The best web designers understand that if they want a project to succeed, they need to involve their clients in the design process.
Because your client sits on critical insights that will help you help them. Duh.
If you don’t leverage that information you’re making a huge mistake.
But here’s the deal:
If you don’t involve your client correctly things can go south very fast.
So the question is, how can you avoid having a client that intervenes and dictates how you should do your job?
You build trust.
Before we explore ways to build trust with your clients let’s first explore why:
- This project might be their first web project so they’re super excited because they’ve waited for years for this project to start and they can’t wait to “collaborate on design”.
- Or they’re scared shitless because they just handed you one year of savings and put (part) of their business in your hands.
- Or they might have their boss breathing down their neck wondering “how is the project going? When can I see something?”
So basically you need to help them relax. You need to reassure them that hiring you was a good choice.
You need to clearly communicate to them that they need to let you do what you do in the way you know how.
The best way to start off good is explaining your design process before starting the project. We’ve already published a guide on that here so I’m not going to explain that much more here.
But what you can do to build more trust during a project?
Here are a couple of things you can do:
- Clearly explain that you need more information. Sometimes this can be tricky because the client might feel like they’re giving you a bit too much information (if so, just sign an NDA). But this is an excellent way to build trust. It shows your client that you’re genuinely interested in their business and its success.
- Another great thing that will help you build trust is that when you present design milestones tell your clients what you will show and how long it will take. Clearly state that you any discussions will happen afterwards.
Sounds a bit harsh? Maybe.
But it will help you to clearly establish yourself as the design professional in the room which in turn helps you build trust.
I hate to be repetitive but think about it:
Building trust is probably the most important thing you can do to start off on a good foot with a new client.
So let’s talk about one more trust building tactic:
Get your client to work for you. Yes really.
Tell your client that your design process requires them to participate.
To get started, here’s an initial list of things you expect them to do:
- Provide all agreed-upon assets on time
- Project manage their side of the project
- Consolidate project feedback from one person (ie feedback should not be communicated by committee)
- Respect deadlines
The third point is especially important because the majority of delayed projects is actually because designers have to wait too long for feedback. That’s why it’s so important that you make sure that you expect that will receive design feedback from one person.