It’s important to get useful feedback from your clients because it’s part of the back and forth that leads to a successful project. You can’t just slap down a design at the very end and expect to be done.
There’s a give and take that needs to happen, and the result is better projects and happier clients.
We’re going to talk about how to get that useful feedback from your clients. It should be part of a larger freelance process that helps you get things done. You can watch our free webinar “How to Get Useful Feedback From Your Clients” with Erin Flynn for the in-depth details, but we’ll summarize it here.
Why Get FeedbackIf you don’t get feedback from a client, you risk doing all this work and then at the end the client hates it. That’s not a good path for successful projects that will bring clients back.
You need to involve clients in the project. Not so much that it staggers under the weight of outside opinion, but enough that clients feel heard. You’re the expert on good design, but your client is the expert on their business. So you ultimately have to please the client. Receiving and implementing useful feedback is a powerful way to include your clients in the process.
Getting Useful Feedback Is Hard
But actually getting useful feedback is hard. Too often client feedback isn’t very useful.
They’ll say things like “It’s not blue enough,” or “My mom doesn’t like it,” or “It needs more pop.”
Huh? What does that mean? That’s just not helpful.
Part of the problem is that clients don’t have the words to say what isn’t working. Another part of the problem is that you didn’t set your design up for success by explaining why you did what you did. Finally, you’re not helping them give the right kind of feedback.
So how do you get useful feedback? Let’s get into it.
How to Get Useful Feedback
Getting useful feedback from clients comes down to three things:
- 1. Give only one option.
- 2. Walk clients through why that option is the best.
- 3. Offer guidance for giving feedback.
If you can do those three things, you’ll get much more useful feedback.
1. Give Only One Option
A lot of freelancers present multiple comps to their clients and let them pick the ultimate direction. Invariably clients pick the worst one. Why do all that extra work just to end up with a lesser option?
Send clients a single option and don’t give them a choice.
Here’s what happens when you stick with only one option:
- You can’t end up with the client choosing the worst option.
- Giving clients multiple options makes it seem like you’re not sure what’s the best. You’re the expert, so give your client the best solution.
- You position yourself as an expert because you’re confident.
- The client trusts you.
- You don’t have to waste time creating multiple comps that you’re really not invested in anyway.
2. Explain the Best Option
How often do you send clients a mockup via a quick email with no guidance: “Here’s the mockup, let me know what you think.”
What a way to devalue your work. You’re leaving clients all alone to sort out what they think, discover the benefits, and see why it’s a good solution. That’s a lot to ask.
Especially when you could just explain it to them.
A good way to get useful feedback from clients is to actually explain the decisions you made. Take your clients on a walk through of the design and explain why this is the best solution. Creating a quick video to send to your clients can be the best way to accomplish this:
- No confusion: Video is better than email because you can actually show the elements you’re talking about and there’s no confusion.
- No skimming: With email there’s always the danger that a client will skim your email and not get what you’re saying. With a video they’re much more likely to watch the full thing and pay attention.
- No awkward: Because it’s a recorded video and not a live video chat or phone call, nobody has to worry about awkward reactions during a live reveal.
You can use screencasting software such as Loom, and make sure you keep it short (3 minutes is ideal).
If you’re not afraid of an awkward live interaction, you could do a live walk through over a video chat. This can be a good way to get immediate and unfiltered feedback. You can also answer questions right away. It might be good for clients who need a lot of hand-holding, but one big downside is it doesn’t give clients a chance to sleep on it.
Ultimately you need to use whichever method works for you, but however you do it, be sure to set your work up for success by explaining your strategy and reasoning.
Don’t leave your clients guessing.
3. Offer Guidance for Giving Feedback
Most people don’t know how to give useful feedback. Giving a helpful critique is actually difficult. So you need to help your clients give useful feedback by giving them some guidelines.
Tell your clients what you’re looking for and what you’re not. Lay it out simply for them as a list of guidelines:
- Explain why you need their feedback (this should tie into your project process and empower them to be a part of the project). Make them feel heard.
- Ask them to be as specific as possible.
- Remind them to be honest. Let them know you can take honest feedback (even if you’re not so sure).
- Tell them not to ask random people for feedback. You designed this with a specific audience in mind, and that’s probably not the client’s mom. Remind them who the audience is.
- Ask your client to point out problems, but tell them not to try to fix those problems. That’s your job.
- Suggest they look over the design and then sleep on it. Sometimes giving the brain time to process can lead to better feedback.
See how that’s a lot more detailed than “let me know what you think”? You’re giving the client some helpful parameters, and in the end that’s really going to help you.
Now you need to ask your client some specific questions about your design so you can get that useful feedback.
Don’t start from scratch: Erin Flynn has a free template you can use to make this easier.
You want to make sure you ask these questions in the right way so you can get the best feedback. So set it up like a workbook.
- Make it easy: Use a fillable PDF, Google Doc, Word Doc or online form where you can leave space for answers. This encourages clients to respond in a written form and take it seriously. Pro tip: A tool where clients can save answers and come back later is super helpful—it encourages them to take their time.
- Include those guidelines: Stick those guidelines in the front of your workbook—every time. Don’t assume a repeat client will remember them from last time.
- Give a deadline: Don’t leave this open-ended. Let your clients know when you need it back.
If this all sounds pretty involved, good. This is nearly the opposite of a quick email. A quick email encourages a quick response. And that’s the last thing you want. The faster clients review mockups the more likely they are to miss something, and that will only hurt the project later.
By setting up an involved process, you’re going to get more thoughtful and thorough answers. By making this a serious step in your process, you’re signaling to your clients that they need to take it seriously too. This will make you look more professional and encourage clients to trust you that much more.
Get Useful Feedback
All of this will result in better feedback, which will improve the project, make the client happier, and get you more referrals and repeat clients.
Watch the full webinar with Erin Flynn for more, including a pre-written script for presenting a mockup.