Web designers are in the odd position of being both creatives and corporate players and have to navigate the business world while caught up in the details of their craft. For some designers, liaising with clients may feel more difficult than coding. This does not need to be the case, however, and forming good relationships with clients can be simple. Great website design not only reflects your brand story, but it also gives visitors a first impression of your business.
Designers don’t only take care of their client’s web development needs; they also define the brand of a business. Maintaining good relationships with clients is thus vital. In addition to having sharp technical skills, designers should also have decent customer care skills. Fortunately, this can be achieved with just a few basic pointers.
- Keep in Contact
Understandably, many designers don’t quite like keeping in touch with their clients and prefer to get stuck into the project and work their magic. After all, the designers are the experts and the client will often change their minds a dozen times if given the chance. However, sometimes clients have a clear picture of what they want, just no way to conceptualize it. Talking through the process could help determine what they need and may like to have in their website.
Many clients like being kept in the loop about how their projects are progressing and, more importantly, if there have been any major developments. Keeping in contact with clients also gives them a little peace of mind knowing that their designer is hard at work and invested in their project. Some clients, on the other hand, may be more concerned with the bigger picture and less with the finer details. Determine your client’s expectations from the get go and you should get on just fine.
Ultimately, keeping in contact is all about staying on the same page to avoid misunderstandings. If the client is unhappy with an aspect of the design, it’ll be easier to change and adapt earlier than after you’ve completed the project and presented it.
- Add a Personal Touch
There are many good reasons to treat each job as though it is the first and only project you have done. This will help you think creatively and your clients will appreciate the enthusiasm and be eager to work with you in the future. Forming long-term relationships goes a long way, especially for freelance designers.
Adding that extra ten percent to what you do sets you apart from other designers and companies, proving your creativity and innovation.
Having meetings to discuss projects in places outside of the office creates a neutral and easy environment where thoughts can be shared freely. This won’t be appropriate in all situations and you may sometimes need a different approach.
- Simplify the jargon
Some clients like finding out more about exactly what it is you do. Web design is, after all, a fascinating industry that progresses exponentially. It’s also in many ways, an art. Explaining what different buzzwords and elements are and what it is you’re doing with them may help clients feel more confident about your work and the working relationship.
Other times, clients may just want to hear what they need to know. Using end-user language will help communicate with clients on an equal level and will also help them understand what you’re doing.
- Be Transparent, Honest and Unafraid to Say ‘No’
While it is good to be accommodating and receptive to your client’s suggestions and requests, be comfortable saying ‘no’. If you have a good reason for refusing to do something, then your client probably needs to hear it. If they client has been kept in the loop throughout the process, it may be easier to defend why you’re you think your opinion is more appropriate. Sometimes, clients can have big dreams that may not be realistic, or there is simply a much easier way that something can be done and they just haven’t realized it.
Many designers at some point in their careers feel anxious about refusing clients and abandoning the “customer is always right” adage. Nevertheless, don’t feel obligated to agree to terms that don’t suit you. Don’t compromise your work’s quality because you made too much of a commitment. Also, don’t overestimate progress or a response from audiences that you cannot or are likely not to achieve.
- Always Be Prepared
Being prepared and punctual is a must if you’re looking to succeed in a corporate world and web design is no exception. Being on time for meetings, responding to emails within reasonable time and always having a clear, knowledgeable answer to any problem posed by the client, will make a good impression.
Doing some research into the project, such as looking at similar websites or companies and reading audience’s responses or even just finding out more about the client will help you anticipate their needs and make more accurate suggestions. It will also make your job a little easier to complete.
Be organized and ensure you’re able to keep up with all correspondence with clients regarding suggestions to add and changes to make. Fortunately, there are great project management platforms like Basecamp, that help frazzled designers keep it together.
- Go the Extra Mile
It’s one thing to deliver a website that is everything the client asked for, but it is another to deliver a product that exceeds expectations. Obviously, straying too far from the client’s wishes to explore your own ideas will most likely not bode well with them, but going out of your way to improve on their ideas may make your client happy and boost your relationship. Companies that prove they are knowledgeable about the industry and on top of the latest trends and developments are highly sort after by prospective clients.
There are many web design programs easily available online, but what sets a professional designer apart is their ability to create complex sites that are simultaneously intuitive, simple and beautiful. Remind your client of this by always putting that little bit extra effort into the final touches of the site.
Building relationships is vital for the success of any business. Most web design clients just need to be informed about progress and confident about their designers’ ability to complete the job while advising the best strategies based on keen insight into the digital industry. A website is a key element in marketing a business and having a designer that is on top of their game is a major bonus for clients.