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Presenting a Redesigned Website to the Clients

When presenting your redesigned website to the client, you need to sell the client on your ideas and remain professional, confident, and composed during the feedback. There’s no special sauce to successfully pitching a client (other than a good cup of coffee), but here are some behavioral guidelines:

  • Dress the part. On presentation day, make a point to dress appropriately. Even if you are presenting to a bunch of engineers in jeans and tennis shoes, you look more professional if you have some style (in other words, brush your hair and take a shower).

  • Be the discussion moderator. Lead the show by presenting each design direction objectively as if you weren’t the designer. Openly discuss your own professional opinions about what works about each direction and why. Ask for the clients’ opinions and be genuinely open to their suggestions and concerns.

  • Don’t be married to your work. Although you may have a favorite design, don’t be defensive about any one design. You must be the champion for your clients and help them pick a design that works for them.

  • Be confident, be positive; never berate your own work. Always remember that design is a subjective topic, and no one ever likes the same things. But don’t anticipate rejection by undermining your own work. Remember, if it’s good enough to show, it’s good enough to stand by.

  • Be humble. By being deferential and objective about the common goal, clients will be much more open and eager to work with you.

Presenting multiple website designs to clients

By Murphy’s Law, you can count on at least one thing during a presentation: The client will pick the one design in the group that you consider ugliest. A word to the wise, therefore, is to be careful about which design directions you decide to include in the presentation. Make sure that you can live with any idea a client may pick.

Another thing to remember is that some clients have a knack for taking things too literally. If they see something they don’t like or something that doesn’t make sense, they might reject the entire design. To ward against these potential gotchas, start off all design presentations with ground rules:

  • Tell clients to focus on layout and design styling. At the outset of the meeting, tell clients to focus on the overall look and styling of elements. Tell them if they don’t like a certain color, for example, to imagine the same design approach in a different color scheme. Ask them to imagine the same for other components like fonts, copy, and photos that might be a hang-up.

  • Ask clients to try to find elements they actually like in each design. Inevitably, clients will like certain components of each of your designs. This is a healthy process. Tell clients up front to really look at each of the designs, and if they don’t like any of the designs, to at least find elements they like and dislike from each. Let them know that the second round is usually driven by a combination of elements from these designs.

  • Ask clients to select which design is best. It’s rare that clients love one of your first round designs. Let clients know that this is normal before they even look at your designs.

Round two of presentations

More often than not, your designs won’t hit the nail on the head the first time around. Be prepared for the client to like certain aspects of each design and ask you to do another round that combines the various elements into one new design.

This is actually a healthy process, believe it or not, because you’re still the designer and can control how the various aspects are combined into one cohesive design. Plus, at the end of this round, you should be that much closer to something the client loves.

The worst scenario, however, is to let clients try their hand at assembling the second round of designs themselves. This can truly result in a monster of unbridled proportions. When clients dig in with their own hands, their hearts and their egos get involved, too. The resulting design is likely to be a horrific mess that needs a lot of help. Unlike you, with your professional distance, a client might not take kindly to honest criticism, and there you are, stuck with their mess.

The other “gotcha” is to let the client request too many design changes. Not only does this make timelines slip, it also makes profit margins slip. Be upfront in your initial proposals about the number of design revisions included in your bid. Be sure to tell clients that any noodling past the second or third round incurs hourly rate charges above and beyond the fixed bid amount.

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