5 Steps to Improved Client Feedback

If you’ve done much design or development work for clients you know that getting effective feedback from the client is critical to the success of the project. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be a challenge. Depending on the types of clients that you work with, you may find that some of them are difficult to communicate with, not because they don’t have opinions, but because they don’t understand very much about the process of building a website.

From my experience these clients can be a bit more difficult to work with, not because they are hard to please or unreasonable in their expectations, but simply because they don’t always understand how much of an impact they need to have on the process. They hire a designer to create the site and they just assume that the designer can do what is needed.

Sometimes this isn’t a big problem, but other times it can result in a project that doesn’t live up to its potential or it can lead to changes and revisions that could have been prevented with better communication throughout the process.

5 Ways to Get Better Feedback

1 – Be Upfront

One of the best things you can do to improve the quantity and quality of feedback is to explain that the web design process requires your work as well as input from the client. Remind the client that the effectiveness of their website is drastically improved if they get involved in the process and provide their feedback.

As a designer you can create a website that is beautiful, but if it doesn’t meet the needs of the client, it really does no good. Once clients truly realize that the outcome is going to impacted by their feedback, they’ll typically get more involved. I like to explain this at the start of the project as I have found that it will save some time that could otherwise be wasted.

2 – Use an Interview/Survey

When you accept a new project for a client, one of the first things you should do is go through a series of questions that will help the client to think about specifically what they want and need from a website. Sometimes clients won’t give much input on what they want, but once you ask them some specific questions the wheels will start rolling and they’ll quickly see how they can get more involved. It’s a good idea to have some fairly standard questions that you go over with all of your clients, and of course you’ll want to add some specific questions according to the project at hand.

3 – Ask the Right Questions

Simply asking questions is not enough, they also need to be the right questions. Clients that are hesitant to give much feedback will often assume certain things, so they are unlikely to share their thoughts unless you ask. Asking the right questions can save you time and make the project more successful, while not asking the right questions will usually lead to more work down the road when you realize that the client isn’t interested in what you’ve been doing. Take the time to be sure that you have addressed all of the important issues with the clients and asked all of the necessary questions.

4 – Actually Listen

If clients see that you are taking their feedback and putting it into action, they’ll be more likely to stay involved. On the other hand, if clients feel like what they are saying is pointless because they don’t see the results in your work, they will probably stop giving much feedback.

5 – Explain the Entire Process

From my experience, part of the reason that clients don’t give more feedback is because they are unfamiliar with the whole process of building a website. I’ve found that when I take the time to explain things about the process, clients will be more comfortable and open to sharing their thoughts. Before a project gets started I’ll usually explain that I’ll need some time to talk with them so I know specifically what they are looking for in their website. After that I’ll get started with the design and come back to them throughout for their feedback. Once I have their feedback I’ll be able to put it into practice and give them what they want. After the understand more about how the process will work they usually are comfortable enough to get more involved.

What’s Your Experience?

Do you ever have a hard time getting feedback from certain clients? What do you do to improve this situation?

Published April 23rd, 2008 by

Looking for hosting? WPEngine offers secure managed WordPress hosting. You’ll get expert WordPress support, automatic backups, and caching for fast page loads. Visit WPEngine.

Join Our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter chalked full of useful tips, techniques, and design goodies. We have 20,000+ loyal readers and counting! We’ll even send you a free e-book (Freelance Designer’s Guide to Multiple Income Streams) and a $10 discount on our most popular product the Freelance Starter Kit.

21 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • tz3D, April 24, 2008

    hey vandelay, another great post here, between http://www.mostinspired.com/blog and here you are getting quite a record then.

    My biggest area for improvement is, letting the sales people do most of the communicating with the client. They in turn may not pass certain design critieria to me, as it slipped right by them as what they thought was important information from the original scope of the project discussions. From there some clients take it upon themselves to take what is a totally stoked effort on my part as a designer and shoot it down as it wasn’t anything they had really thought about. What image should my company portray? It’s tough designing down sometimes, and it takes all the fun out of it. A project that goes months is never as good as one that is poppin’ hot fresh off the rack, and done in weeks and not months.
    The fast turn-over sites are sometimes the ones the designer gets to pour more love into.
    On the other hand there is that rare client that understands their brand and where they want to go, and the extra effort it takes to get there is a rewarding experience.

  • Sandy Allen, April 24, 2008

    There is a real challenge when soliciting subjective (do you like it?) versus objective (does the page load quickly?). As a photographer, my customers are giving a lot more subjective feedback than objective. I really like your point on listening – a customer needs to feel like you are truly listening (and as a photography I couldn’t succeed without listening).

  • Ivan, April 24, 2008

    Great article, Vandelay, I’m just in position where I think that I will not have enough talk and sufficient understanding with the client, so I’m trying to find a way to overcome this problem. Your article helped my greatly :)

  • Eric | Directory One, April 24, 2008

    This is an excellent post. I am a content writer, and these rules apply to me as well. You have to have a good channel of communication with your client to make sure you make a product that is most effective for them.

  • Vandelay Design, April 24, 2008

    tz3d,
    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’m glad you like the content here as well as Most Inspired.

    Sandy,
    Good point. The types of questions you ask will have a big influence on the type of feedback that you get.

  • Alex, April 24, 2008

    In my experience you got to be listened when it comes to the client’s business, target audience etc, but when it comes to design and development of a site, you just have to do your thing – you are the designer, not client.

  • increase views on youtube, April 24, 2008

    Being upfront can off-put your ‘potential’ clients. Usually clients allow room for a lot of leverage. They can’t come up with a design, but would rather you came up with the foundation, and then they would gradually start comming up with ideas themselves…so get the ball rolling with bit of yor own design flaire..

  • Jacob Share, April 25, 2008

    In my experience the best way to get feedback from clients (internal or external) is to keep them involved in every step of the process. Make transparency the name of the game. It won’t necessarily be easy, but it will usually pay big dividends.

  • Alex, April 25, 2008

    Jacob, sometimes IME clients are too busy doing business, especially if you’re dealing directly with a boss of a small or medium company. They care about the result more then the process itself. But you will know what kind of person you’re dealing with from the very beginning.

  • Pugsley - Website Brand, April 26, 2008

    Great post, I really like the parts about being up-front and actually listening. These are 2 things that are missing, not only on the internet, but in the world today. Again great post

    Pugsley

  • Jack, April 27, 2008

    Thx great article ou have to have a good channel of communication with your client to make sure you make a product that is most effective for them.

  • michael, April 27, 2008

    yeahh great post Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’m glad you like the content here as well as Most Inspired.

  • ZihniCan, April 27, 2008

    Great article, Vandelay, I’m just in position where I think that I will not have enough talk and sufficient understanding with the client, so I’m trying to find a way to overcome this problem. Your article helped my greatly :)

  • Create a Website, August 25, 2009

    Great article. Thanks for sharing.

  • Webdesignshock, August 20, 2010

    Hey guys, here’s our last review about Feedback services: http://su.pr/2N2T61 I think you’ll find it helpful.