Strange as it may sound being a web designer does not only mean spending hours in front of the computer. Once you receive an order, you have to create a bond with your customer to be able to understand completely his vision of the web site.
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How to Help Your Customers Speak

Strange as it may sound being a web designer does not only mean spending hours in front of the computer. Once you receive an order, you have to create a bond with your customer to be able to understand completely his vision of the web site.

It is half a battle won when you receive all the relevant information from your customer. You have the data to work on and you made a start.

What can you do however, if you come across a customer who wants the web site designed for him, runs his own business but does not have a clue what kind of information he would like to include in his website?

I went through this and I would like to share my experience with you. Here are, my ten tips to help make your customer speak:

1) Ask your customer about the amount of money he wants to spend on his web site. Tell him what exactly he can get for this amount of money.

2) Ask for any and every piece of information your client possesses regarding his business e.g. brochures, leaflets, business cards, letter heads, compliments slips etc.

3) Read this data thoroughly and pick up the essence.

4) Look at all graphics you received (if applicable) even if there are only shabby pictures, photos, sketches etc. If you did not get any graphics, search for subject related graphics. When I needed graphics, I went to: Art Today You can get access to huge amounts of pictures for only $7 a week.

5) Based on the information collected, design a template, upload it to your server (or your client's server if applicable) and ask your customer to have a look at it.

Depending on how well you know your client you may wish to put a copyright notice on all the work you have done so far.

6) When you hear from your customer, ask him whether he is happy with:

a) design,
b) colour scheme,
c) text you included.

7) Do not expect your client to be completely satisfied with your first design.

8) Use the feedback to get into your customer's way of thinking. Apply the colours he suggested, change the text as requested.

9) If your client is still unhappy with the design, ask him to:

a) give you urls to the sites he likes,
b) tell you exactly what he likes about these sites and
c) show him an example of:

- animated banner,
- simple animation,
- simple Flash.

(not necessarily relating to his site) and look for his reaction. If he wants his site to be "livened up" add some life to it. After all, you are a web designer, you know your craft.

10) And last but not the least:

Be involved in the creation process right from the beginning until the complete web site is uploaded onto the server. The more suggestions and advice coming from you, the more feedback you will receive from your client. Obviously, it is much easier to ask for all relevant data to be supplied BEFORE you start your design, however, you will not always receive it.

There is a great niche of potential customers who would like to have a web site designed but they "cannot speak". It is up to a creative designer to break this silence.


Joanna Foss, M.Sc. is a co-director of Panache Graphics & Design Ltd., a web design company built to success from the scratch. Our web sites SELL your products. Visit us at: www.panachegraphicsdesign.co.uk or email to designer@panachegraphicsdesign.co.uk

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