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Completing a new project can often be a bumpy process, here's a few 'To do's' for Clients on how to make things that little bit smoother!

I often come across blog posts aimed at designers which give helpful tips about how to plan and complete projects… Highlighting what’s good and bad practice in the workplace and how to provide a better service for your clients.

This got me thinking as to why there isn’t something similar for clients? As our clients often play an active part in the completion of a project, I think it would be interesting for the client to have an idea of the do’s and don’ts that will make our job easier, speed up the project and get a better end result.

Have a Direction/Focus

This might sound obvious, but before giving your proposed web/graphic design studio a call, make sure you have a solid direction for your project. As a random (exaggerated) example, If you want to open up a retail shop then stick to it. Don’t get a month down the line when the designer is well into the design process and suddenly decide to change it into a coffee shop. Stick to your original idea and put all your focus into that.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been working on a logo, only for a client to have spoken to someone who ‘wasn’t sure’ about their brand name. I always find it strange how people will change their business focus in order to please everyone. For example a client could have a brand name that 80% of people really like, yet they will focus on what the smaller minority say and will want to change it until everyone ‘likes’ it. Trust me, you will not please everyone!!

Stick to your original goal because If you don’t a project will lose focus and will become disjointed and basically turn into something that you never wanted from the start…. It will also end up costing you both time and money!

I’ll get back to you

Getting feedback from a client is possibly the most frustrating and time consuming process of a project. We can’t stress enough how important it is to get feedback to your designer quickly… Its not like they’re after an essay, just a quick email to tell them what you like/dislike about how the project is developing. We have had projects where a client has taken weeks to get back to us over a design (even with regular reminders). If your response is slow, then the work will be slow.…Quick feedback is vital.

One step forward, two steps back!

Some clients love to be involved from start to finish in projects, which we always encourage. It’s great to hear the ideas and thoughts of our clients as it really helps to gauge an idea of what direction they want the project to go.
It’s not so great when the client tries to do our jobs for us. What I mean by this, for example, is clients making decisions on designs and trying to alter our work because they ‘personally’ don’t like a particular font or colour. Take a step back and let the designer do their jobs, that’s why you hired them in the first place, because they are the professionals, remember? Things are never perfect first time round.

We usually find this happens when, like above, there is a lack of direction for the project at the beginning. The client is unsure about the direction (but wants to push on with the project), therefore we’re unsure about the direction which leads to the production of work the client isn’t happy with.

There is an old saying that ‘the customer is always right’…in the design industry, that’s a rule that doesn’t always apply! We’re never afraid to say no.

Deadlines

There is nothing worse than when a client gets in touch explaining a great idea that they need help with, only for them then to tell us that they needed it ‘yesterday’.
Not having a realistic deadline will only put unnecessary pressure on the coders/designer and they won’t be able to put their all into your project. In the past, we’ve had clients contact us saying they needed a website, with an integrated Content Management System up and running in the space of 2 weeks. That type of deadline is totally unrealistic…As a guide we usually give ourselves around 6 – 8 weeks minimum to complete a simple website with CMS.

Tell us your budget

When we ask potential clients what they’re budget for the project is, we rarely get an answer. It’s understandable, but definitely not helpful.

The reason we ask this is not so we can squeeze every penny we can out of you, but to give us an idea of the scope the project could take and to not waste anybody’s time drawing up a proposal and quote, only to find out its way over the budget the client had in mind.

Our industry is still young and for many of our clients its their first venture into the field, so they don’t know how much a website or logo costs. That’s fine, and we’ll gladly give you some ballpark figures as reference, but try and get down a budget for a project and be open about it. If its not enough for what you had in mind, we’ll tell you and recommend an alternative solution. If it’s more than what’s needed, we’ll give you a price for the specification you asked for and a price including extra features (our expert recommendations) you might not have thought about.

Pay on time

…And finally, make sure you pay on time!! It’s a bit of a no-brainer but in our industry its common for invoices to go unpaid well after the due date and beyond. Trust me, paying on time will earn you top kudos and illustrate that you value the work of your designers.  Plus, when that day comes when you need a piece of work doing as a matter of urgency, its got a much better chance of getting done.

Are you a Client who has worked with design studios in the past or Vise Versa? If you have any interesting thoughts/experiences we’d love to hear them! 

Posted on 28 September 2011

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