So, you've hired an agency to overhaul your website (or build you one from scratch). How do you get the most out of the relationship? This article, courtesy of the Icon Design Lab blog, provides some great tips that will help you communicate and work with your design team efficiently and effectively.
If you have hired a professional design and development team my best advice to you is to let them do their job when it comes to design. You are the expert in your field, and unless you have previous life experience in the design world, you are not an expert in theirs. Think about it in terms of how you would value the advice your graphic designer gives you on how to run that new litigation file you just landed. In short, trust your designer's expertise when it comes to design, just like your clients trust yours.
However, where your expertise is invaluable is in clearly explaining your business goals and your client personas. This information will help shape the tone and structure of your site as well as the design aesthetic.
If the design relationship is not running the way you would like then talk about it with your account manager. Clarify your expectations and ask for a reality check on what is possible. Designing and building a website that provides a good user experience and meets your business goals takes skill, creativity, and time. It's not something you can slam together in a week or two (never mind what the good folks at Wix or Squarespace say...the sublime John Malkovich notwithstanding).
And now for a little more levity
The Oatmeal's Matthew Inman offers a glimpse of life from the design side of the equation in his classic How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell or for other design pain points I invite you to view the classic Make My Logo Bigger Cream video.
Unfortunately, the designer is not a telepath and cannot read your mind. Your participation in the work is a necessary condition for a good result. Prior to starting, explain: what is the project goal, and what do you want to achieve?