As a web designer, it’s important to remember that your clients are the heart and soul of your business. Attracting, convincing, retaining and dealing with clients is in itself an art. Whether you are a programmer, writer, or freelancer, you will encounter the same issues again and again. To keep your clients smiling and still keep up with your competition, you will need to sharpen your networking and social skills, streamline the organization of your work, improve your business acumen and keep up with industry trends.
Admittedly, maintaining a great relationship with your clients can be very tricky, and a lot of it is dependent on your ability, as a web designer, to educate your clients and set expectations so that both parties end up satisfied at the end of the project.
When educating your client:
- Focus the client on the business- concentrate on business objectives of the website and don’t let them get caught up in the small details.
- Focus the clients on the users- shifting the client’s view on users, moves them away from personal opinion. For example, when you send them an email with a link to the design, ask: “How do you think your users will react to this?”
A Little Bit of Preparation Goes a Long Way
Before the meeting takes place, organize your thoughts and yourself to make the meeting run smoothly. Mix-ups during meetings can upset clients and make them concerned about your organizational skills. Sounding too rigid and scripted is also a turn off to most clients and makes them lose confidence in what you have to say. So, try as much as possible to be yourself and better organize your talking points. Keenly listen to what your clients have to say, take notes, and ask questions. This will make you look like you rare focused on what they are saying and value their information.
What does your business actually do? This is a very good starting point. After all, you need to know what your client does before you start working on their site. So, understanding how long they have been in business and what they do will help support the design research and decisions you make throughout the entire client relationship. Surprisingly, most clients want you to help them discover their true purpose. In fact, that’s one of the reasons they hired you.
All clients want their website to be up and running as soon as possible. That’s okay, when I order a pizza, I want it delivered quickly too. The issue with most designers is that they agree to deadlines they can’t actually meet and end up disappointing their clients. Take a good hard look at your workload and attach a time estimate (i.e. design phase one and two = four working days). Never get yourself in a bind by making unrealistic promises; otherwise, you might end up frustrating your client and get a bad review.
Communication is Crucial
Miscommunications and lack of communication can ruin an entire project. So, stress the importance of their involvement and feedback at each step of the project. Most clients tend to be very vocal and involved at the beginning of a project, but tend to be increasingly quiet and distant during the middle stages of a project. Consequently, the designers assume that everything is progressing smoothly, until the client shows up with a laundry list of edits after the project is complete. Ideally, explain to the client the importance of regular communication and highlight the issue in the contract to help produce a better product within a limited time.
Quote Honestly for Work
Give them a printed copy of a clear quotation listing what you will deliver, any extra fees for edits and revisions, and exact time frame for project completion. Even better, setting the record straight by discussing everything in detail makes your life and your client’s life easier.
Put Everything in Writing
A contract is a vital business tool as it determines some key factors such as copyright and price. It also dictates what is expected of you and the client. In cases where both of you agree to revise the terms of the contract, make sure the changes are reflected in the contract. Otherwise, it can lead to frustrations and heartache down the line.
Offer Added Value
You are in a very competitive market, so think of something extra you can offer your web design clients. This could involve not charging for revisions and edits, or you could deliver five concepts even though you have only specified three. Not the best examples, but you get the point.
One of the main challenges of a service-oriented business is learning to manage clients successfully. We tend to be hard on clients, but they often have a vision for their project but lack the skills to bring it to life. Learning to take the client’s ideas and translate them into something tangible is not easy, but most of the time it’s not impossible.