Educating Clients, Part II: The Early Stages

Last week we asked you about your process for educating clients. Now it’s time for us to share a little about the conversation we have with our clients.

Before we get started on any project, we usually sit the client down for a metaphorical cup of coffee (or tea, if that’s more your style) and ask them a few specific questions. We couldn’t write it all down here if we wanted to, but the opening conversation usually boils down to four important things: who are they,  who is their audience, what do they need, and what is their brand.

Who are they?

We typically have a basic idea of who the client is when they contact us – a bakery, a credit union, or a custom handbag business. But in order to deliver a site keyed to their tastes, we usually need to know more than just what they do. We usually ask about everything from their company history to their prior experiences with the world of web design.This gives us a basic idea of who they are and what flavor of site they will want.

Who is their target audience?

It’s impossible to market effectively if you don’t know who you are marketing too. Because of this, we ask who their product is for. A site designed to appeal to 50 year old golfers is going to look very different from a site marketed towards suburban housewives.

What do they need?

This is the part where we get a list of everything they want us to design from them – website, brochures, even potentially a logo. But we also ask them what they want their website to do for them. Are they running an online business, or do they just need something that tells people where to find their store? We try to get the specifics on what they want and need as early in the process as possible, so that we don’t rush in and design something that isn’t going to fit.

What is their brand?

Finally, we usually ask our client for information about the brand they’ve been using so far. We take a look at their current website (if they have one), what their sign looks like (if they have a storefront), and even what kind of flyers or brochures they hand out. We also need to know how they work with their clients, how the offer their product, and how they want to be perceived. All of this lets us know where they are coming from, which gives us a good idea of where they want to go.

These are just the basic questions that we use to give ourselves a good foundation for branding and design. However, the process doesn’t just stop here. Check back next week to hear more about educating clients to avoid major project hurdles.

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