How to Implement Client Homework
Whether you are a fellow brand designer (hey girl!) or you're looking to hire one (book with me!) chances are you're wondering what this client homework shiz is all about.
Well, simply put, client homework coaches the client through preparing, planning, and organizing all their thoughts and ideas for their brand. In doing so, it not only gives my clients the clarity they need to communicate their vision for their brand, but it also sets expectations and gives me the tools to go in a specific visual direction.
Most of my clients are new business owners or those that have been in business for a hot minute that want to rebrand. These business owners are either more left-brained and less design inclined or the have an eye for design but don't have the tools or the know-how to implement all their amazing ideas. Both of these types of clients have something common: they don't know how to effetely communicate what they want their end goal to look like.
So, by using client homework, I can take all their scattered ideas and feelings and turn them into a brand that fulfills their ultimate business vision. The homework guides them through giving me exactly what I need to do my job effectively.
Because, I can only create brand as unique as the information they give me.
How to Implement Client Homework: What I Include
My client homework consists of comprehensive questionnaires and checklists to guide them through the process of explaining their vision.
This form consists of 5 parts (depending on the package the client has purchased) including Basic Information, Brand Discovery, Collateral Designs, Website Design, and Blog Specifications. The questions in each section cover each area of their brand.
This section goes over their business name, their target market, links to their social profiles, etc.
This part of the questionnaire tends to take my clients the longest as it really 'digs deep' behind who they are, why they do what they do, who they want to work with, and guides them through exploring their own personal convictions. In addition to all the touchy-feely stuff, I also ask them to list adjectives for their brand, come up with a mission statement, and create a dream client profile.
If their package includes collateral items this will allow them to choose which ones they would like to have made, what purpose they want the item to serve, and how they will want to use them for their business.
This section goes over all parts of their website to ensure I include all the information they want visible to the world. We talk about what pages they would like to include, the purpose of each page, and what types of information they would like to include on each page. They can also list widgets or integrations they would like to include in the website and offer code for specific website elements.
Because the blog tends to be it's own living a breathing entity that works alongside the website, I have created a totally separate section for this page of their site. We talk blog categories, side bar, the purpose of their blog and what they are going to talk about, layout, design, etc.
This form lays out step-by-step everything they need to complete before the project starts.
This includes things like creating a Squarespace account, gathering images on Pinterest for a mood board, completing the questionnaire, etc.
Then I lay out all the files that need to be submitted in order for me to create their website/ create collateral designs. I have this broken down into sections by webpage with links to where they can submit their images and copy for that specific webpage. I then go further and have sections for their collateral design files, and their blog posts and sidebar copy/ images.
How to Implement Client Homework:
How I set it up
Because the homework can be time consuming and thought provoking, I like to give my clients at least 2 weeks to complete all the tasks. So, as soon as a client books with me I send over all the homework forms via the client portal.
I use a fabulous CRM system called Dubsado (use code: lady to get 20% off your first month or year of Dubsado!) It's where I house all my contracts and questionnaires, and it's also where I send out invoices and receive payments. It's an all in one for client based businesses and I LOVE it.
Within each clients profile in Dubsado, I create a client portal. This is a password protected webpage that houses each clients questionnaires, contract, proofs, emails, appointments, etc. It's nice and tidy or them and easy for me because I can navigate between different clients with just a few clicks.
In addition to the questionnaires and checklists, I also upload the clients "Project Guidebook" to the portal as well. This packet is basically a handbook for the client to reference for important information throughout the project.
The project guidebook includes instructions on how to complete their homework, how to create a Squarespace account, where and how to upload their images and copy files, what to include on their mood board, etc.
I also include a detailed timeline of our project that outlines what will be completed when and how many revisions are given for each step.
The last thing I include in the project guidebook is a list of important dates that client must pay special attention to. These are dates in which revisions need to be approved by in order for the project to stay on track, when to disable their current website to ensure a swift domain transfer, when final payment is due, etc.
While Dubsado allows me to collect files from my client on the questionnaire, I prefer to gather all my clients file into a one file that I can easily access right from the finder on my mac. Dropbox allows me easy access to all my client files whether I chose to work from my iMac or packup my MacBook and work from a coffee shop that day.
So, I create a master folder for each client within my dropbox account and then have folders within the "master" for each webpage/collateral item/blog post. Drop box then allows me to request files for each of these folders and I copy the file request link onto the checklist within the client portal.
How to Implement Client Homework:
How I use it
A week before my clients project is set to start, we hop on a 30-45min call to discuss the homework. Prior to the meeting, I go over her answers and look over the files and the mood board she created and jot down any top of mind ideas as well as areas where I need clarification.
During the brainstorm sessions, I answer any of her questions and coach her through creating a deeper more meaningful why. We also discuss her vision for her website and her brand as well as any pressing design elements she just has to have.
Doing this call a week before the project allows time for the client to go back and make tweaks, add more detail if needed, and change anything if we decided it's necessary after our call.
During the Project
Then, once the project has begun, I use the homework to guide me through creating each element of her brand. I also will refer back to the questionnaire to grab social links, add widgets, name each page in the navigation, etc. Basically, the client homework gives me everything I need to create a brand that suits her and her vision and cuts out the back and forth communication during a project so it can move along more smoothly.
That's it babe!
Client homework is a critical part to each project I work on- it allows me to take ideas, feelings, and personalities and turn them into tangible visuals for my clients. And, by implementing the homework, it ensures that the we work together to create the best brand we can because I can only produce designs as unique as the information they provide me with.
Did you love the content you just devoured!? If you did make sure you get more of it! Subscribe to the Biz Babe Bulletin to get exclusive content straight to your inbox!