Google images and give them to a designer to use. There is even a clause in the contract most designers use that discusses this. No one likes being called by a lawyer over that image they were told to use for the home page. Stock photos can be had for practically nothing and it’s worth every penny for the sound sleep you will enjoy at night.

Tip #4: Learn to love your inner geek. You will hear terms like “bandwidth” and “database” and “cascading style sheet” come out of your designer’s mouth. Do not run screaming from the room. Just ask the designer to explain any terms that are unfamiliar and it will save both parties a lot of heartache. Still shy? Look here!

Tip #5: Get your site’s content in order before you even start looking for a designer. If there’s one piece of advice I’ve found useful from a design professor it’s this: Design is more than pretty pictures. You could hire someone that creates a bleeding-edge site that looks fabulous, but if there is nothing of much interest or use on the site, then no one will use it and you’ll be paying your designer and hosting company for bupkis. Content is King and Queen. Make sure it is clear, concise and what you want your site to really say. Of course, a designer may suggest changes and offer advice, but they much prefer having your words there in the first place to work off of.