There seems to be a different type of client for every situation in web design. Everyone seems to want something unique with their own ideas, and as a freelancer or solo-designer otherwise, it can be difficult to maintain consistency for each new project. Even more so, it can always be confusing when it comes to the best way to attract new clients and grow a freelancer’s client base.
What do clients want most from our services? What features or factors to our services should we advertise most, and how should we maintain our web design process? There seems to be no right answer. There are some designers who are mediocre who have far more business than some of the best designers who consistently study and maintain all of the best practices. There are many great designers that wonder why they’re struggling, despite their marketing efforts and skill set.
Below are a few factors I’ve found from my experience that help the process of “selling” to clients, and what they really want from our services. Targeting a business that can focus more on these factors rather than simply design and development quality alone (although these two are very important still) can build a solo-business drastically.
- Guidance — They are paying you for your expertise. If they have a cool idea and you know it’s horrible, speak up. Speak up on what works and what doesn’t, not only technically but in best practice. This is what separates you from their kid cousin who will make their website for $50.
- Project Management – They don’t know how the process works, so show them. Have your own process and guide them along. Letting them pick a process that’s “convenient for them” is not so convenient after all. You know what works best so have a process for your work and let them follow. Let them use your apps, tools, and communication methods, and explain your process to them from the get go.
- Money & Website Traffic – The majority of clients don’t care if their website is ugly as long as it leads to conversions. Don’t sell on proper coding practices and the newest design trends; sell on how best practices in your work can help customer conversions, build website traffic and reach audiences, increase SEO, build their brand, and help them to earn more for their idea or business.
- Ease of Use & Maintenance – This often times goes with the money issue above. Many clients want to maintain their website themselves after it’s built or redone so they don’t have to hire web developers later on to make changes. Plus, letting them change their website themselves saves them time. Sell on how you can set up a website for them that’s easy to maintain, such as with a CMS.
These are the top four factors any client wants. Some may have details and specifics beyond this of what they want, or their own ideas specifically that ultimately are their own idea for a solution behind one of these above factors. As a web designer, we must use our expertise to guide them through the process of meeting the above goals, separating their ideas and wants from what’s practical and useful.
For example, one of the most common…and annoying…requests from clients is to always make their logo bigger in the design. I’ve gone through a few projects where they’ve wanted to make their logo bigger, bigger, and even bigger about five times. Instead of simply making the revision you know throws off the entire design, you know that they want their logo bigger so that their brand is more memorable. Instead, use your expertise and professional opinion to show them why it not only looks bad, but can hurt their brand as well. Show them how the design can increase their brand presence, and provide examples of successful companies that follow the point you’re trying to get across. It’s not about giving them their every wish, it’s about providing your expertise. They’ll surely appreciate it far more in the end.
These are the four factors that should be advertised on your portfolio, when applying for jobs, and when having initial meetings or any sort of initial contact with clients. It’s what will sell to them. Then, the next step is to have enough expertise as a web designer to make it all happen by using your best design trends, practices, and skills.
What sort of common requests do you get from clients? What do you think is their base want or need behind the request?