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Who’s the Idiot? You or the Client?


I just read this great article by Paul Boag. As a designer or specialist in any field it’s easy to blame a break down of communication or project failure on the client.

From Paul’s article and our own experience I have listed the things designers can do to reduce friction and ensure the web design project goes smoothly:

  1. Asking the client for the budget needs to be explained in the context of what dollars can buy. Using comparisons and familiar analogs helps the client figure out why we need those numbers and what the value of those dollars will be. We often say “when shopping for a house you look at comparative homes. Let’s look at some comparison web sites to see what your money will buy.”
  2. Describe everything through the eyes of the client. For example, when you talk about methodology or usability explain that it’s about “using a step by step process that reduces risk of project failure” or “maximizing conversions from visitors to customers.”
  3. Be inclusive. Over communicate at the beginning and make sure the client feels like they are not just being pushed to sign and then abandoned. There is no such thing as too many emails or phone calls. It reduces stress and churn.
  4. Educate the client. The welcome packets we send out and double-kick-off meetings we do with our clients build comfort and confidence which can only lead to good things. We can all improve this by having frequent workshops for our clients about design and process in general.
  5. Give the client things to do. Almost all our clients want to be part of the process and like having responsibility in getting the work done. Explaining what their roles are and how they can make the project successful is key to them being part of the solution.

Author Richard Banfield

As CEO, Richard leads Fresh Tilled Soil’s strategic vision. He’s a mentor at TechStars and BluePrintHealth, an advisor and lecturer at the Boston Startup School, and serves on the executive committees of TEDxBoston, the AdClub’s Edge Conference, and Boston Regional Entrepreneurship Week.

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