I absolutely love working with clients both at the beginning and close of a project. With some projects coming to a successful end, others are just starting. Here’s an overview of how my design projects usually work.
Questionnaire – I usually receive an inquiry over the phone, in-person, or through my website. If I receive an inquiry about my services over the phone, I still have my potential client complete an online project questionnaire. If it’s specifically for web design services, then they will use the web project form so I can get details about what type of website they need. This helps clients think through their needs, and it helps me understand if and how I’m able to help them. Basic questions like ‘what type of project’ and ‘what is your desired time-frame,’ guide me in deciphering how long the project will take and what to charge.
Consultation – Next I schedule a consultation. If the client is local, they usually want to review things in person. This isn’t always necessary, but often it’s nice to hear about the problems they face that I can help solve through my services.
Proposal – After compiling all the details of a project by consultation, phone meeting and/or web questionnaire, I put together a proposal outline and send it to the potential client. This proposal will include a summary of the services that will be included in the project, a proposed timeline, and of course the fee for the services. If everything looks good, then they sign an agreement within three days. Then we enter into the project phase!
Kick-off – I normally require a retainer fee to begin the work. This is a portion of the total project fee that retains my services. Then I add the client to my schedule and get right to work by sending over initial documents and instructions for the client. Kickoff documents include a project timeline, a copy of the agreement and terms of service, and a link to a shared folder on the cloud where we will exchange files during our work together.
Design Mock-up Phase – Depending on the type of project, I will develop a design ‘concept.’ This is the design itself, and does not include much content. It simply serves as the framework so that the client gets an idea of how things will look. I don’t mind more than one round of reviews for the concept because it helps to get this part nailed down in the beginning.
Review Routings – Once the client is comfortable with the design, I place the content and send or route it to the client to review. There are usually up to two rounds of reviews. At this point, there shouldn’t be a need for many changes to the design, but there could be changes to the layout and to the content. After I incorporate the requested edits, I send over another draft for review. If the requested edits are clearly communicated, there shouldn’t be a need for changes. If there are changes requested, these should be tiny ‘tweaks’ or minor corrections. We’re talking grammatical corrections, but not design changes or new ideas added to the mix. If for some reason there is a shift in what the client wants, we pause to look at whether the scope of services needs to be adjusted (including the fee).
Final Approvals – After the client reviews everything and they are happy with the design, I need to receive their final approval. This is done through a nifty online form, a comment on a PDF, or simply an email. All I need is for the client to confirm that they are satisfied with the design.
Project Close – This is the fun part. No, not because the project is finished, but because I get to deliver a great product to my client! I LOVE to know that I’ve helped my client with their business with my service. If it’s a website, social media or other service that needs maintenance, I schedule a follow up training meeting. It’s fun to show them how easy it can be with the right tools to market their business. Of course, I’m also available for them if they need me in the future. Even if they understand and even enjoy marketing their business, they may not have time.
Lastly, I send over a survey after the project is done. I like to know if there are ways I can improve the experience for my clients. Part of the survey asks if they would like to share a testimonial. This is my favorite part – it’s one thing to know you’ve done a great job, but even better to see it in writing from a client!