As an owner of a small design and development business, I’ve developed a few key documents/tools to keep my work and interaction with clients organized and focused. I consider these documents a precious resource for communicating with clients. Creating efficient tools can be daunting. My goal was to create communication tools that would facilitate the design and development process and support the client as well. So, how did I get started? I turned to an expert.

A few years back, I was lucky enough to stumble across this title from Lynda.com, Web ReDesign: Strategies for Success by Kelly Goto. The two and a half our video series was an excellent source to acquire knowledge about how to create documents that communicate with and educate clients. The title includes topics like branding, information design, usability testing, content management and more.

As I was just starting out in the web design and development business, I was most intrigued by the communication topic. This topic explained and included sample forms for building a client survey, a communication brief, budgeting and pricing to name a few.

Armed with the knowledge gained from this video series, I began developing my communication documents. These documents help me screen clients, plan, clarify goals, exchange ideas and gain valuable insight into the project. And although this Lynda.com title is more than five years old, the information continues be relevant especially for lone designer/developers like me.

Though I value the tools/documents I’ve created to communicate with clients, no document is perfect and a little editing goes a long way. So, I recently visited docpool.co. Docpool is a sharing site for the web design and development community. The site includes document contributions from several designers/developers, featuring a website checklist, design invoice and several worksheets. If you have a web design/development document to share, want to improve a document or would like to see how your documents measure up, docpool.co may fit the bill. Although there are only a few documents now, it will be interesting to watch how it grows.

One last note here, my client survey has performed exactly as expected.  It helps me identify potential “problem” clients, and understand the scope of the project. The survey helps my clients clarify their goals and identify the audience for their site.

Client feedback on the survey has been good. Some potential clients “love” it because it helps them focus on their goals and their audience. The rest appreciate it for the insight they gain. That is, once an attempt is made to answer the questions contained in the client survey, they discover they are not as ready as they initially thought. Yet, they know where to focus their time and energy.

As I continue to build my business, it’s my hope that these tools will continue to help me create successful sites or advertising media. What tools/documents are you using to communicate with your clients?

Resources:

Web ReDesign 2.0 | Workflow that Works by Kelly Goto and Emily Cotler

Web Design and Development document sharing site