It seems like a lot of projects get kicked off, but then areas of vagueness turn up that make it frustrating to try to design something suitable for the client. At least that's the way it used to be for me. But I learned that this circumstance can be largely avoided by asking the right questions in the first meeting with the client. I group my questions into three categories:
- Project questions
- Business questions
- Resource questions
These are the basic questions I need to ask in order to understand the client's expectations regarding my work for them. These questions come prior to providing an estimate or proposal. The questions are:
- What are you looking for me to deliver for this project?
- What is the project timeline?
- What are the goals you would like to achieve through this project?
- Are there examples of designs that you find inspirational for this project?
These questions aren't necessary to ask until after an estimate has been approved because otherwise you could just be wasting time. But these are vital to get answers on or else you'll have no clue how to design a solution that actually meets the client's needs. Here's the list:
- What is your business's story that got it to the place it's at today? (This not only gives the client an opportunity to bond with you by explaining the history of the business, it also gives you information to incorporate some of the culture and history into your design)
- What is your current sales process?
- What are your customers experiencing that brings them to you?
- What makes your business better than the competition (unique selling proposition - USP)?
- Who are the close competitors?
- What types of people do you typically end up reaching at the moment?
- What demographic would you like to reach?
There are often assets, links, or other resources you need in order to start the project off well. Some of these may seem obvious, but here's a list to keep in mind - ask for these:
- Current website link
- Social media links
- Logos (ideally vector)
- Secondary brand assets like colors and images (a complete brand guidelines document is nice if available)
- Links to review sites like Yelp
- Awards won
- Contact information for anyone you may need to communicate with
- Access to current site analytics
- Any written content you may need
This list will vary based on the client and the type of project. I always think this list through prior to meeting with each client so I know what to ask for. Having these resources available right off the bat makes the project run more smoothly for everybody.
Those are the questions that I've found valuable to ask. If there are questions you think I would benefit from adding to the list please contact me (Twitter or texting works well) or post a comment to this article on my Medium blog. Au revoir!