I participated in a team with Susan Simkins (@SusanMSimkins) and Jason Kaplan (@JasonM_Kaplan), fellow Web Design and Development students. We spent the day with Neill Harmer (@neillharmer), a local web designer who has build websites since the late 1990s. He offered instruction and guidance on creating a mockup for a client who would need a website. This guidance included advice in how to have a design meeting for non-freelancers. And the designer would only be concerned, so to speak, in gaining an understanding of the likes and dislikes of the organization in regards to design. As the designer, you have to sell your design. That is, be prepared to explain why your particular design would suit the client’s needs.
Susan, Jason and myself were in a mock client-designer session where Neill played the part of the client who didn’t know much about design (although he was teaching us the process). We asked him questions such as why he liked particular website examples and why he did not like others. We found that he (as client) would contradict himself. Susan was the lead designer for our team so she had final approval of questions and design decisions.
Then, we moved to the design stage. The mock client had provided a folder of company images and it was our job to decide which ones to use in the design. Susan created a style tile (http://styletil.es/) which allow designers to present general design ideas to a client in a short period of time without creating a mockup which could take more. The style tile allows choices of color, fonts and general layout.
With the style tile and mock in progress, Jason and myself wrote an “About” section about the company for the mockup. It reads “Planning to move? We at Dumb and Dumber Movers, Inc. pride ourselves in assisting customers with the necessary tips and supplies to simplify residential or commercial moving. Even with our funny name, we offer great service at affordable rates. We look forward to assisting your next move.”
Sometimes clients don’t know what they want with design. And when you are in the design meeting with the client, ideally there is one or two people as liaisons between you, the designer, and the organization. In other cases, designers might have be in a situation where there are 12 people of the organization in the design meeting. This can be very frustrating for the designer since you would have to filter all the ideas of participating individuals.
Key things to keep in mind:
- stay in control of the meeting – you are the smartest person in the room (in your field). Remember your company was hired by them [the client]
- don’t be intimidated
- don’t use laptop to take notes
- don’t dress like a lawyer, clients may be wearing suits
- play the part, dress appropriately (e.g., shorts are ok)
- if designing a logo, simple logos are good, much better than busy logos
It is best to use paper and pencil to take notes since the client cannot see what you are writing (if across the table) if taking notes on a laptop. Even though using a tablet with a writing stylus, is better than using a laptop, pencil and paper is probably best.
And in the age of social media, there are many platforms in which an organization can share information: Twitter, Facebook, Google+ to name a few. Some companies also have blogs. Sometimes organizations and individuals have blogs and social networking accounts whose content have not updated for a long time. This could be up several months to several years. So if a client says they want links on their website to social media and their blog. You need to know if those respective devices are current. If not, then it would be better to advise the client to not include links on the site as they would do more harm than good. Will have to educate clients in this area if they are unfamiliar.