Have you ever worked on a project--like a website or mock-up--for days (or weeks even), that you were excited and passionate about? Day after day you toiled away, and then, when you presented it to your client, they said, "Is that the best you can do?"
That sinking feeling of disappointment and frustration is almost too much to bear. Sometimes the negative reaction is just because the client was in a bad mood. Sometimes it's because they only see the surface, and don't understand the work you really did. Sometimes (shhhh) maybe you didn't do as good a job as you could have. But sometimes it just comes down to a lack of clear communication between you and your client--a lack of understanding of what they actually want.
In his book, "Blink," Malcolm Gladwell talks a great deal about how powerfully implicit biases can impact the way we respond to stimuli, the things we do, and the decisions we make. Something as small hearing a few positive words earlier in the day can cause us to think about something more positively, and the opposite is true as well. But sometimes our own inclinations override our brains, and don't allow us to hear what others are really saying.
This can be extremely dangerous when it comes to working with clients. Since we are working for them (and getting paid by them), we need to understand and produce exactly what they are looking for.
There are some great tools to help freelancers and start-ups do this. With a platform like Osmosis, you can develop customizable questionnaires that help you get right into the heart of what your client is looking for. With the in-platform analytics, you can see how much time your client spends in each section of the questionnaire, and even time it so that you call them at exactly the right moment to answer whatever question they were thinking about. This is a great way to make them feel like you're listening and ready to give what they're asking for.
Don't leave your client hanging at the beginning, middle, or end of a project. Ask the questions you need answered, and answer the questions they are asking. Don't let your biases get in the way of hearing what their real concerns are.
But understanding your client's needs… that's only step one.
What better way to understand your client than by understanding their customers?
When you're building or redesigning a website, there are endless tools to help you get at the heart of the customer. But a platform like LaunchRock gives you the opportunity to get to know your client's customers (and thus, your client) right from the get-go--before you even launch the first draft of a website. With their easy-to-use process, you can throw up a "Construction" landing page that is clever, interesting, and appealing to the customers. You can even get them to participate and engage, by sharing on social media or signing up for your clients' newsletter. They also offer email marketing, A/B testing, data export retrieval, and more.
No matter what tools you choose to best understand what your client needs and wants, if you make the effort dig deeper and really understand what your client is looking for, not only will you create a great product and have a happy client, you will have created something you can be proud of.