While it is obvious that a web designer should listen to his customers about his wants, an expert web designer will also be able to include his customers in the design process. Typically, a customer will have a list of functions and goals for their website, and the web designer can then work on attempting to create a product which will perform the needed functions. However, the best web designers are able to explain to their customers things which can help them to better communicate what they want.
First, an experienced web designer will communicate the limitations of the platform being worked upon. Communicating the limits of the project well ahead of time can help to direct the focus onto that which is doable. If the client wants something which is incredibly difficult to implement effectively, and many others have tried and failed to do so, let them know that this is not a sure thing. If they understand the risks involved, they will be more able to decide whether or not it is something worse pursuing. And if they do pursue it and are dissatisfied with the final product, they will be less likely to simply blame the designer, recognizing that they made a decision to take a risk. However, if a business owner goes to a designer, asks for a function, pays the designer to implement the function, and then is dismayed to discover that the final product is basically unusable, he will rightly be frustrated. It is often said that the difference between an expert and a novice is that the expert knows exactly how much he doesn’t know. The expert knows the bounds of his knowledge, and is aware of the pitfalls and difficulties which exist in going beyond. The novice, on the other hand, simply knows a few things, and will be unable to communicate about potential difficulties down the road.
Second, there will be other limitations than technological ones. For example, things like privacy laws often demand that certain steps be taken when collecting data to anonymize it. Legal limitations commonly cover things like information collection and distribution, and how some data must be treated. Being aware of what you are and aren’t allowed to do is one of the first steps in creating a realistic yet ambitious goal for your website. A good designer will be acutely aware of the legal requirements for creating a website which will not open up its owner for a lawsuit.