If you’re a designer, you already know that getting client feedback is a crucial part of the design process. Failure to get effective feedback can make a seemingly smooth project turn bumpy and difficult to navigate. Depending on the client, it may become a challenge to communicate with them. At first it may seem that the client is opinionated, demanding, or even bossy. Most of the time the problem simply lies in the fact that the client doesn’t understand your process. Taking a few simple steps to educate them and bring them into the process can save a bunch of headaches for both you and the client and make the project go much more easily. Understanding their users as well as the client does, or even better than they do will also help the project immensely. Take time to research and understand who will be using your product in the end, and have conversations with the client about the audience.

Be Upfront

Set the tone. Start educating the client in the beginning of the process. Before you start the project, make sure they understand the importance of their feedback. Go over your process in as much detail as you can. Let your client know your expectations for their feedback and how important they play a role in the success of the project. Also try to understand the needs of the client, not only for the specific project; but for the process as as well.

Listen Intently

In the beginning of the process it is key that you ask questions, but also that you listen intently. It’s easy to find yourself coming up with ideas and getting excited about the project, and this is a good thing. Ensure that you don’t paint yourself into a corner. Try to hold your thoughts until you are finished getting the whole story from the client. You could end up spending a lot of time coming up with ideas only to find that you have to go back to the drawing board because you missed important details in regards to the clients needs.

Use Deliverables to Your Advantage

Deliverables not only keep the client in the know about the status of a project at any given time, they also allow the client to give you feedback while you work. One example of a deliverable that you could introduce into (specifically web) designs are Samantha Warren’s Style Tiles or a mood board. These are both great ways to keep the client in the process and will help you deliver something they will love. Mock-ups and prototypes are also very good before going into full-fledged designs. I personally use Adobe Experience Design but there are other tools such as Invision. Do some research and find a tool that works for you, but they can help to communicate with the client during the process of design.

Avoid Endless Revisions

Keeping the client involved in the process is key to avoiding lots of revisions and still having a satisfied customer. You can have an iron-clad contract specifying exactly how many revisions a client is afforded, yet the client can still leave feeling like the project hadn’t met their expectations. Your design will be better, will be positioned to be as helpful as possible to the user, and will ultimately make the client happy and you feel like you’ve slam dunked the project.