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.
The Best Resources for Getting Design Feedback
ProofHQ is a full-featured web app for managing feedback and collaboration. You can upload and manage over 50 types of files that can be commented on and marked up by reviewers. You can manage multi-page files, easily share your proofs with anyone, manage contacts and groups, and more.
Cage is a feedback app that is currently in beta. It is intended to help you get feedback from clients as well as to facilitate communication and feedback from teammates and collaborators. You control the privacy settings and other details of your projects. Currently Cage is free to use.
Design Signoff will help you to get feedback on your client projects while working to get approval and signoff of your work.
Notable helps with gathering feedback from clients and collaborators. You can take any webpage screenshot, sketch or wireframe and exchange notes on specific details with your team. Pricing starts at $19 per month.
ConceptShare allows designers to get feedback on their work through easy markup. Reviewers can use simple tools like pointer, pen, crop, and highlighter. Other features include threaded comments, in-line replies, email notifications, and more.
What’s Your Experience?
Do you ever have a hard time getting feedback from certain clients? What do you do to improve this situation?