As a web designer, your business relies entirely on past, present and potential clients. Maintaining a good relationship with all clients sometimes seems difficult. It all depends on a designer’s capability of educating clients and setting achievable goals. Teaching them about your business and encouraging them to be self-reliant will help them to understand you and you can convince them that your services are value for money.
Educating clients – The initial stages
A well informed client will be more receptive to your suggestions. These are some of the things a client should know so that there is a good business relationship:
1. Explain your design
The first step is to understand your client’s requirements well. It may be possible they have been working till now with design experts like animators or graphic designers. But they may have little knowledge of your field. It is therefore very necessary to explain what exactly you do and how the design works.
2. Assure value for money
Quoting fees for your services is a sensitive issue! Just quoting a flat rate will be counter-productive. You will need to explain how many man hours will go into planning the design, developing it, testing reliability and validity, and maintaining it. They must understand that they will benefit from a well thought out and well executed design.
3. Show evidence of satisfied clients
There is an old saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” This is true even in web designing and software development. Explain the different aspects of the designing process through info graphics. You must also:
- Show the client some of your previous designs,
- Go through each step of the designing process with the client and explain how vital they are for search engine optimisation,
- Give examples of academic discussions, white papers, etc on the subject to show your in-depth knowledge.
Evidence is your best convincing tool. Show the potential customer examples of your previous work in that particular area. Let’s say a client wants you to design and optimize videos for YouTube in order to advertise their products and services. Videos you have already designed for other clients are the best testimonials.
4. Inform about your expertise
Educating clients that your advice is based on education, proper research and skill is necessary. In your speech be concise, clear and convincing. You have to pass a subtle message that you are not a contract laborer but a web designing expert. You are a professional who knows what would be the best design solution. On the other hand, when a client comes up with a suggestion or idea, don’t brush it aside even if it sounds weird at first. See if it is feasible before you veto it. Who knows, you might get an opportunity for an innovative design.
Educating clients on legal implications
5. Educate about pros and cons of the design
Honesty always pays! Be upfront about the shortcomings of the design. Otherwise you will be making promises that you may not be able to keep. Explain exactly how to use the product so that the client will feel more comfortable about using the design when it is ready, thus reducing the gap between the design/app and user.
Let the client be proactive to the extent that he gives you regular feedback during the design process. Emphasize the importance of a detailed project contract that enumerates all the stages of the design schedule. A client may have a preconceived idea of what their website or project should look like, especially in relation to that of a competitor.
At this stage, inform that client about how others have benefited by a maintenance contract. You can spell out the freebies that come under the purview of the annual service contract. You are the subject expert and your suggestions are based on experience. This message must be put across throughout the negotiation process.
6. Inform about number of revisions in the contract
In the contract add a clause specifying the type and number of revisions. Some clients participate in the design process by providing regular feedback, approve the finished product; and then ask for last minute revisions for whatever reason!
So make sure you specify the number of revisions and the scope of the revisions (minor changes or major ones) in the contract. Be upfront and explain these matters to the client right from the start. Educating clients reduces the number of revisions.
7. Explain importance of setting realistic deadlines
“As soon as possible” – that’s what every client wants! Depending on the intricacy of the project you have set realistic deadlines for completion and commissioning of the design project. Not meeting a deadline means the client will feel upset.
Make an estimate of how many days the actual development will take. Multiply this total by 2. Then add 3 days more for planning the design. That would be a more realistic time frame for most projects. Explain to the client what you will be doing at various stages in the development so that they know how much effort and time is involved.
Conclusion: Web designing is a service industry, where a major portion of your business comes through word of mouth. Having clients who are happy with your work is the crux of the matter. Client satisfaction will come by educating clients about the web designing business as a whole, and also explain the rules pertaining to pricing, legal and design issues of a project. This will ensure you have a strong client base of satisfied customers.