Six steps to hassle free client approval

We all have our own ways of working, but you as the designer may have to make some changes to your working practices if you want to get hassle free approval from your clients. Below are six steps to help you achieve this.

1. Be Upfront

At the very start of the project, make sure you find out exactly what your client wants you to achieve and let her know if you feel there is anything she has left out that would be needed. If she gives you a brief, make sure you go over it thoroughly and discuss any aspects of it that you feel are not clear. Once you have done this, it’s best to write a proposal for you both to agree to. Setting out the goals early on in a project is crucial to a successful outcome.

2. Be Realistic

Right from the start, there needs to be a clear time frame of when each part of the project needs to be done to reach a completion date. If there’s no set date, at least work out a loose time frame as a guide so that things don’t drag on too long. If you run into an issue along the way that may impact on meeting the completion date, don’t bury your head in the sand and pretend everything will be fine. Get straight in touch with your client and explain the situation, she may come up with a way to speed the process along or even be able to change the deadline. Even if she can’t, it’s better she’s aware of the potential problem and kept informed of any changes.

3. Be Informative

You may have agreed on a proposal and be ready to get on with the project, but are you sure you have all the information possible from your client. You may be planning on doing research you require for the project, such as identifying competitors, market share and target market. But before you do, ask your client if her company has already done this research. It’s very likely that she will have this type of information which will save you time and your client money. You won’t know what valuable details she may have unless you ask.

4. Be Approachable

Once you know what is required, how long you’ve got to do it and have all the information you need, it’s important to let your client know that you will want her to be involved in the design process as much as possible and that you will ask for feedback at various stages of the project. If you mention this now, you won’t worry about contacting your client during the project and taking time from her busy day. She will be aware of how you work and will be looking forward to having input during the course of the project.

This should stop one of the biggest problems that can occur between you, the designer, and your client, which is you going away after briefing and turning up in a few weeks time with a lovely finished design for your client - one which she hates. This can of course cause all sorts of problems, you’ll probably feel hurt, she will feel let down, more time may now be needed to create a new design and so the deadline is missed. All this can hopefully be avoided if you involve your client with the decisions you make with the design, after all she is the client.

5. Be Constructive

When you reach a stage with the design that you require some feedback on, it’s one of those exciting/dreaded* (delete as appropriate) moments where you have to show your client what you’ve produced. Even though you have followed the proposal that was agreed upon by you both, you will still need to get the approval of your client, which can be made harder if she let’s her own personal taste cloud her judgement.

Therefore, be careful how you ask for feedback, never just ask what she thinks of the design, make her focus on who it’s aimed at - ask instead what she believes the target market will think of the design. And rather than the design as a whole, try to focus on elements of it. For example, if you have chosen a red background, she may say she thinks it would look better in blue, which of course doesn’t help you understand why she thinks red doesn’t work and blue would.

Therefore, explain to her why you choose red, there could be several reasons why, such as it appeals more to her target market or that it was used to differentiate between her business and a competitor. At this point she may see the benefits of using red rather than a personal preference she has for blue. But make sure you ask her what her reason is for not wanting red, maybe she’s used it several times in the past and never had good results. If that’s the case ask her why she suggested blue, were there good reasons. Discuss how her suggestion, or an alternative of yours, fits in with your research and design scheme.

The most important thing is to talk, it could end up that yellow is considered the most appropriate to use but without a discussion you would never get to that conclusion. And remember, the more you involve your client in the decisions you make, the more invested she will feel in the design, therefore more likely to love the finished product.

6. Be United

And finally, probably the most important point of all, try not to feel like two separate forces in the design of the project - with the designer on one side and the client on the other. You and your client need to work together and have trust in each other to achieve the best end result possible - which after all, is what you both want.

About the author

Paul Galbraith is a freelance designer, specialising in logos, branding and web design for startups, small businesses, agencies and entrepreneurs worldwide.