Let me set the scene…
It’s 9:01 AM. You’re sitting at your desk with handwritten notes manically scattered in a way that you swore made sense yesterday, but doesn’t anymore.
You open your heaving inbox, crawling with unopened emails and client change requests. In search of consolation, you shakily reach for your cup of coffee, only to discover to your horror – you already drank it all.
A single tear rolls down your face as the main theme from Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ starts to play.
It’s only Tuesday.
How Can A Defined Client Feedback Process Help Your Agency?
Creating websites involves a lot of moving parts. If the process is not managed correctly, between designing, writing, developing, and QA testing, it’s easy for things to get lost and people to get tangled in the specifics.
A recent study found 83% of people experience work-related stress that can impact their performance at work and general morale. I have no doubt that the figure is higher for those of us working in the world of websites.
To avoid lapses in sanity for you and your team, a streamlined feedback and review process for website projects (that is easy to follow for both team and client) is crucial.
Not only will a clear process help your team, but it’s also the best way to ensure your agency delivers the highest quality services and a seamless experience to your wonderful clients. Because let’s face it: what are we without happy (paying) clients?
Client feedback helps you understand their needs and what you’re getting right. If you often find yourself involved in a game of email tennis with clients that never quite seems to get to the point, then it might be time to reconsider and refine your feedback process.
Don’t worry! Whether you need a complete system overhaul or just a simple tweak of your existing process to get things running smoothly, a little effort goes a long way in optimizing the workflow of your entire team and improving working relationships across the board between colleagues and clients.
Finding a feedback process that works for your agency will spare a lot of frustration, while saving you time and money on projects that run way over schedule and budget (or that get stuck in a never-ending cycle of edits).
As an agency owner who has been successfully creating and writing websites for over 10 years without throwing my computer from a great height (it’s been a close call sometimes, believe me), I’ve put together my top tips on how to make the website feedback process better for both you and your clients.
1 – Establish Clear Goals and Objectives
One of the most common problems that result in the most project derailing issues with website feedback is a lack of clarity around goals.
Without clear objectives from the offset, you run the risk of:
- Missing the mark on your client’s needs for their website
- Confusion during the creation process
- Poor communication and a lot of misunderstandings
- Unnecessary additional work
- Clients dissatisfied with the final product
As an agency owner, it's our responsibility to ensure that our clients understand what they can expect from our services, how the project will unfold, and a rough expectation as to how their website will turn out.
Setting a clear outline of goals and expectations right off the bat sets your project up for success. By making sure everyone is on the same page, it’s much easier to manage expectations, therefore ensuring feedback is more focused and productive.
2 – Use A Collaborative Website Feedback Tool
We all know too well the pain of a meeting that could have been an email.
As an agency owner, you’re already super busy. The last thing you need is a convoluted feedback process slowing down your projects and creating unnecessary work for your team of website designers and copywriters.
Using collaborative tools is an extremely effective way to make your dreams of achieving a harmonious website project from start to finish come to life!
These tools allow clients, project managers, and team members to communicate in real time, sharing documents, tracking progress, and providing a direct space for giving clear feedback.
There are tons of different resources out there your agency can use to save time and enhance the overall experience of working on the project, and increase efficiency and productivity.
From project management software to dedicated feedback tools, find the one that works best for your agency and clients, take the time to ensure everyone understands how to use the platform and implement feedback, and make it a core part of your process.
3 – Create a Feedback Schedule
Another common problem during a project is a lack of consistent feedback or not receiving feedback at all.
Creating a website is a lengthy process. With the average basic web design project taking around two months, any wasted time waiting to receive feedback can push your project's due date down the calendar.
Sometimes it can feel like you’re sending your work out into the void, waiting days or weeks on end for a response from your client, either giving you the green light on what you’ve done or requesting edits.
While there is only so much that you can realistically do to manage your clients, as you can’t change how they operate, you can certainly streamline the process by giving them gentle guidance in keeping the project on track.
Provide an outline of a feedback schedule for your clients to help them prioritize. This works best when you offer a timeline on project deliverables from your team so they feel it’s a mutual effort of accountability.
Creating a feedback schedule that outlines when clients should expect to provide feedback and when they can expect to receive updates from a team member will help to keep all parties involved in the loop and on course toward the same finish line.
4 – Be Open to Constructive Feedback & Criticism
Taking criticism can be a little challenging, especially if you’re a creative person.
Quite often, we tend to attach personal or emotional weight to our work, and having it scrutinized can feel uncomfortable. Or perhaps your client is jumping the gun and can’t see your end goal vision during the process, which can be irritating when it interrupts your flow.
Either way, as an agency owner providing a service, it's important to be open to constructive feedback and criticism. (So long as that criticism is fair and productive – no, that logo DOES NOT NEED TO BIGGER.)
Ensure you’re giving your clients the space to have their voices heard and properly consider their input. While you are the expert in creating design-forward and sophisticated SEO-driven websites, your client has a deeper understanding of their target audience and how their business works, so their feedback is valuable.
Be open to new ideas and suggestions and be willing to make changes if necessary. The ultimate goal is to create the best possible final result for your client’s website while ensuring their satisfaction with your work to the best of your ability.
5 – Provide Clear Client Feedback Guidelines
Everyone works differently, so how can you expect each client to do things exactly how you like them done?
Unless you provide your clients with clear feedback guidelines for your process, you’re opening yourself up to a mish mash of individual workflows and thought processes, making your life much more difficult in managing multiple website projects simultaneously.
While website development might now be second nature to you, it’s important to remember that this will be a new experience for many clients. Many won’t know where to start regarding website design feedback and will need support and guidance throughout the web design process.
To help your clients provide more effective and honest feedback, supplying them with guidelines that are easy to understand and complete will improve everyone’s experience on the project.
No more spending countless hours sifting through emails, voice notes, WhatsApp messages, and shared drives trying to locate feedback only to find a cryptic comment that makes absolutely no sense!
To avoid confusion, make sure you're super clear on the following:
- Proposed design ideas during the design process
- Content requirements
- User experience considerations
- How your review process works
- Your chosen feedback tool
The more specific you can be, the easier it will be for you to receive good feedback that is actionable and useful. Good news all round!
6 – Stay On The Same Page With Open Communication
You may be seeing a common theme here. Clear communication is a key component of running an agency, especially when figuring out how to effectively collect feedback.
86% of agency owners feel poor communication is the biggest factor impacting their productivity. Make sure your clients know how to contact your team to give feedback and that they feel comfortable doing so.
Encourage your clients to ask questions if they’re unsure of anything, and do your best to be as responsive as you can to help build trust and ensure customer satisfaction.
Maintaining regular, friendly communication with your clients helps build a professional rapport that will help your feedback process run smoothly and open the possibility of working together again if you’re a good fit.
7 – Use Visual Aids To Simplify Client Feedback
Visual aids can be incredibly helpful for any web design agency when providing effective feedback on website design.
Instead of relying on written descriptions, visual aids like screenshots or annotated wireframes can make providing design feedback much more straightforward for both parties and save a lot of back-and-forths trying to describe something accurately. Goodbye, vague feedback that no one understands!
Many different tools are available for designers creating visual aids, from basic screen capture software to dedicated design tools. Use whatever visual feedback tool makes sense for your agency, and introduce your client to the software so they understand how to use it to their advantage.
8 – Set Boundaries
Sometimes, you might encounter a client who is a little tricky to work with. It’s perfectly natural – not everyone will be the right fit, and that’s ok.
But suppose a client is being a little too demanding of your time, not respecting your expertise, or has unreasonably unrealistic expectations for their project. In that case, it’s essential that you set boundaries to protect yourself.
Even when you don’t have any issues with a client, it’s still advisable to have boundaries to avoid over-committing to a project or overworking yourself and developing burnout.
Here are some helpful boundaries to keep your website feedback on track:
- Don’t undersell yourself if someone can’t afford your services
- Only respond to requests inside working hours (unless it’s an emergency)
- Set a realistic timeline for deliverables of each project
- Don’t provide extra revisions outside of the agreed amount without charging them appropriately
- Ensure that you and your colleagues are treated with respect
Remember to have compassion for yourself and your clients, and you’ll have no problem navigating any tricky moments throughout the website process!
The Website Feedback Process Doesn’t Have To Be So Complicated!
A clear and straightforward website feedback process can infinitely improve workflow for your entire team, making you a more productive web agency and improving the quality of your work.
While it might be easy to overlook the feedback process as merely a minor detail of website development, it plays a massive role in achieving the best possible results for everyone.
Remember that effective website feedback is a two-way street, meaning both your team and your clients must be committed to giving feedback and making it work.
Using whatever points outlined above that resonated with you, you don’t have to sweat it when it comes to keeping your clients happy and ensuring you are prioritizing their needs.