"To ask the right question is half the solution already for a problem."
– C.G. Jung
Raise your hand if you have been a victim of client dissatisfaction for your design work, and had to redo the whole project multiple times. We are sure everyone who’s reading this must have raised their hand.
The feeling of frustration and agitation is common in such situations, and most designers must have gone through it at some point in their professional life. But have you ever thought why the client wasn’t satisfied with your work even after redoing it multiple times?
Now that there is the right kind of question which everyone needs to contemplate. And, that’s precisely what results in the client’s dissatisfaction; not asking the right question.
In order to provide the best results to your clients, the very first thing which you need is clarity on the project assigned to you. And in order to have that clarity, you need to ask the right questions to your client.
As a graphics design service provider, we have managed to serve 500+ customers successfully. And one thing which helped the most in meeting our clients’ requirements, and still does, is asking the right set of questions before even beginning to plan the project layout.
Today, we’ll share 10 such critical questions with you which you must ask your clients in order to match their expectations and avoid delay in project completion; and retain them for life as well.
Q1. “Tell us about your company?”
No need to panic over this. If you think that asking this question may put you in a tough spot in front of your client, you’re completely wrong.
Commonly, it is assumed by the client that you would know about their business operations as much as they do. And, as designers, you always shy away from asking such a question directly, wondering what image will go out of your services in front of the client.
But, that’s where most designing service providers lose it.
You need to have as much clarity about your client’s business as they have. You should be able to visualize the core operations of your client’s business in order to match the vision that they have for their design needs.
Q2. “What is it that you are aiming to achieve with this design project?”
Ah! The G.O.A.L.S. Isn’t that what all this is eventually about? Setting goals, updating those goals on the way and eventually achieving those goals.
Getting an answer to this question will help you a lot in understanding the vision and mission of your client and what is it exactly that they are looking to achieve with this design project.
Let’s say you have been assigned a project for a website design from the client. Ask them what is it that they want to achieve from it? Do they want to increase the number of visitors, encourage greater engagement via their blog, increase their brand visibility, or encourage people to sign up for their email newsletter/free trial/white paper, etc?
If you can create a design brief that describes a clear statement of your client’s goals, and the priority they place on each goal, you’ve gone a long way towards getting the background information you need.
Q3. “Who are your top competitors?”
Asking your clients about their biggest competitors is a good way to analyze what level of design your client is expecting. You can always use the list of your client’s competitors and execute a detailed competitor analysis to strike out the differences and work accordingly.
Along with the competitor analysis, you can add another question here and ask about the USP of your client. What is it that sets them apart from their competitors? The answer to this will help immensely in your competitor analysis, and eventually drawing out the design brief.
Q4. “Who is your target audience?”
One of the most important questions to ask your client is about their target audience. After all, it is the desired audience that needs to be attracted to your client’s products and services.
Imagine creating a design for a website with sophisticated graphics elements and dark color schemes for a company that caters to children. Well, that’s certainly not going to connect with the desired target audience.
You should extract as much information from your client on their target audience as possible; including (but not limited to):
- Age bracket
- Income bracket
- Any cultural concerns
Knowing about the client’s target audience will give you the ability to determine the most suitable means of visual communication and engagement techniques for reaching out to them.
Q5. “What is the current status?”
Even if your client is a new startup, you must not shy away from asking this question. There is a high probability that a design format already exists for the organization.
Ask about corporate colors, design preferences, and the existence of any design and style guidelines. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a design project only to discover that you need to start over because you didn’t adhere to a company style guide.
You must also find and go through any previous design work that has been used extensively by the client. This will not only help you ensure consistency for brand value but also in identifying possible areas where previous designs may not have been successful in achieving their goals.
Q6. “What are your expectations from us?”
This may not occur to you as one of those questions to ask your client that would help you in gathering any information. However, this question will set your client’s expectations right in line with your design services.
Also, this question reflects professionalism on your part and lets the client know that your resources, talents, and time are valuable.
Q7. “How do you define a good design?”
This here is a trick question to ask your client. By asking this question you can determine your client’s taste in design aesthetic; by assuming they might be design experts themselves.
This will, also, help you understand how exactly your work will be assessed by the client. The specific style, typography, color scheme, and graphic elements that your clients might be expecting can be figured out from the answer to this question.
You can ask your client to even show you a few samples of designs which they may have come across and liked very much or, inversely, may have hated.
Q8. “How much are you planning to spend on it?”
There shouldn’t be any constraint or shame at all in discussing the monetary aspects of the project. It is, after all, a very major factor that will play a role in your design project.
Ask your client about their budget for their design requirement so that you can provide a realistic solution. Even a rough idea should work, but don’t shy away from asking this question from your client.
If you are a freelance designer, make it clear to the client what your base rates are. If you charge for each revision then set the expectations straight that whether this will be calculated on per hour or revision round basis.
Q9. “How do you prefer to communicate?”
This is again one of those questions to ask your client that will help in setting the work guidelines in tandem. While some clients are open to regular feedback regarding edits and updates, not every client may like to communicate so frequently.
Understand everything there is to maintain a smooth flow of communication.
- How often do they want to get updates on the project?
- What files and formats do they need the updates in?
- What is the preferred mode of communication? Email, phone call, or Skype?
- Availability hours to interact on the project progress.
- Concerned people to be kept in the loop.
Understanding how you’re going to work together for the rest of the project will help you focus more on your work or anticipate interruptions. This way, you can schedule tasks and prepare updates to give to your client.
Q10. “What is the deadline you have set for this project?”
And, finally, you must ask your client about the deadline for the project. This is one of the most crucial questions you must ask your client in order to keep the expectations straight and your workflow on track.
Make sure you give yourself ample time to finish the project along with your other commitments. Allow time for revisions; and even a bit of possible procrastination!
The key to providing the best graphic design services is asking the right kind of questions to your clients. Remember that your clients are not simply looking to hire a graphic designer, but also seeking professional advice and understanding of their brand. By asking the right questions you can establish a common ground and understand their business objectives better. This, eventually, will help you big time in matching your client’s needs and provide an enjoyable experience, leading to a long term relation with them.
If you are a client looking for graphic design services for your business, then connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org