The feedback stage is very important for digital agencies and freelancers. It’s another opportunity for you to prove your expertise and maintain the client’s trust in your abilities.
But most agencies and designers don’t properly structure this crucial part of their workflow.
Where do you start? What kind of feedback should you ask for?
Our digital agency has been guilty of this in the past. We would simply send the design to the client and ask them what they thought about it. The replies from the clients would read:
“It lacks pizzazz.”
After looking the word up in the dictionary, we learnt our lesson – to get specific feedback we need to ask questions that forced the client to be specific.
But you also need to be strategic about it.
To get feedback from clients which will help you fulfill their expectations, you need to be able to get the most relevant information from your clients.
Most web designers worth their salt know that a website must clearly communicate its value to a user in 10 seconds or so.
So that the user remains engaged with the website and doesn’t bounce back to the search engine results page or wherever they came from.
But the agencies are guilty of not seeing the forest for the trees. During the feedback, they ask the clients about their first impressions, about doing a blink test, and how they feel after spending 5 seconds on the website. This results in vague replies from the clients:
“It’s good but I think it lacks animations like on our competitor’s website.”
“We liked it but our VP of Comm. thinks that the primary color isn’t going to work out.”
“The website is as per our requirements. But shouldn’t we use the parallax effect somewhere to attract attention and make it catchy?”
Such comments completely miss the point:
Having animations like the competitors, attractive color schemes, and parallax effects isn’t the goal!
The goal is to keep the users engaged with the website. The website should be good enough to keep the users browsing it. It doesn’t need to do more than that, let alone be the best-looking website in the niche.
What was your first thought when you saw the design?
Once you were on the website, did you want to keep browsing it? Why/Why not?
So should you completely discard how the client’s feel about the website design?
Well, you won’t really be able to escape it. If the client’s feel strongly about something, they’ll make sure to point it out to you even if you aren’t explicitly asking for feedback on it.
But asking clients to bring their feelings into the feedback process can lead to comments like:
I don’t feel this style of design at all
This shade of red in the hero section is marvellous in my opinion
I feel that the website can look more futuristic but my cofounder feels that you’ve nailed the brief
On the surface, this kind of feedback actually looks good. You believe that you’re getting reliable information to work with.
But this kind of feedback, based on the client’s feelings, is neither accurate nor useful.
Firstly, feelings are completely subjective and circumstantial. They depend on the current mood, immediate environment, and existing knowledge.
Secondly, the website should work for the users. It has been designed with the end users in mind. It should attract, engage, and persuade them. The end users should be able to form an emotional connection with the website. That’s the most important bit.
So even before your clients can get into how they feel about the website design, ask them if the website design will work well for their users.
Will the website design resonate with your users?
Before you even start the website design project, you should be clear about the goals of the website.
What is the design supposed to do?
Goals are the primary constraints that shape our creativity. Unbound creativity is useless to the client as well as to the designer.
In my experience, design clients always have two goals in mind: one for what the website is supposed to do for the business and one for what the website is supposed to do for the stakeholders.
Here are some examples of business and stakeholder goals.
The website should:
The website should:
Stop asking for feedback on vague things that won’t move the needle for these goals and start framing all feedback in the context of these goals.
Creativity and cleverness have their place when we want to persuade the user to stay on the website. But that has already been taken care of.
We also know that the website will fulfill the client’s goals.
Now, the website design should present the website’s messaging in a manner that is clear and precise. This will put the user one step closer to taking the actions that we want them to take.
Most clients don’t know this and assume that the design should try to be clever or creative throughout. They’re stuck on wanting the website to be attractive instead of valuable.
You can prevent them from going down this road by asking the right questions here.
Many designers think of the feedback process as getting the design proofed by the client.
They complete what they believe their “tasks” are and send the design to the clients assuming that if they missed out on something the client will point it out. And if the client doesn’t point out something, then they didn’t miss anything.
Making the clients do YOUR work during feedback has serious consequences.
Firstly, clients finding out something that you missed is quite bad. Not only does this make you look like an amateur, it is also the fastest way to lose client’s trust in your expertise and knowledge.
Secondly, it’s an invitation for bad clients to start micromanaging your work. From then on, you can be sure that they’ll start telling you how to do things.
Always remember that the client hired you because you have the design expertise. They came to you with a problem and now it’s your job to solve it.
As such, they don’t know what’s the best approach, what to put on the website, and what not to put.
You should understand what the design needs to accomplish the client’s goals, limit the design to those elements, and make those elements clear so that the user can take the desired action.
In the last 12 months, mobile usage has maintained an edge over desktop usage by 5%.
Mobile website design is a tad more important than desktop.
So when you take feedback, make sure that you include some mobile-specific questions as well.
You can do this for all the questions from the previous sections:
But you also need to include some questions for interactions that are unique to the mobile.
Ask the clients to compare mobile design to desktop design as well.
Always remember that your clients are super busy. When you ask them to give feedback, they’ll delay it because they don’t have time and they don’t know where to start.
Also, when they do finally sit down to give feedback, they’ll be looking for ALL the things that they believe are off or wrong. Changing the footer colors will help no one, it’ll just delay the project.
Such delays, caused by client’s lack of time and them focusing on the wrong things, will harm your productivity and hamper your agency’s growth.
But by giving them a list of website design feedback questions, you’re making their job easier. The list of questions doubles as a checklist they can quickly run through. They realize that 6-10 questions will take them half an hour at most and they can schedule that task for the next day.
They also don’t need to think about what they have to give feedback on, eliminating the mental gymnastics. And since you must’ve already taken care of the things that you ask about, the client will be reassured that you’ve thought of everything that’s important.
This will revitalize their trust in you and prevent them from focusing on things like footer color or header menu font size.
So steal this list and make the feedback process a stress-free time for everyone.
Do you have suggestions for what we should include in the list of questions? Let me know in the comments below.
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KK patel is an experienced content marketer with a love for SaaS tech products. W3Dart being his brainchild, KK has always been a proactive problem solver. His tech prowess, combined with his leadership skills, led to the creation of this unique and powerful feedback tool. He KK patel loves exploring different forms of inbound marketing and taking on challenges.