As a member of the creative team, it’s likely that you are pre-programmed to focus on the project instead of the people behind it. While that is crucial to the success of the task, taking a step back and thinking about how you are perceived by your clients is also extremely important for your business in the long-run.
Doing an audit of how you conduct yourself and your business can help you understand the perception your clients have of you. And when you dive into the psychology behind the relationship, you can grow it and adapt it as time goes on
While these tips may seem like simple suggestions, we are going to explore why each is important to the client so you can be the best web designer they have ever worked with.
Listen and be part of the planning
A lot of times, clients are buffered from the design team by way of an account executive (AE). While having an AE as a liaison has its benefits – i.e., one point of contact, a specialization in client relations, etc. – there is also a downside of having a middleman. For instance, feedback can become muffled by the time it trickles down to you or it can be communicated incorrectly. The AE may also promise something that isn’t possible or is out of the scope of work.
So when you as the web designer actively take a role in the communication with the client, even if it’s just listening, it is noticed and appreciated by the client. They feel comfortable knowing there are less degrees of separation between them and the person who will actually be working on their project (you). This will also help them feel like they can ask for direct insight or feedback and you, as the designer, will get to know their style and tone firsthand.
If you currently work at an agency that does not normally have the creatives involved in client-facing meetings due to company protocol, find out if it would be possible to join as a silent observer (or on mute if it’s a call) and demonstrate upon completion of the project how that step affected the outcome of the project.
Have and share opinions
A lot of times, web designers will just rummage through client feedback as if they are checking off a to-do list so they can make the client happy and wrap up the project. While the feedback may be things like “Make the logo bigger, bold the text, add some graphics, etc.” a client will actually appreciate hearing the designer’s feedback on the proposed edits.
If you made the project look or function a certain way, and now the client is asking for changes, you should feel empowered to define your work with an objective rationale. By the end of the conversation, they may see exactly your point and want to go with your original idea, in which case, they’ll be very glad you spoke up and showed that you cared about the project on a deeper level.
Web design costs are one of the bigger ticket items for a lot of clients, and rightfully so. It takes a lot of time and work to develop a site design that’s both creative and effective. But no matter how you bill for the job that you do, you should always be mindful and grateful about the budget line that web design falls on for a client and be respectful of their investment.
Seeing charges for frivolous “research” hours or being billed back for a lunch you ordered while working on their website can be discouraging to see as a client. But when you work nimbly and smartly and keep the costs manageable, it is noticed and favored by the client.
Take feedback like a champ
Finally, clients may not know what’s best for their site design, but they are more passionate about it than anyone else. That said, when they express feedback that may differ from your thoughts or opinions, it’s important not to get defensive about the work you’ve done and instead listen and respond in a positive manner…something that shows how dedicated you are to getting it right for them.
It is always tough to hear when someone disagrees with your thinking, especially after you’ve spent countless hours working towards a certain look and feel, but it’ll go a long way if you can separate your feelings and focus on making them feel heard and happy.
In a world saturated with creative designers, these are four top tips that will help you stand-out. How have you kept your client relations strong? What are some things you do to stay top of mind amongst the competition?