It makes everything better when everyone knows what to expect right?
You see, when expectations for everyone involved are clear and understood it’s a lot easier to appreciate everyone’s contributions.
Here’s the kicker:
Clients will value your work more when they understand the expectations and boundaries.
Sounds weird, but it’s true.
It’s like they have a clearer picture of what they’re spending their budget on, and it helps them know the work involved.
I’ve been working a lot on improving processes lately. Making sure that everyone knows what to expect is so important to a successful web development project.
So, today, since we talked about the stuff that the web developer needs to know during an initial consultation, we’re going to talk about the client needs to get out of that meeting.
Things the prospective client needs to know
There is a lot that the prospective client needs to get out of this meeting too, and it’s not just the simple questions like how much does a website cost, how long does it take, etc.
So many web design & development clients don’t have the slightest clue when it comes to understanding what’s involved in the web design process.
And the reason they’re meeting with you is because they really don’t need to know everything.
But there are a few things that the do need to know.
Our design and development process
Understanding how the overall website design and development production process works is key to managing expectations. They don’t need to know the details about how you’re going to make API connections or use react.js to address some of their wants and needs, but they do need to know what the path to successful completion looks like.
General expectations to make this a successful project
Probably the biggest way to feel like you’ve created a successful project when it’s all done is to have set and managed expectations correctly from the beginning. Clients want to know that they’re being taken care of and they need to know what the roadmap looks like.
This means setting and abiding by expectations – both us as the design & development team, and them as the client.
Get this wrong and even though you may be going through all kinds of contortions, and bending over backward to make your client happy, they’ll end up finishing up their work with you with a less-than-100-percent satisfied feeling.
Scope creep is the biggest problem here, and this is the most important part of setting expectations. It helps the client value your work more, and helps you maintain sanity when you’re both on the same page.
What expectations they should have for us
It’s quite unlikely that the prospective web design client sitting across the table is a team of web developers themselves so it’s time to introduce them to your process.
The idea here is to outline what it’s like to work with you as a web developer.
During this initial consultation, you want to introduce them to your process, how you manage milestones, and what the approval process looks like.
What expectations we have for them
Expectations for the client?
Yep. Expectations for the client.
This is the part where we introduce our responsibilities worksheet that we use to help clients understand how they’re involved in the process.
You see, it’s vital that they understand that if they’re developing content – either with themselves or with a copywriter – how that affects the process and when we’ll be calling on them to deliver the goods.
Sometimes it’s a surprise that they have responsibilities as a client so getting this on the table while we’re all feeling each other out is an important step.
Who the key people are
When we’re getting to know each other and feel each other out to see if we’re a good fit to work together on the project, I like to get everyone in the room that’s going to be involved in the project.
They get to meet the production manager, the developer, and designer along with a prospective account manager.
It helps to put faces to the names they’ll see on the proposal and to hear the questions from the whole team.
It’s a great way to get a head start on learning the client’s vibe, and how they think and a great way to show the client the strength of your team.
How communications are handled
Getting client management right is a huge deal, especially on projects that have many stakeholders.
Streamlined communication between all involved is key so it’s important that they know what it looks like and how it will work if they chose your agency.
We help them see how we manage communications between everyone involved. Because there is a lot of stuff to be communicated. A lot.
And if it’s not channeled correctly it can bog everyone down, so helping them see the picture of how they’ll interact with our team helps set their mind at ease.
We also talk a little about whom with and how we’ll communicate with them as a client. ‘Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth’, right? So having a key contact on the client side is vital to a successful project. That way we’re not hearing from absolutely everyone involved and we help them understand how to manage expectations with their team on their side.
Approval and sign-off process
One thing I introduce in every initial meeting is the approval process. I have a schedule that I show them as an example of what’s involved in each step. We have sign-offs for content harvesting, design approval, feature and functionality approval (depending on the project), development approval, and final project approval.
The important thing here, from a sales perspective, is to help them get excited about how they get to see the process and how a project comes together along with how they can see and measure progress throughout the whole thing.
So, does that make sense?
The old commercial goes, you never get a second chance to leave a first impression. Get everything out on the table, get an answer to the budget question early, and then figure out if it’s the right project.
If you’re looking to do your website on your own it’s always a good idea to have a guide or a checklist to make sure you’re not missing any of the vital steps. That’s why I created the Ultimate WordPress Start-Up Guide.
I built this guide so that you would have all the things you need to start a new website project with WordPress right at your fingertips.
This guide will allow lead you down a path that covers it all in an easy-to-understand way so that your new website is a success from day one.
Make sure you don’t miss any of the crucial steps in getting your new website project online by following the steps in this guide.