I don’t often talk about my design process or how we work with our clients. For those of you who haven’t worked with me before, I’d like to tell you what to expect.
Starting Your Project
Every project starts out with an analysis of your business goals and what you are hoping to achieve from the project. You may come to us looking for a website redesign but what you might actually need to meet your goals is better email marketing or something completely different. Understanding the core of what you are trying to achieve is our primary focus before we provide pricing.
Once we are able to figure out what your project will include and what value you are hoping to get out of it we provide an estimate. This estimate is broken down into what is going to be achieved, how we will meet those goals and the costs associated with each deliverable.
If I feel we cannot provide you with value based on our skills or what your goals are I will pass on the project and try to provide you with a recommendation of someone who can.
I then work with each new client to answer questions, modify the scope of work and finalize the project agreement.
Quite often a project may require additional partners.
I have partnered up with talented developers, content strategists, bloggers, social media consultants and photographers to be able to serve my clients best.
Working With Consultants Vs. An Agency
If you’ve worked with an agency in the past you often pay for the luxury of having all of these partners available to you whenever you need them. When you work with SLD you only pay for the talent you need to hire. I don’t try and push social media or new shiny widgets on you that you don’t really need to keep my staff busy. I work with other consultants like myself who can assist on your project on an as-needed basis.
I believe in building honest, long-lasting relationships with our clients and up-selling to pay the bills isn’t on our agenda.
I tend to work with small to mid-sized businesses simply because I don’t have a huge staff to handle extremely large projects. Or I call on other consultants to build the team required if we think we’ll be the best fit for the client.
We want our projects to be as successful as possible. If there is any doubt in our mind that it won’t be, it’s a courtesy to you that we decline.
Local & Remote Clients
I started SLD in Eau Claire, WI. Since 2010 my client base has blossomed from the Midwest out to both coasts and across the world.
Since this past Spring, I have left my office space behind and now work 100% remotely out of my home. I had found that the majority of my clients locally would invite me to their office or we never had a need to get together in-person aside from our initial meet and greet. I will often meet with clients at local cafes as well, which tends to bring a little more informality back to the client/designer relationship. Plus it’s nice to get out of the office every now and again for a change of atmosphere.
Although we work locally quite often, we also have had the pleasure of working with clients all around the globe. Working remotely used to be more challenging but technology has made it possible to communicate easily and sometimes more effectively than if you were working face-to-face.
Communication While Working Remotely
Email is my primary means of communicating with remote clients as well as over the phone. There are a number of online tools I use to keep track of project tasks, track website bugs and feature requests as well as provide electronic invoicing and proposals.
The reason I prefer email most often is because I then have a record of our communication. This is where in-person meetings can be less effective than written communication. Trying to take notes and be engaged 100% in a face-to-face conversation isn’t possible. Things can be overlooked. With email you can look back and see everything that was discussed and organize it.
How do you provide website training to remote clients?
When I provide my clients with training sessions on how to best manage their websites it is often done using a screen-sharing tool. This allows my clients to follow along visually, which is the preferred learning method by most of my clients, especially when learning something for the first time.
I tend to answer questions that require a visual with annotated screenshots as well.
If you have hesitations about working remotely, give it a try on a smaller project first and see how it works for you. Working remotely certainly isn’t for every client or team, depending on your specific project goals and needs.
Website Testing & Quality Assurance
Every website we build is fully tested to be compatible across all modern browsers and popular mobile devices. We offer a 30-day window after every project we release for any bugs or errors to be fixed if one should arise following a launch.
During testing we run through our internal checklists to make sure we haven’t overlooked anything. Twice.
Some Checklist Items Include:
- Testing Social Media Sharing Tools
- Properly Documenting All Necessary Redirects for SEO
- Setting up Fields for SEO On All Pages
- Checking All Links
- Testing All Forms & Website Notifications
- Analytics Code Installed (if required)
- & much more…
Take a Peek Inside My Studio Space
My studio space is separate from the rest of our home. It allows me to stay focused on work, even though I have the advantage of working from home. Not having to commute to and from the office every day gives me time to recharge, exercise regularly and spend more time improving my skills. Having a well-rounded work/life balance is incredibly important when working in a creative field. I want to provide the best service I can to all of my clients and finding the way to do that most effectively is at the top of my list.
Here’s a little peek inside my home studio space…