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After the initial step of getting the contract is done, what is your next step?
More specifically, when designing the interfaces, do you ask your client
a variety of questions? If so, what type of questions?
How many sample interfaces do you provide your client to choose from? Also,
what information do you require from your client before designing? Do you request,
the content before hand or does your design dictate how much content
will be displayed?
We ask for a similar, short list of their favorite sites in any field at all (not just their own market), also with comments about what they like, and why it's a favorite of theirs.
We talk about who their target audience is, and we do this as precisely as possible. If this is a makeover and not a brand new site, we ask for server logs, and any other kind of measures they have. We ask for marketing plans they've already drawn up, what they consider to be their market position and their unique selling points within that market.
We ask very open ended questions about what kind of effect they want the site to create. We get very specific about what kind(s) of response the site hopes to elicit.
If it's a brand new company and this kind of homework has yet to be done, then we offer that research as an additional service.
In short, we work very hard to get inside their company's culture as fast as possible, and learn what they already know about how they fit in their market -- or how they hope to fit in if they are a start-up.
We also pick up on any personal preferences they may have and use this initial period to establish practical and measurable standards for what will be considered a "successful" website.
I try to show them only one. For me its about marketing. Once you have taken all the data(As explained well above)you should be able to target their needs,wants,and specify a design that they will like. Crucial to this is explaining to them why you have gone down the road you have and the value/importance of as much of your design as possible.
Corporate colors, emotive images, download time vs visual appeal etc.
If they don't like it then at least you are in strong position to go in the direction they want as they will probably be more expressive in their criticism than they would have been when asked what they want. All you have to lose is to design another interface, which you would have done anyway if you show them more than one.
If they don't like it ... they will probably be more expressive in their criticism than they would have been when asked what they want.
Yes, that's been my experience as well. I usually throw together two very different "rough" mock-ups. I consider the first round to be target practice, so I don't fine tune anything - I just make one big jpg in Photoshop.
In an earlier life as a copy writer, I learned that the first round is often target practice, and I learned to present first drafts with that in mind - even calling it a "pre-draft" at times. Often a client cannot express what they want in words and I don't think to ask the most revealing questions on the first go-round.
You know the old saying, "I can't define what art is, but I know it when I see it." There's an anology in both writing and design. "I can't say what I want but I'll know it when I see it."