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Monday, May 24, 2010

Inspired Magazine

Inspired Magazine

Ten Questions You should be Asking to Produce the Killer Design Clients Crave

Posted: 23 May 2010 04:11 PM PDT

This is a guest post from Bryan Arnold – an author, blogger and an avid online marketer who loves TV, films & great design.

So you have a new client and you’ve been assigned the case of producing a killer design for them. Something that only you have been entrusted with… The big opportunity comes…You sit down with them or converse through email and the only thing you can come up with is "What are you looking for?" What? Really? Is that best thing you can come up with…?

You have to bring it like CSI to really get The Killer…well in this case the Killer Design out of the mind of the client. Asking the same uninspiring, non-visual, non-creative questions will only produce a response that may go like this…

"Uh…I don’t know. I want it to look good. Make it like Facebook or something"

This is not the response you want. But you’ll be surprised how I get the same fruitless question(s) from some designers even to this day. And the logos, banners or websites they produce are average at best.

So what type of questions should you ask to capture the design your clients will die for?

Well through my investigation I was able to pick out ten powerful questions that you should be asking but probably aren’t. Let’s get to it:

1. How Well Do You Know the Person who’s Giving You This Information?

This first question may be unconventional and a bit unsettling for some but hear me out. The better you know a person, the more familiar you will be to his/her likes and dislikes. So I suggest asking briefly to describe a little about themselves. What they do and what they enjoy the most or where do they hang out? The more descriptive you get with your questions the better. By doing so, you can tap into a design that most resembles who they are. And it doesn’t get any better than that. *Quick Tip* Try asking them for an image or even better; ask permission to connect with them on Facebook//Myspace/Flickr. Any social site that you can see pics of them in their natural habitat can do wonders in finding out the character in your clients. A picture says a thousand words right? So just imagine having that at your disposal when embarking on your new web creation.

2. Who is this Design Trying to Impress?

What is the audience for this site or logo or graphic? Your client is not going through all of this just to amuse themselves so who is it for? This is a very important question that if not asked, can steer you in all sorts of directions except for the right one. You need to know the reason Behind The Design. Sounds like a reality show right? Well in a lot of ways it is. So find out specifically if it's for the Stuffy Suit Crowd, the Casual Friday Crowd or perhaps the InspiredMag Crowd. Regardless, find out the crowd and cater your project to fit their web surfing eyes. *Quick Tip* If the site is already up and running browse through it and check out Alexa.com as well to search out the audience description from there.

3. Which Colors or Color combinations will bring out The Best in their Design?

This should be the easiest and most obvious question. I’m sure you’re already asking your clients for the colors they like…yes? Well do you also ask about gradient, shading, blending, and color combinations? How about suggesting alternate combinations you think might fit as well. Make sure they define their colors as well. Ex. They might like Blue but not necessarily Royal Blue. So ask them to define their colors with richness. Ex. Dirty Red, Dry White or a Gritty Grey.

4. How Would They Describe this Perfect Design of Theirs?

Your Client will know their project the best so ask how they would describe it in so many words. Make sure you impress upon them that you want them to use as many adjectives as possible. Another way to ask this is by having them describe it in a sentence. Getting to describe it in this manner can open that picture in their heads that can be major for you. *Quick Tip* Help them in this process by already having a list of suggestive adjectives for them to check off. Ex. Crazy Cool, Psychedelic, Subtle, Totally Extreme, High Class, Elegant.

5. What Will Their New Creation Say or Make People Say?

Literally, is their some wording to place on this new project? Most likely this is a logo, header or motto. But perhaps they want to go even beyond that. It helps to find this out just in case…they may surprise you. Now figuratively, what do you want the design to say? Or more importantly, what do you want people to utter upon their very first glance. Do you want the BAM effect like WebdesignerDepot.com or Cool and Collected like DesignM.ag? Find out exactly what words they want people to say when they see it. The more insight the better and this is a great angle for figuring out what they want.

6. Who Are the Victims of This Killer Design They’re trying to Find?

Ask for their Crush List…the competitors they want to destroy with their amazingly hot new design. View the competition. See what their bringing to the table. Then you have the task of either making their design similar or better depending on what your client suggests. I'm sure they’ll choose to the latter. And why not? Crush Em! You will see the type of audience they intend to cater to and how they want be presented as well.

7. Where Will We Find This New Project Hanging Out?

You can ask where this design will be appearing. What networks or directories will it be plugged into? Will it be linked to certain online communities? Or perhaps find a direction of where it will be advertised or promoted. This is another way to get insight into the type of surroundings it will be apart of as well as another way to sniff out an audience. We assume it’s just not going to be in cyberspace somewhere. But of course, we all know about the assume thing.

8. How Will Their Design Be Dressed?

Find out how the client wants their design to look from left to right, top to bottom. And be specific. How do they want the initial layout? What do they want in the sidebars, the header, the footer? Find out what they want specifically for each area. Then find out how they want these pieces to connect. Perhaps there is a certain theme they want to get across? Ex. Modern Woman, Urban Male, 70's Chic. If you’re doing a logo then ask about gradient, shadow, blending, and size (yes…size matters!). Find out what they are trying to get across exactly and simply make your design dress the part.

9. We Think We’ve Found Your Killer Design, Is This It?

I suggest trying not to make your presentation of the logo to mechanical. Give them your initial creations and ask what they like and don’t like about it. Don’t just send an email saying, your logos are ready. Give them a more personal, confident touch and ask for an honest critique. Because although you might have done all your homework, you still might not have “IT yet.

10. Do you Believe Yourself that You have Created Exactly What Your Client Had in Mind?

Here is the Inspired part, the self improvement part if you will. Because your client may look at your design and say yes. I like it a lot. No need for a revision! This is perfect! How do you feel about? Really? They you really give your client your best work. Did you work hard enough on giving them

11. Bonus question: Use the Elimination Question To Your Advantage.

With all of these questions, just like any great crime fighter, you can add the elimination question to each. Find out who they aren’t trying to impress, what colors they don’t want, what they don’t want people to say about their creation, etc. One of the best ways to pinpoint what someone wants is to get rid of they don’t want. I can’t tell you how effective this one supplement question can be. You see this all the time on any crime show. They put the suspects on the wall and eliminate each one that doesn’t fit the profile till…they find their Killer…or in your case, The Killer Design. It flat out works! Add this to your initial questions now and it should make things a lot easier for you.


Now obviously I’ve written this article in a colorful CSI-like fashion but I’m sure you get the point. Each of these questions are designed to bring out the picture from the minds of your clients and place them into yours. Make sure you make a thorough investigation into the designs that you are creating…especially for your higher paying clients.

And when you put this type of investment into finding the best for your clients, they will in turn re-invest in you…we call that the easiest path to long term success… Repeat Customers.

photos by CarbonNYC, The Heart Truth, Carlangueitor & Francis Mayne

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