If we got paid every time we heard a client say things like “can the logo be bigger?” we would be rich. Endless iteration with a client can not only be irritating, but can make projects overrun. One approach is to exclude the client altogether, however obviously that won’t work! Here is how and why you should collaborate with the client on the project, and still maintain your profit margin.
One of the reasons clients interfere with the design process is psychology.
If they are not experts in web design they’ll feel out of their depth and try to regain a measure of control. Remember: you want them to sign off on the design; if the design fails, they will be responsible. It isn’t unreasonable this scares them, particularly if the design process is unknown to them.
By collaborating with them, you give them that vital sense of control and also educate them about the design process. Because the process is not then unknown to them, their fears will be laid to rest.
Avoid situations where it feels like the client is making huge last minute changes, by involving them straight away. If a client is engaged from the ground floor, they’ll notice something that isn’t going to work sooner rather than later, saving a great deal of wasted time.
What Are They Looking For?
We’re not suggesting you reduce yourself to pushing pixels around whilst your client looks over your shoulder. Ideally though, if you can sit in the same room and show them things as you work, this will be treating your client as part of the team. You’ll instantly get feedback on things like colour scheme and layout, rather than having endless iterations where “all of that needs to be changed”.
It’s not always possible to work with the client in your office though, so you should work out ways to establish what they will go for.
A good way to do that is by getting them to tell you a famous person they feel could represent the nature of their business, and why. Designing a website that represents someone famous is easier than building it around vague branding values.
Another approach is to ask your client to design a reception area for their business. Where is the logo and how big is it? What else is on the walls? What music is playing?
Mood boards enable you to deal with fonts, styles, images and colours in a simple and straightforward on way
Finally you can look at successful websites. Get a feel for what the client likes to see in a design, and how those aspects of layout can be applied to your work.
These methods help by getting the client to think about design, without worrying about website specifics. When applied to the website they will be recognisable, and you can refer back to these exercises when dealing with the project.
It’s likely that the idea of collaborating with a client is worrying. You risk losing control, or having to use impractical ideas. However, by learning to collaborate, you’ll find ways to take onboard suggestions, working through them towards a solution. This leaves you in charge, but with your client feeling like they are a vital part of the process. This will save time, limit frustration and lead to great results for both yourself and the client.