Five Phases of working with clients


posted on 7th of august, 2007

if you are a freelance designer or thinking of being one read on....

To be a successful self-employed Graphic designer , a person must set some rules for himself , and imagine that you are employed by those rules.
The first draw back of working for oneself is that , you don’t feel obliged to “report” to anyone , hence once in a while , you fail to meet your own goals.
First thing first , organize yourself .
Organize your workspace , Here I will try to present to you some points which must and should be followed in order to gain not only long term clients , but have achieve a successful graphic design careerThe five phases below are a brief overview to the process of working with a client . These are not precise RULES , there are no rules as graphic design jobs can or may have different targets . Like creativity itself, graphic design is rarely a linear process.

The Brief:-
Arrange a meeting with the client , in which you will try to get all , I mean ALL , the answers that could possibly pop in your mind. This is the beginning so you might and will have a secondary meeting. But when you are going for a brief be prepared.
Follow the points below to save you time and energy:-

1.Goal :- establish project goals, budget and schedule
2.before arriving at the meeting :- Gather information about your client’s products or services.
3.Note down :- Take a note book with you , type or write down every point that is being discussed . if you are not good at it , ask a friend to accompany you to do it. IT IS IMPORTANT. Also if you are taking someone with you , what is discussed becomes secure in case your client raise some points that he said that and not that . ( 100 % possible!)
4.Make sure :- Also, make sure that the key decision maker is at the initial meeting(s). Without their presence a graphic designer, CAN achieve a wonderful design that has nothing to do with the original project scope!!
5.Get to know the client:-
What is his taste ? , there are 1000’s of possible creative tastes , you must know your clients!
This can be done by , Asking him about his at least three favorite website designs , ( or if there is a brochure this project is about a brochure!)
Try to know his favorite colors, or the Theme he would like to follow or achieve.
6. Lets talk about finances:-
Remembers even if the client is your best friend , this should be discussed in the first meeting
How much will the project cost .
what files will be involved in this cost?
How much is down payment ?
How many phases the job will be done in ( read on to know the phases)

8. File requirement :- Mention what files you require from the client , this could be text , images , or whatever . make it clear what client is providing and your job depends on it.

7 .File delivery :- In this cost what will be delivered , psd files , illustrator files , html files , flattened layered psds , layered psds , images . whatever is the need of project.

8. don’t forget to mention :- Any work done besides the one being discussed is a separate job and will be charged separately.

Go home and prepare the initial contract , email , Fax or any other way preferred , ASAP . This is important as clients do forget the points of meeting . Mentioning you require down payment to start the work immediately.
You can either sit and wait for the down payment or start work at your own end it is up to you , but don’t deliver or show anything before you receive down payment.

for online payments and recieving payments , you can either use Paypal or Moneybookers https://www.moneybookers.com/app/?rid=3296448 , I find MoneyBookers more easy to setup and a faster , reliable method.

Design Development :-
review the research and information gathered. In addition to analyzing your client’s product or service it will often serve well to research the competition as well. Successful designs stand out in the marketplace (or at least doesn’t get confused with the competition!) Begin sketching and explore lots of visual concepts. At this phase the design possibilities are wide open. Firm up your sketches and pick the most appropriate solutions to prepare for presentation.


Presentation
You got the down payment , you have worked on your concept , now it is time to give presentation / or preliminary designs
Consider how you will present your design. In person is still the best way. You’ll be able to read your client’s body language and be able to address concerns quickly before they grow out of control. For small projects emailing the client a PDF will keep the work flowing and a follow up phone conversation will suffice.

1.If you are emailing , keep it at low –resolution . and don’t forget to place your name or your company name on it.
2.Make sure your rendering or comp accurately represents your concept. Nothing slows down a pitch like, “Well it won’t really look like that.”
3.Use colors and materials how you intend the final product to look. Make sure the design presentation is neatly put together. The art of a good presentation can make or break all the hard work up to now
4.Your designs will rarely sell themselves. Practice with your team, in front of a mirror or write down what you will say – just the process of visualizing how the meeting will proceed will boost your confidence.
5.Bring the meeting to a concise finish and record the discussion.
6.Follow up with an email summarizing the meeting and proposed plan of action Follow up with an email summarizing the meeting and proposed plan of action. This correspondence will protect you from revisiting ideas and wasting the project budget on misdirected ides.
7. Attend to the refinements and changes requested in a timely fashion to keep the project on track. When the concept is approved you’re halfway to completing the project.


Artwork
During this phase you will be working on the artwork .
Print designers will go through one or two rounds of editing and color refinement within this phase. Keep track of these changes until the client signs off for completion.
For others who design way finding systems or packaging the artwork phase is more extended. Materials, colors and finishes need to be specified. Measured drawings and mockups must be created to fully realize the designs. Contact fabricators and printers at this point for complicated projects.
For digital projects this phase is nearly complete when it begins as you’ve been working within the final medium all along.
For all types of graphic design prepare your files so they will be ready for production .

Also during this phase after you get the design finalized
Get the signature of the client on the print on the Artwork.
Now is the best time to ask for Mid payments. Which will be BEFORE delivery of the final files.


Production
For print and environmental graphic designers this phase involves working closely with the printer or fabricator. Papers, colors, and finishes are all reviewed and compared to the designer’s original intent. The client may still be involved at this phase on larger projects to assure the final product meets their expectation. For print projects go the printer to view the sheet as it comes off the press. For signage projects the designer is even at the physical site to oversee the pouring of a concrete base or application of screen printed graphics. A high quality project requires follow through on every detail.
For Web Design this stage will incorporate the HTML and Flash coding to build the site. Internal testing of the site will eradicate any trouble with the site functions before it goes live. Thoroughly check the site on different browser platforms for the best results and post it to a web server.
Ask for Full payments on delivery.


Follow Up
Not considered part of the design process but an important part of business it to check in with the client. Was the project delivered on time? Are they happy with the results? Will they do market or user testing for the product? Ask your client to keep you informed about the feedback they receive on the project. Establish an informal policy to stay in touch as most projects will be from repeat customers.
It is difficult to find a client , so give a service that brings back your client , should any graphical need arise.

Keep an eye on my next journal I will be providing you sample documentation to download modify and use
I hope this helps for now

Comments (1)

Posted by Mashiko on August 07, 2007
Asmaa I believe wat u wrote there is true my first job as a freelancer I havent got paid until this day and i started with the project last year in August and the website is live and running but the is no moola in my account nway im abt to start on a new project and Im goin to use ur process of dealing with clients ...
At this point im not a fan of clients but hey I have to deall with them thanx for ur input

much blessings....



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