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Every single person is different, and the same applies to brands and businesses. While discussing a project with one client may go smoothly and the flow of the tasks shows that you understand what both you and your client need, another one that comes along makes you feel as if you are speaking two different languages. As if you keep asking for a cup of coffee and they keep delivering sushi. Communication is the foundation of any relationship, but making sure that your client can indeed communicate their needs starts with how you approach that relationship from day one.
As a web designer, you know where your expertise lies. You understand the intricacies of the task ahead, but you may not fully comprehend your client or their brand. To bridge this gap and to find a way to communicate successfully so that both of your roles make sense, use the following tips to make sure you can form long-lasting client bonds and expand your business over time.
Rely on the right tech tools
Most web designers that have their own business work remotely so as to avoid any limitations in finding clients. If you can communicate online, you have the freedom to work for people from all over the globe. Some form of uniformity or structure does benefit your web design business, since you need to keep your projects organized and your clients aware of any changes that are happening.
To do just that, using project management tools the likes of Basecamp or Asana is more prevalent among digital professionals everywhere. In addition to getting regular notifications via email, posting deadlines, reminders, live chat features, and many other perks of these tools, using them for everyday communication makes it simpler for you to run your business and keep your clients happy. It ensures optimal productivity as well as transparency, both of which are vital for a mutually-beneficial relationship.
Prepare a thorough discovery
As a web designer, you know that your tasks often require plenty of creativity and brainstorming until you actually land on the final plan for your client’s project’s look and feel. Asking the right questions in the initial stage of your relationship can help you ensure that their needs are met, but also that you fully understand what their brand’s goals are.
To make things simpler, use a web design client questionnaire pdf template as the basis of that discovery process, so as to have an existing framework for all of your web design clients. That way, you can add more brand-specific questions to dig a little deeper and get specific information that will help you in each individual project. Think of discovery as the basis of your collaboration. When you set the right goals and define your milestones, it will be much easier to make adjustments on the go if need be.
Keep them in the loop
Your day is often filled with research, trial and error, and brainstorming, all of which is pivotal in the creative process of web design, but still nothing so substantial to actually send an email to your client notifying them of your progress. If your client feels left out, you might find them overly intrusive in your process. Let them know how you work, so that they know what to expect, and which notifications they should look forward to.
For example, if you plan to send weekly updates on their project, send drafts every two weeks, or send them research summaries for them to approve of as the basis of the project – they should know what to expect. That way, you’ll prevent overzealous and overly frequent emails, and you’ll give your clients the structure and peace of mind they need.
Put your expectations in the contract
A Skype call is a great way to put their minds at ease when it comes to what they can expect to be done in a certain timeframe. You can give them a rough estimate on your work process and how much time you expect this particular project to last, and they’ll most likely feel happy with the understanding. Alas, some clients, the more complicated ones, might not stick to your agreement if it was only spoken over a call.
Use a contract template that clearly outlines your expectations of your clients, and vice versa. They cannot possibly expect you to finish a project when they fail to provide the data you need, such as their creative brief. Alternatively, you shouldn’t expect them to take you at your word, because they have possibly already had unfortunate collaborations with freelancers that have failed to meet their criteria. A contract is a way to keep you both legally obligated to fulfill your part of the bargain and ensure understanding.
Communication takes time to develop and unravel all the intricacies of your forming bond. However, you can take the reins of that process and make sure that your voice is heard, and that your client feels taken care of in every stage of the project. Use these simple tips, and improve the way you communicate with your future and current clients for the sake of your reputation and your long-term success.