How to Work With a Client 101
After designing for only yourself for so long, working with clients can take some time to get used to. Learning to have good customer service by keeping in close contact, meeting deadlines, and cooperating with the client’s needs are key to success. Throughout my experience of working with clients, I have learned some valuable lessons and steps to keep in mind while working with clients. My top five lessons are listed below.
You are designing for the client, NOT yourself.
It is a great thing to know your style and personal design aesthetic, but you will still need be versatile in your work. This means that sometimes you will have to make design choices that you wouldn’t normally make. Always keep the clients needs in mind while designing.
Learn as much as possible during the initial client intake.
The client intake is the most important part of working with a client. This most likely is the first interaction between you and the client. Therefore, while listening to what they want, you should also be watching and trying to learn who they are as a person. Maybe they seem bubbly, colorful, and feminine, while others may be more earthy pastels, minimalistic, and clean. A huge thing that has helped me is to stay attuned with the client’s body language. From the start, you may be able to tell their personality type. For example, if someone is an introvert and seems quiet then you will most likely greet them in a soft tone and not come off super strong. Along with that, you can tell when your client lights up talking about a certain part of their project, or when they are using a lot of hand movement. These small cues are important to pay attention to and will help you greatly throughout your process.
Make deadlines that you can meet.
Of course, this seems self explanatory, why would you make a deadline you can’t meet? When I say make a deadline you can meet, I mean give yourself an extra week so that way you know there is no chance of not meeting a goal. When first working with clients, it may seem better to give them fast deadlines so they are more impressed with you. However, you are only going to end up wearing yourself out and possibly miss a few deadlines. After designing for a while, you will know about how long it takes you to complete a project so it will be easier to tell a client that I need x amount of time if you want it to look good.
Always create a mood board before showing clients anything else.
Something that has helped me and several other designers is to create a mood board after the first client intake. This is a good idea because then you can show the client what you took away from the meeting and make sure it is what they are envisioning too. Also, it will help you if there is ever a situation where a client doesn’t like the end outcome and you can pull the mood board back out and explain your design choices.
Establish rules and boundaries.
Establishing your own set of rules will save you time in the end. Examples of rules include the amount of revisions a client can ask for before being charged extra, filling out a contract saying what work you will be creating for them, how long you are able to work with a client, and how much you charge per hour. These are all important things to establish because it will make you look more defined and professional as a designer and it will most likely save you time and money.
Well there you have it: the most important lessons I have learned from working with clients. It is always important to keep a client’s needs in mind and to keep them happy throughout the process. It all takes practice and learning through experience. I have much more to learn, but I am hoping these lessons will help beginner designers.