You might think that after seventeen years of designing web sites so much of the process would be boilerplate. You’d be wrong. While our internal processes are rock solid and and instill confidence, every client relationship and thus every job is just enough different to keep us on our toes. That said, there are some universal principals for building successful long-term client relationships in the web business.
- Listen more, talk less: Every client has a unique story and often a unique way of presenting the information we need in order to make their story tangible and compelling in their web site. Careful listening to stakeholder’s input at the inception of the project will usually reveal the unique market and brand positioning that will enable us to create a web site that is strategically on the mark functionally sound and visually compelling
- Observe how the client likes to make decisions: Every client team works differently, some are large consensus-building teams, some have but a few independent decision makers and then there are the arguably benevolent dictatorships. Consequently our leadership style will vary from facilitator, to strong advocate to partner. What’s most important is that we remain flexible and perceptive enough to seamlessly integrate with the client.
- Set up an accountable, collaborative working relationship. Every client expects their web design and development firm to meet deadlines! You should be accountable to your clients, but it is also ok to expect accountability from them as well. We always try to establish a clear roadmap with milestones from start to finish, identify everyone’s role upfront –and get buy-in. Working on a B2B website is truly a collaborative effort and usually a fun, rewarding experience. Setting expectations establishes the foundation that makes this the rule, rather than the exception.
Following these simple guidelines will make it much more likely to have an exceptional working relationship with your client, that results in an exceptional web site and evolves into a mutually-beneficial long-term relationship.