Many believe web design is an art form. And that could be a bad thing - especially for a freelance web developer like you. Yes, you may have a freer hand to design, not having a boss to look over your shoulder. Still, you have a client to please.
Customer satisfaction is where the rubber meets the road. This holds water whether you’re building a house or a website. Without key information - posing the right client questions from the onset to fetch them - your project could quickly unravel. And you could end up where you started – a faint voice in an ocean of several thousand active competitors shouting for attention.
So before you give life to a boring UI, and put in ‘glitch effects’ as the hottest trend in web design, gun for vital client information first and foremost. To save the day, you may want to take a page from the books of the hottest web dev think- tanks in town. Here are 5.
1. WHY are we doing this website?
Chances are, your client will have ideas up to the neck. How the website should look like. How excited they’re going to be once the project’s done and they find everything they ask for.
But as a professional you know there’s a chasm of difference between what the client wants and what they actually need.
To dig deeper, throwing the “why” question should cut it. Don’t worry if it throws your client off-guard - it’s meant to. By asking, you take a closer look at existing pain points and possible opportunities available for the client.
Your goal is to go beyond the obvious and uncover the “design problem” at hand. By taking a deeper understanding of your client’s motivations, you’re in the best position to identify the most suitable “website solution.”
Ounce of Wisdom:
2. WHO is your target market?
Designing a website for everyone to like is one surefire way to disaster. Huge and expensive disaster. Knowing your specific target market is key to serving its needs. You wouldn’t put out a fly trap to catch a rhino? Right?
On the same token, the more attuned your design is to the needs of its target market, the greater the chances it will attract that particular niche and convert.
To this end, take ample time to ask your client who the ideal market is. Such insight allows you to fine-tune your content and design choices to fit said audience. Needless to say, the better your knowledge, the easier it will be to build a more responsive user experience.
The trick here is to get down to the nitty-gritty. More often than not, the client will carry a somewhat distorted view of who their customers should be.
To separate the grain from the chaff, aim for the following information:
- Target market demographics (e.g., age, education)
- Target market common behavior (e.g., social media habits, particular language/jargon, distinct lifestyle)
- Buying habits
Ounce of Wisdom:
3. WHAT is your idea of SUCCESS?
This question should clear the air once answered. Ideally, this sets expectations right from the get-go – helping you avoid “unnecessary client frictions” along the way.
Measurable success metrics gives you needed leeway to design appropriately. Once you arrive at a consensus, you are in a better position to craft your processes and design to meet such clear-cut expectations.
Know that as a website serves a business function; your job is to make sure such functionality is factored in. The trick is to take time to go over these measurable “success metrics” with your client.
You’d do yourself a huge favor if you iron out any grey areas early on. Failing to do so could lead you to a website that nobody wants and a freelance web developer/designer with a tarnished reputation.
To this end, you should also ask your client what are their must-not-haves. These may include styles, features and designs they absolutely hate. Let them hand you a list of their least favorite websites. Alternatively, have them go over the websites they find tasteless over the net and find out their specific reasons why they hate what they hate.
Ounce of Wisdom:
4. WHAT is the project scope?
Careful, careful. You can nip your project in the bud if project scope isn’t defined right from the onset. Additionally, you’d also find yourself catching your breath trying to run after ridiculous deadlines.
Timelines should tell you if the project is worth the hassle. Accepting projects beyond your capacity is a surefire formula of stressful days ahead – not to mention furious clients at your door.
To do this, don’t just ask for date of completion; make sure your client identifies key milestones that should lead you to achieve established deadlines. This allows you to be right on track.
Moreover, you need to know who your point of reference is – the person you’ll deal with as you go along the project on a daily basis. Further, know who gets to have the final say on your web designs so you can incorporate that person’s input right from the start. This should include other stakeholders as well who may be in the best position to provide valuable info to your design.
Ounce of Wisdom:
5. WHAT is your budget?
Of all the must-ask questions, this has got to be the hardest for many freelancers. Even the stoutest of consultants may stutter and stammer unable to spit this one out.
Note, however, that you can go back and forth and achieve nothing if you don’t pop this query upfront. You’d be in a far stronger position to design an awesome website given the budget.
Most importantly, you won’t waste your precious time and effort on clients that may not be able to deliver. Then again, you should already have made your client standards before you come pouncing after a web dev project.
So, if your client is holding back the budget, tell them your pricing right then and there. You’d be surprise how much hassle it takes off your shoulder by doing so. It also shows class - something any client would die for.
Ounce of Wisdom:
If as a freelance web developer/designer you’re still unsure what this year should bring you, we highly recommend you “5 Best Tips to Explode Your Freelance Web Dev Biz this 2017” to give yourself a good start.
Yes, if website “glitch effects” has caught your attention, get it here.
Finally note that you need not be a faint voice out there. With Creative Snap, you could professionalize your services. The SaaS workflow management platform should give cutting-edge technology to your advantage - taking care of essential client work (e.g., online proofing, online proposal, payments) right under one roof.
In short, it’s a web dev/designer freelancer’s secret weapon.
Creative Snap is truly one-of-a-kind. The best part’s with CS, you need not lose precious dollars just to get your processes streamlined. Just a tap of your finger and you’re ready to take on the world!