Working with clients requires a lot of exploration. They might want you to build their website – that’s obvious. But it takes a skilled designer to fish out all the details.
These details are important because they can greatly affect the scope, budget and outcome of the project. Without them, we are left to guess and hope we made the right decisions. We may also be leaving a lot of money on the table.
The problem is that if your client isn’t very tech savvy, they may struggle to deliver fully formed ideas. For example, they may need a shopping cart. But they may not have thought about how it should work or what kind of results to expect.
Web designers cannot afford to work based on these vague request types. Instead, we need to help our clients understand what they need and how it will affect their projects. This is the first step in the information gathering process – before we even think about determining the final requirements.
Let’s look at some ways we can help fill in the gaps and complete our clients’ ideas.
Getting a Broad View of What’s Wanted
Early on, clients tend to paint a picture of their project using broad strokes. In some cases, they may only mention the aspect that they think is most important. That could be the aforementioned shopping cart, a news site with multiple authors, or maybe they want to accept event registrations.
Generalities are a great place to start the conversation. But there are probably more ingredients involved. There is more to a website than its static aspect, after all. And these extra items could be just as important from a web designer’s point of view.
Take our news-oriented site for example. That general description doesn’t tell us much about the types of content to be published. Nor does it give us any clues as to the target audience. Oh, and it would be nice to know how the client plans to monetize the venture.
With that in mind, it is important to get a complete picture of a project. You may have a few good questions that you need to know. But it’s not always that easy.
Some clients may not have thought that far ahead. Therefore, they may have to do some soul searching before they understand the full scope of what they want. I hope you will be able to start them on the journey.
Learn about Budgets and Timelines
Once you and your client have a basic understanding of the project concept, it’s time to engage with prospects. There is not yet enough information to provide a cost estimate. So, the next step involves defining some general parameters for the budget and timeline.
It is also where any big ideas can meet a dose of reality. A client on a tight budget may not get everything on their wish list. The same applies to those who need to launch their website within a short period of time. If they fit both profiles, well, that could be an issue.
That’s not to say the project won’t get off the ground. Rather, some adjustments will be required. Increase the variables to meet the needs or decrease the expectations. Something has to give in this situation.
But what if a client does not have a specific budget in mind? That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It provides an opportunity to discuss flexibility. You could, for example, offer a wide range of prices. This will help them get a clearer picture of what it will take to achieve their goals.
It is also important to note that a client is willing to listen and adapt. This can be a good indicator of how your working relationship will go. Maybe someone who refuses to give an inch is not the best fit. In contrast, a client who can rationalize their need for change is likely to be a more productive partner.
Help Projects get off to a great start
There is so much detail that goes into building a website. Appearance and layout are only part of the story. Technical items such as hosting requirements and back-end functionality are also very important.
But we cannot tackle the irony of a project without first understanding the client’s basic needs. They need to provide us with a broad view that we can use to get to the data.
Therefore, those first conversations between the client and the designer are crucial. This is where we gain an understanding of the client’s thought process. In addition, we can ask questions to help fill in the gaps.
From there, we can formulate accurate cost estimates and move on to the fun of turning ideas into reality.