Own your client, from the beginning – Communicating and Brief, part 1
When working as a designer outside an agency you might want to make sure that the workflow of your projects go smooth and that you get all the information and comfort from your client to do your best. First of all, you want to keep your relationships as “professional” as possible, as there will be a time when your client will ask more of you.
The more official you keep things, the better.
Keep your language clean and friendly, and be as friendly as you would be to strangers, it will keep work at its place and bring respect to the table. As “Professional” means different things to different people, you might want to set your rules first. Being overfriendly might leave the impression that you’re the good guy that can also work a bit for free.
Avoid Skype meetings in which nobody writes down anything, it may leave space for misinterpretations and such. Best is short, clean Emails, even after brainstorming on Skype.
How you get your information is as important as how you communicate it. There are two ways of getting your work done when it comes to information, either by having a good brief for your client or directly ask for the information that is needed. In this second one make sure you know what you are asking.
Having a Brief.
If you will go by the Brief way, take time before sending your brief and think over the relevance of the items in the brief. Try to answer the questions first yourself to check if they are valid. The brief should be as short as possible, but in the same time able to gather as much info as possible. Don’t go for a downloaded PDF brief from the internet, make a special brief for each client. While it might seem like saving time, it will give you trouble and will show disrespect to the client.
If you are going with the “email of questions” try to basically to the same as with a brief only in a more belletristic way, and ask for the background story, it may provide insights that can make you understand more to the project than mandatories or timeline.
Speaking of timeline.
One of the backbones of your work and relationship with the client is the timeline, make sure you establish from the beginning when you: begin work, deliver first draft and request feedback, first set of revisions, delivery, second set of revisions, delivery, and final version. Mention that the timeline is a responsibility for both sides and you want it to be respected at most. Make sure your time estimate is agreed before with your client, so that you are both on the same wavelength (even if he/she tells you that any deadline is fine with him, establish a strict timeline, in which have in mind extra time, it will be helpful on the way)
These are only a few advices that can be taken into account when starting to work with new clients. Stay tuned, in our next episode we will talk about how to set expectations and send your proposals to the client.