How to Get Faster Feedback From Web Design Clients
When building websites for clients, getting timely feedback can be a major problem. When your client doesn’t respond as quickly as you’d like, it not only delays the launch of the website, it often results in new updates being requested and a delay in you getting paid.
The good news is that there are several things you can do to keep your client and project on track. Here we’ll look at those options and by the end you’ll be better equipped to handle or better yet, reduce client feedback delays.
The Client Communication Process
The first and most important thing you can do to help reduce client feedback delays starts with the client communication at the beginning of the project.
In this discovery phase you should have a list of questions to ask your web design clients. Here is where you will be asking them important questions so you better understand what the business does, who their target audience is and what their goals are. This is very important because it not only helps you build trust with the client, it helps you to better design a website that meets the needs of your client. This will result in less change requests to your work, a happier client and a happier web designer.
It is also important to take the time to let the client know how they will be involved in the project. Typically their role is to:
- provide the business material needed to complete the website (think logo, content, etc.)
- be the expert on their business to help you better understand their business and goals
- provide feedback on your work so you create the best site for their business
This role is described no later than the contract phase. During the client onboarding process when you discuss the life cycle of your project, a feedback schedule should be discussed (more on that shortly).
Incorporating Feedback into The Contract
Next, the client is ready to proceed which means it’s contract time! Your project contract should mention what happens when a client delays providing feedback. This may look something like the following:
The project as described above in the description of work will be completed within 7 to 10 days assuming the Client is available to provide feedback to the Service Company on a daily basis. Each day the Client is unavailable to provide feedback may push the project completion date back by one day.
I like to review the contract with the client and specifically bring up this point so I know they’ve heard it directly from me.
At this point the project hasn’t started yet and the importance of client feedback has already been discussed twice. You’re off to a great start!
Web Design Feedback Planner
Now the project is ready to begin. If you’d like to make sure the project stays on track and the client will be available for feedback, you can now present a project schedule or web design feedback planner. Optionally, you can also include this in the contract for the client to agree to in writing. This also makes it more serious.
The project schedule outlines not only the specific deadlines for both you the designer and the client but also the method of preferred feedback. This schedule holds you both accountable.
This is where you’ll outline each of the project tasks for both designer and client. For example, the deadline for the client to provide all the needed items to start a project (site content, images, high resolution logo, etc.), the first draft of the design, feedback for round one and so on.
You can also take it a step further by listing the method of feedback whether you are using a project management system, email, phone call or other method.
Reviewing the Client Schedule
I like to make the project schedule a discussion as well. This means I’m reviewing the proposed schedule upfront with the client to make sure they feel they can stay on track. During this conversation I like to ask questions like:
- Are there any other large projects going on in your business right now that may take a priority (customer projects, new department creation, new product launch, hiring for a new position, etc.)?
- Do you have a schedule for answering phone calls or responding to email?
- What is the fastest way to get in touch with you?
- Will you be the only person reviewing the design and providing feedback or will others be involved?
Asking clients questions like this will not only provide you with more information on what the client can realistically do but it will also help the client think about situations that could cause a delay on their end so they can better address those potential delays. After this conversation, the designer and client will have a schedule that has been agreed upon and feels realistic to both parties.
How to Handle Client Delays
You’ve put a great client feedback process in place, yet inevitably a client is going to miss a deadline from time to time. Here are the steps to take when a deadline is missed:
- Follow-up immediately (using the system you’ve put in place or using the client’s best contact information they provided you earlier on)
- Be understanding yet firm (be open to hearing the cause of the delay but firm about the importance of keeping the project on track. Remind them of how this work will help them reach their goals they shared with you earlier on and how you want to help get them there as soon as possible.)
- Ask if there is anything you can do on your end to help them stay on track.
- Give the client a phone call or schedule a time to walk them through your work and ask for feedback on the spot.
- Add in an extra couple of days throughout the timeline in case you experience any issues on your end or the client has a delay. That way you can still complete the project on time or hopefully early if there are no delays.
Hopefully you now see how much you can help impact client feedback. It really comes down to communication which is key to your success. Asking the right questions and creating a specific time frame for both you and your clients will help keep your project on track. When you’ve created a foundation for feedback it also makes it much easier to follow-up with clients who miss a deadline and get them back on track.
Now it’s your turn to decide how you will implement a better process for client feedback in your business. Try to incorporate one or more of these strategies with your next client and then evaluate how it goes. You can always tweak it as you go and improve.
Here you can download a client feedback planner plus example scripts and questions you can use when talking to your clients.