Starting your first project with a new design client can be very exciting.
It can also be a little nerve-wracking.
After all, you always hear the horror stories about clients who are terrible to deal with…what if your new client turns out to be more of a nuisance than a benefit to your bottom line? What if they’re too demanding, don’t understand your vocabulary, won’t take your advice, or don’t pay you on time?
It’s a lot to worry about.
Today, we’ll explore 25 details you should know about your design client before starting a project together. As you explore these various details, you’ll be more prepared to make a decision on whether or not you should really enter into a contract with any potential client. There are always more details that are important to know. Take a second and share your additions to this list by leaving a comment.
Before committing to work with a client, explore the intricacies of their business. Try to determine if they are successful (because if they aren’t making money, they’ll have a hard time paying you), how they function and what makes them tick. Here are a few details you may want to explore further:
- Who are their customers?
- How long have they been in business?
- What services or products do they provide?
- What is their mission?
- What branding, messaging, or other assets are already in place?
- What goals do they have in hiring you?
Their needs (in detail)
Sometimes clients can be vague when soliciting design work. Unfortunately, I have been caught in the situation where I misunderstood what my client anticipated out of our relationship. A good way to solve these sorts of misunderstandings is by drafting a solid contract. In addition, you may want to investigate these important details:
- Are they looking for a specialist or a jack-of-all-trades?
- Do they need a designer with a different skill-set than yours?
- Is their project small or large?
- How many hours to they need you to dedicate to the project over the next few months?
- What exactly to they need from you as a designer? Advice? Direction? or just some pretty designs?
- Do they need a complete overhaul or just some slight adjustments?
- Are they looking for a long-term arrangement or a short-term one?
- Are they willing to pay for advice, opinions, and expertise?
- What is the general scope of this project?
- What do they expect to have in their hands (deliverables) by the time this project is completed?
- What is the general timeline?
- How much do they expect to pay for your design services?
- How many revisions do they expect?
- How quickly do they expect you to return calls or emails?
- How will they prefer to communicate with you? Does that match your preference?
No matter how professional you are, sometimes personalities can clash. If you find this happening to you a lot, you may want to take some time to investigate a potential client’s personality. Make sure you can get along with the person. You have to enjoy working together or your projects are going to be a headache. Here’s a few questions to consider:
- Do they speak to you with respect and dignity?
- Do they appreciate your input and value your opinion?
- Could you see yourself talking on the phone, meeting in the office, or skyping frequently with this person?
- Do they seem to be open and honest about their needs, expectations, etc.
- Thus far, have they been able to clearly articulate their needs and opinion?