Whether you work for an agency or an internal web team, working well with clients is integral to the success of your web projects. Here is a collection of articles to help you do it better.
I have grouped the articles into the following sections:
- Understanding clients
- Communicating with clients
- The client relationship
- Difficult clients
- Getting paid
- Legal stuff
- The business case for web standards
- Wrapping up
There are loads of different types of clients out there and chances are at some point you’ll get to meet all of them. So let’s take a look through some typical clients and see if you recognise a few of your own in there!
Why clients hire bad web designers — and what good web designers can do about it.
A design must meet the business needs of the company, and must be supported by disparate members of the management team, in order to be actually implemented.
Stakeholder analysis is the technique used to identify the key people who have to be won over.
Having trouble getting clients to see things your way? Maybe it’s time you spoke their language. When it comes to commercial web design, it’s all about the business case.
Communicating with Clients
There is no more crucial step in a client’s project than the initial creative discovery meeting.
Sometimes web design clients don’t understand that building a successful web site doesn’t fall solely on the shoulders of the developer.
Getting design approval and then a project completed for a large corporate client is usually about trying to keep the dumbest people in the room from shooting themselves in the foot.
The discovery meeting is likely the most important moment in the life of a project. There is another vital aspect to this initial meeting: the specific questions asked.
Many web designers have a terrific opportunity to shift from being web designers to being marketing consulting for their clients.
Here’s how one consultant lets his clients know about the tasks he completes on their behalf using a Work In Progress sheet.
If you spend the time to educate your clients or managers at the beginning of the project, it will be repaid many times over by better decisions later on.
Performed as part of a sales proposal, a site assessment can help you speak knowledgeably about solutions to your potential client’s problems.
The following ten things have been said to me by actual clients and represent common and very human reactions to a new wrinkle in the process of building software: design.
Stakeholder management is critical to the success of every project in every organization. By engaging the right people in the right way in your project, you can make a big difference to its success.
If a client says he wants his new auction site to be “like eBay,” what does that mean? An artist hears “It has a tacky color scheme.” A developer hears “It’s scalable to 20 million users.” A user hears “It has feedback ratings on all sellers.”
Personas provide the shared vocabulary that bridges the different points of view within the company.
Often, when we meet with design teams, we’ll reserve a few minutes at the tail end of the meeting to do an unusual type of wrap-up.
The Client Relationship
I have been considering the point at which this relationship starts and wondering whether the designer should actually be engaged earlier in the development cycle.
A practical strategy to identify and enhance relationships with your best clients – and resolve your issues with the others.
Client relations aren’t easy, just as personal relationships can be challenging. But are they that different? When looked at closely they seem pretty similar.
Many of us tend to keep our clients at an arms length. I’ve had more success and enjoy my work a lot more by moving beyond the “strictly business relationship”.
Developing a relationship with a client takes work. You need to be actively building a relationship with that client, beyond just the project.
As no military plan survives contact with the enemy, no design concept survives contact with the client.
Throughout these projects, one thing has remained a constant: those with clear, well-written, strategies ran smoother than those without — and ended up pleasing everyone, including the client.
Without a problem, there is no project. Where there is a problem, however, there is a stakeholder who is desperate for a solution and who has a delivery deadline. Find out how a good process can tame even the most unruly project.
One of the biggest problems in delivering a website, and yet probably the least talked and written about, is how to decide, specify, and communicate just what, exactly, is it that we’re going to build, and why.
The use-case model can be a powerful tool for controlling scope throughout a project’s life cycle.
The best projects are borne from briefs that are open enough to inspire ideas, while being specific enough to feel workable.
Writing a clear, well-structured creative brief will get your web project off to a good start and keep it on track.
When used at critical points in the design process, these sessions build strong, respectful relationships. Since clients directly experience the design work, you don’t need to sell clients on an idea — they were with you the whole time.
It is important to understand perceptions of the scope, vision, goals, users, and content in order to work out any differences and to move everyone into the same plan for your new site.
The good news is that designers already have what it takes to deliver gracefully under fire. It’s baked right into the job.
The creative brief is one of the most valuable tools in the design process, providing a vital connection between business objectives and creative strategies.
Web development need not be a hit-and-miss proposition. A unique development methodology, which allows the Web team to deliver complex projects on-time and on-budget.
Interviewing is both art and science, and it is something that any UE practitioner with a little additional time and moderation skills can employ to extract clear business requirements.
A reminder to designers to not get so caught up in idea generation and specifying details that we lose sight of creating a coherent big picture for the design.
Better planning and a beefed-up style guide may be exactly what you need to avoid markup derangement or, worse, a dysfunctional product.
How do you ensure that your new product doesn’t flop? One effective method is to conduct a requirements definition phase before developing a new product.
The basics and tools to control the phases of a project, prepare contingencies, manage client expectations, and effectively hand over the finished product.
Scope creep distorts our carefully structured schedules, making project managers weep. Have we run out of strategies for fighting this evil scourge? Is it hopeless? Maybe not. Maybe it can even be beneficial.
It’s time to walk through your design approach with the project stakeholders, including management, developers, and users. What do you need to do to prepare for your presentation?
Relying on subjective feedback to make design decisions can be disastrous and will result in a design that may be acceptable to your team but has no appeal to users.
My thoughts on effective design reviews with product stakeholders (clients, business units, etc.).
Interviews work very well for gaining insights from both internal and external stakeholders, as well as from actual users.
Learn the standard techniques for defining and controlling scope, why the standard techniques seem to fail for most Web projects, and the latest best practices that seem to work for the Web.
Through well-managed client collaboration, our designs are stronger and are more likely to serve our clients’ needs and satisfy the goals of end users.
The basic principles of collaborative web development: identifying stakeholders, recognizing the “Chaos Zone,” distinguishing the development and production phases of operation, identifying source assets, building direct feedback into work processes, and more.
You know those things you’re supposed to deliver to a client during a big project — use cases, wireframes, etc? The DDD is a tool used to package them all.
There is no magic bullet to turn your difficult clients into dream clients. However, you can learn new skills that will make them much easier to work with, so you can be spending your time delivering service and products.
Explains the true value of client complaints and provides a step-by-step guide to complaint resolution, showing how to make complaining clients a part of your competitive edge.
You’ve certainly read about great ways to salvage your relationship with a problem client. But what do you do when you just want to get rid of a client?
It’s only by being forced to question our beliefs that we can be certain they’re right.
Some of the best responses we have to questions that can often derail an otherwise effective solution.
On the fine art of telling bad clients to buzz off.
Tips to help you develop a hassle-free payment strategy that’s fair to both you and your clients.
No matter how much you guard against it, no matter how much you attempt to prevent it, you’ll end up with this question.
How much do I charge? How much is too much? How much is too little? I wonder if they will they pay that? Is my time worth that little?
Part guesswork, part experience, part number crunching — how ever you look at it, determining your price is a difficult task.
Drawing up a quote is no simple task. Your client wants the cheapest price, but you have to make a profit. A break down of the quoting process.
Finding that pricing sweet spot where you make a great income without scaring clients away is one of the most asked about issues.
Creating a contract is a vital step in ensuring a professional business that runs smoothly.
Covers the issues that even the most basic Web work agreement should address, and explains why you need to make sure they’re in every agreement you sign.
Learn what’s the difference between a proposal and a contract, what to include, and download a sample to get you started.
Before you jump into an agreement with that hot new business prospect, spend a little time on research. How likely is the client to pay your invoice? Will you be legally able to enforce your contract?
The Business Case for Web Standards
Do Web standards give organizations a return on investment? Does the transition to XHTML and CSS make financial sense? The answer to those questions is yes.
Highlights the benefits of using Web standards for business sites. It is aimed at stakeholders from the marketing, communication and IT departments.
The use of tables is now actually interfering with building a better, more accessible, flexible, and functional Web. Find out where the problems stem from, and learn solutions to create transitional or completely table-less layout.
Discusses how adhering to web standards, and leaving behind proprietary markup and technologies, can contribute to a company’s business goals.
Building Web sites with modern standards-based techniques can reduce bandwidth costs, enhance accessibility, and facilitate content management. This article prompts you to ask whether your Web techniques are stuck in the 1990s.
Astute designers use a number of tactics to ensure they keep the project in control, on time, and on budget … and have some creative fun along the way!
The contractor is not always to blame for project failure, despite what the project manager may say. A look at why the contractor is the perfect scapegoat — and what they can do to protect themselves.
A look at some of the most essential mistakes that freelancers, new and old, often make, and how to avoid them.