guiding-design-clients

A Design Business – A Service Industry

Owning your own design business means that you will be working with all sorts of clients. Some of them will be right there with you on technical issues, and you can both shoot jargon back and forth to each other like you’re in a paintball war. Other times, you’ll work with clients that don’t know a thing about computers or how the web works, and they’ll need you to handle everything. It shouldn’t matter who you’re working with, because one of the most important qualities of a great design business is the ability to guide your client through the process.

Not Everyone Knows Design

Sometimes we forget that not everyone knows how the web works. They know the basics, such as how they can go online and search on Google, Bing, or Yahoo to find the information they are looking for. The fact is, some people are just not technically minded. It might just be their lifestyle or personality that has kept them from learning. For example, maybe a business owner is more of a face-to-face business owner who handles things in an old-school fashion. Maybe they have staff that handles all of the technical stuff, so they can focus of client and B2B (business to Business) relations. Maybe they are just the great outdoors type and would rather be fishing, instead of Tweeting about  the movie they just saw.

The Design Process

The point is, that not everyone is glued to a piece of electronics. It is our job to walk our clients through the process of designing their logo, their website, and their printed materials. Many people don’t understand how the design process works. Before I went to school for design, I sure didn’t. Keeping this in mind will build a strong relationship between you and your client. When you take the time to walk your client through the process, making sure they understand what is happening, the steps to take, and what is expected of them during the process, the entire project will go much smoother.

Guidance is a Win-Win

It’s funny how taking a few extra minutes to explain the process to your client can actually save you time and frustration. When you sit down with your client and give them a list of things that you need from them, such as product information, etc., they can compile this information for you, group related products together, and actually help you to hit the ground running. Just like the fact that not everyone knows or understands design, we can’t be expected to automatically understand every industry. Guidance is a two way street, and when we practice driving on both sides of the road, everyone meets their destination easier, with less detours.

Other Reasons Why This Helps You

Guiding your design clients through the process is helpful to you for other reasons, too. When you take the time to educate a client on the overall process, they understand how much work goes into what you do for them. This is helpful, because when they get their invoice, you’ll be ten times less likely to hear “I’m paying you this much to press a couple of buttons?” They’ll understand that you spent time sketching concepts, doing research, creating wireframes, mockups, and testing your work. They’ll appreciate the work you did a lot more if they actually know about it.

They Can Share Their Experience with Others

When they understand the process, they’ll be more likely to share their experience of working with you, especially with other business owners. Imagine them having coffee with a fellow business owner and saying “Oh, you need a website? Well, you should get in touch with my website designer. He walked me step by step through the entire process. He was patient, he listened to me, and did an excellent job delivering everything on time. Here’s his card.”

Believe it or not, but this happens every day. Word of mouth can make or break your business. If you take the time to really focus on your clients and make a process that is mysterious and scary to some turn out to be a pleasant experience, your business is sure to thrive.

What do you think? Do you feel that guidance is one of the most important aspects of a design business? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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