The freelancing world is filled with a great number of complex skill sets and many artists; freelance designers are constantly trying to match their skills and talents to the demands of their clients. While working on a new project can be amazingly satisfying, it can also be stressful and frustrating when your ideas don’t match up with what the client is looking for.
Obviously, good communication is essential to determine your client’s needs, but it is also essential to unlock what the client really wants and is looking for in the end result. Here are a number of tips to help you figure this out, and once you are familiar with effectively asking the right questions, it can make it far easier to ensure that your client is on the same page.
Create a List
Lists are a great aid in the planning tool and can provide an excellent way to start the idea creation process. A bullet point list will be easy for your client to skim through and can provide an outline of the project. This will allow the client to assess the ideas and suggest any changes if they feel they are necessary.
Avoid going into too much detail and description on the initial draft. Put down ideas which need attention and restrict the explanation to only two or three sentences. This will provide enough information for the client to assess whether you have understood their needs and thought process. If necessary, include examples of similar traits on other websites such as navigation or design patterns, and create sub-lists under each example.
Your list can contain numerous ideas, which can evolve into a working draft easily amended by you or the client. This will promote collaboration and focus on a single set of goals to define the project from the outset.
Examples are the best way to clarify any details with a client. Many clients will have difficulty understanding technical terms which can make project discussions challenging.
If you have a portfolio of previous work, you can showcase similar functionality examples. If this is not applicable, then have a few websites in mind to use for reference purposes. This will allow clients to provide more valuable input and increase your confidence as you build each stage of the project. If you are don’t have a relevant example to hand, then use a search engine to ensure that you provide a good example.
The web has a great number of freebies which provide examples of virtually every pre-made script for open sources. This will provide many examples for navigation menus, image carousels, jQuery popups or other elements of the web page.
Keep Clients Updated
Throughout all aspects of pre-planning and designing of the project, send over ideas and communicate fully with the client. The client will always have the final say, so it is always the freelancer who must conform to client wants and build what they are looking for. The pressure is on you to build a product that the client is paying you to create.
Why waste time starting to code a layout for the website, if you don’t know if the design is set up as the client wants it. Of course, there is a limit to how many times you can pass details back and forth. Take the time to plan out a schedule for an average site in advance, so the details stay fresh in your mind. Update the client during the sketching and wire-framing processes then once again when the design plans have been polished.
Utilize New Innovations
Some clientele do have the knowledge and skills to understand the basics behind a website. A number of these clients will try to make suggestions as to how you should complete the job. However, many of these ideas may be using older technology. Don’t shy away from pointing out new innovations and source technologies which professional web designers utilize.
A good example of this is a client who has no experience with WordPress. They may be totally unaware that their website would possibly benefit from a CMS engine. This can provide one of the best ways around the hassle of website administration and editing any page content. However, a client who has some knowledge of straight HTML may insist on this for building their site, which makes your job tougher and it harder for them in the longer term.
Other coding solutions may provide assistance with smaller scaled concepts. Check with all design resources which host different scripts in other formats. Working with newer code indexes and libraries will help to speed up the development time. It can also help to eliminate bug filled code since most authors scrutinize and analyze their work to eliminate these issues.
Discuss the Details Upfront
It is important to discuss project details and services that you offer before accepting the project. Many clients will look for a jack of all trades and push their expectations onto the freelancer. A client should understand whether you are a web designer and/or developer and if there is no possibility of copywriting and marketing services.
Clarify the details of what you can accomplish and what you are unable or unwilling to do. Don’t be tempted to take on extra work to attempt to please a client; this can be extremely stressful and counterproductive.
However, don’t avoid embracing new ideas. If you have the motivation and skills to help with new projects or marketing plans, then go with it. Just make sure the client understands that this is not your field of expertise, so they don’t expect expert results. This can be of help to the client and expand your portfolio.
Freelancing is in no way the easiest job, as there are many challenges, but you shouldn’t dismiss the rewards. When you are looking to work on a new project, consider different strategies to deal with clients. The development of these skills can be the key to success.
It is important that you lead the client to ensure you both remain focused on a single goal and communicate effectively. How do you usually determine what your client really wants?