In our 7 years of web designing experience and decade of graphic designing, we’ve definitely made some business blunders. Things could have been made so much easier if we just mapped out a few more things before starting projects with a clients! In this post, we’re revealing six questions we now ask clients before starting their project.
Not every client will be the best fit for you, and that’s ok. The aim of your business isn’t to work with everyone, it’s to create good working experiences that will result in great feedback and possibly ongoing work. You can set yourself up for a win (and know what you’re in for), by asking these questions when discussing a project. Whether you email them, ask them to fill out a form or sit down to chat about it, make sure you ask these questions – and get definitive answers.
1: Ask – why do you want a website?
This question is designed to dig up their subconscious thoughts and expectations for the site you may create. Make sure you really ask your client what the most important function of their website is to be. What does a ‘win’ look like for them? I can tell you now, great design probably isn’t at the top of their list. More likely, they’ll be looking to sell a product, capture leads, generate bookings or convert their ideal customer in some kind of form. Knowing this end goal will make your journey to building a great site a whole lot easier (and they’ll be super rapt when their site does what they wanted)!
2: Get a sitemap
Knowing how many pages and how much information is going on their site gives you a better idea of how big the project is, how long it will take you and therefore what you can charge. If your client has no idea where to start, it’s ok to work with them by mapping a draft sitemap out and getting them to fill in the blanks.
3: Decide on a maintenance plan
As a web designer I’m sure you’re already aware that websites are like cars – they need to be serviced and sometimes need new parts! Ensure your client knows this, so you don’t end up spending hours upon hours in the long term performing their updates and making changes for free. Consider providing a maintenance booklet as part of their package if they’re savvy and have the time to look after it themselves.
Otherwise its a good idea to create an ongoing retainer or maintenance package that includes updates and a certain amount of changes. One thing is for sure – if your client says they’ll maintain their site but doesn’t, one day you could get a call from them telling you that their site has been hacked, the front page has been replaced with terrorist propaganda, and the whole site requires a rebuild (no joke – it happened to our beauty therapy client in the early days)! If anyone has learnt these lessons the hard way, it’s us!
4: Give them a list of what you need from them
This can include copy for each of the web pages, imagery, passwords and current hosting information, etc. If you include imagery and copywriting in your package, that’s fine. But make sure your client knows what they need to provide you with so that you can do your job. Writing this down is always best.
5: Provide a detailed quote that both parties agree upon
This quote should include a breakdown of hosting, maintenance and the build itself. Building websites and web designing itself is an elusive business for the general public. In our experience, a lot of problems have arisen because the client hasn’t understood exactly what is involved in terms of ongoing costs, hosting, and who is responsible for what. The more information you give to your client (in it’s simplest form), the more they’ll thank you for explaining the process.
Similarly, you may be inclined to ask the client if they have a budget set aside for the project. Not everyone will like this question, as it may appear like you’re fishing for how much cash they’re willing to give you. But for others who may have a set budget, it’s a great initial way to see if they can work within your price range before getting too far into the process.
6: Make sure they’re aware of the cost for any changes or additions
Scope creep is a massive factor in not getting paid what you’re worth. Any extras outside of your original quote should be charged for. Providing a detailed quote helps lessen the chance of scope creep. It also ensures you’re able to provide exactly what they’re after. If the client has a new idea pop up mid-process that you’ve never initiated before, it can cause a lot of stress (speaking from experience)! The online landscape is fast-paced and ensuring you’re able to complete the full project as they asked is a credit to your professionalism.
I can’t imagine the amount of time and stress we would have saved if we initiated this question-asking process years ago! Any meeting about a possible website build is really like an interview for both parties. You get to figure out exactly what they want and if you can complete it with any time, budget or skill parameters you have. Also, if we feel like a client isn’t a great fit (maybe they’re hard to deal with or unobliging), it’s then ok to decide not to move forward.
Have you created your own pre-build process for your clients? Comment below if you have any questions you’d add to the above!