What questions do you ask your clients? or Advice to Freelancers V

Sometimes dragging information out of clients is very hard. They have it in their head what they want, but they don’t know how to tell you unless you ask the right questions. I used to have a questionnaire, but I found that having to fill something out scares people off. So what do you ask them?

The first question I suppose you should ask is what do you want a website, brochure, poster, or whatever for. But often they don’t know. I know of one client when I gave them the design, they realized, and I realized that they had no idea they were going to have to write the text. On another, I had written out the site map, but hadn’t found which sites the client liked. Hey, I was young and stupid, and when it came time to design the site, I had no idea what they wanted. On another, they knew what they wanted, but kept changing their mind, which, of course, is their prerogative, but not after I’ve put the site up, finished.

So, it pays to ask questions first. Not so many questions as to make them tear out their hair, or go running away. Simple questions such as

  • Do you have a place where you are going to house the site (and then recommenced a place if they don’t have one in mind)
  • Do you have a domain name (sometimes they do, even when they don’t have a site, so don’t rule it out)
  • Are you going to write the text for the site, or shall we get a writer? (sometimes they want to write it, sometimes they haven’t thought this far)
  • Do you have a timeline (sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. It pays to know, so that you don’t have to end up rushing the job.)
  • Who do you hope to reach with this website? Who are your customers? (This helps in knowing what to say and do with the website)
  • Do you ever plan to go into e-commerce? (This makes a difference as to where they are going to start.
    What other websites do you like and why? (The why part is important, because sometimes they like websites for colors, or for graphics, or for pull -down menus, or for many things.)
    What websites do you not like and why? (This is good to to know what not to do)

  • Who are you peers? Who are you competing with? (When you do a website for someone whose industry you are not familiar with, it is good to know what you are up against. Sometimes you aren’t up against very much. )
    What is your budget? (Sometimes they will answer this one, sometimes they will hedge as much as they can.)

Sometimes you have to hold their hand through all these questions, sometimes they are all ready for you. :)

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