Just for Agencies: 6 Tips for Effectively Working with Clients on Website Development Projects

Jenny Peterson Dubinsky

Marketing agencies that are working with clients to build websites face a few common challenges. We’ve learned a few simple tips that help organizations and their agencies work well together through even the most complex website project. Here are our tips for maintaining a positive relationship while moving a project forward.

Share Your Process at the Start

When your client understands the process you’re following to complete the project, they’ll be more likely to see that you’re doing all you can to work out any problems that arise. If clients aren’t clear about how long a step might take or don’t understand the amount of employee time involved, they may object to the time the project is taking or the money it’s costing them.

Teaching clients about all that’s involved in producing the website they want and how long things will take can prevent a lot of problems down the line. Provide deadlines, describe who will be involved at each step, and above all, eliminate jargon so everyone can understand.

Get to Know Each Client

Every client is different. Some will hardly look at ideas you send over and say “whatever you think is best.” Other clients like to dig in and walk with you every step of the way through frequent meetings and status updates. You need to be flexible enough to work with clients on both ends of the involvement spectrum and everyone in between.

You also need to develop an understanding of each client’s communication preferences. Whether they favor the phone, email, video conferences or in-person meetings, they’ll be more likely to hear what you’re trying to communicate if you share in the way they prefer.

Be Ready to Ask for Help

Here at 3 Media Web, we’re good at sticking to a schedule and putting in extra hours if that’s what it takes to finish a project on schedule. We also don’t hesitate to pull in extra developers if we need help to hit a deadline. It’s important to build relationships with trustworthy freelancers who you can call on if you hit a wall and need to keep projects on track. And don’t delay making that call if it looks like you could use a helping hand.

Identify Who’s Causing the Holdup

Project delays that come from the client can be frustrating, but you can’t force them to get you the information you need to move forward. Clients are usually fully aware when the holdup is on their end, but when they’re not, you need to be ready to explain what you need to continue the project — without assigning blame or pointing fingers.

I like to give clients an example of what the next step will be once they get us the missing information: “All we need from you is the content and the one graphic for the landing page, and then we can build the page within 24 hours and get it to you for approval.” That way the client knows what they’re missing out on because of the delay on their end — and what they need to do to get the process moving forward again.

Track Project Communications

We use a project management system to keep clients informed and to track any issues that arise. Anyone on the project can log in and see how it’s progressing. There are a few clients who prefer to communicate directly through email, and we accommodate them as well, but we do try to push clients to use our ticketing system to keep us informed of what they need.

Work With the Client to Solve Problems

Phone calls and emails are good for telling clients what they need to know, but screen share technology is a great way to show them what you’re talking about. We’ve used screen sharing to identify problems in websites that we just couldn’t quite solve over the phone. We also use Usersnap, which allows clients to mark up a live site and provide feedback on how the project is progressing.

Open, honest communication is vital for agencies working with clients. They hired you because they like your work, and are eager to see results. Keeping them in the loop can go a long way toward managing challenges if they arise.

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