Steps to Hassle-Free Web Design
Hiring a web design agency can be a stressful thing for many clients. They might not say it out loud, but most of the time they lack technical know-how and can’t tell a good agency from a bad one. Add a few stray horror tales of clients being burned in the past by shady freelancers, and you can see why many clients would rather swim in shark infested waters than go through yet another design agency hiring process.
What clients really want from their web design agencies is simple: honesty, patience, and high quality work. Here are the nine things clients really wish agencies would do:
1. Leave the Jargon at the Door
Imagine that you walk into a doctor’s office with a sore throat and a running nose. The doctor takes one look at you and says gravely “I’m sorry, but you seem to be suffering from an Orthomyxovridae infection“. You start panicking you don’t know what Orthomyxovridae is, but it certainly sounds serious. The doctor sees the wide-eyed panic in your eyes, smiles, and gently adds ”that’s the medical term for common cold”.
This is exactly what clients feel like when they are bombarded with jargon. “Sure, we’ll develop a full-stack solution with a responsive CSS front-end and A/B test landing pages for CRO” might be plain English to a fellow web designer, but can sound like Greek to a client.
Clients appreciate nothing more than a web designer who can talk to them in simple terms. This doesn’t mean dumbing it down; it means explaining things in a way that doesn’t require years of industry experience to understand. When meeting a client for the first time, gauge their knowledge, adjust your vocabulary to their level and explain key words and phrases.
2. Understand the Clients Business and Online Goals
There are hundreds of web design agencies that will take an order, pump out a website, and collect payment. There is nothing wrong with that; it’s the nature of business. But a web design agency that takes an active interest in their clients work, the nature of their business, what they do, who their target audience is, what their best selling product or service is and so is likely to deliver a website that will work for the clients business.
This is marketing 101: Wow your clients with awesomeness! Go above and beyond expectations. Give clients three mockups when they asked for two. Show them four, not one colour variation. Someone asked for logo ideas? Why not throw in a business card mockup?
It makes the client feel valued. It also sets precedent for future projects. If a client knows you’re going to be incredible every time, you can bet they’ll give you more work and tell their friends about you.
4. Design for Results
What they really want is measurable results. The new website shouldn’t just look stunning; it should convert users to the end goal defined by the client. This also means building a plan around bringing traffic to the website and driving it through to the end goal. A landing page that doesn’t convert visitors is useless for a client, no matter how beautiful it looks on an iPad Retina display. This is why clients prize agencies that can combine form with function, beautiful designs with measurable improvements.
5. Provide Accurate Breakdown of Costs
Most clients struggle to understand how a website is costed, and with such variation in the quotes a client receives, along with the mistrust around website quotes, you’d make yourself stand out by providing an understanding or breakdown behind your final quote. Include any additional costs which you think may crop up later, as the client will almost certainly not be happy with a surprise addition half way through the project. Transparency in quotes is attractive and can contribute to the start of a trusting working relationship.
6. Not Ask Technical Questions
“Wordpress or Joomla?”
“Would you prefer Python or Ruby on Rails?”
“Should the app be native or in HTML5?”
Technical questions such as these are like gibberish to most clients. This is why they hired you in the first place: to take care of all the hard stuff. Instead of bombarding clients with questions they don’t understand, use your discretion to pick technologies and solutions that work best with their needs and existing infrastructure. Your clients will thank you for it, and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.
7. Communicate Clearly
Ineffective communication is the bane of healthy client-designer relationships. Far too many projects are lost halfway because the client and the designer simply couldn’t converse comfortably.
Communication is a two-way street. And while you can’t control how the client communicates, you can make sure that you go all-in with your communication.
Establish a few common rules of communication within your own agency. This should cover everything from phone calls/Skype to email etiquette. Resolve to respond to client queries as quickly as possible. And as always, a cheerful, friendly greeting can go a long way.
8. Be Upfront When a Job Can’t be Done
Maybe coding native iPhone apps isn’t your specialty. Maybe your chief designer is on holiday and you can’t possibly meet the clients deadline. Maybe the project you’ve taken on is beyond your agency’s expertise.
In such scenarios, the best you can do is to be upfront about your capabilities and project delays. Tell the client straight away – “I’m sorry, but coding in Python isn’t really our strong area”, or “The project will be delayed by a week”. Clients might grumble about it, but they’ll take upright honesty over unmentioned delays any day. You can always win them over later with exceptional work, delivered ahead of schedule!
9. Be Honest
As in all aspects of life, it really is the best policy. Are you a small team of talented designers working out of a hip downtown office? Great, this means personal attention and top-notch talent. A huge design firm staffed with hundreds of employees? This means tons of resource to complete big, complex jobs. A tiny, single person startup? This could mean undivided attention and excellent one-to-one rapport. Tell them who you are and how you work
At the end of the day, let your work speak for itself. Big or small, clients ultimately want to work with agencies that consistently deliver websites that work for their business.
Don’t forget to check our list 6 Things Designers Wish Their Clients Knew for more tips and ideas to a happy client-designer relationship. Clients, are there other things you wish your designers had done to make the process easier? Designers, what do you do to ensure clients leave with a website they are wowed by?