I was commissioned to design a website for a cruise ship/boat that has 7 restaurants on board. The client provided a reference for their competitor which is Pier88group.

I went ahead and designed an initial draft for the website and sent it to the client whose response was that the design is somewhat poor.

Where should I go with this design to make it less poor? given that no actual content was provided and that the brief consisted of suggested sections. I did some research and that's how the design ended up


  • 3
    please add the image(s) to the question itself, I can't open random google drive links
    – Luciano
    May 2, 2018 at 12:23
  • 2
    @Luciano In this case maybe he should not since the work becomes CC BY so Kevin do not put image here
    – joojaa
    May 2, 2018 at 12:52
  • 3
    So they want to match how painfully slow to load and hard to read their competitor's site is?? :)
    – Scott
    May 2, 2018 at 15:01
  • @scott yea! That's exactly my point, I think what they like about it is the color tones and contrast, They just can't phrase that.
    – Kevin
    May 3, 2018 at 9:59
  • Maybe it's just the way you've presented it. I think it's too distracting. Take away all the messy mockup stuff and blue background images, and just show them the pages.
    – Billy Kerr
    May 19, 2020 at 15:23

4 Answers 4


If that is their feedback, 'the design is somewhat poor', then I'd like to turn that around and tell them that their feedback is 'somewhat poor' as well. And then I'd be mild.

Seriously, this is a horrible way to critique your work, even if they are right. Ask them what they didn't like about it, make them phrase why they think it is poor. If they then indicate things you thought you did right because of the original brief, ask them whether you misunderstood the original intention, or they changed their mind.

Without seeing your work, my advice would be to work on your presentation. Usually, just sending your design to a customer is not going to work. Go and visit them if at all possible, and present the work there while your are clarifying your choices and can answer questions immediately. If that isn't possible, at least write an extensive e-mail that outlines your choices and the reasons why you made them.


The competitor's site, which as Scott mentioned is very slow loading, has a lot of full-screen super HD photography, almost all in B&W with deep rich tones, which echo their restauranteur's "concept" of the intersection of fashion, iconography and cuisine. Most shots were done at night, to assure huge black density, and to heighten contrast in all cases.

The hard-to-read typography is intentionally chosen with very "elegant" and traditional and "chic" scripted typefaces, all of which support the subtext of the site, which is "exclusive", "not for the masses" "luxurious", and given that, the hard-to-read aspect of the chosen typeface may even be intentional (subtext support: forget practicality - we don't have to worry about readability - those who know our values will prefer our "quality" typeface).

The custom loading animation which directly takes the client's logo is a bit over large, and the "gold" gradients are over the top, but in context, where almost every other element in the site is black, grey or white, it lends a tone of opulence, which is their target message and audience: those who perceive opulence as desirable.

What I'm getting at here is that though I myself dislike the site, and I'm sure would dislike the experience of dining there, I think it's probable that the design captures the core of the client concept, and therefore also the original client brief to the designer.

There is nothing objectionable I see in your proposed design draft: it hits the expected notes as a site mockup for generic restaurant / hospitality experience X; ask yourself though - does that match your brief?

Was the client expecting more "wow" or "pizazz" or "pop" - all of which meaningless input designers roundly hate, but often understand: as in the competitor's site, which is in many ways lousy, but... which uses high contrast images, fullscreen emphasis on the images (their quality and not the site mechanics) muted tonal palette, a singular powerful accent colour with strong emotional connotations, weighted language and typography, all in careful unison to convey one singular idea: Exclusive Opulence.

Did you get some singular concepts or ideas from your client that can guide you in that same fashion?


At first, I did not like much the question, but actually, there could be some interesting contributions on the topic.

Mine is. You need to find and prepare a workflow for the analysis of the site.

A client normally do not know what he wants, why he wants it, a client normally "feels like".

In theory, the methodological part is done by the designer, the scientific method applied to design.

So, do that.

Prepare a series of questions to guide the review. This is not in an optimum order, there could be a debate there on the "correct" order. Marketing and psychology tell us that changing the order of the same questions can have a different output. That is a discussion for another day.

  • Is the color scheme ok?

  • Is the information in the correct order? Does it need to be grouped?

  • Are the current images ok? Is the size ok? the style, color, arrangement, bla bla, bla.

  • The white spaces, the amount per row, the combination of text and images, the menu, the effects...

  • And a big etcetera.

You are the one that needs to make a method, not the client.


You're always exposed to this especially when taking on new clients. You really don't know what the reaction will be after presenting some draft work. Some clients have not worked with designers before and really don't know how to explain things rationally so they would just go with the emotional "we don't like it" approach.

Clearly the only way out here is to explain in detail why you think your design works for the purpose, then ask for further details as in why they think it doesn't work and what they think should be done. It is also useful if they provide some examples of what they do "like", from which you can hopefully guess how to make adjustments to your design.

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