There is nothing worse for a designer than the project that never ends. A million revisions in and the client is still unsatisfied.
Unfortunately for designers & developers, there is no mind reading device (we will be first in line for that!), to assist us in understanding the indecisive client. We are nevertheless, responsible for helping a client achieve their desired design. How do we do that? Asking the client the right questions before a design is created could be the difference between, "love it!" or "hate it".
So if you want to avoid saving "revision 25", we here at Marigold Studios, have compiled this list to keep at hand when you need to prepare a design brief.
(This will be quite useful until the mind reading device is born.)
About the Company
Question 1: What services / products does your company offer?
This question is key! You can't sell something if you don't know what it is, likewise, you definitely can't design a logo, that is relevant to the market, without knowing what the market will be buying.
Question 2: Can you tell me more about your company?
This is a great question to instantly start identifying the look and feel of the design the client has in mind. Look out for adjectives like corporate, fun, young, etc. in their response. This information can be used to aid in creating the brand personality. Furthermore, this is an important factor in creating a brand story.
Question 3: Who are your main competitors?
You need to know who you are competing against. Take a look at their brand, marketing channels, list their positives and negatives. Use the information to establish what makes the client's brand unique and can propel them to stand out from the crowd.
Important: Never copy a competitor! Come on you're better than that!
Question 4: Who is your ideal audience?
You can break this into three parts and ask the client to specify age, geographic location, gender, even income bracket. It is always vital to set up an accurate profile of the audience to find the best marketing channels as well as design elements for them to use.
Hint: In our experience, we find the information can easily be filled in with a bit of research on the specific industry if the client doesn't expand into too much detail in the questionnaire.
Question 5: What are your company goals & objectives?
This information can provide you a clue into the company's main strengths that sets them apart from competitors.
Hint: This information is also great for establishing marketing channels as well as making suggestions for the client about necessary materials to reach their goal.
About the Project
Question 6: What materials need to be designed?
This might sound like an obvious question, but frequently the client has a different idea than you do about what should and shouldn't be included in a project. Having a clear project outline lets you avoid an uncomfortable discussion about additional costs accrued that a client did not expect.
Question 7: Do you have any existing design materials?
Establish whether the client needs a new brand, a redesign or just additional materials to be created. It is important to query whether they are pleased with the existing materials as well and what they like and dislike about the current designs.
Hint: This information can also assist you in creating the quote estimate. For example, if no materials or copy exists, new images will need to be created or bought and a freelance copywriter will be required to lend a hand with quality copy creation if you don't have one in-house.
Question 8: Do you have any colour preferences?
Everyone has a favourite colour and you should consider your client's favourites as well.
Hint: Do not, however restrict yourself to your client's favourites. Have a look at a few posts about colour psychology and if another colour is more appropriate be sure to suggest it to your client. On the other hand, if the client simply does not like it, respect their wishes and keep it off the colour palette. Better to have tried & lost than not try at all.
Question 9: What elements would you like included in the design?
This could include anything from specific shapes, a tagline, a mascot, an icon, textures or more. These specifications will also give you an idea of styles that appeal to the client.
Question 10: What designs appeal to you?
When you are lucky you have a client that already has a clear idea of what they prefer for their design project. This is great considering it nearly halves the amount of time you need spend trolling for references, plus it's easier to give a client exactly what they want! Ask them to attach images to an email for you or send URLs of the designs.
Question 11: What designs don't appeal to you?
Designing a "hipster logo" for a client that owns a coffee-house might seem like an ideal fit to you, although it might sound like a horrid idea to your client. Make sure you know which styles to veto from the list.
Question 12: What media will the design be used for?
Print? Web? No one likes pixelation!
Hint: You can save your client money (and make a little extra yourself) by suggesting that, for a small amount extra, the design can be formatted for a variety of marketing channels.
Question 13: Who will be the decision maker for this project? Please advise how & when we can contact them.
Know who you will be working with and try your utmost to speak directly with the person responsible to avoid delays. Sometimes you are required to put a little pressure on a client to revise a project in order to make sure the deadline is met. You can only achieve this by speaking directly to the decision maker themselves.
Hint: You should also ensure to enquire about the time frame they will be available to discuss and whether they prefer to be contacted telephonically or by email. A little bit of extra consideration goes a long way!
Question 14: What is the deadline for the project?
Setting a deadline for a project gives a project an end date. This puts pressure on yourself as well as your client to make sure it is met. Without obtaining a set deadline, the project could run into overtime resulting in a project running over budget.
Remember to make sure that you can meet the client's deadline before you accept any project or you could end up looking like an unprofessional designer.
Question 15: What is your budget?
Last but not least, ask the client if they bear a budget in mind. You will gain an idea of exactly what you can offer even if they only provide an estimate for you.
Do you have any additional questions you ask of your clients? Any awful design brief experience? We love to hear your stories & advice! Tell us about it in the comments below.