You’ve probably had a few web design clients who didn’t see the value in some of your work. Maybe you created a stunning minimal design and they wanted you to increase the size of their logo. Or, perhaps you created a simple web form to capture leads and they wanted to add five questions to the form.
These things happen when clients don’t understand the marketing methodology behind design. No matter how much you explain the importance of microcopy in relation to the labels on a web form, your client may not understand.
You won’t be able to train your clients overnight, but you can change the conversations you have with them. This requires limiting the choices you give clients during the design process. The fewer choices your clients have, the less likely they are to become fixated on design elements that don’t serve them.
Maintain control of the project at all times
If you’ve ever wondered why some clients argue for distracting or strange design elements, it’s probably because you’ve unintentionally given them permission to run the show.
Here’s a list of some common ways designers unintentionally give up control to a client:
- Asking a client what page they’d like their PPC ads to go to. According to Instapage, 44% of clicks for B2B companies are directed to a homepage. Clients love homepages, but only landing pages will convert.
Instead of asking what page they want their PPC ad to go to, ask them if they already have a custom landing page for their ad. If they don’t, offer to create one. Don’t give them the option of linking to their homepage.
- Asking a client for color preferences. Every human being has color preferences, but not all colors look good on a website. Additionally, colors are tools that persuade people to make choices. According to Neil Patel, “color theory suggests you can develop an edge over your competition, letting you convey your message effectively, meet the needs of your target audience and build your brand.” That’s probably what your clients ultimately want, so you’re doing them a favor by not asking them for color preferences.
Asking for color preferences can cause further trouble when it comes to displaying information in tables. Many websites publish tables with borders and backgrounds that match the site’s color scheme. Even though it matches, it’s not necessarily easy to read.
- What is easy to read is simplicity. For instance, the loan information chart on the RISE website is completely borderless, yet easy to read. By displaying information simply, you can avoid the conversation around color.
- Asking a client to send you examples of websites with designs they like. This seems innocent, but it creates an unspoken expectation that you’ll create a similar website, even if that design won’t meet their goals. Once a client identifies an existing website they like, they’ll guide you toward that design and you’ll have a hard time recovering.
Postpone telling clients what software you’re going to use
Your clients might believe Infusionsoft is better than Mail Chimp, Click Funnels is better than Lead Pages, and they might even have a favorite stock photography website. The former statements aren’t necessarily true. However, effective marketing strategies are good at creating brand loyalty from everyone, even clients with zero design experience.
If your clients have software preferences, allow them to tell you, but don’t ask for them. Also, don’t tell them what tools you plan to use to complete their project. At least not right away. You’ll come to the conversation armed with experience using the tools, and they’ll come to the conversation armed with ideas published by marketers. If you want to use a tool they’re not familiar with, or one they’ve decided is inferior, you’ll have a difficult time convincing them otherwise.
Instead, wait until you’ve extracted all the necessary information from your client, and have completed the work plan. When presenting the finished work plan to a client, you can go over how each tool will help them accomplish their goals. This organized approach makes it easier to maintain integrity with the project.
Avoid asserting your expertise as a defense
You’re the expert, but asserting your expertise when a client objects to your suggestions isn’t going to be effective. It’s just going to frustrate your client and you might lose the gig. The best way to assert your expertise is to show your past work, your successes, and admit where you’ve fallen short. If you come to the conversation knowing everything, they’ll probably doubt your expertise. Be humble, and if they insist, be willing to try things their way.