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Meeting of minds

The Pursuit of Happiness

17 September 2015

Throughout the lifespan of a project we believe there are two fundamental goals needed to be successful:

A quality outcome that achieves the objectives set out and a happy client. One does not necessarily guarantee the other.

There are a handful of things you can do to keep your client happy throughout the process and these are not just designing a mind blowing website.

To get an idea of what goes on in a typical client’s mind before beginning a web design project, we surveyed 70 people and asked the following questions:

  • How much do you think an average website costs?
  • How long do you think an average website takes to design and build?
  • Do you know the process of how a website goes from being flat design files to a functioning live website?

We asked these questions because we find people working in the web industry assume the average person knows more about the process and requirements than they actually do. This can often lead to confusion and quite differing opinions between an agency and client.

The results were quite interesting, summarised below:

  • 60% of respondents think an average website costs below $10,000.
  • 36% of people think an average website takes below 2 months.
  • 64% have no idea how a website is built.

These results give us some really great insights into the misconceptions and lack of knowledge that exists around the process, costs and timing of a digital project. So, in-depth strategic thinking; premium design; efficient, well written code; and a customisable backend will have a lesser value to the client purely based on lack of knowledge. The more knowledge your clients have of the process, the more value they will see in your services and the happier they will be to pay your fees and adhere to your timelines.

Happiness toolkit

There are few things that we believe are important when it comes to keeping your client happy, especially given the results of the survey, but the key is communication.

When the client first makes contact, take them through your process slowly and in laymen’s terms. Each client is different, and you need to be adaptable with the language you use and the depth at which you explain the different stages. For example, when we are explaining our process we find we need to spend a little time covering our Implementation and Development phases in a digestible way so that our clients can understand why it takes up such a large portion of the timeline and budget.

chart

Once the project begins its important to guide your client through the process, particularly as unfamiliar tasks and terms arise. The more you share with your client along the way, the smoother the project and the more independent they will be moving forward.

After the scope has been agreed upon, an estimated project timeline is a very useful tool to manage your clients’ expectations. As the survey results suggest, the average person believes a website can be built in less than two months when this is often not the case. While certainly possible for smaller projects, there can be a great deal of time spent in the strategy, design and execution of a project that requires significant energy and time of both parties to ensure an outstanding result. The important thing is that the process and timeframe are clearly explained to the client and if anything changes, they’re promptly informed.

timeline

This tool is best used when updated regularly. For example, if the client has asked for an ‘out of scope’ feature which takes an extra week, be sure to update the timeline and make them aware that it extends the timeline and affects the launch date. The visual representation of the live timeline is a powerful management tool and helps keep everything transparent.

At the start of a web project the client is heavily involved in the strategy development and design processes however once the implementation phase commences sometimes weeks can go by without needing direct client involvement. Throughout those weeks it is important to stay in contact with the client, updating them on the project progress and reminding them of upcoming deadlines. This keeps everyone involved in the process and maintains a positive relationship.

By constantly communicating with your client they will trust that their project is as important to you as it is to them. It gives them confidence that their project is moving forward. Being an informative, organised and proactive communicator will build your client’s knowledge, reassure their concerns and prove you care about them AND the success of the project.

Now you just have to worry about building that mind blowing website 😉

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