Community Questions: Client Edition

Community Questions: Client Edition

Have you worked with clients before on a web design or development project?

Good advice comes from solid experience. With this in mind, we’re asking for your expert opinion on some client-related questions.

For your troubles, we’ve added some extra incentive. We’ll be picking one participant to receive a free PSD to HTML conversion courtesy of Snobby Slice.

Giveaway Details

Snobby Slice PSD to HTML service

Snobby Slice has been kind enough to provide a free PSD to HTML slice up to our winner. If you have a design mock up that could use some functionality, this would be a great first step. They also have one of the boldest company names that I’ve ever heard, and that’s a good thing!

The winner will be selected at random and be contacted after by email. Deadline for entry is Friday October 2nd, 2009.

Answer One of These

For your chance to win, please give your thoughts on one of the following client-themed questions:

  1. What is the most important factor in determining if a client will be good to work with?  (e.g. Down to earth, Creative, etc.)
  2. When you’re building a client’s new site, what promises (if any) are appropriate to give about its performance? (e.g. Traffic, sales)
  3. How should a web designer handle scope creep with a long term client? Are the rules different if you have a history of past projects?

Take a minute to give it some thought, and then share your response in a comment below. Even though we’re good at matching, please don’t forget to include which question you are responding to.

Remember to take it easy, I’m not looking for essay answers — just a couple quick sentences. Your response could be featured in an upcoming post.

Comment Away

Once again, please remember to use a valid email address, otherwise we will not be able to contact you. Sam and I have long suspected that Build Internet readers know their stuff, so here’s your chance to prove it. Good luck!

Posted Friday, September 25th, 2009 · Back to Top

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10 Comments 1 Mentions

  1. Kenton Author Editor

    Scope Creep is the bane of my existence. We work with a sales force outside of our production team, so we have a good paper trail for every project we take on. Many times the sales person could make one comment that leads the customer to assume something wildly untrue, which the production team then has to turn into reality, while staying under budget.

    We have introduced a 3 step system that reduces creep, and frustration, to almost nil.

    1. Questioning Strategy – the sales team covers every aspect of the project, from what is the end goal to what colors do you want to use. This gives everyone a chance to refer back to a starting point.

    2. Pre-Production Contract – it was too much to ask for the “less” technical sales team to make sure every coding “i” was dotted and every design “t” was crossed, so we moved that to the project manager’s responsibility. The first meeting client-to-production there is a bullet-proof contract, complete with milestones that include due dates, client expectations, client responsibilities and a handy clause that lets the customer know we are happy to wait on them, but it means that the project is going to be later than expected if we do.

    3. Pen-to-Paper wireframe sketch – the biggest, and most important place that the client and designer deviate is in the first bit of the journey. If the client gets in their head that this is going to be a 2 column layout, then anything else is a travesty. Creating a visual representation of what the final product will kinda-sorta end up like sends everyone’s mental efforts down the right (and same) path.

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  2. Jason Garrison Author Editor

    For question #2:

    I never make promises to clients about the potential sales or marketing potential of a website. Issues like that are more dependent on copywriting, seo, and post-launch tactics.

    Instead, I give clients an action plan with steps they can follow to get the most out of their websites (local search submission, directory submissions, adding quality content, social media tie-ins, etc.). I want my clients to have the best chance at success, but I make sure they know that once the site is finished it’s up to them to make the most of it.

    Never promise a magic bullet.
    .-= Jason Garrison´s last blog ..13 web-safe fonts at the core of web typography =-.

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  3. Daan Weijers Author Editor

    Nice idea here, I like :)

    Answering question 2, I think that things like traffic and performance in the search engines cannot be promised by the webdesigner alone. If you have a complete creative agency that (can) take(s) care of everything, from SEO to copywriting to design to development, you might want to think of promising such things, but when you’re alone, or a very small group, you probably shouldn’t promise these things, mainly because they’re just out of your reach.
    .-= Daan Weijers´s last blog ..daanweijers: September has almost ended, and I still the promotion button on top of the @smashingmag pages.. When will the book come? I hate waiting :D =-.

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  4. Brenelz Author Editor

    Answering question 3:

    I think the best way to avoid scope creep with a long term client is to be upfront with what a project involves. Write it down, and make sure both sides agree.

    Make sure you also state that anything outside the scope will be requoted or set hourly rate.

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  5. Tim Smith Author Editor

    Answering Question #1:
    I think that the great clients I’ve had, have something in common; they’re all down to earth. They allow me to do my work without being overly pushy. It’s been such a pleasure to work with them because the relationship has been laid back and creativity on both ends strives and makes a great end result.

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  6. Kyle Wiebers Author Editor

    Answering Question Number 1:

    I think the most important factor in determining a client is communication. I was getting ready to work with a client and when I send them the standard 7 questions I ask all clients before I enter into work with them, he replied with one sentence for each. Needless to say, signoff for anything would not have been timely due to his unavailability to put effort into the work. Clients that are unable to communicate in a timely manner will be a pain to work with and should be avoided at all costs. Conversely, I’ve worked with clients that have had great communication and I felt the quality of work I produced was up to the clients standards and I delivered a better product in the end.

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  7. Chris Morata Author Editor

    To answer Question #1:

    The most important factor that will determine if a client will be good to work with is the ability to communicate. Great communication can streamline any project, and will allow you to develop and deliver the best product for your client. This makes it easier to work with them, makes you look better, and saves A LOT of time.

    I have had too many experiences in the past where clients do not communicate enough with me, and working with them becomes a strain and a hassle. I encourage constant client communication, even for the little things, it only helps.

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  8. Niki Brown Author Editor

    What is the most important factor in determining if a client will be good to work with?

    I think the most important factor in determining if you can work successfully with a client is communication. The more I work with clients the more I realize how much effort goes into communicating clearly via phone, email, and in design. If a client is not willing to communicate openly and frequently then the work process will be extremely difficult.

    However, this can also be on the side of the designer as well – we have to be willing to talk things through and explain things thoroughly to clients in ways that they can understand and respond to.

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  9. Jimmy Fuentes Author Editor

    Answering question #1:
    I think it mostly revolves around the actual project. If the project somewhat revolves around your style or culture, it will be a much more enjoyable project.

    For example:
    Personally im very diverse when it comes to cultures and hobbies, but one of the main cultures i enjoy its “imports cars”. So i would be way more attracted to building the next “honda tuning” website instead of “the greatest cats in the world” web site. So its all about what you like, the more you like what your doing the better the result will be.

    Other factors can also be the possible exposure with working with such client, or new experience, ect.

    Answering #2

    One of my mottos i live by is: “under sell, over deliver”.
    Meaning i like to give as less promises as possible and create less stress on the project.

    If any, just make the promise that the sites aesthetic part will be appealing. Even though as the designer you might not be able responsible for the actual code, seo, ect. You are responsible for the visual part of the site which it highly relevant to final traffic and sales. Even if the site had the best SEO on the market and is top 1 on search engines, and the company has the best product ever, if the site is not visually appealing it will loose traffic and sales because there will be no returning costumers if there where any from the start.

    But if you can avoid promises and everyone will be happy.

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  10. Montana Flynn Author Editor

    Answering question 2)

    When I start a project I will usually include a few features in the contract such as valid code, major browser support (yes, even IE6), etc…

    Things that can be accurately promised:

    Valid xhtml / css
    Page loading speed
    On-site search engine optimization

    Things that should not be promised:

    Website Traffic
    Conversion Rates
    Return on investment
    .-= Montana Flynn´s last blog ..Redirect iPhone’s with Javascript =-.

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