Client input is vital to the successful execution of a website design. When should this client–designer dialog commence, and how? The answer to this question brings us to the topic of client worksheets, an often under-utilised call to action that not only gets projects smoothly on the road, but can land you new work from potential clients.
What is a Client Worksheet?
Quite simply, a client worksheet is a document containing a series of questions for the client or potential client to fill out. This could be a downloadable PDF, word processing document, or a web page with input forms for online completion.
Client input is vital to the successful execution of a website design, and by extension just about any design work with outside stakeholders who control final approval and sign-off.
Client worksheets are a fantastic method of kick-starting the dialog between the client and the designer. These worksheets stimulate the client to think analytically about their business needs in relation to the work they’re interested in having performed. Best of all, the thoughts and answers to any questions raised in a client worksheet will be perfectly formulated for use by the designer in order to best execute a project.
What to Ask and What to Omit?
In short, it depends on the services you offer and how you like to go about performing business. If you offer an extensive range of design and web development services, your client worksheet could be quite extensive. Alternatively it may also be kept short, covering only a bare minimum of material—e.g. goals, stakeholders, and preferred deadline—because you prefer to meet clients in person to discuss these topics. The same could be said even if you offer a more niche set of services; your client worksheet should be as long or short as you need to best match your method of starting work.
Typical topics to cover in a client worksheet may include:
- the basics: stakeholders, company name, contact information
- client’s preferred deadline and estimated budget parameters
- information on the business or organisation (vision and goals, strategies, location, employees/volunteers, partners, products and services offered)
- information on the current design and/or website assets (what works and what doesn’t), current performance and functionality
- information on customers and/or audiences
- reasons for pursuing a new or updated design/website
- information on desired features or functionality
- hints at the desired look and feel
Covering these topics (where desired and applicable), motivates the client to think more deeply about themselves and the work they seek, and is done in a manner that provides you with quick answers to any opening questions you’ll have as a service provider. Chiefly they will:
- answer “the who” (information about the organisation)
- answer “the what” (information about the potential work at hand)
- provide you with their contact information
- provide logistical and planning details (budget, schedule, and the like)
- answer “the why” (reasons for engaging in the work—motivation, goals, focus)
- and gives you a starting list of desired deliverables
The online client worksheet of atlanticbt.com.
The .doc downloadable client worksheet from Erskine Design.
The .doc downloadable client worksheet from Front Range Creative.
A completed client worksheet provides you with the critical information required to formulate a response quote for the client. They’re also a superb way to also call a potential client to action, and get your conversation started.
Pascal is a standardista graphic, web and front-end designer, and a rampant typophile. Born in Mainz, Germany—the birthplace of Gutenberg—he now works in Canberra as a contract designer and studies at the Australian National University. He's been actively engaged in the Open Source community and local web industry, notably as one of the unorganisers to first bring BarCamp to Canberra. He enjoys drinking in as much good type as he can get and has been happily bending beziers since 2004.