Communicating with Clients: What Most Designers Don’t Know

It’s difficult for clients to find a designer that has the visual skills they need. What seems to be even harder is finding a designer that can communicate with well with clients. Communication is one of the most important parts of being a graphic designer, but it is valuable in any career, as well as everyday life.

Managing Expectations

Sometimes a client won’t know what a project needs or requires, they will just know what they need an end result to be. It is important that you make an effort to help them understand the process without being overwhelmed. This could include breaking down anything you are going to deliver to them into a schedule such as thumbnails or wireframes.

If you need something from the client, such as detailed instructions or revisions, you need to let them know that as well. Sometimes producing a formal design brief can help.

Being Clear & Transparent

One thing many designers overlook is the importance of letting your clients known your availability and what you are capable of. While it’s understandable that you may be concerned about causing them to be hesitant to hire you, it’s important to be upfront from the very beginning, rather than letting it become a problem down the road. Think about what is best for the client and the project, and if you honestly don’t have the time or skill required, your client will respect you for having the integrity to say so. It is possible you will have to opportunity to work with them on a more appropriate project because you have earned their trust.

Knowing How To Follow Up

Following up with clients on a regular basis is an important part of maintaining a good professional relationship. It is something that is often taken for granted. Throughout a project you should touch base with the client once a day if you are not reaching out to them directly for a specific reason. This is particularly useful if you have never met face-to-face or are working with them remotely. One of the biggest pain points for clients working with freelancers and remote workers is the anxiety of not having them physically present and available.

There is a lot of faith on their part in knowing that you are hard at work on their project when they have nothing to go on. Constant contact with you will limit some of that anxiety until you have worked together more frequently.

Asking For Referrals

When you have a good relationship with a client it’s okay to ask for a referral. Before you take this step be honest with yourself that it is in fact a good relationship and that you’ve produced quality work for the client. A good client can be your best advocate and source of future business. A client with whom you have a poor relationship can hinder you from getting work within their network or even their industry.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining good communication with clients can seem like a chore, but it’s essential to the process and can ultimately result in saving time and avoid mistakes due to a lack of understanding what they want and need. Taking the time to make a call or send an email can be the difference between wasting hours of work or losing the project and client all together.

Remember, when communicating with clients to be consistent, clear, concise and more importantly, honest.

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