Every web designer has his or her own way of holding a meeting with clients. There are several ways to do that, but a few tips might help make such contact more productive.
The first meeting with a client may be considered one of the most important steps of a project, and the project’s level of success may very well be established right there and then.
What NOT to do:
Do not attempt to talk about or explain “design” to the client. The first wall run into over a meeting between client and designer is the fact that those two usually speak a different language and live in worlds apart. This person across from you is the only one who really matters in the meeting. The language and universe of design are of no consequence to them, therefore do not waste time trying to transport them into your world. You are there to learn about the client’s universe, and not the other way around. That is not to say that you should conceal your competence, but there are better ways to do that than talking “difficult” to make an impression.
Do not ask the client design-related questions. Designing is your job, not the client’s. Designers usually think in terms of layout, colors, shape, navigation, functionality, usability, and so on… but these issues normally do not mean much to the client. Although it may seem logical, asking the client design-related questions is quite often a mistake. It is the same as asking a site’s user about HTML, XML, PHP… Most times, such questions are not actually relevant.
What is relevant, and must be discussed, are the business, the brand, and the client’s marketing needs. Supplied with answers to those questions, you will be able to develop a quality design, whereas by insisting on discussing such matters with the client you will never know what your design needs to do to meet the client’s goals.
Never show samples of other sites when trying to understand your client’s preferences. Showing a series of design samples of different site layouts might seem the right thing to do in a meeting with a client, but it ends up being quite an amateur procedure (even to the client). Forget the samples, face the person across from you and ask them questions about their business. Keep in mind that your client’s preferences and aesthetic tastes may not be meaningful/ useful to the project. Do not bring the client into your world; get into theirs to obtain important information.
Do not try to impress your client in any way. The desire to impress is extremely dangerous. As designers, many times we feel the need to impress the client on our first meeting. But here goes a hint: the client wants to impress you, too!
If you let the client believe you think it is important that they understand certain things about design, they will surely try to convince you they already know something about it, and they will wind up defining the project’s design themselves. Do not fall into that trap.
If you do, you run the risk of finding out later on that the client’s personal taste is completely contrary to the project’s objectives, and you will ultimately come up with a website the client hates, or one that does not efficiently support those project objectives.
What not to do:
Do not speak with the client in designer language.
Do not ask the client entirely design-related questions.
Do not bring site design/layout samples to the meeting with a client.
Do not forget the wishes and expectations of those who will visit/use the site.
Do not try to impress the client.
What to do:
Prepare ahead for your first meeting with the client.
Find out the client’s goals and needs regarding the project.
Find out the users’ goals and needs regarding the project.
Find out how the client plans to assess the project’s success.
Make sure the client understands you are aware of your responsibility regarding the success of the project in order to gain their trust.