Clients Always Say… Webmaster Secret #2

“I want a clean and simple looking website.” Another thing they say, but which means different things to different people. I’ve had dozens of clients say this, and you never quite know WHAT they mean by it. Here are some translations:

1. I want lots of white space.

2. I want a design with a white background and very simple accents.

3. I want a design with sharp edges, no shadows, no background graphics.

4. I want a design that has very little navigation.

Now, usually they mean just one of those things, sometimes more than one. But every client means something different when they say it, and if you assume they mean the same thing you do, you’ll strike out on the first attempt.

A clean design means their interpretation of order and simplicity. Sometimes that conflicts with the needs of their site – it is increasingly common to have a client who needs an incredibly complex site with multi-layers, to want only a single navigation bar, or for someone with a combination infosite and cart to want a two column layout with big boxes and large text. They simply do not realize how much space things take, and that if you want to put hundreds of things into a site, you have to have a place to put it all.

Sometimes good site organization, using multiple menus in uncluttered ways for sites with a lot of content is the key to making it appear simpler than it really is.

Achieving a “clean” look, then, becomes a blend of understanding what the client means, and working with their needs to balance what they want, with what they actually need.

It ain’t always easy… But it is usually possible to achieve a satisfactory result.

One Response to Clients Always Say… Webmaster Secret #2

  • Clean and simple.

    I’ve used those words myself when talking to clients about writing or website projects. You’re right; that phrase means different things to people depending on the situation and the goals of the client.

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