Maybe you have been in the same position as me lately, picture the following example. Your potential client comes to you looking for a website. They express their concerns regarding being able to update the content, the people they would like to reach, and what they would like their site to accomplish. However they have not mentioned the other majority of the project. Who will be responsible for organizing all of their company’s information, and who will be responsible for the upkeep? While the client is convinced that they need a website, they do not realize the commitment that a site can be.
Typically the first time this problem arises is during the production process. I don’t know how many times I have started a site and got to a point in production where it is time for the client to start submitting content. This is when things tend to turn to the worse. Inevitably the project gets put on temporary hold until the client is able to organize the information, sometimes for months. The other potential pitfall of a successful website arises after you have delivered the project to the client. While you may have discussed what type of content management system the client may need, what may have never crossed their mind is who will be using the CMS and who will create new content. This usually results in the site going defunct and unattended.
So what is the solution?
I think that in each of these situations, we can help alleviate the issue by not being afraid to actually consult our clients before the project begins. Many designers are so excited to begin a project that they do not question whether the client really needs what they are asking for. Doing so serves a number of benefits.
- We position ourselves as industry experts rather than hired help.
- We avoid the client becoming frustrated because the project does not turn out the way they had hoped and does not result in increased business.
- We possibly save the client money, which allows them to view you as a resource and help ensure future business.
While it may be hard to actually suggest to a client that they don’t need what they are asking for once you have shown them that they could possibly save money and time by following your suggestions they inevitably will begin to see your side. I also find that most clients ask for things like blogs with almost no idea what they are or how they actually work. They have only heard that they should be “blogging” and that it will bring them tons of business. This is usually a good time to suggest another service that may benefit them further, such as a simple brochure site with an accompanying direct mail piece. Not only will your project go smoother your clients will see better results, as long as you offer good advice.
So freshen up on your marketing skills, and don’t be afraid to offer another solution. Chances are that by not being afraid to suggest more appropriate services you can gain a better relationship with your clients.