Delivering Drafts Successfully
When you’re ready to hand over a first draft to a client, it’s important to use the right language to set the feedback process up for success.
Different Feedback Scenarios
Consider these two client feedback scenarios:
1. “I’ve designed this new homepage. What are your thoughts?”
2. “Here’s my vision for your homepage based on our discussions. I chose fonts and a color palette that feel warm and inviting, instead of cold and harsh. I’ve placed the shopping cart icon and navigation button in their current location because this placement created a 20-30% sales increase for another client I worked with in a parallel industry.”
Which is more likely to get approved? (#2, for sure.)
How you present your work is just as critical as the work itself. You need to share your vision and explain your decisions. Whether it’s writing, programming, design, or illustration, you’ve created the solution for a specific reason. Don’t assume that your client understands your reasoning or thought processes.
Freelancers always need to sell their work, especially to the people who are already paying them to create it.
We’ve found that leading clients through a discussion of the solution—including how it meets their needs, why we’ve made specific decisions, and how it functions—means they’re much more likely to understand and promptly approve the work (rather than requesting arbitrary changes that don’t serve the project goals).
So, how can you increase the odds that clients will approve your drafts and mockups?
How to Deliver Drafts Better
Here are a few recommendations that help make the draft delivering process successful and effective:
• Talk about results, not technical details. Clients rarely care about technical stuff. They do care about how your work will affect their business in a positive way. Focus your presentations and discussions on results.
• Don’t assume questions are change requests. If a client asks a question about your work, don’t immediately offer to make a change. Instead, consider it an opportunity to teach, explain, or dig deeper into why they’re asking the question in the first place.
• Provide reasons for everything. If you’re writing, designing, programming, etc., you’re drawing on your experience, knowledge, and skills to guide every decision. Be sure you can explain why you’ve made certain choices and created what you’re now presenting.
• Never get defensive or arrogant. When you show your work, it’s your client’s turn to critique it. That’s part of the process, and it’s important not to take their comments personally or get attached to the work itself. If a client wants a larger font size or a page re-written in first instead of third person, it’s not an attack on your abilities. Consider that any feedback, positive or negative, is directed at your work, not at you.
• Listen. After you’ve shared your work and discussed the how and why of what you’ve done, it’s time to shut up and listen to what your client has to say. Take notes, record the call, and pay attention. What do they like? What don’t they like? And more importantly, what’s at the root of their requests?
• Be proud of your work. Never present work you aren’t 100% stoked about. You’re ultimately responsible for the work you put into the world and use to grow your portfolio, so it might as well be work you’re proud to share.
Clients don’t care about the nerdy details. They care about how the work will solve their problems. If you can illustrate that (figuratively or literally), then they’ll approve the work faster with fewer change requests.
Let’s go a bit deeper into this topic next time. Tomorrow, we’ll go over guiding clients through an effective editing process.
‘Till next time,
Paul and Kaleigh
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