Communicating with clients during web development projects can be hard.That’s an understatement, right? I think that every web developer or designer had a hard time explaining their decisions and proposals to clients at least once.In some cases, developers make a mistake by relying too much on professional terminology and other industry-specific terms that are unfamiliar to clients. However, in many other cases, clients give developers unreasonable requests due to the lack of knowledge about the web development and design process.As a result, this makes a web development process much more difficult and messy than it should be and results in lower satisfaction and revenues. No wonder that communication is one of the most important soft skills sought by business leaders in all professionals in 2018, according to a recent LinkedIn survey.That’s why in this article, we’re going to talk about how you can explain website development clearly to your clients and avoid misunderstandings, relationship damage, and help them understand the process better.Sounds like something you can use, right? Let’s go.
1. Web Design Client Meetings Are Your Friends
While I understand why many web developers, project managers, and product managers have problems with client meetings, they are an excellent opportunity to make everything clear, learn about the client’s business, and move forward as fast as possible.Before the meeting, do your homework by:
- Researching the industry of the client. For example, if your client has a B2B business providing consulting services to other business, try to find other websites that provide the same service by using keywords connected to your client’s business,
- Researching the client’s current website. Try to understand why your client would like to change their website or another digital product that they want your team to create. As a result, you’ll be in a better position to provide a service that can really help your client achieve their business goals,
- Researching who you’ll be speaking with. Chances are that you know the decision makers who are supposed to show up at your first meeting, so learning a bit more about them is a good idea, too. For example, you can get an idea of their business style and whom to ask specific questions, so try to find LinkedIn profiles of these people and read about them.
The next step is to have your vision for the project ready. If you need to make your reasons for making specific decisions as well as the vision clear, you have to prepare specific, concrete points and find ways to explain them in layman’s terms. Before you do that, though, let’s talk about the web development process.Your client will most definitely have lots of questions for you and your team, which is totally okay. However, in the case when a client tries to cross the line by telling how you should work, that’s when many problems occur.To prevent these problems from happening, you should let the client know right away that you’re not the kind of worker who needs constant supervision and coaching. You and your team are creative professionals with a high level of skills and experience that allow you to work effectively and independently when needed.While I realize that this lesson may sound a little bit harsh when spoken out loud, believe me, it’s not (unless you begin every meeting by saying this, of course). Not only you’ll be able to avoid a lot of misunderstandings, but also establish yourself as an expert. Just stay calm, mind your tone, and you’ll be alright.People don’t tell professionals like doctors and construction workers how to do their jobs, right? And they don’t do so because they know that doctors and construction workers have more expertise in their fields, therefore, telling when what to do is simply redundant, or, in some cases, even annoying.So the bottom line here is that the initial meeting with the client is a perfect opportunity to make sure that you’re on the same page and prevent misunderstandings during the project. Make sure that you take advantage of this to protect yourself and your team during the project.
2. Explain the Web Development Process that You Follow
Chances are that you follow a specific web development process when doing your work, so let’s know talk about how to explain it to your customer in layman’s terms. The process below is an example that you can use for your own projects.
Step #1. Collecting information
The first step of the web development project requires you to collect as much information about the client and their business needs as you can to be able to design an excellent web product.One good way is to compile the information you discovered during your research in a concise report and discuss it with your team. This, of course, requires sufficient research and writing skills, but if you feel like you need some help with this, feel free to use writing assistants such as Trust My Paper, Grammarly, and Studicus.Have the client provide you with the information about them, their target audience, and competition that you couldn’t locate yourself; there are basically seven knowledge areas that you need to address here:
- Client’s brand,
- Features of the future project & the needs that it will help to meet,
- Target customer,
- Project time,
The answers to questions in these areas will help you to design proper functionality and plan accordingly.
Step #2: Planning
This is another important step because it involves creating a sitemap based on the information collected during the first step. While written content is important for clear communication, using visual assets for your sitemap is a better idea here because visual content is easier to understand and remember.On top of that, many clients often struggle with understanding the final outcome of the project, so you can easily explain how and when you’ll complete specific milestones with a visual sitemap. For example, a good way to plan a website structure and communicate with both developers and customers is to use FlowMapp’s Sitemap Tool.
Here’s an example of a map in the SiteMap Tool showing the various parts of the website.It could be useful for a successful completion of your website development projects because it makes it easier for you to explain what you do and why to customers. Here are some of the SiteMap Tool’s features that make it possible:
- It describes the relationships between different areas of the website to help the client understand the reasons for structure as well as the overall usability,
- It makes it easier to get the client’s approval for the structure or specific parts,
- It gives the client a better idea about the delivery process and the deadlines,
- It has project status and results on every stage, so the client can check the progress whenever it’s convenient for them,
- It’s a visual tool that has a built-in communication system that allows to leave feedback and communicate with the development team.
3. Be Empathetic and Consistent
This is rather a tip for your communication style that can help you to build better relationships and improve your reputation as a professional. The key thing about explaining what you do to your clients is to remain positive and empathetic (in fact, some sources claim that empathy could be a developer’s superpower). Also, try putting yourself in their shoes sometimes, because in many cases, your clients won’t share their experience and knowledge with due to various reasons.However, when they see how positive and professional you are, they would be much more willing to share information and give detailed answers to your questions.Being consistent is also an important consideration, and it means providing clear answers and being there for the client for updates and requests. This, too, helps you to build an image of a professional and get you more business in a long-term.Remember: you’re not just building a website, but a relationship and an image, which is much more important to you in the long term.
Working with customers could be difficult for web developers and project managers, but explaining the “how” and “why” could really help to make things easier. Hopefully, this article has given you a good starting point to learn how to explain website development to your clients and make your future project run more smoothly.