Communication is key. Or at least that’s what my mom told me. But I’ve actually found it to be quite true.
When a client first decides they want to work with me I usually get an email that gives me a very quick breakdown about their project. And often times, that’s it, they’re ready to get started. Uh-uh-uuuuh not so fast. We need to do some communicatin’ first!
I talk a lot about questionnaires in my posts, because they’re just so gosh-dern important. It’s like gold around here! I need all that juicy information contained within to make informed decisions about the project at hand and to make sure that it will be a success.
Most new clients have never worked with a professional designer before. On top of that many clients may not identify with being especially creative and they’re just not sure where to begin. And that’s expected. It comes with the territory.
Every client probably expects to ask a few questions going into it, but more often than not they are surprised to find themselves elaborating on details they had no idea were even relevant. Personally, I pride myself on uncovering the significance in details many others would toss to the side, so I may have a few more questions than most. But I’m kind of a detail detective. So boom. In their face.
I take the initial, and sometimes vague, project description from the first email and gather any other necessary details in order to create a custom questionnaire. I use a basic guide, but because every client and every project is unique, it’s important that I ask questions that pertain specifically to that client.
So far it sounds like all the hard work falls on the designer and that’s mostly true. But here’s where the fun part comes in.. client torture! Oh wait, no that’s not right. It’s just the part where the client has to answer the questions.
I encourage clients to spend extra time on this part because the more thoughtful and detailed the answers are, the better the end product will be. The goal is to build a product, whether it’s digital or physical, that is unique to the business and the audience. Beyond that, it’s important to not only deliver what the client expects, but to exceed that expectation.
Once the project gets rolling, you can expect to review proofs of the design work, complete with descriptions. This is another part of the process where communication is vital. Honest feedback is necessary to keep the project moving in the right direction. If you receive a proof with several options and you’re not sold on any one option, but you do like elements from various options, say that! Include what it is that you like and why. Again, the more details the better.
One of the nice things about designers, is that we come with thick skin and we understand that it’s business. Unless you say something bad about my dog. Then you’ll regret the day you were born.
It’s also important to mention that it’s better to keep a project warm, if not hot, than to let it go cold. It keeps the momentum moving, the creativity flowing and the project on track. Long breaks can negatively affect the project and it can hinder communication. Clients and designers alike become distracted with other projects and that inner fire that keeps the project alive, exciting and new quickly grows weak.
That’s not to say that it isn’t better to “sleep on it,” because I actually do that quite often. And I encourage others to do the same. Stepping away from a project allows you to come back and review it again with fresh eyes. This inspires new perspectives and ideas. Just don’t let it go on for too long.
Whether you’re considering hiring a designer or you’re already working with one, just remember that it’s ok to ask questions and to voice your ideas along the way. Don’t hold back from providing “too many details” (as if that’s a thing!) and always communicate how you truthfully feel.